Kukla's Korner

The Philadelphia Flyers Are Making A Playoff Push

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Globe and Mail,

An 8-2-4 run in the past month and the Boston Bruins’ struggles combined to put the Flyers within four points of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference going into their game Thursday at the Toronto Maple Leafs. The climb hasn’t been easy, but there’s no shortage of belief in the locker-room.

“It’s obviously our goal to catch the Bruins and the Panthers,” NHL leading scorer Jake Voracek said Wednesday. “I don’t see the reason why we shouldn’t. We’re playing good hockey lately. We’ve got to focus on every game, game-by-game, and hopefully we’re going to sneak in.”

On the morning of Jan. 17, the Flyers woke up in Buffalo 13 points back of the Bruins. Boston has gone 5-7-3 since then, and a knee injury to centre David Krejci stands to make the next four to six weeks even more of a challenge.

Philadelphia needed the Bruins to go on a skid to make the playoffs even a long-shot possibility. But the Flyers have also been much improved to get on track.

“An all-around team game turned our season around,” coach Craig Berube said. “Our team defence first and foremost is what we really turned around. Starting with that, and the penalty killing has gotten better. That’s part of the team defence. All-around, our defensive play is way better.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Preview And Notes- Detroit Red Wings vs. San Jose Sharks

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

via NHL.com,

Season series: The San Jose Sharks swept two games against the Detroit Red Wings last season. Goalies Antti Niemi and Jimmy Howard each earned a shutout but only Niemi got a win in San Jose's 1-0 shootout victory at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 21, 2013. Forward Joe Pavelski scored two goals in a 4-1 win at SAP Center on Jan. 9, 2014.

Red Wings team scope: Detroit has lost the first two of three games in California playing without captain Henrik Zetterberg, who took a shot to the head from Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn on Saturday. Zetterberg is expected to miss a third straight game. The Red Wings are not calling the injury a concussion, but Zetterberg said Tuesday he's experiencing "some symptoms that I don't have when I'm 100 percent." Detroit is three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place and six points back of the Montreal Canadiens for first in the Atlantic Division. Goalie Jonas Gustavsson made 26 saves in a 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, his first start since he separated his left shoulder Nov. 5 against the New York Rangers. "I thought [Gustavsson] played well," coach Mike Babcock told the Red Wings website. "I think Gus plays well all of the time, he just doesn't play. He's been injured so much, so when he plays I think he plays well. I think he gives us a chance most nights." Howard, who allowed three goals on 25 shots in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, is expected to start.

Sharks team scope: San Jose is 3-6-2 in February and has lost three of four to fall out of a Western Conference spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; it trails the second wild card Calgary Flames by two points. The Sharks, who have not played since a 2-1 loss to the Kings in the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game Saturday, have four games in six days. Defenseman Brent Burns has five goals, including two on the power play, in the past seven games. The Sharks have not gotten much with the man-advantage outside of their top unit, which is Burns, Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture. In the past 28 games, rookie center Melker Karlsson has San Jose's only power-play goal outside the top unit, which has scored 31 of the Sharks' 39 man-advantage goals through 61 games. "The second unit will someday become our first unit, so they better get their act together and get going," coach Todd McLellan said, according to CSN Bay Area. "You want to play in the League and you want power-play time? Get it done. Our power play, like anybody's, is going to sway throughout the year. We're still producing, but most of it is coming from the other unit. It has to balance out more."

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Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

Will Trade Deadline Day Be A Dud?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,

Two years ago, there were 17 trades on the final day. Three years ago 15, and four years ago 16.

This year? Here at Sportsnet, we’re starting to get a little nervous as to exactly what our cast of thousands will be doing on Monday. Thank goodness for the ping pong table in the hall.

Then again, Buffalo still has Chris Stewart to move. Jersey might still be dangling Marek Zidlicky, Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr. The Leafs are throwing all available bodies overboard.

Calgary may have to peddle Curtis Glencross and Karri Ramo. We know Jeff Petry is going to be moved out of Edmonton, and ditto for Zbynek Michalek and Arizona. The Coyotes also still could move Antoine Vermette, and seem likely to.

Florida has UFAs to be Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall and Tomas Fleischmann. The Flyers have backliners to move if they so choose. Columbus has both forwards and defenders available.

Then there’s the injuries that have cropped up over the last week. Boston won’t have David Krejci (knee) to help their playoff push for at least a month, and a busted collarbone has put Chicago’s Patrick Kane on the shelf for three months, but also given the cap-constricted Hawks a sudden opportunity to spend.


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Chris Kunitz posted 1-1—2, including what proved to be the game-winning goal, to help the Penguins defeat the Capitals for the first time this season (PIT: 1-3-0, WSH: 3-1-0) and extend their winning streak to three contests.
* At 35-17-9 (79 points), the No. 3 Penguins moved three points ahead of the No. 4 Capitals (33-19-10, 76 points) in the Metropolitan Division, where the top four teams are separated by six points:

* Kunitz snapped an 11-game drought with his first goal since Jan. 30 at NJD. It stood as his 39th career game-winning goal and fifth of the season – tied for the team lead with Blake Comeau.
* Evgeni Malkin (0-3—3) notched his 62nd career game with at least three points (fifth this season) and 25th career contest with at least three assists (first since Nov. 30, 2013 at FLA: 1-3—4).

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Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The Pittsburgh Penguins Need More Than Daniel Winnik

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

So now what? This can't be it for the Penguins before the expiration of the NHL's trade deadline on Monday. Rutherford needs to add more, precious little cap space be cursed.

The Penguins need a second-pairing defenseman to play with Christian Ehrhoff. They also need to be prepared for not having Ehrhoff at all, because players returning from lengthy concussion absences always are risky bets to stay in the lineup.

More than anything, the Penguins must find some help for Evgeni Malkin, because he is their best hope for turning this postseason into something magical. No player, not even Sidney Crosby, is more capable of becoming an irresistible force than Malkin — the closest thing these Penguins have to a Mario Lemieux or Jaromir Jagr, because big, skilled players are built to shape postseason series.

Speaking of Jagr, Rutherford should stay on the watch for New Jersey's saltiest trade bait. Malkin sure sounded like somebody itching for the right winger when I brought up Jagr's name Tuesday.

“Yes,” Malkin said. “Of course. Yes. Jagr is great with (the) puck, still great at passing, still has (the) shot. You watch. He is still great. He would be great for us. Guys (would) see him work. He works hard every day. He makes big plays still. He wins. Yes.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: daniel+winnik

The LA Kings Go All In

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Katie Strang of ESPN,

It sounds like Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi made several interesting comments on Wednesday's conference call following his acquisition of premier defensive trade target Andrej Sekera, but one stood out in particular. According to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times, Lombardi indicated that the team's strong play recently prompted the move, saying "what they've accomplished and what they've fought through, it's almost like you owe it to them." I like this. It's Lombardi's way of acknowledging that, however sluggish their start and inconsistent their season has been, the team is all-in now, and he is, too.

Making the trade to upgrade the Kings' defense with Sekera is a strong statement that he believes in this team and what they are capable of, despite what their current record or spot in the standings suggest. Lombardi has won two Stanley Cup Championships since 2012 and he prides himself on an organization that he has tried to make feel like family. This sort of brazen confidence and steadfast faith he has shown in his club has paid off in the past. Can't blame him for going all-in again.

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

As I had written hours earlier in Rumblings, Lombardi and his management staff had agonized for weeks about the Slava Voynov situation as it pertains to their salary cap and potential trade deadline plans, but ultimately decided the risk involved in adding a player was smaller than the risk of not helping the team. If Voynov should be acquitted of domestic violence charges in his trial next month and somehow return as an active player, the Kings will just have to deal with a complicated salary cap situation when it arises.

For now, it's full-steam ahead and the Kings just acquired the top rental blue-liner on the trade market. They paid a hefty price -- a first-round pick in a deep draft this year (if Kings make playoffs it's a 2015 pick, if not it's 2016) -- but the Kings' window to win won't be open forever.

Interestingly, I spoke with a Hurricanes source who figured the team hopes the Kings make the playoffs so the pick is theirs this June, not only because it's a deeper draft, but also because the Kings aren't that high in the standings right now and should be better next season, which would drive a potential 2016 pick further down in the first round.

more topics include Patrick Kane/Blackhawks...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Leafs’ Future Leader In Waiting- Nazem Kadri

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,

The word “future” carries more meaning to Nazem Kadri now than the immediate concern of signing a long-term deal with the Leafs.

Kadri and his agents remain in talks with the Leafs regarding a new contract, and if those talks finish with a multi-year extension, they will bear an added responsibility for the 24-year-old centre — leadership.

In fact, leadership has been a mixed bag for the Leafs over the past few seasons, and it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to put Kadri in line for a role as an assistant or even team captain if he signs long term in Toronto.

“It’s something you think about a bit right now,” Kadri said as the Leafs wrapped up a third straight day of practice Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s home game against the Flyers.

“Being a young guy, you want to take steps in the right direction. I’ve had that (leadership) role before in junior, so if it comes, I hope I’m in the right shoes to do it.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nazem+kadri

The Equipment Manager At The Trade Deadline

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic,

With the Coyotes falling into the "sellers" category at this year's trade deadline, which expires at 1 p.m. Arizona time Monday, the team could once again be busy in reshaping the roster. That, undoubtedly, creates uneasiness for players, but it's also a trying time for the equipment staff.

During any road trip, the team carries three-to-four blank jerseys and a kit of letters and numbers should they need to be sewn on the jersey. The Coyotes also have jerseys with them for every player from their American Hockey League affiliate in case any one of them gets recalled while on the road.

Wilson prefers to have jerseys for new players crested at the shop the Coyotes have used since the franchise relocated to the Valley in 1996, Artcraft Sports Apparel. And when a new nameplate is needed, he has AlphaGraphics whip one up for him.

If both can arrive the next day, great. But same-day courier service is a possibility, Wilson said.

A traded player will arrive with his own sticks, skates and underneath gear but requires new gloves and a helmet that reflect team colors.

Wilson carries the most popular brands, but he'll have equipment shipped to wherever the team is if a player uses something different — a list of which is swapped between equipment managers once the trade is consummated.


Filed in: NHL Teams, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Video- Recap Of The Three NHL Games On Wednesday

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

It will take you 2 1/2 minutes to watch the highlights.


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Flames lose Giordano to…shoulder injury?

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From Sportsnet's Jeff Simmons:

Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano suffered an undisclosed injury in the final seconds of Wednesday’s game when he was knocked down to the ice awkwardly by New Jersey Devils forward Steve Bernier.

Giordano headed right to the dressing room after T.J. Brodie helped seal a 3-1 victory for Calgary with a shorthanded empty-net goal.

It looks...weird...

From NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale's recap:

The Flames received a scare at the end of the game when captain Mark Giordano, who scored his 48th point on an assist, appeared to sustain an injury in the final seconds after getting tangled in the stick of Devils forward Steve Bernier.

Flames coach Bob Hartley said Giordano would be re-evaluated on Thursday. The defenseman was walking and moving in the locker room at the end of the game.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: bob+hartley, calgary+flames, mark+giordano, new+jersey+devils

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