Kukla's Korner

If I Had An Award Ballot

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

Every year, I write my annual post on who I would be voting for if I had a chance to vote for the NHL awards.  Here was last year’s picks.  These are not predictions of who will win the awards; they are my picks as to who is most worth of winning.

Selke Trophy - 1. Jordan Staal Pittsburgh Penguins 2. Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks 3. Jay McClement St Louis Blues Here is why I pick Staal and why I dislike several of the other top contenders.  I think that three of Ryan Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk and Jonathan Toews and Staal will likely be nominated, so I expect that my other contenders wind up missing out.

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Notes On A No Hockey Day

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,

• If there was an assistant coach of the year, it should be to Sean Burke. He taught Bryzgalov to take things more seriously, to prepare for every game like he was starting, even if he wasn’t. Bryzgalov is a pretty funny guy, but he needed this lesson.

• Didn’t enjoy watching Crosby and Ovechkin going for trophies in meaningless games Sunday afternoon. (Did understand why Crosby would want 50, though.) It struck me as being beneath both of them.

• How can Mike Modano play again after those awesome send-offs from the fans in Dallas and Minnesota? It would be totally anti-climactic.

more plus Elliotte’s pick for the Hart…

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Prediction Time

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ray Ferraro of TSN,

Out East, if there is a blowout, it will be in Washington. I just don’t see any way that Montreal can stay in this series - even if Jaroslav Halak plays out of his mind. The Caps are too big and skilled and this one ends in five games. The Devils-Flyers series historically have been rugged and drawn out. The Flyers won five of the six regular season games vs. the Devils and have been a puzzle most of the year. But at some point, Marty Brodeur outplays Brain Boucher. This isn’t easy, but the Devils win in six games.

more plus additional hockey topics…

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Boucher Delivers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,

When Olli Jokinen flicked a backhand shot toward the space between Boucher’s pads, not much was riding with the puck - merely millions of dollars, a couple of jobs and the fates of two NHL franchises. If Boucher could keep the shot out of the net, the Flyers would beat the New York Rangers and fill the Wachovia Center at least twice with playoff crowds.

If not, the abyss beckoned.

“I remember a Game 7 against Washington a few years ago that was pretty nerve-racking,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. “But with the implications of missing [the playoffs], this was even more nerve-racking.”

What implications? Well, Holmgren is one of the people whose security might have been threatened by a collapse of the magnitude required for this team to miss the playoffs. He has no control over the 76ers, but a silent spring in the arena is more than just an embarrassment to Comcast-Spectacor. It is a significant blow to the bottom line.

So there was Boucher, a guy this very organization gave up on eight years ago. You may have lost track in the dizzying goalie-go-round that is Flyers hockey, but Boucher is the last homegrown netminder to take this team on a deep playoff run. That was in 2000.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Morning Line

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

One thing I know for sure is the national and international hockey media surely will jump on this series and make it the premiere match-up of the first round. How could they not? After all, the Red Wings are the Yankees/Cowboys of the NHL and the Coyotes, despite being the higher seed in this series, are perceived as the NHL’s little engine that could in 2009-10.

-Dave Vest of PhoenixCoyotes.com.

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

A Good Chance The Cup Will Stay In the East

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,

The West is the best.

It took 95 points for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference to make the playoffs this season compared to just 88 in the East.

So why bother even allowing Eastern Conference teams to compete in this season’s NHL playoffs?

We’re kidding, of course.

I’ll tell you why: Because as good as the Western Conference has been this year, there is a very good chance the Stanley Cup champion will come from the East.

In addition to the fact the Washington Capitals won the President’s Trophy with 121 points, there’s also the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to consider. Also, the Northeast Division champion Buffalo Sabres, with superstar goaltender Ryan Miller, might just have that lethal combination of good defence and depth on offence to go deep into the playoffs.

Then there’s the New Jersey Devils.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Another Shakeup In Tampa?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via TSN,

It appears as though there is about to be a housecleaning in Tampa Bay.

XM NHL Home Ice is reporting that according to sources Lightning General Manager Brian Lawton and head coach Rick Tocchet will be relieved of their duties on Monday.

update 9:30am, via Bob McKenzie tweet,

Rick Tocchet fired, as per @DarrenDreger.

added 9:36am, Another McKenzie tweet,

Lawton’s firing now confirmed as well.

added 9:51am, via NHL.com,

“Now that the 2009-10 Tampa Bay Lightning season has concluded, we have decided to replace Brian and Rick,” said Vinik upon making the announcement. “Our hockey operations department needs a fresh start in order to help us fulfill our goal of being a world-class organization. I’d like to thank both Brian and Rick for their dedication and service to the Lightning.

“Our search for a Chief Executive Officer is well underway and we are in the process of interviewing candidates. After the new CEO is hired, he will hire our new General Manager in time to prepare for the draft and free agency periods.”

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Niemi Ready As Can Be

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune,

Asked when he would be able to forget the disappointment of giving up a game-winner with home ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs on the line in order to focus on the Predators, Niemi didn’t blink.

“Today, tonight, before tomorrow,’’ Niemi said. “I am almost as ready as I can be.’‘

A hopeful hockey city can think optimistically along with Niemi, but truthfully nobody really knows for sure. Experience removes doubt and Niemi has none. His playoff start in Game 1 Friday will be his first.

To say Niemi is the biggest factor in how long the Blackhawks’ postseason lasts is like saying April showers are key to May flowers. Nothing has been more obvious about this 112-point season since coach Joel Quenneville installed Niemi as the goaltender March 28 after Cristobal Huet lost his confidence, then his job.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: antti+niemi

The Picks Have Started

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

Phoenix (West #4) v. Detroit (West #5)

Phoenix wasn’t even supposed to have an NHL team this year, let alone an NHL playoff team, and now all that’s left for this overachieving band of hockey-playing vagabonds is to exorcise that 23-year span in which the franchise hasn’t won a playoff round (1987 vs. Calgary in Winnipeg days, in case you’re counting). It won’t be easy though - Detroit has lost only three times since the Olympic break and rookie Jimmy Howard is 15-0-2 in his last 17 decisions. Nothing about Phoenix’s personnel would suggest that they belong in the league’s elite, except their collective and overall persistence; and a keen understanding on how to play the game in all three zones. Except for Shane Doan, the Coyotes’ leading men were all unwanted elsewhere (Lee Stempniak, Matt Lombardi, Wojtek Wolski, Adrian Aucoin). That last laugh reverberating around Jobing.com Arena must surely be sweet.

Pick: Phoenix (in seven).

read on for Eric’s and David Shoalts picks for each first round series…

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Lundqvist Deserved Better

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jay Greenberg of the NY Post,

For a team that had lost most of the races and one-on-one battles, that had been hanging onto a cliff by practically the last ounce of strength in Henrik Lundqvist’s grip, the Rangers yesterday still, at the end of 65 minutes, had the Flyers where they wanted them.

“[Coach] John [Tortorella] even said [before the overtime], ‘Don’t totally sit back, but don’t let it end here, because we have a big advantage in goal in the shootout,’ ” said Erik Christensen.

The Rangers, 7-1-1 just to get to one game for eighth place, had kept borrowing time, and Lundqvist was stealing them another two weeks. Apprehension filled the house down to the Flyers’ bench.

“It’s a little bit ironic, how this happens, Lundqvist being probably the best shootout goalie in the league, along with Ryan Miller,” Danny Briere would say later. “The Rangers have been pretty successful and the Flyers haven’t in shootouts.”


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

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