Kukla's Korner

Your Pick To Win The Stanley Cup

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

First off, check out how you did for the Conference Finals.  Then in the comment section of this post, pick either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Nashville Predators and the length of the series.

Puck drop of the first game of the Stanley Cup Final will be just after 8:00pm ET on Monday.

This post will remain at the top of KK until 6:00pm ET on Monday.

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The Best Defense In The NHL Against A Very Good Offensive Team

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Russo of the Star Trbune,

Frankly, it’s amazing how a franchise can possibly lose defenseman Ryan Suter to free agency, then ultimately trade young, up-and-coming defenseman Seth Jones and captain and stalwart defenseman Shea Weber and still end up in the Stanley Cup Final … by possessing one of the NHL’s best blue lines led by top-four Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.

“It’s a unique challenge,” Sidney Crosby said as the Penguins begin a repeat bid Monday against the Nashville Predators and their back-end quartet. “When you’re thinking about playing teams, you’re talking about usually forwards, snipers. You don’t usually think of a group of defensemen as guys that finish as well as they do. Usually one, maybe two guys do that in a D-corps. They have the luxury of having a number of them.”

Crosby’s superstar sidekick Evgeni Malkin, fresh off playing Ottawa Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson, was more direct.

“It’ll be the hardest challenge of my life,” said Malkin, who leads the NHL with 24 points in the playoffs. “I’ve never played a team who have six good defensemen. Usually, [a team has] like one Karlsson. Here, [they have] like four Karlssons. It’s a good challenge for me, for Sid, for Phil [Kessel]. We’ll see who’s better. I’m ready to play. I’m excited. I know it’s not easy. I know it’ll be hard.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The Imposter On Ice

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jason Buckland at the New York Times,

The impostor took the ice, his face concealed, and kept his head down. He did all he could to blend in.

At a closed N.H.L. skate, a tuneup scrimmage during the lockout of 2004, some two dozen players glided about the rink in the training facility of the Chicago Blackhawks. The pros didn’t know it, but someone else had crashed their practice.

His name was Nello Ferrara, and back then, in hockey circles, that did not mean much. Thirteen years ago, Ferrara was still just a wannabe in the sport, a 27-year-old bruiser with but a handful of junior and minor league games on his résumé....

Ferrara decided to call in a favor. He had grown close with a Blackhawks player named Kyle Calder, who had golfed and skated recreationally with Ferrara for years. If Ferrara had the stones to try this, Calder could not resist helping.

On the day of the skate, as the N.H.L. players arrived at the rink, Ferrara slipped into the facility through a door on the opposite side of the arena. “Snuck in like Batman,” he later joked. Calder had secured all the official gear he could — Blackhawks pants, gloves, a practice jersey, any equipment he could find, Calder recalled, that would help Ferrara appear to be a bona fide member of the team.

Ferrara dressed on his own in a separate locker room. There, he said, he waited. Finally, he donned a Blackhawks helmet with a visor that obscured much of his face, and when the N.H.L. players took the ice and began to glide in circles, Ferrara opened a door to the rink. He hopped onto the ice, lowered his gaze, and hoped no one would notice.

As the cool ice passed beneath him, it was time to prove that he belonged.


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

Why Are The Vancouver Canucks Planning On Bringing Ryan Miller Back?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,

The Canucks seem determined to bring back veteran goalie Ryan Miller for another year and you can understand their logic. But only to a point....

The upcoming season, moreover, projects as more of the same. The Canucks are trying to get younger. Their best prospects are still a couple of years away. They’re not ready to win yet nor are they particularly close and Miller won’t be around when the Canucks turn the corner.

So what does bringing him back accomplish?

The Canucks have been trying to sell the same story to their fan base for the last two seasons and have two dismal campaigns to show for it. By now, the faithful have embraced the rebuild and are prepared for what comes next.

They just have a hard time believing in the plan when they’re told one thing and the team delivers something else.

more plus some SCF talk...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink

A Chance For A Repeat

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,

Navigating the Stanley Cup playoffs requires intensity in each moment and respect for the big picture, quick bursts of energy and a well of endurance, scaling emotional highs and displaying restraint. Winning the Cup is exhilarating but exhausting. Winning twice in a row has become a forbidding challenge.

“The schedule is brutal and it’s demanding,” Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel said. “Every year is different. There’s injuries and different things. You can win a round. You can win two rounds. It’s hard to win three, four rounds to get back to the Cup Final.”

The playoffs have become such a war of attrition that no team has repeated as champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. But the Pittsburgh Penguins believe the survival skills they developed while prevailing last season will help them against the West champion Nashville Predators, whose resilience and depth have carried them from being the No. 8 seed to their first Cup Final. The series opens Monday at PPG Paints Arena.

“You take your knowledge from the year before, of knowing that you can lose games, you can have ups and downs, but as long as you can string together four out of seven you can win any series, and we always go in with the belief we can win any series,” said Pittsburgh left wing Chris Kunitz, whose double-overtime goal in Game 7 against Ottawa propelled the Penguins back to the Final.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Memorial Day 2017

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

We remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the United States of America.

Last night I watched the National Memorial Day Concert and can say I was moved by many of the moments during the concert.

You can watch it below, move around if short on time and if there is one or two segment to watch, I would suggest scrolling to the 11:15 mark of the video, then again to the 31:50 mark.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink

The Windsor Spitfires Win The Memorial Cup

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,

If Warren Rychel thought he was getting an earful from Jeremy Bracco before, wait until the two are in the same room now.

A fantastic Mastercard Memorial Cup final was bookended by a touch of brilliance from Bracco, who registered a goal and two assists in the Windsor Spitfires’ 4-3 win over the Erie Otters on Sunday night at the WFCU Centre in Windsor. The victory made Windsor—which gained an automatic entry as the host team—the first squad in CHL history to win the national title after being bounced in the opening round of the playoffs. The Spitfires are also the third consecutive OHL-based winner and the first host champion since the Shawinigan Cataractes in 2012.


Watch the game highlights below...

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Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: windsor+spitfires

Detroit Continues To Prepare For The Draft

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

They've watched them play and gathered data from a variety of sources. Now the Detroit Red Wings are off to the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo to meet face-to-face with some of the players they will draft next month.

Teams begin interviewing prospects today at First Niagara Center. The Red Wings are scheduled to meet with 12-15 players per day through Friday, a total of between 65 and 70. Prospects undergo medical screenings Thursday and about a dozen off-ice fitness tests on Saturday, including bench press repetitions, standing long jump, vertical jump, pull-ups, push-ups and medicine ball throw.

The Red Wings have 11 selections in the draft, which is June 23-24 at Chicago's United Center, including the ninth overall pick.

"The amateur scouts and management spends the entire year on the road watching them play and certainly there's a lot of interviewing and due diligence that goes into the process prior to the combine," Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said. "You're interviewing coaches, you're interviewing teammates, you're interviewing billet families, strength coaches, opposing coaches.

"The hockey world is really small. You can learn a lot of information about players by talking to people. So, when you get to the Combine, hopefully you got a book on the player as it relates to his on-ice performance and you also have a book on the player in terms of his character and what makes him tick. Then you utilize your 15 minutes with them at the Combine to hopefully dig deeper and drill down on some issues the player may have."


Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

All Times Eastern
Nashville @ Pittsburgh, Game 1, 8 p.m., NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS
NBC Sports Channel Finder
Sportsnet Channel Finder
NHL Network Channel Finder
The Penguins and Predators open the 2017 Stanley Cup Final when they face off in Game 1 at PPG Paints Arena.
* The reigning champion Penguins are vying to become the first repeat Stanley Cup winner since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. Pittsburgh is playing in its sixth Stanley Cup Final – all since 1991, tied for the most in the NHL in that span (w/ DET).
* The Predators, who began play in 1998-99 and are competing in the postseason for the 10th time, are making their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. They had three total playoff series wins prior to this year (3-9).
* The Penguins and Predators have met 25 times during the regular season, with Pittsburgh owning a 12-11 edge in wins and 27-26 point advantage (PIT: 12-10-3, NSH: 11-10-4). They split their two matchups in 2016-17, with each team winning on home ice.
Since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939, the team that has won Game 1 has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 77.9% of the time (60 of 77 series) – including each of the past five years.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

‘Three Things’: A Griffins ‘hype video,’ St. James on the Griffins and Game 7 magic from AWood40

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins-related note this morning:

1. The Griffins posted something of a "Hype Video" for their Calder Cup Final match-up against the Syracuse Crunch (schedule here as well as at the end of the video), and it's pretty darn cool as it includes a ton of on-ice footage of the Griffins scoring goals on the San Jose Barracuda:

2. The Free Press's Helene St. James took note of the Griffins' success while casting an eye toward the future...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

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