Kukla's Korner

Any Great NHL Teams This Year?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jimmy Hascup of USA TODAY,

Almost two months into the NHL season, five points separate the Eastern Conference's worst team from a wild card spot, and six points separate the West's worst from a playoff position. There is a seven-point difference between the East's best team and the second wild card, while 10 points separate those teams in the West.

Which in many words says one thing (aside from there's a lot of hockey left to be played): There's a lot of parity (or mediocrity, if that's how you want to view it) in the NHL, and It's unclear if there are any great teams.

Do the Chicago Blackhawks, leading the league with 35 points, stand out as a fierce contender? Credit to them: They have survived with a 30th-ranked penalty kill and an injury to Jonathan Toews, who has struggled with 12 points in 25 games. But they are a top-heavy team, with their stars required to do the heavy lifting....

Then there’s the Montreal Canadiens, who at 16-5-2 are second in the league with 34 points. The Canadiens are an improved team over last season, thanks to Carey Price’s health. But a surefire Cup contender now?

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Afternoon Line- Dion Phaneuf

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

“I know my role now has changed from when I first game in, but it's a different game too. The game has changed with blocking shots over the years.  You're not getting the same looks that you used to. Plus, on this team, Karlsson is the big guy for us offensively on the backend and I've got to do my job defensively.

“That's what makes teams good and that's what makes teams competitive. Everyone has a job and everyone has to do their job. I still think I have an offensive side to my game, but I'm asked to do more on the defensive side and I enjoy that role.”

-Dion Phaneuf of the Ottawa Senators.  Darren Dreger of the Dreger Report has more on Phaneuf.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dion+phaneuf

Epix previews the ‘Road to the Outdoor Classics’ series

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Via the Free Press's James Jahnke, EPIX has posted a "teaser" video for its "Road to the Outdoor Classics" series (plural), in which Jeff Blashill and Mike Babcock discuss the atmosphere surrounding playing in an outdoor game:

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Custance: Wings’ injuries give Mantha opportunity to step up

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Just before the Red Wings' beat writers announced the injury to Justin Abdelkader, ESPN's Craig Custance wrote an Insider-only column discussing whether the Red Wings could or should make a trade to bolster their defense, given that the defense-heavy Stars were in town on Tuesday.

After Custance found that the Wings and Stars haven't discussed a deal, he focused on the opportunities that the Wings' injuries have given Anthony Mantha:

The 22-year-old has five points in nine games, and has shown off an impressive shot in scoring three goals. His strong skating was on display during Thursday night’s 3-on-3 overtime session when he beautifully set up a Grade A scoring chance for Henrik Zetterberg, and then turned to hustle back to defend a Florida rush.

His line with Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar got the tough assignment of playing against Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr at even strength. That’s a big assignment for a rookie, taking on a Hall of Famer.

“He’s obviously a legend. Great Hall of Famer,” Mantha said when we chatted after the game. “Can’t give him any ice, he’s going to use it.”

But Mantha understands these injuries have created an opportunity for him. In Detroit, GM Ken Holland deliberately makes it a challenge for young players to work their way in. They have to earn it. Mantha is now getting that chance.

“I need to take my chance and keep going,” he said. “I just need to focus and do the details and keep learning and bring offense as it goes.”

For a player like Mantha, the key will be consistency. Coaches love veteran players because they know what they’re going to get on a nightly basis. One scout who got a viewing in on Mantha this week didn’t leave overwhelmed.

“Just ok,” he said in a text. “Didn’t think he was real consistent.”

Custance continues with his Friday column...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Justin Abdelkader to miss 2-4 weeks with sprained MCL

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Updated 4x at 1:20 PM: Crappy news regarding Justin Abdelkader from the Free Press's Helene St. James, MLive's Ansar Khan, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness and the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:

That's seven players injured: Abdelkader, Alexey Marchenko, Brendan Smith, Darren Helm, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi and Jimmy Howard.

Continue Reading »

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Too Many Mistakes Cost The Wings In OT Loss To The Florida Panthers

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

The Detroit Red Wings made poor decisions with the puck, leading to excessive turnovers. They lacked discipline, resulting in too many penalties.

They salvaged a point, but their 2-1 overtime loss Thursday to the Florida Panthers at Joe Louis Arena was a step backward in coach Jeff Blashill's eyes.

"They outplayed us in one area because we turned too many pucks over," Blashill said. "You can't win like that.

"I thought we were immature in our game in terms of (puck management), in terms of making sure we stay above people, in terms of short shifts, and I think at the end of the game we were immature in our game. We had the puck on our stick and we gave it away. We got to be better than that."


Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Morning Line- Joe Sakic

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

“I have faith in them, but to me, the start is not a core thing; it’s a team thing. I think you see we’re trying to hold people accountable. We know we have certain guys who can give more, and those guys know they can give more, but it’s not like it’s a whole thing. We’re not as consistent as we need to be. We didn’t win two straight Cups and have that leeway. We have to play with that urgency every night on a consistent basis to be successful.”

-Joe Sakic, GM of the Colorado Avalanche on his core players and team.  More on the Avalanche from Terry Frei of the Denver Post.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: joe+sakic

NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Home Team in Caps
BOSTON 2, Carolina 1 (SO)
BUFFALO 4, NY Rangers 3
PITTSBURGH 6, Dallas 2
NY Islanders 3, WASHINGTON 0
Philadelphia 3, OTTAWA 2 (OT)
Florida 2, DETROIT 1 (OT)
ST. LOUIS 5, Tampa Bay 4
Edmonton 6, WINNIPEG 3
CHICAGO 4, New Jersey 3 (OT)
Columbus 3, COLORADO 2
Los Angeles 4, ARIZONA 3
Anaheim 3, VANCOUVER 1
Vladimir Tarasenko (3-1—4) scored the third hat trick of his NHL career and equaled a career high with four points to help the Blues extend their home point streak to 11 games (9-0-2), including six straight wins.

* Tarasenko has earned at least one point in 11 of his last 13 games (9-9—18) and ranks third in League scoring with 13-14—27 this season (24 GP).

* Jake Allen (22 saves) picked up his career-high seventh consecutive victory, posting a 2.24 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in those contests.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Soccer Or Hockey?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Filed in: Hockey Related Stories, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The overnight report: Red Wings-Panthers wrap-up and prospect news

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Detroit Red Wings' 2-1 OT loss to the Florida Panthers was an incredibly frustrating one. The Wings couldn't keep their first-period momentum after losing Justin Abdelkader to a lower-body injury...

And Detroit just struggled with penalties (6 is too many), struggled with puck management and struggled with shot differential as per usual against a Panthers team that seems to have Detroit's number.

The Panthers were positively thrilled to give interim coach Tom Rowe his first win in a building that they hope to have bade farewell to, as they told the Miami Herald's George Richards:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

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