Kukla's Korner

Sundin Is All Business

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fox Sports,

Given what he's done with one good eye, it's scary to think what Mats Sundin will be like when he no longer has blurred vision in his left eye. Sundin may not lead the hard-nosed way Doug Gilmour did, and he may not flatten people like Wendel Clark used to do, but the slick Swede leads in his own way. Sundin is also one of those few players in the NHL who can change the tempo of a game on one shift. He is an agile skater for a big man, he protects the puck along the wall, and he makes it hard for people to reach in without taking a penalty.

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Sharks Out Of Sync

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the San Francisco Chronicle,

So what happened to this Sharks team that is supposed to be so fast, so possessive of the puck it can play keep-away, dictate how games are played from the outset and dance to victory more often than not? What happened to the new rules being a perfect fit for this team? What happened to the power play, suffocating defense and consistent goaltending? Why are there more questions than answers 17 games into the season? The Sharks are asking these same questions as well.

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Heatley Is Different

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Ottawa Sun,

Bryan Murray has been around the NHL for a lot of years -- 25 to be exact -- but he's getting a chance this season to see and experience some things for the first time. Having a player like forward Dany Heatley, for instance. "I don't know if I have had a power forward like him," said Murray, who invoked the name of Cam Neely, who defined the position and was inducted into the Hall of Fame Monday, when asked about Heatley. "Cam was different on the forecheck," said Murray of Neely, who played a much more physically punishing game than Heatley. "But there aren't many guys like (Heatley) in the NHL."

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Bruins Miscalculations

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Boston Herald,

With nearly a quarter of their season completed, the Bruins are among the most disappointing teams in the NHL. So how in the world did a team that believed it was positioned better than almost any other franchise to deal with the “new” NHL – taking almost a smug attitude about its master plan – end up in such a revolting predicament? It was a series of miscalculations – understandable, but miscalculations nonetheless – that helped produce a team that so far has been deeply flawed. The B’s own a .500 record (7-7-5), have lost their last three games and won just four of their last 14. This is the new, improved version of a team that, at this point in 2003-04, was 11-2-3-3.

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Colorado Is Good

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,

During my weekend visit to Detroit, I often was asked about the Avalanche. Even the Red Wings players tended to be curious. Everyone involved seems to concede that the Colorado-Detroit rivalry has lost a bit of its steam and enmity. In fact, the Red Wings' Kirk Maltby jokingly said, "But the rivalry isn't the same anymore!" Yet in the early days under the new collective bargaining agreement and a $39 million salary cap, the two franchises - and even their fans - can identify with each other, up to a point. Nearly one-fourth of the way into the first season of the New NHL, I have been admitting to all who ask that I don't yet have a grasp for how good this team will be by playoff time - when it matters. Now? The Avalanche is good. Not anything close to great.

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The Passion Is Back

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Globe and Mail,

Legendary Hall of Famer Yvan Cournoyer admitted over the weekend that his passion for hockey had dwindled not too long ago. Even though he could watch games in the wonderful Bell Centre atmosphere, Cournoyer no longer had the enthusiasm to attend National Hockey League games in 2003-04. "I only go to about half the games now, but I think I will start going to more," said Cournoyer, who along with Dickie Moore had their number 12s retired by the Canadiens in a pregame ceremony before the Leafs' 5-4 overtime victory. "Hockey is a wonderful game, but it hurt to watch the old game. Once a team got a lead two years ago, the game was over. But I think the game is exciting again. Teams can come back and win games."

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Toughest Division In Hockey

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Sun,

A schoolyard argument is brewing in the National Hockey League, with lots of boasting that: "My division is tougher than your's." Only three times since the Maple Leafs moved to the Northeast in 1998 has a divisions finished with nothing but .500 teams. This year, with every club on mostly equal footing because of the rules and salary cap, the Northeast, Northwest and Pacific have five teams either at, near or above the break-even point. "We talked about it in Buffalo on Friday," Leafs defenceman Alexander Khavanov said. "This is probably the toughest division in hockey right now. Looking at statistics is dull, but everyone is at .500 and you have to play them all eight times.

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Hiding Injuries

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

In the National Football League, it is a serious transgression to mislead the public with regard to injuries. In the National Hockey League, it's all but mandatory. You may remember, for instance, the 'flu attack that took Scott Stevens out of the New Jersey Devils lineup for a few days. Then a few weeks. Then a few months. Finally, Stevens retired. There never was any 'flu. He had a career-ending concussion. Last month, it took constant media grilling to get Leafs general manager John Ferguson to disclose any information about the nature of Mats Sundin's eye injury, even though it was obvious to everyone that this was more than a minor problem. In their defence, hockey people say they want to protect their players. But did Ferguson think that opponents would target Sundin's eye? The Philadelphia Flyers are refusing any comment about the status of Keith Primeau other than to say he has a concussion. Even Primeau himself, who usually is highly co-operative, is avoiding the media.

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The Next Messier

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from North Jersey,

The Devils' defenseman had been leveled by a surprising, bone-crunching check from Washington's dynamic rookie, Alexander Ovechkin, Friday afternoon, but appeared to admire the 20-year-old Russian's aggressiveness. "It wasn't really a happy smile, I guess," White said. "It was clean. It wasn't dirty. That's part of the game. He looks for those types of hits. ... You give some and you take some. Obviously, you'd rather give them." If Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby is the next Wayne Gretzky, the edge Ovechkin plays with and his size (6 feet 2, 216 pounds) might make him the closest thing you're going to get in today's no-touch NHL to the next Mark Messier.

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Why The Delay

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

"This is one of those things that slipped through the cracks when we put the shootout in," said Mike Murphy, the NHL vice president of operations. "You knew there would be problems, but you weren't sure where." That is the quote from Murphy when talking about the Roenick shootout goal that should have not been allowed.but the NHL rules state you cannot use replay to review a shootout goal. Murphy also states it will get fixed but is not sure when. My question is WHY? I know the BOG has to approve it but is there some secret swear-in-code that must be performed before the BOG says yes? Hey Mike, just call them, send them an email, just get it done. No NHL team should lose a point because the NHL can't cut through some red tape and make this happen.

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