Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Chicago Tribune,
The Hawks are off Thursday night and will be rooting for the Blues. Even if the Predators fall to the Blues, the Hawks still need to win their remaining two games—Friday night at home against Nashville and Sunday in Detroit—and have Vancouver lose one of its final two games to reach their first postseason since 2002.
“Hopefully St. Louis can give us a win [Thursday night] and that game Friday night would mean something,” Kane said. “It would be unbelievable to play in a game like that with playoffs on the line and our playoff hopes remain in [our] hands.”
read on for more on the Chicago win over Detroit…
from the Tennessean,
Wins tonight and Friday mean the Predators, to the surprise of many, would advance to the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Nashville can also advance without two wins but would have to rely on outside help.
“It’s a great story,’’ said ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose, who picked the Predators to finish 11th in the Western Conference this season. “It’s a tribute to the organization that they were able to overcome the losses of those players. They certainly could have folded. They had excuses. They could have said, ‘We don’t have a chance,’ and ‘Poor, poor us.’
“But they continued to battle and continued to battle. Now their playoff destiny is in their own hands.’‘
“I think he’s going to win the Vezina,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said after Nabokov picked up his franchise-record 46th victory Tuesday night. “I think they’d be crazy not to give it to him.”
“They” refers to the league’s 30 general managers who will cast their ballots before the playoffs begin. And this year it should be a classic one-on-one battle between Nabokov and Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils.
Not that there aren’t other goalies, such as Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo, with impressive statistics next to their name. But none match the workload that both Nabokov and Brodeur have taken on, or the wins they’ve racked up.
Wilson gives Nabokov the edge based on those wins, 46 for Nabokov and 42 for Brodeur, plus the Sharks loftier position in the standings.
from Scott Morrison at Sun Media,
Regardless of what derailed them earlier this season, good teams and good players find a way to get the job done and that simply and obviously hasn’t been happening.
It’s a cliche, but now we will see what these Senators are really made of and, in an excruciating way, if they are somehow able to get it done, if they are finally able to beat the Leafs in a game that matters, if they are able to secure a playoff spot, it may make them all that much stronger this spring. The key word, however, remains may.
It also generally holds true that you are never as good as your highest high (see 15-2) and, the Senators hope, never as bad as your lowest low. Tonight, we find out if the team that has broken a million hearts in springs gone by is merely off to an early start.
added 7:06am, from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
You could call Ottawa “Twitchy City” at the moment, the call-in shows, the water coolers, the bars and even the parking lots filled with general managers who know the root cause — troublesome second goaltender Ray Emery, lazy defensive play by big-name players such as Dany Heatley, slow defencemen such as Luke Richardson and Wade Redden, bad trades such as the one for Mike Commodore and black tape instead of white on the blade of Daniel Alfredsson’s stick — and claim to know the answers as well.
from Lew Serviss of Slap Shot at the NY Times,
Kyle Turris stepped onto the ice at the Phoenix Coyotes’ practice Tuesday and took his first strides as an NHL player….
Centering the Coyotes’ most skilled forwards, Turris flew up and down the ice, dispensing passes, finding lanes and roofing the puck by goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Mueller looked skyward. (“That’s why he was drafted third over all,” he said later.)
Off the ice, a beaming veteran of one NHL practice, Turris faced his first NHL media scrum. “It’s a mix of emotion,” he said, “from losing in the final 8 to the next morning, I’m talking here, and the next night I’m in here. It’s been crazy. I’m so excited I can’t even talk right now.”
more with video…
from The Good, The Bad And The Duthie,
As a (relatively) unbiased observer of all teams, my first-round match up fantasies are based solely on what is best for entertainment value and television ratings.*
*Increased ratings lead to increased advertising revenue, which may help me in future contract negotiations with TSN. There is no “I” in team, but there is one in Duthie.
So here’s the best-case Eastern Conference scenario:
PITTSBURGH (1) VS WASHINGTON (8)
I already blogged about this a few weeks back when it was a long shot. The shot gets shorter every day. To have the two most entertaining players in the game (maybe the three if you include Malkin) going at each other for two weeks is hockey’s perfect playoff storm.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
The Stars are a different team without Sergei Zubov – that’s all there is to it.
Zubov averages more than 25 minutes a game and plays like nobody else in the NHL. He is supremely confident with the puck on his stick and he almost dares opponents to come at him on the forecheck, knowing that can only help him get the defense off of its game.
So if he cannot play in the playoffs because of a foot injury or groin injury or some other injury, the Stars will not be as good.
from the CP via Yahoo,
“You can’t expect guys to be jumping out of their boots here because we need help,” coach Alain Vigneault said when asked about the mood in the dressing room after the Cancks no longer controlled their playoff destiny.
“That being said, we need to help ourselves.”
Helping themselves means winning at home Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers and Saturday in the regular-season finale against the Calgary Flames.
Otherwise they’re out of the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
From Boston Bruins.com’s Rinkside Chats,
Katie_From_ME: Since your injury, what is the one thing that you miss most about playing?
P_Bergeron: First and foremost, I’ve missed everything about the game. Being around the guys, being part of the action and part of the game and helping the team win. It’s tough sitting around and watching the team play and not being able to help.
Stockfan42: Patrice, what are the odds of seeing you suited up for the playoffs?
P_Bergeron: Not sure yet, I still have some doctors to see. I am not cleared for contact yet but I’m hoping to continue to make progress and get back as soon as I can.
via the Carolina Hurricanes,
Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, announced today that the team has activated center Matt Cullen from injured reserve. Cullen, who has missed the team’s last seven games with a head injury, is eligible to play in tonight’s game against TampaBay.
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.
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