Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times,
The Lightning blueline was delivered another big blow Monday as veteran defenseman Jason Garrison will be out 3-4 weeks with an upper-body injury, coach Jon Cooper said this morning.
Garrison, who suffered the injury early in Saturday's game, had gone back to Tampa to get re-evaluated Sunday. That means Garrison could miss the first round of the playoffs.
But that's not all.
Cooper said All-Star center Tyler Johnson is out tonight - and is day-to-day - with an upper body injury, defenseman Andrej Sustr is out 1-2 weeks with an upper body injury. The most amazing thing is that center Cedric Paquette, who looked to suffer a serious left leg injury Saturday, skated in today's practice and is a game-time decision.
Every team deals with injuries, but this is just awful timing for Tampa Bay, which enters tonight's showdown in Montreal just three points behind the Canadiens for the Atlantic Division lead.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
What to watch for
Detroit's net presence: The Detroit Red Wings’ crease is becoming more and more intriguing with both Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek struggling through some rough outings of late. Coach Mike Babcock handed the keys to Mrazek over the weekend after Howard gave up three goals on 10 shots to San Jose on Thursday, but Mrazek was yanked during a shaky performance Sunday in which he surrendered four goals on 11 shots to the New York Islanders. Who will it be between the pipes for the Wings when the playoffs begin? Stay tuned.
Red rising: With a game in hand on the Islanders and the Penguins hobbled heading into this week’s action, can the Washington Capitals make a push for one of the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division? Doing so could be a major factor in being able to avoid a tougher first-round matchup.
Panthers-Bruins: The Cats and B's will square off twice before the end of the season in games with major playoff implications for both teams. One of those matches is slated for Tuesday, when the Panthers travel to Boston looking to make up some ground on their wild card foe. Florida trails the Bruins by four points for that last wild card spot, but the Panthers finish up the season with a five-game home-stand. Things could get really interesting.
Also from Strang...
from Jonathan Wllis of Sportsnet,
At the 2012 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, PhD candidate Adam Gold presented a simple solution. Instead of relying on a lottery that actually serves to diminish the value of games late in the season, Gold proposed that draft order should be determined by total points recorded after a club is eliminated from the post-season.
“In a way, the season ends once teams can no longer win a championship, yet fans are still asked to pay a premium to go and see their favourite teams perform,” Gold said. “In an attempt to inspire fans, to maintain interest, passion and optimism in their favourite teams while still giving the worst teams that need the most help the best picks to get the best players, I respectfully propose that draft order should be determined based on how teams perform after becoming mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.”
A bad team would have a longer time period to rack up points, while teams on the playoff bubble might have just one or two games.
via Hometown Hockey,
On October 25, Kris Versteeg scored a goal. It wasn’t a game winner or a highlight reel play or a career milestone… just another NHL goal like dozens scored that night throughout the league. But to Rochelle and Sara Knapp of Missoula, Montana, it wasn’t just another goal: it was the fulfilment of a promise Kris made to them only hours earlier in memory of Rochelle’s late mother, who died of cancer.
NEW YORK (March 30, 2015) – Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson and Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 29.
from Ian Mendes of TSN,
What a difference a week makes.
Last Monday, the Ottawa Senators beat the San Jose Sharks and climbed past the Boston Bruins and into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The confidence was at an all-time high. The city was alive with a buzz that is usually only reserved for the playoffs.
But as we sit here today, the Senators – and their fan base – appear to be an emotionally fragile group. Three consecutive losses will tend to do that.
So what happened to the uber-confident Senators who went on one of the greatest runs in franchise history? There are a few theories floating around as to why Ottawa's playoff bubble has burst. The answer probably lies with a combination of all five of these answers, but here's a look at the top reasons why the Senators have probably lost three games in a row – and their mojo at the same time:
The Senators look like a shell of the team that stormed back with four third-period goals against San Jose last Monday for a convincing 5-2 victory. In the three games since, Ottawa has looked tired, flat and tentative – and that's being as polite as possible.
BLACKHAWKS, FLAMES CLIMB IN DIVISION RACES
Both the Blackhawks and Flames won on Sunday to climb into third place in their respective divisions:
* Jonathan Toews scored the tiebreaking goal with 30.8 seconds remaining in regulation to help the Blackhawks snap a two-game skid overall and pick up their seventh consecutive road victory over the Jets/Thrashers dating to Dec. 11, 2005 (including a 4-0-0 mark in Winnipeg).
* Toews, a Winnipeg native, has 5-7—12 in 11 games against the Jets since the franchise relocated to his hometown in 2011-12. He ranks second on the Blackhawks with 25-37—62 this season, including five game-winning goals.
* Behind 3-2 after 40 minutes, Patrick Sharp scored the tying goal early in the third period. Brad Richards and Andrew Shaw supplied the other goals.
The NHL doesn’t sell winning to its fans. Only one franchise gets to deliver on that advertising each season. The league sells hope – the hope that winning all the games that matter is something that will happen this season, or in the case of sad-sack teams, that it will take place in the near-future. When you see fans start to abandon teams – as they did in recent years in Florida and Arizona after years of either mismanagement or relocation rumors – it’s because the hope pipeline has run dry. That’s what the points system is working to do: keep each of the 30 spouts from the main pipeline open for as many days as possible.
You can criticize the NHL for many things – and goodness knows, I do – but it’s difficult to envision the NHL’s system working much better than it does at the moment. Hockey still matters in virtually all of the league’s cities, and nearly every game on the calendar still means something. Not every league can boast of such good fortune.
-Adam Proteau of The Hockey News where you can read more on this topic.
Just under four minutes long.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Just when you start to believe a little more in the Vancouver Canucks after some stretches that impress you, they give you the other side of the coin and do something like lose back-to-back home games to the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
Vancouver sits at 91 points and has a tenuous hold on the No. 2 spot in the Pacific Division, followed by Calgary (89 points, winners at Nashville on Sunday), and hard-charging L.A. (88 points).
Winnipeg (90 points) also figures in when it comes to the wild-card race, but we know for a fact two teams from that the Pacific trio of the Canucks, Flames and Kings will end up in the playoffs.
Here's the daunting reality for the Canucks, though: they are heading on the road for a four-game trek through St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago and Winnipeg. Now, the Canucks' 22-12-3 road record suggests they can play well away from home, but the chips are really down now. This trip will make or break their season.
read more NHL topics fromt the ESPN hockey writers...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org