Kukla's Korner

The Unpopular Team Playoffs

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

One way to get a quick idea how popular NHL teams are is to look at their attendance during road games.  This shows how many people care enough about a given team to go see them when they come to town.  This season the top three teams in terms of road attendance were Montreal, Chicago and Detroit.  None of these teams remain active in the playoffs.  The top team by road attendance that is still active in the playoffs is Pittsburgh who sit at number six.  The Penguins are the only team in the top ten by road attendance who remains in the playoffs.  Tampa Bay is the worst remaining playoff team with the 27th worst road attendance.

All of this means that this is a playoff of teams that do not excite many hockey fans.  Fans may support their home team but the remaining teams have limited support way from home.  This will hurt NHL TV ratings during the playoffs.  Fewer fans will watch the playoffs.  This is in addition to the fact that no Canadian team made the playoffs and this has hurt Hockey Night in Canada ratings.  Declining rating will lead to declining revenue for the NHL.  Since the salary cap is linked to NHL revenue this could be significant.  It could lead to reduced salary caps in the future.

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink

Friday Morning Hockey Thoughts

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,

- While all of the SoCal attention is on Boudreau, there’s no clarity yet with Darryl Sutter and Los Angeles. His contract is up, and he’s said several times he will be back. The question — for anyone who may be looking — is whether or not he or anyone else on his staff becomes available. The Kings take pretty good care of them. John Stevens is believed to be the highest-paid assistant coach in the NHL and, if Sutter ever leaves, is assumed to be the heir apparent.

The evaluation in Los Angeles isn’t just why the Kings lost to the San Jose Sharks. It’s also why they blew what was a 12-point division lead on Jan. 6 and why, when they could have clinched the Pacific Division, they couldn’t hold a 3-0 second-period lead over the Winnipeg Jets on the final Saturday of the regular season.

- Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher received a vote of confidence from owner Craig Leipold during the playoff series against the Dallas Stars. Fletcher said he “needs to decompress,” but will meet with interim head coach John Torchetti, probably early next week.

Is the coaching job open?

“I think you could say it’s somewhat open,” Fletcher replied. “We haven’t had time to talk yet about his vision. He had to inherit everything. I want to hear his view on how he would push forward. He came in and did a good job, deserves a chance to explain why he should be the guy.”

- If there’s one thing Fletcher strongly disagreed with, it’s that his players lack character. While the GM admitted it was “a brutal year,” he is angry at suggestions they did not try.

“We had to fight to get into the playoffs, including win a big game at Colorado. We fought right to the end against Dallas.” What he does believe is “they did not buy in to how we wanted them to play.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

NHLPA And The NHL Are On The Same Page When It Comes To Expansion

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Gary Lawless of TSN,

The National Hockey League and the Players’ Association have agreed upon the rules of engagement for an expansion draft.

While the NHL’s executive committee has yet to recommend expansion, this is a major hurdle cleared.

The NHL has hundreds of steps to go through before expansion can potentially become a reality and getting an agreement with the NHLPA was viewed as near top of the list. The executive committee would not have recommended expansion to the NHL’s board of governors for the purpose of a vote without an agreement in place with the NHLPA, and in particular, a resolution on how existing no-trade and no-move clauses will be handled.

An NHL source confirmed the agreement on Friday morning but would not offer specifics on the expansion draft.

Time is getting tight for the NHL if it is going to expand. The league has stated if it is going to expand for the 2017-18 season it would have to inform general managers prior to this year’s upcoming entry draft in late June. A source said Friday if expansion is going to move forward, mid-May is the timetable for an announcement.


Filed in: NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Larkin’s advanced stats look similar to ‘rookie years’ of Tatar, Nyquist

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

MLive's Tom Mitsos examined Dylan Larkin's rookie season as compared to Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist's first 80 NHL games from an advanced stats standpoint:

Larkin's first 80 games in the NHL were fairly successful. He started the season strong with 15 goals and 18 assists in his first 48 games. After the All-Star break, he couldn't keep the same level of production and had just eight goals and four assists in the remaining 32 games.

Tatar (19 goals, 15 assists) and Nyquist (11 goals, 17 assists) didn't have as many points in their first 80 games, but they were in and out of the lineup playing with different teammates each time they were called up.

How do Larkin's first 80 NHL games compare to Tatar (Dec. 2010-March 2014) and Nyquist (Nov. 2011-Jan. 2014)? Let's take a look at the five on five numbers:

Mitsos continues...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Khan: Tomas Tatar frustrated with up-and-down season

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Tomas Tatar regarding his up-and-down 2015-16 season during the Wings' locker room clean-out day, and he found Tatar to be particularly frustrated with his season's production (or the lack thereof):

"I know I could be way better," Tatar said. "I'm disappointed I couldn't help more; my expectations were a little different than how the season went. My goals were way higher than they end up, but it was different stuff this year than it was last year. It was different position for me, so I guess what the numbers are saying is the way it is now."

Tatar has 21 goals – eight fewer than his team-leading total of 2014-15. His point total dipped from 56 to 45. He also logged less ice time, averaging 14:21, down from 16:13 the previous season.

Tatar attributed some of his struggles to being moved around various lines.

"I think the position was way different this year than last year, after last season playing most of the time with Pav (Datsyuk) and Helmer (Darren Helm)," Tatar said. "This time I was kind of around the lines. With different position comes different responsibility. Wherever I played I tried to play best, bring the energy as much as I could.

"It was a little tougher to get comfortable, I was squeezing the stick almost all season. The goals I set were hard to end up (with), so it was kind of disappointing for me."

Khan continues...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Understanding Joe Thornton

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,

Even when DeBoer wasn’t with the Sharks, he viewed Thornton as the solution.  He never tied San Jose’s postseason inadequacies, which included losing in the first round to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 after a 3-0 series lead, directly to Thornton.

“It’s a misconception,” DeBoer said.  “When you hear that, and when you are around Joe Thornton, you realize how ridiculous it is. This guy is exactly what you want in your dressing room and on the ice if you are trying to win a championship.”

Thornton’s regular-season scoring rate is .98 points per game and his playoff scoring rate is .75 points per game. But most of the game's stars, including Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, see their production decrease in the postseason when checking is more relentless.

From 2006-12, a period when the Sharks were suffering from annual postseason disappointment, Thornton registered 69 points in 79 playoff games. He had a goal and two assists, and looked strong, in the five-game first-round triumph against the Kings. San Jose begins its series with the Nashville Predators on Friday night (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

“The fact that he hasn’t won (a championship) has nothing to do with him or the effort he puts in,” DeBoer said. “I don’t think he could be a better leader or example or have more passion for winning. He’s just one of those guys whose stars haven’t aligned yet.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: joe+thornton

Enough Of Tom Wilson

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

The UFC is where somebody like Capitals winger Tom Wilson belongs. He has no place in what should be the NHL's showcase series of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

If he's allowed to play in Game 2, the league's Player Safety department has whiffed in front of an open net. Suspending Wilson for his knee-on-knee hit on the Penguins' Conor Sheary — a player shorter than him by 8 inches — should be a tap-in.

Of course, should is a word used way too often at this point of the hockey season.

The playoffs should be when skilled players shine. Instead, hockey fans are too often tasked with watching circus acts such as Wilson's one-ring show.

The NHL's national broadcast partner should sell the great game of hockey. Instead, hockey fans are forced to watch NBC Sports' version of Don Cherry.

Thing is, Cherry is entertaining. Cherry actually knows something about hockey.

And Cherry is a Canadian tradition.

Mike Milbury traditionally makes a fool of himself, a trend that doesn't help the NHL win over the American sporting public. He did it again Thursday night during the third intermission of NBC Sports Network's broadcast of Game 1. He said Wilson “wasn't able to get his leg out of the way.”

The guess here is even Cherry rolled his eyes at the nonsense.

It's one thing to let 'em play. It's something else — and something awful — to let a series featuring six of the last nine MVPs to be taken over by the likes of Wilson.


If you missed Wilson's hit, watch it here.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: tom+wilson

T.J. Oshie’s Night

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

At one point T.J. Oshie was asked about his second goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night.

"Yeah," the Washington Capitals winger said, thinking. "Um, the second one? The five-hole? Backhand? Oh, the breakaway. OK."

And then he started to chuckle as he realized that he was having trouble placing the exact moment he was being asked about because there were actually three such moments on this night.

Three goals, including the game-winner in overtime, that gave the Capitals a 4-3 victory and a one-game lead in this monster of a second-round series.

"I never have this problem," Oshie said with a laugh.

He's absolutely right, of course.

Had Oshie had such problems in the past -- scoring so many goals that he couldn't recall the specific details -- he likely wouldn't have become a Washington Capital.


Watch the game highlights below...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: t.j.+oshie

NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

T.J. Oshie completed his first career playoff hat trick at 9:33 of overtime to lead the Capitals past the Penguins in a back-and-forth opening game of their Second Round series.

* Oshie became the first player to record a postseason hat trick that included an overtime goal since June 8, 2013, when Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane did so in the team’s series-clinching win over the Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.
* Oshie recorded the eighth playoff hat trick in Capitals history and first since April 17, 2010, when Nicklas Backstrom also completed the feat in overtime in the team’s Game 2 victory against the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
* Oshie, who scored his first career playoff overtime goal, posted his second multi-goal game in the postseason. The other: May 6, 2013 at LAK (2-0—2 w/ STL).

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The overnight report: Mantha, Helm and Richards at three very different career points

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The beat writers penned 3 articles about 3 players at very different stages in their careers, and two have big decisions to make regarding their hockey-playing futures.

From youngest to oldest: Anthony Mantha's had a fine three-game playoff showing for the Grand Rapids Griffins, scoring in 2 of 3 games thus far. After a difficult conclusion to the AHL's regular season for both Mantha and the Griffins, coach Todd Nelson told the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner that it's good to see Mantha round back into scoring form:

"This is just an investment into his future," Nelson added. "He's going to have a nice career ahead of him in the National Hockey League but right now he's focused on winning a championship here."

The three goals, which tied Tyler Bertuzzi for the team lead, already exceeded Mantha's postseason output from a year ago when he had two goals and four points in 16 games.

"It came with experience, and from learning up there (in Detroit)," said Mantha, who had 21 goals and 45 points for the Griffins and two goals and three points in 10 games with the Red Wings. "For me (the goal is) to be a big part of the playoff run this year and that's what I'm trying to do."

Wallner continues, and we're pretty darn likely to see Mantha in Detroit next season...

Darren Helm, not so much.

Ken Holland rather enthusiastically suggested that he'd like to re-sign Helm during the Wings' locker room clean-out day, but as an unrestricted free agent-to-be, Helm will have his pick of teams offering him more significant roles and more money than the Wings can guarantee him in July.

It will be up to Helm to determine whether what the Wings can offer represents enough for Helm to stick around, and the Free Press's Helene St. James took note of Helm's comments to that effect:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

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