Kukla's Korner

Grand Rapids Griffins-Utica Comets game 2 game-day preview and notes

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Grand Rapids Griffins take on the Utica Comets in Game 2 of the AHL's Western Conference Final this evening (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/WOOD Radio), hoping to rally from last night's 2-1 loss, and the Griffins posited a game-day preview video in which Bob Kaser reports that Colin Campbell will replace Marek Tvrdon...

And the AHL posted a set of series notes as part of its "Morning Skate":

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Amazing Stat

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

I haven't seen sufficient discussion of this fact.  The Anaheim Ducks have yet to lose a playoff game in regulation.  Their two losses to Chicago came in multiple overtimes and their loss to Calgary was in overtime as well.  They swept the Winnipeg Jets.  That is quite a run.  How long will it last?

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

The Coaching Search For The San Jose Sharks

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Chris Nichol's of Today's Slapshot,

Elliotte Friedman was on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 on Monday morning.

On what he expects with the San Jose Sharks in terms of their coaching situation, and how Dan Bylsma has been making the rounds:

“Honestly – that’s a great way to phrase the question – I honestly don’t know. I was told he was going to interview about 20 guys and I think he’s taking a good run at that.

“I believe he’s interviewed Bylsma. Somebody told me he hasn’t, but I believe he will or has. I know he’s interviewed Peter DeBoer. He’s interviewed Dave Lowry. I heard he did a phone interview with Rob Zettler, but he’s probably not the candidate. Another name I heard they’ve been talking to out there is Dave Quinn, who’s the coach of Boston University. Adam Oates was out there last week.

“I think it’s still possible that he may interview some guys who are still alive in the playoffs, like Trent Yawney in Anaheim. I also wonder about a couple of guys – Kevin Dineen in Chicago and Scott Arniel in New York. These are guys who are legit candidates and I wonder if anybody is going to wait to speak to them after their teams have been knocked out.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Drafts Petr Mrazek

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Jared Clinton of The Hockey News,

The Detroit Red Wings drafted netminder Petr Mrazek in the fifth round, 141st overall, of the 2010 draft. Less than five years later and Mrazek’s draft stock has risen significantly – at least in the KHL.

In Sunday’s first round of the 2015 KHL draft, Mrazek, who met the criteria for the draft by virtue of being under the age of 24 and not having his rights owned by any club in the league, was selected seventh overall by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. However, after a season in which he may have possibly pushed fellow goaltender Jimmy Howard out of the Detroit net for the number one job, it’s probably safe to put his chances of heading to Russia next season at about zero percent....

The Red Wings have Mrazek locked up for the 2015-16 campaign on a one-year, $737,500 pact, but he’ll be a restricted free agent following the upcoming season. If he were to move on, that would likely be the time for him. With Howard’s play raising questions about how much longer he’ll be battling for the starting role in Detroit, it seems as though Mrazek will likely get another deal with the Red Wings, even if only another short-term contract.

read on

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NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

BISHOP, STAMKOS LEAD LIGHTING TO 3-2 SERIES LEAD
Ben Bishop stopped all 26 shots he faced and the Lightning scored twice in the second period backed by 1-1—2 from captain Steven Stamkos to take a 3-2 series lead over the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.



* The Lightning, who have now won five of their last six visits to Madison Square Garden (regular season and playoffs) dating to Jan. 14, 2014 (2-1 W), sit one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history. The club’s previous appearance was in 2004, when they defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Video- NHL Playoff Action In Slow Motion

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Almost three minutes of slow motion action from the past week of the NHL Playoffs...

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Don’t expect the Wings and Leafs to rework the Phaneuf trade

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

MLive's Ansar Khan asks a question whose answer is relatively obvious this morning: "How is Red Wings' potential pursuit of Dion Phaneuf affected by Mike Babcock's move to Toronto?"

Put simply, given Babcock's comments, which Khan highlights, there's not much of a chance that the Red Wings and Leafs will do more than cursorily review their trade parameters from the deadline and move on. The Wings can't afford to take on all of Phaneuf's $7 million cap hit, and they certainly don't want to pay the price the Leafs are likely to demand for Babcock's reclamation project:

The Red Wings tried to get Toronto to retain about $2 million per season, but the Leafs declined. They also weren't interested in taking back Toronto native Stephen Weiss, who has three years remaining at a cap hit of $4.9 million ($16 million in actual salary). They wanted top forward prospect Anthony Mantha, who the Red Wings aren't likely to move despite his struggles during his first pro season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Toronto correspondents have stated that the Leafs actually asked for Weiss, Brendan Smith and either Mantha or Teemu Pulkkinen, to eat $2 million of Phaneuf's salary, while the Wings were offering Weiss, Jakub Kindl and either Pulkkinen or a less-heralded prospect (and possibly a 1st round draft pick to top it all off).

Babcock pushed hard for the Weiss signing in 2013 but surely isn't interested in him now, after making him a healthy scratch the final five games of the playoff series against Tampa Bay.

I'm not so sure about that--Weiss could prove more useful in Toronto--but when you read Babcock explain that he's a "fan of Dion" and that he wants to work with Phaneuf (and Phil Kessel), it certainly sounds like the Leafs plan on hanging on to Phaneuf.

I could see the Leafs trading Phaneuf if and only if they'd receive their asking price of Weiss, Smith and Mantha or Pulkkinen, and that's not happening.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

How Did Dylan Larkin Do?

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Peter J. Wallner of Mlive,

The 18-year-old center got off two shots, including a nifty wrist shot from the right corner early in the third period, and finished plus/minus at even. He didn't play on special teams.

It is not like he was rusty. Larkin, after a 35-game freshman season at Michigan, played on the U.S. team that took the bronze in the IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic on May 17. In 10 games, Larkin had no goals and one assist. He recorded 17 shots and a minus-2 rating.

His reaction to his first pro game?

"I mean, it's fast but it's the conference finals and down to the four best teams," Larkin said. "It was a physical game and a lot of characters out there and guys really want it and sacrifice their bodies.

"It's not that different than college, I guess. Probably a little less time (to move the puck), but you just have to capitalize on your chances."

read on

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

As Close As It Gets In The West

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,

Here’s how close the Ducks and Blackhawks are right now:

Late Saturday night, they gushed about their successful third-period comeback, they clung to the faith exhibited in their utter refusal to surrender and they preached absolute certainty that the results of Game 4 would help them in their pursuit of Game 5.

And that was both teams, the sounds of acquired and renewed coming in stereo, the statements in the respective United Center locker rooms almost identical until reaching the punctuation marks. The Blackhawks were smiling, the Ducks not exactly.

But even then there was a notable similarity. This is hockey, so neither team was showing a lot of teeth.

Tied in games at 2-2, this matchup has been so even that the differences can be measured best microscopically. And why not, given the levels of DNA these players have dripped onto the ice so far?

“I think this series has been played very tight,” explained Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who doesn’t always say things that are as obvious as the former Sears Tower is tall. “Can’t be any more even than what I saw in four games.”

continued

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

Great Theater

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,

It’s taken a while but if hockey fans aren’t fully engaged in the conference finals by now, the NHL has a problem. To date, the final four has offered just about everything on a fans’ wish list: evenly matched but contrasting teams, constantly changing storylines and star power. And it’s all made for compelling hockey.

The Blackhawks’ 5-4 Game 4 win over Anaheim, for example, offered more plot twists than a season of Game of Thrones with the Hawks a) coughing up a two-goal lead in the third period by surrendering three goals in 37 seconds before b) they tied the game late and c) Antoine Vermette, who had been a healthy scratch the game before, potted the game-winner in double overtime.

You’d think the Ducks’ inability to close this one out will mark a turning point in the series but, really, who knows what’s coming next. It’s the same story in the East where the Rangers and Lightning are producing their own drama, and that should make for appointment viewing.

The issue, of course, is that the momentum of the NHL’s post-season tends to peter out after the opening round. The final four occupies the fans of the teams involved but, even in Canada, there’s the sense a larger audience tunes them out.

It’s also the opposite story in the NBA where interest intensifies the deeper the playoffs run. That league is now looking at a final with LeBron James and Steph Curry at the top of the marquee and an endlessly attractive matchup between Cleveland and Golden State.

The NHL? You just hope the teams will continue to provide great entertainment because the game needs it.

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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