Kukla's Korner

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Category: NHL-Teams

Tough decisions coming for the Wings:  perhaps loyalty is overrated in the cap era? Perhaps not.

So with the return of Johan Franzen, barring any other injuries, the Wings are going to have to trim salary to stay under the cap. As was pointed out yesterday in this MLive Article , there are only a few ways out of the financial thicket and it’s starting to seem obvious what Ken Holland is going to do… waive (or trade, but I’m not sure what other GM would want to bale out the Wings) Ville Leino.

Well, I am here to say that I think it would be a mistake. (did I just dare question the greatest GM in professional sports?!). It’s true that his options are very limited. I think it’s clear that Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves are off the table. They have more than earned roster spots on this squad and will both likely be resigned. And if only waiving Brad May were enough, because he is not likely to be picked up and we will not really need him in the playoffs (I realize how controversial this last statement is to the “protect our stars at all costs” crowd. But the thing is, when’s the last time Brad May was on the same line as a star anyway? How do you protect Datsyuk when you aren’t on the ice with him? Staging a fight with the other team’s goon in your 6 minutes of playing time?). Regardless, if he were to clear waivers, we could recall him for the playoffs anyway (or next injury, which we all know is right around the corner). But as most of us are aware by now, waiving Brad May still leaves the Wings around $100k over the cap. Enter Ville Leino…

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
 

Penguins scouting heavily Maple Leafs’ Alexei Ponikarovsky

According to Pittsburgh Insider William Depaoli, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been scouting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the past month. Head scout Derek Clancey has been seen at Air Canada Centre many times with winger Alexei Ponikarovsky being a player of interest for the Penguins.


Alexei Ponikarovsky (Getty images)

Ponikarovsky, 29, is a big winger (6′4”, 220 lb) with great hands that has 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points in 48 games with the Maple Leafs this season. Poni is in the final year of his contract that pays him $2.5 million this season; his cap hit is $2.1 million.

The Kiev-native had a career-year last season in Toronto, recording 23 goals and 38 assists for 61 points in 82 games. He would surely complement well Evgeni Malkin on the Penguins’ second line who is forced to play with pluggers Maxime Talbot and Ruslan Fedotenko. Talbot only has five points in 25 games this season, while Fedotenko only has 16 points in 47 games this year.

The Penguins also need help on the power play; as of today their power play ranks 29th in the league with a dismal 14.8% efficiency. You have to wonder what’s wrong in Steel Town when you have talented players like Sidney Crosby, Sergei Gonchar, Evgeni Malkin, Bill Guerin and Alex Goligoski on your first unit. With his large frame, quick hands and great vision, Ponikarovsky would certainly help the Penguins in that department.

Ponikarovsky, a fourth round (87th overall) pick of the Leafs at the 1998 NHL entry draft, has spent his entire career as a member of the Maple Leafs.

Does Brian Burke envision him as a core player of the Leafs’ future success or does he use him as a trade-bait to get back some of the high draft picks he traded to acquire budding star Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins before the start of the current season?

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: burke, crosby, fedotenko, goligoski, gonchar, guerin, kessel, malkin, ponikarovsky, talbot

Benoit Pouliot recalled and Halak starts for Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens announced earlier today that they have called up left winger Benoit Pouliot from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. Pouliot will join the Canadiens today for tonight’s game against the Thrashers in Atlanta.

Pouliot, who was sent down last week for a condition stint, recorded three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in three games with the Bulldogs, which were all recorded in yesterday’s 5-4 win against Rochester.

The 6’3’’, 199 lbs forward has yet to play a game with the Habs due to a wrist injury. Pouliot played 14 games earlier this season with the Minnesota Wild, recording only four points (2 goals, 2 assists), along with 12 penalty minutes, playing only an average of 11:56 minutes per game under head coach Todd Richards.

The Canadiens acquired Benoit Pouliot from the Wild on November 23 in exchange for disgruntled forward Guillaume Latendresse. Latendresse has recorded three goals and one assist in 11 games with the Wild since the trade. However, he missed Saturday’s game in Ottawa with the flu.

On another positive note, rearguard Roman Hamrlik has begun skating again, the first time since he injured his right knee against the Devils last Wednesday. No date has been established for his return, but a return on December 26 against the Toronto Maple Leafs is conceivable.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: benoit+pouliot, jaroslav+halak, johan+hedberg

Random Offseason Musings on a Calm Summer Night, August 3rd.

Man what a time to have a crippling, monster cold.  It’s the middle of summer, the weather’s beautiful, the beer is cold, and there are all sorts of reasons to be outside having the time of your life and not thinking about hockey.  For those of us without that luxury, the offseason makes for a very…. very, slow day at the house.

So here’s my attempt at injecting a little life into the blogosphere for those of us who are just bored enough to have the time to be checking these sorts of things:

- I’m appalled at the hooplah over the whole Spezza wedding thing.  Ok, the Elisha Cuthbert thing was funny.  This is not.  For the last time, when it comes to the private lives of athletes, nobody gives a damn!  And if they do, they’re rank amateurs as hockey fans go.  These guys spend 3/4 of the year in the spotlight, give them a few days off for chrissakes.

- My big fat guess as to where Heatley will end up next: New Jersey; the only real contender with money to spend.  My big fat guess as to when:  If he doesn’t show up at the Senators training camp: October.  If he does: March 2010.  Disclaimer: If he ends up in Anaheim at a discount, god help us all.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: offseason+musings+rant+spezza+heatley+olympics+international+wings+fantasy+hockey

Random Offseason Musings on the Eve of July 1st…

What can I say, I go away for four days to spend my time floating down a river on an innertube drinking as many Modelos as the clock has hours on it and I come back and all hell has broken loose.

Oh right, it’s the draft…


Pronger To Philly
I have to say, happy to see Pronger leave Anaheim; they almost went all the way last postseason and anything that weakens them makes me feel warm and fuzzy.  Also happy to see the Penguins have one more thorn in their side.  Enoy him, you bastards, we’ve dealt with him long enough.

And then I check the calendar this morning, sipping my PBR at 2am PST because I’ve gotten sucked into watching a TiVo’ed goddamn 3 hour draft, and realize that July 1st is a Day Away.

Jesus, and I thought I was going to get a break from all this.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
 

Wings vs Hawks: Can it be done?

I was ready for the loss.  I was ready to even come up with a phrase that the Chief might find useful for the next few years describing our defeat:  “The Bullshit.”  It made sense at the time; a team that played really, really hard.  That arguably bent the rules as far as a team can in order to win.  A team that backed that up with equally solid play.  A team that played that strong forecheck and aggressive play that makes us chip and chase, which is so foreign to our system, along with the strong goalie; the formula that beats the wings every damn year that we lose a series.

However it is not so, for our man who bleeds Wings Red came through along with the rest of the team when it counted.

Props to Anaheim.  Damn, you played so well I wouldn’t have felt THAT bad that we lost to you.  Well played.  Handshakes all around.  I believe neither side would have had a pimply faced preteen crying in their pillows on YouTube.

Now comes the challenge, Chicago.  Wrigley field ain’t got nothing on this.

Sat Oct 25, 2008 6 - 5 SO Win Wings
Sat Dec 6, 2008 4 - 5 SO Win Wings
Tue Dec 30, 2008 0 - 4   Win Wings
Thu Jan 1, 2009 6 - 4 Win Wings
Sat Apr 11, 2009 4 - 2 Loss to the Blackhawks
Sun Apr 12, 2009 0 - 3   Loss to the Blackhawks

This record may look like a winning one.  But we eeked out those first two games.  Rack the middle to up to hangover.  The latter two were downright scary.  I watched all those games, but the last two rattled me.

All season I knew, in my gut, or maybe lower, than it would come to this.  And let me tell you, if I were a betting man (which I am outside of hockey, insomuch as my heart gets in the way), I’d put money on the Hawks.  I hate to say it.  But they’re going to work us over harder than Anaheim.  Can we do it?  I hope so.  Can they do it?  I hope not.  The truth is, we both can.  And that scares the sh*t out of me.  These scrappy little youngsters care more about winning than we do right now, and we have to wake up and smell the…. well.. whatever the hell Chicago smells like.

Your thoughts?

Maholo,
The Hippy

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
 

Central Divison: From patsy to powerhouse?

It’s been said for quite a while that the success of the Detroit Red Wings in the regular season is due to their beating-up of divisional opponents.  While it’s historically been a weaker division, it’s actually become quite a bit stronger in recent seasons.  As late as last year’s playoffs, we’d heard many broadcasters bring up the idea that the Wings pad their regular season points totals due to playing a weak division all season long, despite the fact that their record against their own division last season was far worse than their records against other divisions.

When the Wings won the Stanley Cup last year, it seemed to silence most about the subject.  Still, a lot of writers’ season previews still had most Central teams missing the playoffs and staying in the bottom of the conference standings.  However, what we’ve seen play out this year has been a drastic difference from years past: the Central division is arguably one of the, if not THE, strongest in the NHL.  Here’s some data to support my thesis (as of the standings the morning of Saturday, March 7, 2009).

The following is a summary of all games played against divisons, with points earned, points earned per game, and percentage of possible points earned against the divisions.  Note: all data includes only the records of OTHER divisions against the named division (e.g. the “Points Earned Against Central” are for the five other divisions, and do not include the Central division itself).  To read this chart in plain English, take the column heading, append the division name and total, and prepend “For all other divisions combined”, to get something like this: “For all other divisions combined, their points earned against the Central division is a total of 242”.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
 

BOOOO Sundin!

Mats Sundin is coming back to town tomorrow. I have appreciated watching him play for the past 13 years here in Toronto, but I’m still booing the guy. As his final gesture to Toronto, he left, when he could have been the gift that kept on giving. Sundin could have brought in a boatload during last year’s trade deadline, but declined his waive his no-trade clause, knowing he was not going to return to TO. Had he waived his NTC, it could have sparked a wave of waving NTC’s from Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe, which would have brought in a number of players, including Jeff Carter. So rather than Sundin leaving on a good note, he left on a sour note, and that is the note that I would be singing to tomorrow night.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: mats+sundin

Time to Fire Chris Osgood!!!!

OK, so that’s not an option like firing the head coach is.  I just wanted to feel like I belonged here, since the previous two blog posts were about firing someone.

However, there definitely is a problem in net for the Red Wings, as yesterday’s miserable performance showed once and for all.  And it’s not going away.  While the Red Wings have now finally stopped giving up quite so many shots a game, the Goal Against have stayed steady.  And that points the finger then squarely at the goalies.

So what is Osgood’s problem?  (I’m focusing on Osgood because Conklin, while not stellar, hasn’t been so terrible either).

#1, Osgood is not controlling rebounds.

We’ve seen some goals scored on him lately that involve crazy bounces, including a terrible one yesterday against Colorado.  Ozzy is not playing it as safe as he needs to and is still trying to force things, that’s clear.  He still needs to simplify his game some more and control those rebounds.  He not a Hasek-twitch-reflex goalie and never has been, and it almost looks like that’s what he’s playing like as of late.

#2, Osgood is not 100% square on shots.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been mentioned more, but he’s not getting good positioning on some of the shots.  This is sometimes leading to the rebounds mentioned above, if not the puck just blowing by him outright.  Again, simplicity… just get square.  Going back to some fundamentals would help him immensely.

#3, Osgood, despite everything he says, is NOT relaxed out there.

Osgood’s best trait is his relaxed demeanor.  Last season during the Cup run he never panicked, never looked frantic in net.  This year, he looks both, and the rest of the team is feeding off it negatively.  If he can get back to basics, the calmness will likely follow.  But until then, he’s going to play and look like a wounded duck out there.

So what to do?

I’m not sure.  Conklin is not the answer, that much is still clear.  He’s a good backup… but not going to take the starting load and not consistent enough himself.  Howard and Larsson aren’t ready for Cup runs either.  With that in mind, as well as DET’s lack of cap space, I think at this point it’s safe to say that the Wings are going to ride Osgood, for better or worse, and hope that he can straighten himself out.

In the meantime, if you’re a Wings fan reach for the Pepto.  You’re going to need it for at least a while yet….

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: goalie+drama, osgood, ty+conklin

Time to Fire Michel Therrien!!!

Seriously, how long will it be till we see Michel Therrien fired? How many more excuses will we see? I saw the meltdown begin during Stanley Cup Finals calling the Wings cheaters with obstruction, diving, acting, and so on.

Yes he did coach the Pens to the SC Finals but now this is a different team with different players and you have to adjust. The excuses continued this season but last season it obviously worked. Michel has called out plenty of players and there were more excuses in interviews. Come on, when will you start coaching instead of making excuses and calling out your players.

After watching last night’s game against Toronto, I feel he needs to go. No more excuses after leading 2-0 and giving up 6 unanswered goals. If the playoffs started today; Therrien = FAIL. Hmmm maybe I need to make an excuse for writing this blog….

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: michel+therrien

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