Kukla's Korner

Pacific Division Predictions

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

With the season fast approaching, I figure that now is a good time to start my pre-season predictions.  I will begin today in the Pacific Division.

1. Los Angeles Kings - The Kings are the most talented of the teams in this division.  Should they fail to win the division it is likely due to a Stanley Cup hangover.  They may not be as fresh as any other team having had a shorter summer and they may not be as up for the more meaningless regular season games as some opponents.  Jonathan Quick gives them a solid goalie.  Drew Doughty may be the top defenceman in the game.  Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams are some very good forwards.  The popular opinion for people trying to find a significant weakness for this team comes from stating that Mike Richards is overpaid as a fourth line centreman - but that misses the point that the Kings have the depth to put an ex-Olympian on the fourth line. 

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Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

David Clarkson Will Be Examined By A Medical Specialist After Fight Yesterday

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

David Clarkson, whose eye and possibly his cheek were damaged in a fight with Cody McCormick, will be checked Monday after swelling made it impossible to determine the extent of his facial injuries.

“He’s to see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist,” coach Randy Carlyle said Sunday morning. “That’s where we’re at. We’re all concerned. It’ll be one thing (a possible long-term injury) or another. The issue was that yesterday, the swelling was still up there and they can do a better assessment with the picture.”

Given that Clarkson has twice put himself into the middle of costly pre-season incidents (a 10-game suspension resulted from a brawl with the Sabres last September), Carlyle was asked about the veteran winger keeping emotions in check.

“There would be certain times where you’re best suited to turn the other cheek, depending on the opponent,” Carlyle said. “But it’s something that has been done and now we have to deal with it.”

read on for more on the Leafs and watch the fight below...

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: david+clarkson

The Latest On Gustav Nyquist

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

 

added 1:45pm, from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Nyquist left Saturday's 3-1 loss to Boston with a dinged right leg after a knee-on-knee hit, but general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press that Nyquist isn't expected to miss much time. The Wings host Toronto Monday in an exhibition game.

Nyquist was thoroughly examined by team doctor Douglas Plagens after the game and "Dr. Plagens said there was no significant injury," Holland said Sunday afternoon. "I'm assuming he's sore, but Gus hasn't reached out to anybody saying his knee has ballooned up.

"It looked scary at the time but the initial word is that it looks like a day-to-day, short-term injury."

more plus some Alfredsson talk from Holland...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Not Much News On The Detroit Red Wings Today

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

It's one of those days where Detroit sports fans may have to keep an eye on two games at the same time.

With not much hockey talk today, I thought you may want to discuss the games which start at 1:00pm ET today.

The Detroit Tigers host the Minnesota Twins in game #162 and if the Tigers win they will be the Central Division champs.

They also can have that title with a Kansas City Royals loss to the Chicago White Sox (2:10pm ET start).

However, if the Tigers lose and the Royals win, a one game playoff will be held tomorrow.

The other game today Detroit fans will be watching is the Detroit Lions at the New York Jets at 1:00pm ET.  With a win, the Lions can go to 3-1.

Me, I have split screen ability so I can watch both games at the same time.

You?  What will you be watching.

Have some fun talking about the games and do remember, the Wings are always a priority here but this day happens to be one filled without any hockey talk.  So enjoy the change of pace, today only.

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink
 

Previewing The New York Rangers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Gare Joyce of Sportsnet,

Biggest story to watch: At 32, is Henrik Lundqvist in a career wane? If somebody had told you that the Rangers were going to make a run to the final, you’d have assumed Lundqvist would be at the top of his game. Likewise, if you were told that New York was going to lock up Lundqvist with a seven-year, $59.5-milion contract last December, you’d assume he was playing at the top of his game. Yet in the 2013-14 regular season, Lundqvist was no better than a middle-of-the pack netminder. His .920 save percentage ranked 15th in league, likewise his GAA of 2.36. Compare these desultory numbers to his stats from his 2011-12: His .930 save-percentage and 1.97 goals-against won him the Vezina Trophy. Lundqvist returned to form in the playoffs—his .927 and 2.14 were better than the marks set by the other goalies in the respective conference finals, Carey Price, Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick.

2014-15 prediction: The Rangers will figure out a way to squeeze into the seventh or eighth playoff slot in the Eastern Conference and make a top seed’s life miserable or even cut a heavyweight’s spring short.

more

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Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Should Torey Krug And Reilly Smith Agree To The Bruins’ Offer?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,

In his time as the Bruins general manager, Peter Chiarelli has usually valued his players’ peace of mind over the loose change that could be won in contract blood feuds.

But in the case of unsigned players Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, he’s so far shown that he’s willing to hold the line. With slightly more than $3 million available to him under the cap, he’s got no other choice, at least not one that’s palatable to him.

The B’s have not budged off their original offers of one-year bridge deals, believed to be worth between $1-$1.5 million. Are the B’s being unfair to Smith and Krug? No, they are simply using the leverage afforded to them by the CBA, just as both players were able to work things to their advantage when they wanted to a burn the first year of their entry level deals by playing less than a handful of NHL games at the end of their respective college careers, with Smith signing with Dallas as a third-round pick and Krug (a highly sought-after undrafted free agent) signing with the Bruins in the spring of 2012.

Hardball is not part of Chiarelli’s game. Not only have his spending tendencies helped transform the Bruins’ image from that of a skinflint operation into one that treats its players more than fairly, Chiarelli seems to truly believe that having his best players squared away financially produces a better on-ice product.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: reilly+smith, torey+krug

Brad Stuart Could Be A Big Hit In Denver

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,

Like Avs players, Avs fans will soon appreciate having Stuart on their side. If nothing else, pay attention to Stuart's skating — his smooth, seemingly effortless stride gets him in position to make plays as well as anyone in the NHL.

"He's a really steady influence," said Erik Johnson, who is playing with Stuart as the Avs' top pairing. "He won a Stanley Cup in Detroit and has been on a lot of winning teams. He's approaching mid-30s, but he really skates well out there. If you can skate in the league you're going to be around for a long time, and he can definitely move."

Stuart came to Colorado from San Jose at a large cost: The Avs sent the Sharks a second-round draft pick in 2016 and a sixth-rounder in 2017. Stuart waived his limited no-trade clause to come to Colorado after the Sharks self-imploded again in the 2014 playoffs after taking a 3-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Kings, the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

"Yeah, I think it was a good time," Stuart said of getting out of San Jose, the team that chose him third overall in the 1998 draft. "They wanted to make, probably, more changes than they did. First thing I noticed here is, everything is positive; everybody is excited about the season. Reading some of the things going on (in San Jose), it's a little different atmosphere. I'm excited to be a part of this. It really feels good."

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brad+stuart

Zach Parise’s Father J.P. Battling Lung Cancer

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,

Zach Parise touches a white friendship bracelet on his right wrist. He turns it over and reveals the special inscription: “la vie a ses bons moments.”

“It means, ‘Life has its good moments,’ ” Parise says, staring intently at the words. “My mom made it for friends and family.”

With sad eyes, the Wild forward looks up: “Growing up, that’s what Dad always told us when things were going a little wrong.”

For the past seven months, J.P. Parise, the popular former North Stars forward and proud father of Zach and Jordan Parise, has been in the toughest battle of his life. Last winter, while Zach was captaining the United States in the Olympics, J.P. woke up with kidney stones.

“I went to the doctor, took a CT scan and the doc said, ‘There’s a black spot on your left lung that I don’t like,’ ” J.P. Parise said, recalling the words that turned his life upside down.

Days later, he would receive a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer, the most advanced form of the disease.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: j.p.+hoornstra, zach+parise

Jeff Vinik Committed To Winning In Tampa Bay

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,

“Frankly we were losing a lot of money when we first bought the team, and now we are losing a little bit of money,’’ Vinik said. “It’s been such a fun experience over the past five years. Our mission to try and become the Green Bay Packers of the NHL, to try and become world class, we are gaining on both of those. But we still have a ways to go, and when we get there I will raise the targets because you can’t stop chasing excellence.’’

That includes continuing to increase payroll to try to field the best possible team.

“From Day 1, my philosophy was spend at or near the salary cap, because how lucky am I to be the owner of a professional sports team and a professional hockey league team,’’ Vinik said. “I want our fans and myself to enjoy giving it our best shot to win.’’

So when it comes time next summer for Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman to explore extending Stamkos’ contract and locking the franchise player into another long term-deal that could carry an average annual salary north of $10 million, Vinik said he will let his feelings be known.

“I’ll tell Steven loud and proud that I hope you are with us for your whole career and lead us to a lot of Stanley Cups,’’ Vinik said. “I will let Steve Yzerman handle (the negotiations). The day I get involved with hockey negotiations or picking players is the day you better worry about the future of our franchise.’’

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jeff+vinik

Short-Handed Icing And Cycling In The Corners

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

- During the USHL’s Fall Classic Week, the league activated a temporary rule. Teams were not allowed to ice the puck during a penalty kill. If they did, they were called for icing. The following faceoff would take place in their zone.

“I like it a lot,” said Eades, formerly an assistant coach at the University of North Dakota. “I hope there’s a lot more experimentation with it. With any change, there’s going to be people not liking it. But we’ve got to continue to look at ways to increase excitement, offensive chances, and eventually scoring in our game. It’s one I really, really like.”

The scenario has always underscored hockey’s double standard. If you needlessly rip the puck down the ice during even-strength play, good luck getting your coach to give you another shift, especially if your opponent scores off the following draw. Execute the same play when you’re killing a penalty, your coach will shower you with attaboys all the way to the bus.

- “In today’s game, everybody’s cycling in the corner,”(Brad) Park said. “Somebody asked me one day, ‘What would you do if they were cycling?’ I said, ‘Stand still.’ If the puck’s in the corner, I don’t have a problem, right? So what they do is they cycle, they look, then they go to the point shot. Guys go and stand right in the crease. Defensemen go out to the hash marks to block the shot. If it gets by them, the other team is right in front of the net for the rebound, and the defensemen are 6-7 feet away. A lot of this doesn’t make sense to me.”

If there is one thing the former Bruins legend questions, it is today’s commitment to collapsing and blocking shots in front of the net. Perhaps it’s because the equipment Park and his counterparts wore did little to prevent blocks from becoming bruises. Modern gear is like armor.

more on each topic plus additional hockey notes...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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