Kukla's Korner

Those Rotating Goalies In Detroit And Chicago

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Dave Hodge of TSN,

It's pretty hard to say Detroit has a goaltending problem when the Red Wings are tied 1-1 with Tampa Bay because rookie Petr Mrazek stole the first game with a 44-save performance, but Detroit has a goaltending problem, to which thumbs must be turned down.

It was said here previously that Mrazek runs hot and cold like water taps and Jimmy Howard wouldn't be too long on the bench if the Red Wings didn't play a lot better in Game 2. They didn't, he wasn't, and Detroit goes home without much confidence in either goalie, or in themselves. Mike Babcock says he's sticking with Mrazek and he would probably deny the use of a coin in reaching that decision.

Chicago's situation is somewhat similar. The Blackhawks stole their first game in Nashville because of Scott Darling's superb netminding in relief of Corey Crawford. Coach Joel Quenneville showed faith in his Stanley Cup-winning goalie and started Crawford again in Game 2, but the 6-2 loss to the desperate Predators has forced Quenneville to send Darling out for his first playoff start back in Chicago for Sunday's Game 3.

Crawford shouldn't relax. It's a tough way to win a playoff series when goalies have to be pulled and starters are never certain. 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

It’s Edmonton Again

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,

The Oilers already had three No. 1 picks in a row, and they kept winning lotteries and letting Oilers president Kevin Lowe say stuff like how they have two tiers of fans, and how half the league would trade rosters with them if they could, and “there’s one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.”

That was in 2013. They’ve finished 28th in the league twice since then. Their three No. 1 picks have been supported by just horrific drafting and development and decisions outside the first round, and Edmonton just went ahead and leveraged their 11.5% chance at the No. 1 pick into Connor McDavid. It was reported by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet that going into the final ball, the Leafs actually had a 4-in-11 chance, Buffalo 3 in 11, and Edmonton 2-of-11. (Carolina and Columbus had single chances.) Very Leafs, really.

But this is what happens when you fight on Edmonton’s turf. By the way, Oilers owner Darryl Katz, who has already played footsie with Seattle in a successful attempt to sucker Edmonton out of public funds for a new arena, is actively suing the Erie Otters and Sherry Bassin, the mentor of ... Connor McDavid. Ha, terrific.

Plus, did we mention they already won three lotteries? Ergo, the disappointment. As Coyotes co-owner Anthony Leblanc told Joe Yerdon of NHL.com, “(When I) realized it wasn’t us, I’m not going to lie, I’m like, ‘Holy crap, I hope it’s Buffalo.’ To find out it was Edmonton? That stung. That stung.” As Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said, “They’ve got some luck.”

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Spin Or Optimism In Columbus?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

To watch the video of last week’s “exit” news conference featuring Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson and his general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen, is to figure the Jackets are on the cusp of a dynasty.

JD: “When the dust settles and you clear your head and think about it, we’ve got a good thing going on here.”

As the old saying goes, if you have to say you’re good, you’re probably not any good, or you’re trying to sell tickets. In any case, we’ve enlisted the devil’s advocate to assess the talking points.

JD: “I think going into next season, this team will have more internal competition (for roster spots) than it has ever had, in its history.”

DA (devil's advocate): One would hope. This team has missed the playoffs 12 times in 14 seasons.

JD: “I think we’ll be better next year than we were planning to be this year.”

DA: You were a lottery team.

JD: “When you look at it from the inside, the Blue Jackets were in the playoffs last year and they weren’t in it this year. A step back? For some people, that’s an obvious thought. But when you really analyze it like we do … ”

DA: Some people?

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

No Connor McDavid For The Toronto Maple Leafs

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star,

The stars did not align — and neither did the balls — for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This was to be expected, given that the Leafs, for all their wretchedness, were not quite awful enough this season to “merit” more than a 9.5 per cent chance at snatching the biggest prize to come down the draft chute in a generation. The odds were steep.

But still. Just once — just once — the sports gods might have smiled down on this benighted ’burg. For a change.

Connor McDavid, for his sins, will be an Edmonton Oiler, come the 2015-2016 NHL campaign. Presumably. Unless sad-sack Edmonton does something stupid on draft day, which is not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

That puts the supernova teen some 3,470 kilometres down the highway from the centre of the universe.

EDMONTON, for the love of God. Four No. 1 picks in six years, an embarrassment of riches. And yet the Oilers remain . . . embarrassing.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Luck On The Side Of The Edmonton Oilers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,

For the fourth time in the last six years the Oilers have won the No. 1 pick in the draft. And this time it’s a generational player. This time it’s a Sidney Crosby.

It was 2:40 a.m. in Switzerland when G.M. Craig MacTavish called.

MacTavish has won Stanley Cups but what he said happened in the middle of the night over there is unmatched.

“This is as excited as I’ve been in the game. Tomorrow we’ll be back to work, but tonight we’re real excited.

“Scott Howson, Bob Green and myself watched it in our hotel rooms and we all came running out of our rooms to have a little hall party. I haven’t done this since high school,” said the G.M. who is in Zug for the U-18 world championships.

“I was watching on my i-pad as it scrolled down. Pretty incredible. The Toronto Maple Leaf card came up and they didn’t win. Then our card came up and it was ‘We have a winner!’

“Almost unbelievable. It’s a monumental day for the Oilers today. Lucky Bill Scott!” he said of his assistant general manager he sent to Toronto with instructions to bring back McDavid.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Where Was The Effort From The New York Rangers?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

To a man, the Rangers understood the Penguins would play with desperation following their Game 1 defeat at the Garden on Thursday.

Who wouldn’t have?

Thus, an intelligent man or woman — or I — would have expected the Blueshirts, whose work ethic and attention to detail were unassailable throughout their Presidents’ Trophy-winning regular season, would have been committed to matching the Penguins’ Hunger Game for Saturday’s encore on Broadway.

Sorry.

Not even close.

“I don’t think we got up to our standard,” Mats Zuccarello said after the Game 2, 4-3 defeat that wasn’t close to that close. “I think everybody has to step it up.”

The Rangers’ execution was wanting, but it was the effort that was most disappointing. 

continued

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

Morning Line- Tim Murray

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

“If you can pick 1 or 2, you’re going to choose 1. f you’re going to make a trade and they offer you the best defenseman in the league or the second-best defenseman in the league, you’re going to want the best. Anytime you can get 1 vs. 2 in any walk of life, you’re going to want one. But we came up here with an expectation we’d probably be picking No. 2 and we’re going to deal with it. There’s no issue there.”

Tim Murray, GM of the Buffalo Sabres.  More from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: tim+murray

Line Changes Coming

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Babcock, before this Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series, indicated he would play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on separate lines once Abdelkader returned.

The Red Wings also need to shuffle their third line of Joakim Andersson, Stephen Weiss and Tomas Jurco. They have combined for no points and a minus-3 rating through two games and have just one shot between them - by Weiss.

Chances are Weiss or Jurco will be scratched when Abdelkader returns....

Abdelkader's return also likely will prompt Babcock to break up The Kid Line of Riley Sheahan, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, who scored the team's lone goal in Game 2.

Zetterberg more than likely will center Abdelkader and Nyquist while Datsyuk will center Darren Helm and Tatar. Those have been regular combinations this season.

Luke Glendening and Drew Miller have played together much of the season. Babcock probably will keep Landon Ferraro as the right wing on that unit because he plays with pace.

That would leave Sheahan centering the third line, with Andersson and Jurco or Weiss.

Babcock might also replace rookie defenseman Alexey Marchenko, who was a minus-2 and lost coverage on a couple of goals. In that case, Brendan Smith or Jakub Kindl would return to the lineup.

more

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Win Or Else In Boston

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

On Wednesday, during his news conference to explain the firing of general manager Peter Chiarelli, Jacobs positioned the bar as high as it gets.

“I said that for us not to make the playoffs would have been a failure,” Jacobs said, referring to his January declaration. “So here we are, out. I want to clarify my comment about the playoffs. The expectation is for us not only to get into the playoffs, but to play and compete for the Stanley Cup, not just to get in.”

In some ways, Jacobs could say nothing else. These are the big words of every executive in his position. The Cup is a yearly pursuit, and rightfully so. If any organization targets lesser goals, it is doing its customers and business partners a disservice.

The tone of Jacobs’s words, however, did something besides defining the organizational standard. By identifying his target with such defiance and emotion, Jacobs declared that anything short of their goal would be judged swiftly and critically. Chiarelli paid for this shortcoming with his job.

Jacobs and team president Cam Neely have chosen this leadership style. They demand results. When results are not met, they make their displeasure known and hold employees accountable. Jacobs and Neely showed on Wednesday that they are in charge. The people below them on the masthead are expected to fall in line.

It is a hard and joyless management approach. It is also a thing of the past.

more plus other hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Sunday Morning Hockey Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- If you do the math, MLSE is on the hook for $11 million owing to Nonis, Randy Carlyle, Dave Poulin and Claude Loiselle. That number increases significantly if you add the $27 million Nathan Horton will be paid not to play for the Leafs. And word is, Leiweke has negotiated a nice going away present when he departs the company. So there is that, too.

- Peter Chiarelli won a Stanley Cup, lost a Stanley Cup, and won a Presidents’ Trophy with the Boston Bruins. After that, he got fired. Had he won and lost a Stanley Cup in Toronto, his name would be in the rafters forever and a statue with his likeness would be built outside the Air Canada Centre.

- This has not been a great season for those who wave the analytic flag in hockey. The Anaheim Ducks, the team that pays the least attention to fancy stats, was among the best in the NHL. The teams that hired analytic departments, Toronto, Edmonton, New Jersey, all fired their coaches and had dreadful seasons. And everybody’s favourite possession team, the Los Angeles Kings, didn’t make the playoffs. Other than that, pretty much all is well 

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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