Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
Some notes, quotes and other musings from the Ducks’ 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night …
-- The home team trudged off the ice to audible boos from those at Honda Center who hadn’t already left for the exits to beat the traffic – on its own fan appreciation night.
It was the deserved response from a portion of the Ducks’ fan base, a critique of a defeat that was as bad as it looked. Matt Beleskey knew it and offered up an apology of sorts.
"That was just a terrible hockey game,” Beleskey said afterward. “I don't think we made a tape-to-tape pass the whole game. That's a bad game for our fans, to be honest. I feel sorry for the people who came out to watch that one....
Corey Perry called their showing “poor” but punctuated it with some colorful adjectives that can’t be fit for a newspaper. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau used the word lazy when it came to another horrid second period. “And you can’t get lazy in this game,” Boudreau said.
CALGARY, Alta. - Hockey Canada announced Wednesday that Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill has been named general manager of Canada's National Men's Team for the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, which will be held in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic from May 1 - 17, 2015.
Nill will lead a management group comprised of Sean Burke (Windsor, Ont./Phoenix, NHL), Claude Loiselle (Ottawa, Ont.), George McPhee (Guelph, Ont.), Pat Verbeek (Sarnia, Ont./Tampa Bay, NHL) and Scott Salmond (Creston, B.C.), Hockey Canada's vice-president of hockey operations and national teams.
Should he have received more for this?
FRISCO, Texas - Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has activated forward Valeri Nichushkin from injured reserve and loaned him to the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), on a conditioning assignment.
Nichushkin, 20, has missed the last 59 games after having hip surgery. Additionally, he missed seven games from Oct. 14 - 28 with a hip injury. He has skated in four games this season for Dallas, posting zero points and two shots. He also appeared in two games for Texas on a conditioning assignment from Oct. 31 - Nov. 1 and registered an assist.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
On my dream team, Jamie Benn, John Tavares, and Rick Nash are my first-line forwards. Good luck getting the puck off their sticks or denying them entry to the dangerous areas of the rink. They are monsters. In this league, it’s hard to beat size and skill.
Tavares and Nash were always considered NHL slam dunks. The Islanders drafted Tavares first overall in 2009. In 2002, Columbus made Nash the top pick. Tavares was granted exceptional status to play in the OHL as a 15-year-old. In 2000, the London Knights picked Nash fourth overall in the OHL draft.
Benn is the outlier compared with Tavares and Nash. In 2007, 128 players were drafted before Dallas picked Benn in the fifth round. Benn, a native of Victoria, British Columbia, was bypassed altogether when he became eligible for the Western Hockey League bantam draft.
In hindsight, neither is surprising.
Benn is a dominant NHL left wing. When paired with Tyler Seguin, the two are a lethal offensive combination. Seguin works magic with his speed, skill, and shot. Benn does the heavy lifting by protecting the puck, working the corners and the net-front real estate, and using his 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound frame to impose his will on opponents.
continued plus more hockey topics...
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
The Stars currently sit 28th in goals against average at 3.29 and 29th in save percentage at .893. In comparison to last season’s 2.71 GAA (17th) and .911 save percentage (17th), you can explain this season’s 29-27-10 record in those drops alone.
A frustrated coach Lindy Ruff lit into the goalies a week ago and said they were the main source of the problem
“The goaltending performance doesn’t match the effort in the team right now,” Ruff said after a 5-4 OT loss to Colorado where Kari Lehtonen struggled. “You need goaltending, it’s as simple as that.”
Lehtonen has surprisingly posted a 26-13-10 record on the heels of a 33-20-10 mark in 2013-14. But his GAA has gone from 2.41 last season to 2.98 this season and his save percentage has dropped from .919 to .905.
In addition, the eye test says he’s not playing well. His glove is unpredictable, and his confidence looks shot. He backs in too far on breakaways, and he often scrambles too much on scrums. While he’s been very open to discussing the issues this season, he said after being pulled against Florida Thursday that he needs to clear his mind of bad thoughts.
“I’m done thinking about what just happened,” Lehtonen said. “I just have to get rest and have a good practice. I think I’m thinking too much sometimes, and now I’m going to try not to.”
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Some quick thoughts ahead of a busy hockey weekend:
• Here's an almost unbelievable stat: It has been one year since the Stars got a win in a game that was started by their backup goaltender. That, however, should change soon. Kari Lehtonen's play has hit rock bottom. He allowed three goals on 14 shots before being pulled on Thursday night in Florida and has posted a save percentage of .826 or lower in four of his past five starts. His confidence is blown, his mechanics are off (his glove and his side-to-side motion, in particular), and his teammates play like they expect the worst to happen at any moment. Even coach Lindy Ruff, a man who will take a bullet for his players, has had enough, calling out Lehtonen for not matching the efforts of the other Stars.
It wasn't that long ago that the Stars believed Lehtonen was a player who could help them get to the next level. Now? They have to be wondering whether they can get his head on straight by next season, or if they should look in another direction. Moving him won't be easy, though, not with three years remaining on a deal that carries a cap hit of $5.9 million.
continue plus more topics including a look at the Simon Despres trade...
Looks more like a knee to inner thigh hit.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
The veteran bench boss lit into Lehtonen for the second time this season, and with newfound furry after a 5-4 shootout loss to Colorado. Now, you can say Ruff was talking about the goaltending problem in general with this team (the back-ups are 2-12-0 on the season), but this dagger was clearly pointed at Lehtonen.
“I know this is hard, but the goaltending performance doesn’t match the effort of the team,” Ruff said. “You need goaltending. It’s as simple as that. There’s nights that he has to steal games, there’s nights where he has to out-perform the other guy. Our goaltending has been tough on our team, and I think that’s where the frustration is.”
To Ruff, there is logic there. His team allowed just seven shots on goal in the first 40 minutes, and Lehtonen still let in a soft goal. In fact, the Stars battled back to take a 3-1 lead early in the third period, and all Lehtonen had to do was weather the expected storm. It happens to all teams who hold a lead _ they simply are going to be outshot, and the goalie has to hold on and get the win....
And that has to be somewhere in Ruff’s brain when he’s watching these meltdowns - he has to wonder if his goalie has a loose wire, if he simply can’t handle pressure.
Maybe he’s testing him now to see how he responds. Maybe this is needed before the team makes a big decision in the summer.
But, if you ask me, Lehtonen isn’t good with extreme emotion .
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
After referees did not call what several Stars said was an obvious goaltender interference penalty Saturday against Detroit, which eventually scored a 7-6 overtime victory, the topic of replay was big Sunday morning.
Stars general manager Jim Nill and president Jim Lites said they are in favor of doing what it takes to get calls right.
“I just think that if the refs miss something, they should be given the opportunity to see what they missed,” Lites said. “You can say it’s a judgment call, but these are the same people who are making that judgment call, and they should be given all of the information.”
Nill concurred and said that any opportunity to make sure the call is right should be the goal of the league and its officials. He added that fans get the information immediately, so why shouldn’t referees?
“It’s something we have to figure out,” Nill said. “Because of video replays, everyone can figure out what has happened in the arena and at home. We know instantly if it’s the right or wrong call.
“The speed of the game is tough for the referees, because they have to make a call in a split second. But should there be a huddle by the penalty box on a goal like that to just take a look and see if it should be a goal?”
If you missed it earlier, you can watch the "obvious goaltender interference" 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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