Kukla's Korner

The overnight report: Red Wings-Panthers set-up, take 3

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Red Wings will attempt to defeat the Florida Panthers for the first time in 3 tries this evening (7:30 PM EST start on FSD Plus/FS Florida/97.1 FM), and the Wings will do so with their memories fresh from last Thursday's 6-3 Panthers romp.

Put simply, this is a game that the Red Wings have to win if they are to get back into the thick of the Atlantic Division standings, never mind close their 8-point deficit on the Atlantic-leading Panthers. With today's game and a March 19th meeting left in the teams' season series, Detroit can considerably close the gulf between themselves and the Panthers, or Detroit can all but ensure that it will be playing for 2nd or 3rd in the division.

The Wings enter tonight's game having won at home for the first time in 7 tries on Saturday against the Islanders; Florida, which has won 5 straight games against the Wings and 5 straight games at the Joe, is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Much of the Panthers' story is likely to focus upon Little Caesars graduate and 22-year-old center Vincent Trocheck, who's become a valuable contributor, as the Sun-Sentinel's Alain Poupart notes:

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

How Will They Make The Floor 2

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

A few days ago I wrote a post called How will they make the floor? where I asked how the Winnipeg Jets would make the salary floor with sensible hockey moves assuming Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd leave as unrestricted free agents.  There is another team in a similar situation.  The Carolina Hurricanes has a $63.5 million salary cap hit according to General Fanager.  They have Eric Staal and Cam Ward who are unrestricted free agents and making over $14 million between them.  These players will take a reduced salary on their next contracts and will likely do so in another city.  To make the potential departures list longer, Kris Versteeg ande John-Michael Liles are also UFAs with over $6 million tied up in salary between them.  Those four players take up nearly 1/3 of the total Carolina salary.  It isn't obvious how Carolina can fulfill salary floor requirements and replace these players with other NHLers who will make hockey sense.

Carolina has been a team that has struggled to make playoffs recently.  Perhaps it is possible this yeara although they are currently three points out of the playoffs.  Likely making the salary floor requires overpaying free agents who don't do much to improve the team.  Carolina remains a non-playoff team after a few moves with little hockey value.  What does one do to improve in the off-season given their situation?

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Ansar Khan Answers Questions From Detroit Fans

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

Answer Khan of Mlive answers questions from the fans.

The first question was regarding Jimmy Howard.

Mrazek is their No. 1 goalie – now and into the future. Even if Howard regains his mojo they're not going back to the rotation they used much of the first half of the season.

Mrazek, a restricted free agent, will get a sizable raise on his next contract. They can't have a back-up with a $5.3 million cap hit next season, and I'm sure Howard doesn't want to be a back-up. So the only option is to trade him after the season.

That's easier said than done when you have three years and nearly $16 million remaining and you've struggled like Howard has.

In order to move him, the Red Wings could retain a portion of his contract. But instead of paying somebody to take him perhaps a more likely scenario would be the Red Wings taking back somebody else's unwanted contract, though not with that large a cap hit.

And even then, the list of teams seeking a highly paid starting goalie who has been off his game can't be long. Calgary, Buffalo and Winnipeg might be on the short list of clubs looking for a No. 1.

more Q & A...

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Video- Drew Stafford Will Be Talking To DoPS Tomorrow

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: drew+stafford

No Tanking In Columbus

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Aaron Portzline of Puck Rakers,

Given the Blue Jackets’ propensity to end “lost” seasons with strong finishes, this year’s marketing gimmick/slogan – “March With Us” – bears an unfortunate double entendre.

It was intended to be a call to fans, with a nod to the club’s Civil War nickname. But nobody does March quite like the Blue Jackets, and previous spring flings have served only to create false optimism and spoil draft picks.
(Maybe “October With Us” could be printed on t-shirts next fall?)

As this cynicism swirls around a club that has won one home playoff game in 15 seasons, the feeling in the Blue Jackets’ dressing room remains unchanged. You might say it remains professional.

The players and coaches won’t hear of tanking. In some cases, it angers them. With wins in four of their last five games – and points in five of their last six – the Blue Jackets believe their primed for a strong finish.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Afternoon Line- Joffrey Lupul

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

“All sports I think are always evolving but hockey’s so much different now, the pace of the game, the age of the players. When I came in the league there was third and fourth lines littered with 35- to 38-year-old guys. You had these old veterans on the team.

“Now it seems the opposite: They can’t wait to get these guys out.”

-Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Much more from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: joffrey+lupul

Evgeny Svechnikov Makes The Worth Watching List Of Young Russian Players

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,

Russia has proven to be fertile soil for NHL scouts over the past 30 years, nurturing some of the most skilled and creative players in the game today. The pipeline of talent continues to flow, providing nearly 60 players over the past five NHL drafts, including 17 in 2015 alone. While not all of those selected will make the cut, here are a dozen who are worth watching.

Evgeny Svechnikov, wing, Detroit Red Wings

A multi-faceted winger blessed with a complete skill set, Svechnikov is on track to becoming a solid top-six winger for Detroit. Size (6'2", 205 pounds) and skating are his prime assets, making him tough for defenses to handle off the rush. He’ll probably be more of a playmaker at the NHL level, but he’s shown some finishing touch in the QMJHL, scoring 54 goals in 90 career games.

more Russian players listed...

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Who Is The ‘Peyton Manning’ Of The NHL?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Craig Custance of ESPN, 

Corey Crawford is the NHL's version of Manning. All he does, every season, is play rock-solid in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, and every year there are those who question about just how good he is.

Like Manning, Crawford's numbers are impeccable. He has a .921 save percentage in the playoffs. He has two Stanley Cups. He's a workhorse -- no goalie has played more games this season than Crawford's 45. And yet, he's far down the list of players people want to credit for Chicago's success. Has his name ever even come up in a Vezina Trophy debate?

He's had his moments of meltdown -- again, just like Manning -- including last year's performance against the Nashville Predators in the playoffs. But he's resilient, always bounces back and deserves more credit than he receives. He doesn't always look pretty but he gets the job done. Kind of like Peyton.

more on this topic from LeBrun, Bursnide and McDonald...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

LETANG, CROSBY POWER PENGUINS' LATE COMEBACK . . .
Down 2-0 in the final six minutes of regulation, the Penguins scored three unanswered goals – including the tying marker by Sidney Crosby (1-2—3) at 18:45 of the third period and winner by Kris Letang (2-1—3) at 1:27 of overtime – to rally for their fifth win in their last six outings.
 
* At 26-18-7 (59 points), the Penguins leapfrogged the Devils (26-20-7, 59 points) and Islanders (26-18-6, 58 points) into third place in the Metropolitan Division.
 
* According to Elias, excluding shootout victories, this marked the first time the Penguins won a game in which they trailed by two goals in the last six minutes of the third period since a 4-3 overtime win versus the Lightning on Feb. 4, 2009.
 
* Letang notched his third career overtime goal and first since Nov. 26, 2011 at Montreal. He has 9-29—38 in 41 games this season, including a trio of three-point outings.
 
* Crosby extended his point streak to 10 games (10-8—18), tied for the third-longest such run in the NHL this season. That includes at least one goal in six straight contests (8 G), equaling a career-high established Dec. 5-15, 2006 (6 G).
 
* Crosby also became the 13th active player to reach 900 career points (324-578—902). Via Elias, only 10 players in NHL history have reached 900 points in fewer games played than Crosby (677):

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Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

One more discussion of Saturday’s ice issues

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Red Wings and Islanders endured a strange scenario during Saturday's matinee game. My understanding of the situation was that one of the Wings' Zambonis picked up a bolt that helps hold the "Marsh Pegs" in place, gouging a rut in the ice, and it took about 35 minutes for Al Sobotka and the ice crew to fix the error:

MLive's Brendan Savage offers one last look at the situation, noting that Henrik Zetterberg and John Tavares had to sign off on the ice conditions before play resumed:

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

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