Kirk Muller

Kirk Muller coaches Canes to respectability

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When Kirk Muller accepted a job with the Nashville Predators’ AHL team this summer, it seemed like a disappointing blow to a coach who was clearly on the rise.

Perhaps that time proved worthwhile, however, as John Manasso reports that Muller is implementing some of the better elements of the Nashville Predators’ system as the new bench boss for the Carolina Hurricanes – which is gaining the attention of Preds head coach Barry Trotz.

Trotz said that Muller has the ‘Canes “playing with a lot of pace and a lot of conviction.” Trotz, whose team entered Thursday’s games with the sixth-most points in the NHL, noticed how Muller applied Nashville’s pressure system to Carolina, minus a few tweaks here or there.

“Yeah, when they were doing it better than us, it was making me angry,” Trotz said. “It was making me really angry — angry and frustrated.”

Manasso reveals the rhythmic mantra floating around Carolina: “Kirk is Work.” It sounds like the kind of phrase that would appear on a button for a politician, but either way, the Hurricanes are rebounding to become a serious spoiler waiting to happen in the stretch run.

As Manasso points out, Carolina is 11-4-7 in its last 22 contests. The Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres realized how dangerous the Canes could be in the last two days as Cam Ward stood on his head in an OT win against the Caps and a tight OT loss to the Sabres on Wednesday.


Generally speaking, the Hurricanes bring an interesting mix to the table. They often employ a hard-charging offensive style and an (at best) hit-or-miss defense that places a lot of pressure on its goaltending – and lends itself to dramatic streaks in both directions. With that in mind, having a great coach could make the difference in a Southeast Division that holds teams with interesting but uncertain futures.

So far, there’s some reason to believe that Muller might be that coach.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?