Kukla's Korner

The Anaheim Ducks Still Believe

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,

This Game 4 at United Center wasn’t as long as Game 2 was back at Honda Center, but then that exercise in triple overtime was the longest Blackhawks’ game ever, and this franchise has been around longer than the concept of the playoff beard.

Having suffered their second crushing, late-night, last-call defeat of the week, the Ducks – whose resilience is such that no one should question their ability to rebound from this one, either – said all the right things afterward.

All the right things, plus some.

Andrew Cogliano suggested his team “put some doubt” into the Blackhawks’ minds by coming back after being down, 3-1, in the third period.

Perry joined the chorus in noticing all the minutes being accumulated by Chicago’s top defensemen, saying, “If we just keep doing the same things over and over again, we’re going to wear them down.”

And Cam Fowler continued the drumbeat about the team’s deep-rooted faith, noting, “We’re a group that believes, no matter what, in here.”

The guess in this space, however, is that the Ducks fully understand this series looks like it’s headed for a Game 7 – and potentially an epic one – next weekend.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Re-Signing Dougie Hamilton And Steven Stamkos

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

- Re-signing Dougie Hamilton will be one of Sweeney’s priorities. It won’t be easy. Through three seasons, 178 games of NHL play have given both sides a good idea of Hamilton’s future value. Hamilton, who will turn 22 on June 17, projects to become the Bruins’ version of Victor Hedman: a big, mobile, three-zone defenseman with shutdown ability to complement scoring touch. Defensemen like that make a lot of money. Hedman is currently on his second contract: $20 million over five years. That is where the conversation starts with Hamilton. The final price is likely to be higher. One agent pegged Hamilton’s asking price at north of $5 million annually. The Bruins would prefer Hamilton’s salary to be closer to Jonas Brodin’s annual average value of $4,166,667.

- The notion sounds so goofy that it should be promptly dismissed. Steven Stamkos is Tampa Bay’s captain and signature player. But there is chatter wondering if Stamkos’s eventual blockbuster contract — he will be a UFA on July 1, 2016 — would be steep enough to prompt the Lightning to deal their captain. This speaks to several things: Stamkos’s asking price, uncertainty about the salary cap in the future, and Tampa’s depth. Stamkos’s threshold is $10.5 million, the annual numbers that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will earn starting next season. Stamkos is just as important to his club as Toews and Kane are to theirs. He probably deserves more. But the two Chicago superstars signed their extensions before the weakening of the Canadian dollar. Tyler Johnson is already a top-two center at 24 years old. Vladislav Namestnikov, 22, could become a go-to pivot. They will get raises, as will Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Jonathan Drouin. Moving Stamkos is a wild thought. But some people are thinking it out loud.

more hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dougie+hamilton, steven+stamkos

Will Mike Babcock Attract UFAs To Toronto?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from NHL.com,

Defenseman Cody Franson, who played almost four seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs before being traded in March, said Saturday that free agents, like himself, will find the team more attractive now that it's coached by Mike Babcock.

"I definitely think it makes [Toronto] more interesting," Franson told TSN 1050 Radio. "... Definitely, with Mr. Babcock going there, it's an exciting time for people in that organization and I think it makes it more intriguing to free agents for sure."

Franson will be a free agent July 1 after finishing the season with the Nashville Predators. He said he would like the chance to return to Toronto.

"One hundred percent; I've always said that I loved it in Toronto," the 27-year-old said. "... I'm hopeful that Toronto's in the mix come July 1 and my phone will definitely be on and hoping that they're one of the teams that calls."

Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly agrees that players would choose to sign with Toronto to play for Babcock, who was hired Wednesday.

"When you have a coach like Mike Babcock, your team improves automatically," Rielly told the Toronto Sun. "Players will want to come to play in Toronto and really embrace the role of playing for the Leafs. … We're happy to have him on board."

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Chicago Blackhawks Found A Way To Win

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

The Blackhawks endured an improbable three-goal Ducks onslaught in a 37-second span in the third period, an onslaught that erased a 3-1 Chicago lead. And they withstood a further onslaught from the Ducks in overtime, being outshot 21-7, before Vermette found the back of the net from a sharp angle with just his second shot of the night.

"I think we worked hard to get to where we were in the third period with a 3-1 lead. I guess when it rains it pours, in some moments, especially today for us in the third. I think a lot of teams wouldn't feel too good about themselves," said a still-sweaty Toews, who scored his first goal of the series Saturday to break a five-game goalless drought.

"I think we did a great job of staying calm, collecting ourselves. It is what it is. You can't change that. You have to move forward, find a way to get yourself back in the game. Obviously, when we get into late overtime periods, I think we have a feeling as a group that we're going to find a way to win."

If there was one person who personified that will to win, that belief in the collective when in the face of adversity, it was Vermette, who was inexplicably scratched for Game 3.

He watched that Game 3 loss from the locker room, working out with some of the other scratches.

"The emotion, it's not a pleasant one," Vermette said. "As a proud competitor, like anybody else on this team, you want to be part of the team. You think you can help the team. I think that's a natural emotion to get. At the same time, very supportive of the group.

"Hopeful we get a couple more wins here."

more

Below, watch the game highlights...

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The overnight report: did ‘Mike Babcock’ get too big for the Wings?

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The "aha" moment for me didn't happen until sometime late on Friday evening. I realized that the last thirteen months' worth of Babcock contract questions had yielded an unanswered question that became bigger than the team, and when someone, anyone becomes bigger than the team--and likes it when they remain that way--then it's time for them to leave.

A coach can be larger-than-life, a coach can be just as important to his team's success as the players, a coach can be a media phenomenon unto himself, but by December, Mike Babcock's future became a sideshow, and the few times the "verboten" subject and un-answerable question was asked and parried away, the coach did nothing to diminish its distraction-worthy qualities.

Is it realistic to blame the Wings' late-season swoon upon Babcock's up-in-the-air status? I don't believe so, but I do believe that the late-season swoon certainly illustrated that Babcock might have been a little burnt out as the Red Wings' coach, and perhaps his realization that his time was at an end yielded some dog-eared pages out of the playbook being leaned upon far too heavily by a team that didn't need to hear, "If we just stick with it, we'll be fine" for the third season in a row.

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Vermette gives Chicago a double OT win

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

Antoine Vermette finished off what was nothing less than a wild and wacky game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night, scoring 5 minutes and 37 seconds into the second overtime period:

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: anaheim+ducks, antoine+vermette, chicago+blackhawks

Ducks’ 3 in 37 yield double OT

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks are currently heading to double overtime because Anaheim scored 3 goals in 37 seconds, the second-fastest 3 goals scored in playoff history:

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: anaheim+ducks, chicago+blackhawks

Saturday Headlines discuss coaches’ moves and Dubnyk

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

On Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman discussed the post-Babcock coaching dominoes (Todd Nelson of Edmonton "free to look around," Don Sweeney meeting with Claude Julien to discuss "personnel and style of play," Dan Bylsma's status, Ken Hitchcock's future) and Devan Dubnyk's desire to re-sign with the Wild:

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, claude+julien, devan+dubnyk, don+sweeney, edmonton+oilers, ken+hitchcock, minnesota+wild, st.+louis+blues, todd+nelson

Red Wings fans, meet ‘Blash’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Free Press's Jeff Seidel has written what I can only describe as the definitive profile of soon-to-be Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, and this column deserves its own entry and all sorts of praise because this is how those of you who don't already know someone who allows people to call him "Blash" who exactly "Blash" is:

Blashill is the perfect choice — and not just because he is basically a younger, less-experienced version of Babcock, minus the hard-edged personality. Blashill checks all of the boxes you want in a coach. Well, all of them but NHL head-coaching experience.

He is demanding, a hard worker, highly prepared, detail-oriented, intelligent, a tremendous communicator, able to motivate, confident, even-keeled under pressure, loyal, able to make adjustments on the bench, focused, a proven winner and a coach whose players would run through a sheet of Plexiglas for him.

Ask anyone who has spent some time with Blashill, and they all come back to the same phrase: He just gets it. All of it. How to handle players. How to prepare for games. How to deal with the media. How to talk to the front office. How to develop players. And how to treat those who work under him with respect. He even lets someone videotape his pregame speeches and put them online (Youtube.com/griffvision).

"He's awesome," said Grand Rapids Griffins equipment manager Brad Thompson, who has worked under 10 coaches. "He's just a good guy, a great guy. I probably respect him the most of any coach, just for the fact that he doesn't look at us as the schleps or the grunts of the team."

Other than a lack of head coaching experience in the NHL, what's Blashill's biggest weakness?

It might be his golf game. "His golf game is not as good as he thinks it is and that's what gets him into trouble," Ferris State hockey coach Bob Daniels said, with a laugh.

Seidel continues, and this is a must-read

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Prospect playoff news: Walleye rally again via Frk hat trick

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Toledo Walleye are trying to make some playoff history, and Martin Frk's lending them quite the hand. Two games after scoring a hat trick, Frk registered yet another as the Walleye rallied from a 4-2 deficit to defeat the South Carolina Stingrays 5-4 in overtime on Saturday.

The Walleye have rallied from a 3-games-to-none deficit to close to 3-games-to-2, with the teams playing Games 6 and possibly 7 in Toledo on the 26th and 27th; on Saturday, Frk scored a hat trick and added an assist on 8 shots.

The Walleye's website posited a game recap:

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

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