Kukla's Korner

The Defensemen For The Chicago Blackhawks Are Putting Up Big Minutes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Stephens and Rich Hammond of the OC Register,

After their 4-hour, 52-minute Game 2 victory Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks stayed overnight in Southern California then flew home Wednesday morning. Not surprisingly, they skipped practice.

The question for the Blackhawks involves how well they will rebound from a physical standpoint in Game 3, particularly on defense. Duncan Keith played 49 minutes, 51 seconds, in Game 2. Brent Seabrook played 47:46, Niklas Hjalmarsson played 47:45 and Johnny Oduya played 46:06.

The Ducks’ Francois Beauchemin played 46:29, but no other Ducks defenseman topped 40 minutes.

“You just focus on the next game,” Hjalmarsson said. “Yeah, it was a lot of minutes, but we won the game and we’ll move on from there. Personally, I feel fine. I have no complaints.”

The Blackhawks have been here before. In the first round against Nashville, they won Game 1 in double overtime and Game 4 in triple overtime. The Blackhawks followed both long victories with losses, though.

“I think there’s a lot more left in the tank,” captain Jonathan Toews said, “and we’re excited to get back to home ice, to try to get (the Ducks) on their heels a little bit more and just find that excitement and jump and energy.”


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

It’s Don Sweeney’s Job To Improve The Boston Bruins

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

The Bruins have Tuukka Rask, which is a good thing. An ace goalie is precious currency in the NHL, where scoring goals is harder than AP Physics.

They have Patrice Bergeron, the league’s best two-way center. If Zdeno Chara can stay healthy in 2015-16, the 38-year-old should be an elite shutdown defenseman.

They were not enough, in new general manager Don Sweeney’s estimation, to have made the Bruins a realistic Eastern Conference representative instead of the Lightning or Rangers. The Bruins simply couldn’t score enough to make Rask’s margin of error any thicker than a dime.

The Bruins had the NHL’s No. 22 offense (2.55 goals per game). They had a plus-2 goal differential, the ninth-highest in the East, which accurately reflected their ninth-place finish. They scored 56 third-period goals, more than only Buffalo and Arizona.

This comes down to two things: personnel and philosophy. Sweeney is now responsible for improving both.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, | KK Hockey | Permalink

It Was About The Money For Mike Babcock

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,

When it comes to employment, most people have a salary in mind at which point the money becomes too much to turn down.

That's the simplest explanation for why Mike Babcock left a coaching job he loved with the Detroit Red Wings to become coach of a Toronto Maple Leafs team with myriad roster problems.

Several media outlets are reporting that Babcock, 52, will receive $50 million over eight seasons, with much of the deal front-loaded.

That $6.25 million average salary is more than three times what Babcock ($2 million) earned this season in Detroit, and it is more than twice the salary of Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who was the highest paid coach at $2.75 million per season.

Undoubtedly, Babcock, a proud Canadian, is intrigued by becoming the coach of one the NHL's most storied franchises and the challenge of helping team president Brendan Shanahan build a team that could win the team's first Stanley Cup since 1967.


from Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press,

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mike+babcock

The Top Line In The Playoffs

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,

They can’t stop these guys.

The New York Rangers, who closed out Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who survived Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, have a problem on their hands. They’ve yet to slow the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.

Hey, join the club.

It was Kucherov who finished it Wednesday night in Game 3 at Amalie Arena — saving all by snapping a wicked wrist shot past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist early in overtime for a 6-5 win and a 2-1 series lead.


It could just as easily have been Johnson or Palat. They’re the best scoring line and story line of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But it was Kucherov, finding a sliver of space and beating Lundqvist, just as he beat Carey Price in Game 1 at Montreal.

“Kuch is one of those guys who, when you think he literally has nothing, he just kind of whips up something and makes something out of it,” Johnson said.


Watch Kucherov's game winning goal in OT below...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink

All The Mike Babcock Talk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Toronto Sports Media,

So, as we like to do when there is news, here’s what’s been written so far:

First from Toronto:

Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun doesn’t want the parade route planned yet: “There’s an old saying in horse racing: You can have the best trainer in the world, but without the horses, you’ve got nothing. Which is basically the situation with the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

Steve Simmons finds the positive at least for the moment: “And for at least one day, one moment, everything seemed right with the rather uneven, historically dysfunctional Maple Leafs. Never mind the reality of their roster, or the fact the Leafs don’t have a general manager or a front-line centre. They have a coach. Richest one in the business. And darn, if that doesn’t taste like ice cream on a hot summer’s night.”

Bruce Arthur has a lengthy take on the new coachThere will be strains and tension, because Babcock is a furious competitor, and cannot love the idea of rebuilding; he’s 52 and wants to win more Stanley Cups. When asked if going to Toronto fit Babcock’s stated criteria for winning, Holland said, “That’s a question for Mike.”

Rosie lives up to her reputation with her take: “Social media — which I detest and which reflects nothing of import — was divided on Wednesday between over-the-moon and big deal, doesn’t change the dreadful on-ice equation one iota. Perhaps we’ve just forgotten how to feel good about anything. Nothing grand ever happens here. The sports gods don’t like us, grumble-grumble-grumble.

Be not so cynical. Mike Babcock is a game-changer. Losing will not rest easily on his shoulders. And though unquestionably there will be much losing to come, he will not allow it to rest easily on the shoulders of his players either.”


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

Morning Line- Nick Cotsonika

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

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

Detroit Players Talk Jeff Blashill

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Brendan Savage of Mlive,

"He's a great coach," said Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar, who spent one season with Blashill in Grand Rapids. "He's a good talker. He can motivate the players. I feel like the system and how he's willing to play with the players is really good.

"Players feel like they can talk to him. He's somebody who they can trust and feel good. He's really good with the players. I feel like the players can trust him. He's a really good coach."

"I love Blash," Jurco said. "He just understands the game really well. He's a really good guy and you can talk to him and he understands you a person. Great guy, great coach, and I only have great memories of him."

Blashill communicates well with players, according to Jurco.

"Yeah, he's a really good talker and that's one of the best things about him," Jurco said. "Every time he showed me something it was like 'You are right. I can do it differently.' He just understands it so well. He knows what the players can do a little differently.

"He's a great coach."

much more

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Bad Lundqvist

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

So there sat Lundqvist, a King with a crown tarnished by an ultra-talented group that seems to have his number … or numbers, as in a 4.75 GAA and .840 save pct. in six meetings this season covering the regular season and this round.

There he sat alone until general manager Glen Sather entered the room, walked to his franchise player’s stall, and offered quiet, private words of love and encouragement.

Lundqvist will need much more than those words as he seeks to find answers between now and Friday’s Game 4, for when he met the press a few minutes after Sather had left the room, it was clear that the goaltender had been shaken out of the Conn Smythe-worthy comfort zone in which he had been living until the Lightning became his — and his team’s — worst nightmare.

“For some reason I didn’t really pick it up,” the beleaguered goaltender said of the winner on which Palat cut across the zone from the right before unleashing the drive that beat him to the far, stick side. “I’m going to have to look at the video to see why.

“It’s really challenging for me, the way they move the puck and find open ice for the shot, the way they get scoring chances from right in front,” said Lundqvist, who had blundered by directing a soft initial shot onto Steven Stamkos’ stick for the Lightning’s first goal. “They’re good, but I need to be more consistent with my game plan.”

read on

Watch the game highlights below....

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: henrik+lundqvist

16 Hours Later And All Is Well

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By IwoCPO

The eyes of the hockey world are on you, as they always are.  Mick Kern (@expomick) tweeted something strange last night.

What I most love about Babcock to Toronto is all the whiny, snobby, know it all Red Wings' bloggers having to eat crow.

Of course, he doesn't mean just bloggers. They never do.  They mean you, too. He means you. And he went on to say that the reason we should all "eat crow" is because we need to accept that Toronto "...is the centre/centre of the hockey universe. Accept it."

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

Werner von Babs

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Wednesday, May 20th, was one of the longer days of my life. I knew it would be--that's part of the job of covering hockey news, and the Babcock sweepstakes, all 13 months of it, was going to have to end as bizarrely and with as thoroughly frenzied an ending as it did.

In terms of Mike Babcock's decision, I certainly cannot harbor ill will toward someone taking a $50 million offer (even though, as Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond pointed out in separate radio appearances, Canadian income taxes and the cost of living might very well wash out what Babcock's taking in probably-U.S.-dollar salary from Toronto), and I can't harbor too much ill will at Babcock for moving on after ten years...

But I had always believed, perhaps naively, that what Babcock wanted to do was to be a "lifetime coach," the kind of singular figure who would prove that in pro sports, you can remain relevant and successful during a collegiate-coach-length tenure.

Instead, the man who' climbed the Triple Gold Club's worth of the Seven Summits of coaching is going to Toronto for his moon shot, thinking that he can be the next Werner Von Braun.

I can't say that I wish him lots of luck given my natural dislike for the franchise whose name is an anagram for Ample Fleas, but I fear that his encounters with the corporate ownership and management of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will end up dooming his rocket the way Sergei Korolev's N1 turned out, and there is something to be said for the fact that the rocket not exploding on the pad might be the hardest accomplishment to achieve in one's attempt to guide a Maple Leafs team to a Stanley Cup championship.

We'll find out whether Babcock can land a team on the moon in eight years, or less.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

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