Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Olympic Women’s Semi-Finals

The semi-finals in the women’s Olympic hockey tournament were yesterday.  These semi-finals pitted USA against Sweden and Canada against Finland.  The preliminary round results are here.

USA 9 Sweden 1  This game was never really in doubt.  USA scored first and scored often.  They had a 4-0 lead midway through the second period when Pernilla Winberg scored a power play goal for Sweden.  Monique Lamoreux scored a hat trick for the Americans, with Karen Thatcher, Caitlin Cahow, Jenny Potter, Jocelyne Lamoreux, Natalie Darwitz, Hilary Knight and Molly Engstrom all adding two points each.  Jesse Vetter stopped 11 of 12 shots for the win.  Kim Martin was much busier for Sweden.  She faced 46 shots.

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Men’s Preliminary Round Olympics

The preliminary round is complete in the men’s hockey tournament in the Olympics.  Teams were sorted into three groups of four teams each.  They played a round robin tournament in each group.  The winner in each group, plus the best record of the non-winners receive a bye into the quarter-finals.  The eight lower finishers must play a qualifying game to make the quarterfinals.

Here are the preliminary round results:

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Who Would Have Predicted This?

One week into the Olympics and Sergei Kostitsyn is the top scorer in the tournament so far?  He has five points in three games so far (granted the top teams have not played their third game yet).  Kostitsyn has been in and out of the minors in the NHL.  Is this a sign that he has turned the corner and is becoming a solid NHL calibre player?

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Questionable Nationality At The Olympics

In 2003, the International Ice Hockey Federation changed its rules.  If a player played for a nation in an international tournament, he can change his nationality if he wishes to if he plays for four years in another country where he is a citizen.  Thus a player who has dual citizenship can change the nation that he plays for during his career.  Potentially this can set up a situation where a country with a significant number of hockey teams (Canada, USA, Russia perhaps) recruits players from other nations to come play with their nation to build a superpower.  USA attempted this in the past.  They had recruited Tony Esposito, Chico Resch and Bryan Trottier, who are all Canadian born to play for USA in Canada Cup tournaments in the 1980’s.

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Women’s Preliminary Round Olympics

The preliminary round in the women’s hockey tournament completed yesterday.  The women’s tournament is split into two four team groups that played a round robin tournament.  After it is completed, the top two teams in each group carry on to the medal round.  Winners of each group play second place in the other group in a semi-final and the winners of those games move on to the gold-silver game, while the losers play for bronze and 4th place.

Here are the results:

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Hot Goalies At Olympic Break

This is my final look at hot players at the Olympic Break.  The top ten forwards by points since January 1st, 2010 are here.  The top ten defencemen by points in the same period are here.  The surprise is that nine of the top ten defencemen (the only omission is number one scorer Mike Green) are participating in the Olympics, when only six of the top ten forwards are (omissions are Steve Stamkos, Martin St Louis and Tim Connolly by their team’s option and Anze Kopitar since his country did not qualify).  One would have expected a higher percentage of forwards to be in the Olympics given that there are more forward spots available and that scoring makes up a more significant portion of a forward`s job.

Today, I will look at the top ten goaltenders, sorted by saves percentage since January 1st, 2010, who have appeared in ten or more NHL games.  Here is the list:

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Hot Defencemen Scorers At Olympic Break

Yesterday, I looked at top 10 scorers in 2010 and their Olympic situations and found that four of the top ten scorers in that period will not be in the Olympics.  Three of them were omitted because their teams chose to overlook them (Canada - Steve Stamkos and Martin St Louis USA - Tim Connolly) and one because his country did not qualify for the Olympics (Anze Kopitar - Slovenia).  Next I looked at the top ten defencemen scorers in that period.  The list is below:

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Hot Scorers At Olympic Time

In order to get an idea of who the top scoring threats in the Olympics might be, I decided to look at the top ten scorers since the beginning of the year.  It is interesting to see which teams have the most top scorers and to see which teams left their potential top scorers off of their rosters.

Here are the top ten scorers since January 1st:

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Olympic Hockey Predictions

I would love to be able to publish an informed ranking of the twelve teams in the Olympics from first to twelfth, but the weaker teams in the tournament have far too many players on their roster that I either have never seen play or have seen play so rarely that it is hard to make a meaningful assessment of them.  I cannot realistically tell you if Latvia is better than Belarus or vice versa.  As a result, I will list the teams I think are the top five, with a blurb about each.  In a short tournament like the Olympics, upsets will happen.  With a small number of games played, those upsets may be significant and it is unlikely that the teams actually finish with strongest on top, second strongest in second.  There will be variability in the standings.

Here are my top five predictions:

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Carolina Is Hot - And It’s All For Naught

Over the last few games, one of the hottest teams in the NHL has been the Carolina Hurricanes.  The have won nine of their last eleven.  That has gone largely unknown because their 24-37 record (with seven regulation tie points) has them in second last place in the East Conference.  Carolina is currently nine points out of a playoff spot and that is likely too big a margin to make up in the remainder of the season.  The Carolina Hurricanes have recovered from horrible start where several key players were injured and nobody stepped forward to fill their roles.

Over the last eleven games, Carolina has had several very good performers.  Jussi Jokinen has 15 points in that stretch.  Eric Staal has 13, Ray Whitney has 11, Brandon Sutter has 10 and Joni Pitkanen has nine points.  Most of these players were injured earlier in the season.  The others are having breakthrough seasons.  Jussi Jokinen has 49 points so far this year.  That is his highest total since 2006 and is likely to improve by season’s end.  Brandon Sutter only had six career points before this season.  Their improvement is important to the team and has been significant in the last few months.

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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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