Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of fighting majors for the Bruins on Friday night with Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid and Tyler Randell all dropping the gloves to stand up for teammates, showing the Capitals that they won’t be pushed around. It could also create a little uncertainty in opponents where they hadn’t been any last season. If the Bruins are out to prove that last year’s soft, pale imitation of the Bruins wasn’t going to return this season, they did an effective job of expressing that on Friday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You saw tonight that guys are sticking up for each other, so that's also a good sign in my mind.” –Claude Julien, after watching his Bruins players standing up for each other in a fight-filled preseason game against the Capitals.
more on the Bruins...
"You can't control what people say. Sometimes it's tough when you hear it, things are so completely fabricated and not even close to the truth. But I think at the end of the day, you realize that obviously a lot of people don't know the situation because they're not part of it. They've got to make a story to get ratings for their show, or get reads on their blogs. You can't control it. So I've learned over time not to worry about it."
-Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning on all the rumors/talk surrounding his contract. More from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
Here are some things to keep an eye on as the Sabres start a new era of watchable hockey.
1. Jack Eichel. The future (present?) superstar is the reward for years of suffering. He’s already shown he can be worth the price of admission.
The first time he wore a Buffalo uniform, in a prospects tournament, Eichel assisted on the tying goal in the closing minutes and scored the winner in overtime on a breakaway. In his first preseason game, Eichel scored the winner on a breakaway while short-handed. He has the ability to turn any game into a must-see event.
“I want to come in and find a role and make a difference for this team and help them win games,” Eichel said. “That’s why they drafted me, and that’s why they’re giving me this opportunity.”
2. Evander Kane. Flashy on and off the ice, Kane is an open book and an enigma at the same time. No one may ever know the whole story of what happened in Winnipeg, but anyone can see Kane lives a high-dollar lifestyle through his pictures of beaches, sports cars and model girlfriend.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
In the spring of 2002, back in the day when mastodons roamed the earth and the Toronto Maple Leafs were good, Alex Mogilny sat dumbfounded at his stall in the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs had just defeated the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs, again, to advance to the Eastern Conference final.
As bedlam surrounded him, Mogilny wondered aloud, with a genuine look of bewilderment on his face, “Why is everyone so excited? We’ve only made it halfway through the playoffs.” You had to forgive Mogilny. It was the end of his first season in Toronto and he wasn’t accustomed to people getting so excited after watching their team almost come close to just about winning something.
I couldn’t help but remember Mogilny’s astonishment as I watched this week when teams clinched their respective divisions in Major League Baseball. In what was part celebration, part endorsement for Budweiser, team after team showered each other with champagne and beer to celebrate the fact they’d accomplished the NHL equivalent of winning one round of the playoffs.
And that’s exactly what they did. By winning their divisions, teams guaranteed themselves a spot in the top eight of 30 teams. By clinching a wildcard berth, two teams guaranteed themselves a one-game playoff to win the right to join that group. That’s all. But there they were, dousing each other in booze and whooping it up as though they’d just won a championship, which they did not. Hockey players around the world must be laughing at these guys.
Let’s contrast those celebrations with hockey. In the NHL, you win one round of the playoffs and it means you’ve survived to play another day and allow your playoff beard at least another couple of weeks of growth. That’s about it....
from Corey Masisak of Sports Illustrated,
The NHL has a goaltender problem.
More specifically, the NHL has a problem with how goaltenders are valued in the salary cap era. There are too many teams spending too much of their cap space on non-elite goaltenders and it's hurting their odds of winning the Stanley Cup.
There are two things to know about NHL goaltending in 2015, and the league’s general managers have yet to marry these two ideas.
One, there are more capable goaltenders available than ever before. Better coaching, earlier coaching, better athletes — it has led to a unprecedented wealth of talent at the position.
Two, advances in statistical analysis have shown that goaltender performance is fraught with variance and incredibly hard to predict. Beyond the very best goalies — a group that is no more than six or seven deep, possibly fewer — investing a lot of money in a goaltender who might be the eighth-best in the NHL one year, then drop to 18th or 22nd the next, doesn’t make a lot of sense. That continues to be the trend, though.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
... intriguing teams are flying under the radar. Here are five that will perform better than you think they will:
Columbus Blue Jackets: With the offensive might this team possesses and the presence of Sergei Bobrovsky in net, the Blue Jackets could win the Metropolitan Division.
The primary reason they weren’t in the playoffs last season was injuries.
The Blue Jackets are spending more than $45 million in cap space on forwards, and they should be among the most dangerous offenses. If Brandon Saad, Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno play together, they will be formidable. Don’t forget the Blue Jackets closed last season with a 12-0-1 run.
The only question is whether their defense is strong enough. They also need a strong start, which is not a Blue Jackets tradition.
from the CP at Sportsnet,
With the 2015-16 NHL season about to start, The Canadian Press lists 10 players to keep an eye on:
1. Mark Giordano, Calgary — The 31-year-old looked to be a shoo-in for the Norris Trophy as top defenceman until he suffered a season-ending torn biceps on Feb. 25. Fully recovered after surgery, the Flames captain will be trying to pick up where he left off.
2. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh — Run out of Toronto after his worst season in six years, the 27-year-old now has the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to feed him the puck, which makes the speedy winger a potential 50-goal scorer.
from Aaron Vickers of CalgaryFlames.com,
CF.com: What veterans have surprised you in training camp?
BT: I wouldn’t say surprised. You’re always hopeful that they come in and are ready. I don’t worry about our veteran players too much in that they’re always prepared. Our fitness testing and levels were exceptional. I think in terms of just this camp, Matt Stajan is a guy that has really been good. He’s been a leader, as he always is. You can even see it, I think he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in. He’s moving better. There is a real assertiveness and seriousness about his game right now. There’s been a lot of guys that have played well but Matt just jumps out for me. He’s made sure he has come in physically and mentally prepared and it’s showing.
CF.com: You must feel pretty comfortable with the options Bob Hartley has to deploy for 3-on-3 overtime?
BT: We talked a lot about it when the rule came in. We talked a lot about personnel. We’ve had two of them now but they haven’t gone very long – a minute of two, I guess. I think we’ve got options. What I think is unique is we’ve got a lot of defenceman that can play in it and I’m not sure how many defenceman league-wide can play but we’ve got the Giordano’s, the Russell’s, the Brodie’s, the Hamilton’s, the Wideman’s. There’s players that are built for it. And then you get into the forward group. The coaches will come up with a strategy and some groupings of players but I think we’ve got some options to play with.
more Q & A...
Expanding by two teams, in theory, provides balance in a 16/16 conference split, but neither Columbus nor Detroit seem to have any interest in going back to the west, so a 17/15 imbalance would create an obvious problem. There is additional concern the player talent pool will be drained to a puddle by having to furnish two new franchises from top to bottom.
There is no guarantee of expansion. As others have widely speculated, it could be one team, two teams, or none. The Bettman playbook suggests he has a plan, and he will spend the next several weeks polling/meeting with those who aren't yet on side with his vision so he clearly has a handle on how this will play out when NHL owners are asked to vote, as early as December.
-Darren Dreger of the Dreger Report at TSN where you can read more on expansion and other topics...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
LeBrun: A good place to start: What's the adjustment been like after being with the Devils for so long, the way things were there, to coming here where things are obviously different?
Lamoriello: The people have been great. From the transition end of it, I couldn't have asked for more. As far as being different, naturally things are different. When you've been accustomed to doing things a certain way for so long, it's not saying they're right or wrong, you have to take time to see exactly what and how people are doing things.
LeBrun: Sometimes change is good; people can get complacent being somewhere too long. Do you feel re-energized?
Lamoriello: I do. I don't know if I got complacent by any means ... but right now, yeah, I feel good. I think coming to Toronto, the way the fans have been, the receptiveness, I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be interesting. I know what the obstacles are, you have to be realistic. Some people have asked about the plan being long-term, that doesn't affect me if I don't see the fruits of it immediately. It's just being a part of the process and doing things and not worrying about the end results. Do all the things that are in your control to help it get to a point. That's what motivates you.
LeBrun: You beat me to an area I was going to touch on. In all the years you've been around, I don't remember you ever using the word "rebuild" --
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.
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