Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Boston Hires GM Don Sweeney

The Boston Bruins missed the playoffs and fired their GM in Peter Chiarelli.  That quickly began to look like a mistake when he was almost immediately hired by the Edmonton Oilers to be their GM.  You have almost certainly made a bad move if you fire somebody who is immediately such a good candidate that another team races to hire him. 

Boston needed a new GM.  The problem is that it is hard to find a good GM.  They do not grow on trees.  Giving up Chiarelli with no plan one who to replace him is not smart.  Boston basically admitted it when they hired Don Sweeney to replace him,

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AHL Playoffs: Second Round

The second round of the AHL playoffs completed tonight.  This is my summary of them.  Here was my first round summary.

Manchester Monarchs defeat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins four games to one.  Manchester is the Los Angeles Kings farm affiliate and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton belongs to Pittsburgh.  This was not a particularly close series.  Manchester's offence was led by Jordan Weal who is tied for the playoff lead in points.  Michael Mersch and Brian O'Neill also made significant offensive contributions.  Colin Miller led their defence.  Jean-Francois Berube was their top goaltender.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's offence has been led by Conor Sheary and Andrew Ebbett.  Derrick Pouliot led their defence.  Matt Murray did the majority of their goaltending.

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Playoff MVP

In the second round I picked Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks as the playoff MVP at that point.  Keith has slowed down since then.  He has no points and is -1 in his last three games.  Thus I am going to pick a new MVP.  Given his hat trick last night, Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning seems like a logical choice, but I am not going in that direction.  I select Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks as the MVP at this point. 

Perry has 15 points in 10 playoff games at this point.  He is tied for the playoff lead with a +8 +/- rating.  Johnson in contrast has one more point in five more games played.  He has a league leading 11 goals, which is four more than Perry.  He has a +4 +/- rating.  The main difference is that Perry has a significantly lower games played total and hence a much higher points per game.  Perry is much more productive offensively. 

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World Hockey Championships: Medal Round

The medal round was completed today at the World Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.  I have earlier reported upon the preliminary round and the quarterfinals.  Here I will look at the semi-finals which were played yesterday and the medal games today. 

Here are the results:

SemiFinal - Canada 2 Czech Republic 0.  Canada dominated this game outshooting the Czech 41-23.  Goals were scored by Taylor Hall and Jason Spezza.  Mike Smith had the shutout for Canada.  Ondrej Pavelec was the losing Czech goalie.  This puts Canada in the gold/silver game and the host Czechs into the bronze/4th game.

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Hall Of Fame Predictions

On June 29th, the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class will be announced.  There are three first year eligible players who should be inducted in Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Chris Pronger.  I predict all three get inducted.  There might be some issue regarding Chris Pronger in that he hasn't officially retired so that the Philadelphia Flyers can circumvent the salary cap.  I don't think the Hall of Fame committee will make him wait - but I could see the logic in it being debated.  The Hall of Fame can induct four male players.  This would be a good opportunity for a previously overlooked player to be added as a fourth.  I predict that Mark Recchi may be that fourth.  In an ideal world, I think Sergei Makarov might be a better candidate as a fourth but given the number of times he has been overlooked, I think Recchi is a more likely fourth selection. 

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World Hockey Championships: Quarterfinals

The quarterfinals in the World Hockey Championships took place today.  This tournament is underway in the Czech Republic.  The quarterfinals were single elimination and played between the top four teams from each of the two groups in the preliminary round.  The winners in these games advance to the medal round.

Here are the results:

USA 3 Switzerland 1.  Connor Hellebuyck was the American goalie and Reto Berra was the Swiss goalie.  Roman Josi opened the scoring for the Swiss in the first period.  Ben Smith and Charlie Coyle scored less than a minute apart in the second period to give the Americans the lead.  Jake Gardiner added an insurance goal in the third period.  This puts USA in the medal round.

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Semi-Finals Predictions

The second round of the playoffs just ended.  Looking back on my predictions I got three correct and one wrong.  My incorrect prediction was picking Montreal to defeat Tampa Bay.  It is hard to take credit for the New York Rangers victory over Washington when it is a seven game overtime decision but that was a correct prediction.  When combined with my first round predictions, I have a 9-3 record so far in playoff predictions.  Thus I am guaranteed to get more playoff predictions correct regardless of what happens in the remaining three playoff series. 

Let's move onto the semi-final predictions:

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World Hockey Championships: Preliminary Round

The so-called World Hockey Championships are underway in the Czech Republic.  While it is hard to take seriously a "world championship" tournament played while many of the best NHL players are not available as they are still playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it does give us some good games and it gives us a look at some of the better European players playing alongside NHL players thus giving us an idea of their relative quality.

This year's tournament is being played in Prague and Ostrava.  The sixteen teams involved are split into two eight team groups that play round robins.  Group A plays in the O2 Arena in Prague and Group B plays in the Cez Arena in Ostrava.  The top four teams in each group move onto a single elimination quarterfinal with the winners advancing to the medal round. 

Here are the results:

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A Tough Free Agent Decision

Devan Dubnyk is a free agent this summer.  He had an excellent year with the Minnesota Wild and is the most significant reason they made the playoffs.  He is nominated for the Vezina Trophy and is most likely going to finish in second place in the voting.  What is the second best goaltender in the NHL worth as a free agent?  Many years at seven or eight million per year?  The problem is Dubnyk does not have the track record of a Vezina nominee.  He was lucky to have a chance to play in the NHL at all this season.  His 2013/14 season was awful.  He started the year in Edmonton and was traded to Nashville before ending the season in the AHL.  He posted a .891 saves percentage and a 3.43 GAA during the season.

The Arizona Coyotes gave him a last chance contract worth $800,000, but when they fell out of contention early they decided they didn't need an experienced backup goalie and traded him to Minnesota for a third round draft pick.

If you were Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher what would you do with Dubnyk?  He is the saviour of this season.  He is due a significant raise.  He is quite a risk given his track record.  If you give him a significant contract and he cannot repeat his 2014/15 season it would be a mistake in the salary capped world.  If he moves on to another team and succeeds there it would also be a significant mistake.  How would you proceed here?

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Award Nominees Announced

Over the last couple of weeks the NHL has announced the finalists for the awards that interest me enough that I gave my selections in my if I had an award ballot post.  I want to comment on the actual selections and how they differ from my selections and what if anything we can infer from the people that were selected.

Calder Trophy- Aaron Ekblad Florida Panthers, Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames, Mark Stone Ottawa Senators.  Filip Forsberg is a clear snub.  He finished one point behind Gaudreau and Stone and I think that one point made a big difference in voter's minds.  I would argue that Forsberg had the toughest rookie season among forwards because he established himself as a star earlier in the season than Gaudreau or Stone.  Thus opposing teams made more of an effort to shut him down and yet he finished with effectively the same point total.  I would have omitted Gaudreau from the nominees because of defensive concerns.  Nevertheless I expect Gaudreau is the most likely winner.  He is exciting to watch and was part of a surprising Calgary team and it makes a good storyline to reward him with rookie of the year in honor of Calgary's successes.

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com

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