Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Trades are going to be completed before the Feb. 29 (3 p.m. ET) deadline because contending general managers can’t resist the temptation to improve their teams before the playoffs.
But here are five reasons why we may not see as many deals this trade season:
Too many teams in contention
Several teams that were supposed to out of contention, including the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers, are still in the playoff hunt. If the Devils are competing for a playoff spot, how can they move Lee Stempniak, who is tied for the team lead in points? The Hurricanes might have to keep Kris Versteeg, their highest-scoring forward.
Impending unrestricted free agents Mikkel Boedker and Boyd Gordon would seem like prime rental players if not for the fact that the Arizona Coyotes can still make the playoffs in the forgiving Pacific Division. The Coyotes need Boedker, the team’s top point producer, up front. The Vancouver Canucks may not move Dan Hamhuis, an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The point: There could be fewer players available.
Happy Birthday Don Cherry.
JAGR, LUONGO CLIMB ALL-TIME CHARTS IN PANTHERS’ VICTORY
Jaromir Jagr posted 1-2—3 and Roberto Luongo made 36 saves to continue their climbs up the NHL’s all-time charts and lead the Panthers to their fifth consecutive victory.
* At 31-15-5 (67 points), the Panthers again moved seven points ahead of the idle Lightning (28-18-4, 60 points) and Bruins (27-18-6, 60 points) – who also won – for first place in the Atlantic Division.
* Jagr (738-1,101—1,839) became the sixth player in NHL history to record 1,100 assists. He also moved within three goals of tying Brett Hull for third place all-time and within 11 points of tying Gordie Howe for third place in League history.
from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Rarely are the Blues going to win games scoring just one goal, like they did Tuesday in Nashville. The club tried it again Thursday with defenseman Jay Bouwmeester contributing the only offense, and it was not enough in a 3-1 loss to the Sharks in front of a crowd of 18,803.
Let’s go to the running tote board: The Blues have scored five goals in their last five games, and just three goals in their last four games. Though the club is 2-2-1 in that five-game stretch, it will find itself falling out of the battle for the Central Division quickly at this pace. Chicago and Dallas both won in overtime Thursday, leaving the Blues eight points behind the Blackhawks and five behind the Stars.
There appeared to be more concern late Thursday night about the offensive issues than existed earlier in the day.
“This has been going on for a little while, we’ve been getting points, winning games,” Hitchcock said. “Our top guys are going to have to eventually help us here and contribute. It can’t be just one or two guys, like (Bouwmeester) scoring or (Troy) Brouwer. We’re going to have to get more production from other people up the ladder here if we expect to have success.”
Watch the game highlights below...
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
The first sign came early on, when the captain who doesn’t shoot the puck did. The next sign came when the skilled defenseman put the hit on the star center, took one to draw a penalty and then let loose his own powerful shot.
Ryan Getzlaf did the former, and Hampus Lindholm came up with the latter. Those were two high points of many for the Ducks in a one-sided 4-2 win over the Kings on Thursday night.
A stunned sellout crowd of 18,230 at Staples Center watched as the Pacific Division-leading Kings were throttled by a Ducks team that hasn’t relinquished one bit of momentum it gained from the Christmas holiday break to the All-Star break.
“Sometimes you have a feeling the way the guys practice the day before,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “The way they’re just carrying themselves around the rink, you know that they were going to be really into the game.
“Our guys were really into the game today and I thought it showed. I thought we played really well.”
from John Meagher of the Montreal Gazette,
The lowly Sabres won the game 4-2, but the Habs are not the only ones taking a beating these days. So, too, are the ticket resellers.
“I can’t give tickets away right now,” one said. “Half price at best.
“There is something wrong with this team, and it runs deep. Very deep. ”
Signs of the Habs’ train wreck are everywhere. Canadiens jerseys, big and small, occupy several racks at the Canadian Wolf shop near the Simons store on Ste-Catherine St.
Store owner Tamer Amhaz says business in general is the worst he’s seen it since he opened in 2011, and the Habs’ slide only makes things worse.
“Business is down 50 per cent,” Amhaz said. “It’s very bad, very bad.
“I feel it, I see it in the face of the people that have become so angry (at the Canadiens).
“You know why? Because they started (the season) very good and after like a chute incroyable (an incredible fall), why has it become like this?”
Habs jerseys of P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty, retailing for $180 apiece, are not an easy sell these days.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN.Which forward will the Minnesota Wild acquire this month?
Which forward will the Minnesota Wild acquire this month?
Ryan Suter described the Wild as “fragile” after Thursday night’s meltdown at Madison Square Garden. They have blown a lead in five of their last six games and are playing like a team begging for a trade.
“That’s not up to us,” Zach Parise told reporters post-game. “You can’t plan on that. You can’t assume that’s going to happen, because what if it doesn’t? Then we’re just going to quit? We have to play better as a group, and as the group that’s here right now.”
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has been trying to make something happen. Fletcher has sniffed around for a forward for a couple months now, starting with Ryan Johansen when he was available from Columbus.
Who will it be? Loui Eriksson would be a nice fit, though the Bruins still want to re-sign him.
Keep an eye on former Golden Gopher Kyle Okposo, who has a very reasonable cap hit as a pending UFA. The playoff-bound Islanders aren’t interested in trading him, but Okposo said this week there hasn’t been much dialogue between his agent and GM Garth Snow on an extension.
four more NHL topics...
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
So that’s 50 out of 1,000 games with the Leafs, and given that only four coaches all time — Al Arbour, Billy Reay, Lindy Ruff and Barry Trotz — have ever coached 1,000 games with one team, it’s hard to imagine at this point No. 2,000 will come in Toronto.
If it did, it would come 66 games into the 2028-29 season, when Babcock will be 65 years old. He wasn’t quite willing to project that far into the future when asked if he’s got another 1,000 games in him.
“Well, I’ve got this year and seven more, and then I’m gonna stay for two more after that because the team’s going to be that good,” he said.
He said it without irony, without a smile, almost enough to make you believe him. If you’re a Leafs fan, it seems a safe bet that if Babcock’s still around after another nine years, the team will have ended it’s Stanley Cup drought.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The faithful came to see Connor McDavid at the Canadian Tire Centre.
They exited the building wondering if maybe the Senators should try to win the lottery because the dream of making the playoffs is far from reality.
While the Edmonton Oilers’ young star didn’t disappoint with a pair of assists in his second game back after missing 37 games with a broken clavicle, the Senators embarrassed themselves with their fifth loss in six games — a disgraceful 7-2 defeat Thursday night in front of 18,564.
And, that resulted in a 10-minute players only closed-door meeting and though they look like they’re coming apart at the seams the message was not to let that happen.
“Stick together,” said winger Zack Smith. “We’re still confident in this group. The main focus right now is not to feel sorry for ourselves.
“Yeah, we got some bad bounces, but you have to work (to achieve better results), especially when you get in a rut like this. You have to work that much harder to get out. The main thing is to stick together. This is a good test when you go through something like this.”
Game highlights are below...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Of all the losses during this lousy stretch and this lousy calendar year of Wild hockey, this was in my mind the most awful tonight.
This team is just a wreck, and the players have no answers, their under-siege coach has no answers and their GM apparently has no answers because he has so far declined interview requests from the beat writers during this road trip.
In the meantime, the Wild has lost nine of 10 games and 12 of 15 this year and tonight coughed up a 2-0 lead here at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
The Wild tried to make it like this was the exact same thing that occurred a couple nights ago against the Islanders, but in that game, the Wild had a 1-0 lead and a season-high 20 shots in a period in the first 20 minutes before caving.
Watch the game highlights below...
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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