Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/14/12 at 05:37 PM ET
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN answers some rant email,
You can change your coach, but until the captain of the team remembers he’s an NHL hockey player and not some trend setting playboy, the discipline problems will remain. For as much talent as the team has, games and Cups are won in the hard work put in during practice, offseason workouts and through being a TEAM, not just playing on one. Parallel Ovechkin and Stamkos. Two great talents, but why is one only improving on his greatness, while the other barely stands out in most games he plays. Just look at their offseason training regimen. The millions these players are paid is not just for the 82-game season plus training camp and playoffs, it’s to maintain the high level and intensity even during offseason workouts.
My take: The leadership has to start with your franchise player and Alex Ovechkin continues to be inconsistent this season. Let me put it to you this way, I asked an NHL scout to rank the following four Russian stars recently, Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk. And he answered, “Really close between Datsyuk and Malkin, they’re 1a and 1b, then it’s Kovalchuk, and Ovechkin a distant fourth.”
The Western Conference is no longer better than the Eastern Conference. They are practically equal in points per game. Second, the EC teams have allowed well over 100 more goals than the WC teams. I don’t know if that has to do with better goaltending/defense in the WC, or better shooters in the EC, or a combination thereof. I am just tired about hearing that the WC is better/more competitive when they really aren’t this year. Not to mention the Atlantic is the best division in hockey by a good margin, so the Rangers deserve to be No. 1 in the rankings…and I’m a Wings fan.
My take: Totally disagree. There remains more elite teams in the West than the East. To me, the top Cup contenders at this point, in no particular, are Rangers, Red Wings, Sharks, Bruins, Canucks and Blues.
The second level of contenders I would slot are the Predators, Flyers, Penguins and Blackhawks….
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