Kukla's Korner

Eager Feels Stafford Hit Was Dirty

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,

After Buffalo’s Drew Stafford leveled defenseman Duncan Keith in the Sabres’ zone and appeared to get his elbow up in the process, Ben Eager drew penalties while retaliating. The Hawks controlled the Sabres’ power play, limiting Buffalo to just one shot.

Keith was wobbly after the hit and didn’t return to the game after making his way to the bench. But afterward, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he was OK.

The Hawks killed off all seven of the Sabres’ power plays, but it was Stafford’s hit that had the most impact.

“I thought it was a completely dirty hit,” Eager said. “That team has been through it. They have seen their fair share of head shots, and that guy doesn’t have many hits all year. He’s a skilled guy, so I’m sure [the league] won’t do anything to him. I’m sure if I was the one who hit him I probably would be sitting out for a while.”

more on the game last night and watch the Stafford hit on Keith below…

added 12:55pm, via Tim Sassone of Between The Circles,

Watch the replay of Drew Stafford’s hit on Duncan Keith and it’s clear his elbow caught the Hawks’ defenseman in the head at the last minute.

Referees Paul Devorski and Brian Pochmara blew it by not penalizing Stafford, who said after the game Keith should have had his head up.

Shots to the head continue to be ignored by the NHL. A head shot should be an automatic penalty, whether it’s intentional or not.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: drew+stafford, duncan+keith

Rangers Need A Power Player

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

Before last night’s slate of games, the Rangers were 27th in power-play efficiency - and last in the East - at 14.3 percent. They and the Blue Jackets are the only two teams in the NHL not to have a 10-point power-play scorer. Michal Rozsival, who leads the Blueshirts with nine power play points (3-6), was tied with many players for 120th in the league.

Scott Gomez, who leads the team with 3:54 of power-play ice per game, has not scored a power play goal. He scored nine for the Devils in 2005-06, his 33-goal season. Wade Redden, who leads Rangers’ point men with 3:44 of ice per game, has one goal and four assists with the man advantage.

The power play operation has been dysfunctional from the start. It lacks the booming shot. It lacks decisive puck movement. It lacks strength in front and at the half-wall. It lacks the ability to pound pucks on net. In short, it lacks a weapon.

more

 

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

Jason Williams Happy To Be In Columbus

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Puck-rakers,

Things just didn’t work out for Williams in Atlanta, he said. A power-play specialist who likes to play on the point, he was never afforded that opportunity with Ilya Kovalchuk, Mathieu Schneider and Ron Hainsey.

“I liked the city and the fans and the players but the trade is probably good for both sides,” Williams said. “It just wasn’t a good fit for me,”

Coach Ken Hitchcock said he plans to use Williams on the right point on the power play with Fedor Tyutin. He isn’t sure on what forward line Williams will play.

more

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

Wings Go The SWAT Route

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Kris Draper discovered he would not make an effective perpetrator. Dan Cleary nearly came away with battle scars. Tomas Holmstrom realized he is better at sidestepping flying pucks than dodging rubber pellets from semi-automatic weapons.

Detroit Red Wings players and coaches left Tuesday’s SWAT team training exercise with a newfound appreciation for law enforcement….

Players always enjoy taking shots at Babcock. But he proved more elusive.

“I was (a target), but sometimes you just got to be slippery,” Babcock said. “The way it works is, if you have enough clothing on, the welts aren’t quite as bad. But there was some ammo going off.”

When Cleary’s gun jammed, he made the mistake of looking down to fix it, leaving the top of his head exposed. When he exited the room, Chris Chelios took one look and decided this game was not for him.

read on

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

O.C. Register:  Wing Hangover Is A Mild One

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By IwoCPO

Count Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register as a fan of the Red Wings.  Well, maybe not a fan, but a writer who’s seen his share of hockey this year and knows what kind of team he watched last night.

...the Red Wings’ heads are clear enough to go 29-7-6. That’s just a faint headache and a fairly dry mouth.

You want hangovers, check out Pittsburgh this year, Ottawa and the Ducks last year, Edmonton and Carolina the year before that. At times they all looked as hellish as John Daly at a 7:15 a.m. teeoff.

Since the lockout, no club has visited the Cup Finals one spring and won as much as a playoff series the next. Expect Detroit to end that streak, this April.

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Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink
 

What’s Wrong With Pittsburgh?

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

Last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were a success story.  Their 102 points won the Atlantic Division and placed them second in the East Conference.  They were the eastern representative in the Stanley Cup final, eventually losing 4 games to 2 to the Detroit Red Wings.  As a young team built around superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, they were widely considered a team on the rise that would likely win a Stanley Cup before too long.  They haven’t continued that momentum.  Currently, Pittsburgh sits out of the playoffs in 10th place in the East Conference.  They have a record of 21-24 (with four losses counted as regulation ties).  They have lost more games than they have won this season.  That is a remarkable drop from the previous season.  What happened?

The biggest change from 2007/08 to 2008/09 in Pittsburgh is a dropoff in their ability to keep the puck out of their net.  Pittsburgh has a sixth worst 3.11 goals against per game.  Last season, they prevented better than half a goal per game more.  Their 2.58 goals against per game placed them 10th in the NHL.  There is also criticism of their lack of offensive depth, but I do not think this is an important part of the puzzle.  Last season, the team actually scored fewer goals per game (2.93 vs. 2.98 per game) and struggled through a Sidney Crosby injury.  Pittsburgh is a team that could be improved by better offensive depth, but that is not a reason for their drop in the standings.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Top Rentals

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Allen of Mucking and Grinding,

To qualify as a rental, a player must be an unrestricted free agent next summer. Here is my list of top potential rentals.

1. Jay Bouwmeester (Florida): With Marian Gaborik hurt, Bouwmeester is the big prize. He’s an unusual case only in that there are teams that would like to acquire and sign him, and they might be willing to pay more if they can talk to him and get him on the dotted line….

2. Keith Tkachuk (St. Louis Blues): At 36, he’s still on a 25-goal pace, and he brings experience and an edge to his game….

3. Mathieu Schneider (Atlanta): Many teams are looking for a puck-moving defenseman, and Schneider still has a big shot and knows how to move the puck effectively.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

TSN Panel Chimes In

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from TSN,

Each week, the NHL on TSN panel voices their opinions on the hot topics of the day in the Wednesday Night Hockey Quiz.

Question No. 1: Is Jason Spezza part of the problem or the solution in Ottawa?

Keith Jones: He is part of the solution. He’s only 25 years old and has a tremendous amount of upside and skill is the key word….

Bob McKenzie: I agree. Spezza needs to be part of the solution. There’s no question he’s had some shortcomings and flaws in his game but are the fatal? No, build your team around what he gives you offensively and fill in the holes. Defensively and all the rest of the things you need elsewhere.

read on with more Q & A…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jason+spezza

The Situation In Phoenix

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Darren Dreger of TSN,

The Phoenix Coyotes believe Arizona is a strong hockey market and are convinced this NHL team isn’t going anywhere.

However, the Coyotes are in a deep financial crisis, propped up by the National Hockey League with short-term financing protection and operating loans helping Phoenix manage cash flow to sustain their business for the remainder of the season.

It’s unclear how long the league will continue to carry this team, although league sources say contraction or a dispersal draft haven’t been discussed or considered.

Sources say the team is expected to be sold within the next two months with current owner Jerry Moyes retaining as much as 20 percent.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Goalie Style May Mean More Injuries

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,

The frequency and severity of leg injuries among NHL goaltenders, especially those who incorporate elements of the butterfly style, are a source of concern in several hockey cities….

here is an emerging consensus on the causes: specialized leg movements, more intensive practice drills, faster play in games (less clutching and grabbing means more shots and goals) and heavier schedules.

“The game has opened up, the new rules mean goaltenders are a lot busier, the saves are harder and more spectacular, there’s more stress on the joints,” said Anaheim Ducks goaltender coach François Allaire, who popularized the butterfly style — so-called because goalies spread to keep the inside of their leg pads flat against the ice — with Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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