Brian Burke

Burke on why the Penguins are a good team: “They won a goddamn lottery”

94 Comments

If you didn’t catch Brian Burke’s press conference this morning in Toronto, the Maple Leafs’ general manager didn’t disappoint when it came to doing what he does best – delivering memorable sound bites.

Unfortunately for Leafs fans, what he hasn’t been able to deliver is a playoff team, and today he had to answer for it.

Here’s the transcript. Following are a few choice Burke quotes, with our take in brackets.

On whether the Leafs should’ve followed the “Pittsburgh model,” aka suffering through a few miserable seasons and building through the draft:

“They won a lottery. They won a goddamn lottery and got the best player in the game. Pittsburgh model, my ass. They got the best player in the lottery, Ray Shero’s an excellent GM and a friend of mine, but I love when people talk about the Pittsburgh model.”

(They talk about it because it works. Chicago used it, too.)

On his management style:

“I was born impatient and I’m going to die impatient.”

(And that’s a good thing?)

On the type of team he wants to build:

“I still believe that big physical teams win hockey games, and if you have two evenly matched teams from a skilled perspective, the bigger one’s going to win.”

(That’s what you said when you were hired. How is your team still too small?)

More on the size, toughness issue:

“I’d say the one place where Ron Wilson and I were not on the same page was that same issue, I like to dictate how the game is played, we’re not big enough to play it Randy [Carlyle’s] way and that’s not optional. We can’t play the way Randy wants to play with this group, that’s not possible.”

(So you kept a coach for over three years that didn’t like to play the way you like your teams to play?)

On what the Leafs need most:

“I think Tyler Bozak made great strides, but for us, goaltending and a number-one center would be the needs.”

(You were looking for a future number-one center and a goaltender when you were hired in 2008, and you still don’t have either? Tyler Seguin’s going to be a pretty good center.)

On the possibility of improving through free agency:

“If you look at free agency, we’ve avoided doing those wonky contracts that are cap circumventions. I choose to make change through trade, not through free agency, I can’t see a lot of impact there.”

(When you were hired, you said July 1 would be your draft day. You’ve also plain made some bad signings. Mike Komisarek. Colby Armstrong. Tim Connolly.)

On yet again missing the playoffs:

“This notion of making the playoffs… we could have made the playoffs last year, we could have made the playoffs this year, we could have traded this first round pick, gotten a thirty-year-old, somehow squeaked in. I’m not interested in making the playoffs unless it’s part of a championship. That is the goal. Not to get in in the eighth spot, get your ass kicked, and stand up here and say yeah, we were in the playoffs.”

(And when exactly will the Leafs be making the playoffs with the chance to win a championship? Because at this point, they don’t even look close.)

Ducks waive former first-rounder Noesen

Arizona Coyotes v Anaheim Ducks
Getty
Leave a comment

Stefan Noesen, one of the pieces Anaheim acquired in the Bobby Ryan-to-Ottawa trade, has been placed on waivers (per TVA).

Noesen, 23, has appeared in 14 career NHL contests — all coming with Anaheim, and 12 of them this season in what amounted to his first extended look at the NHL level. The 21st overall pick in 2011 scored two goals in those 12 games, but only averaged 6:33 TOI per night.

The biggest reason Noesen’s struggled to establish himself is his health — or, specifically, the lack thereof. He missed almost all of the 2013-14 season with torn ligaments in his left knee, then missed four months during the ’14-15 campaign after an opponent’s skate blade nearly severed his right Achilles tendon.

When healthy, he’s shown to be an effective scorer at the AHL level. He had six goals and 15 points in 22 games for San Diego this season.

Noesen signed a one-year, two-way extension with the Ducks this past summer, worth $600,000 at the NHL level. Because of that relatively low cap hit, his pedigree and the fact he only turns 24 next month, there’s a decent chance someone could take a flier on his services.

 

Washington is ‘basically destroying everyone right now’

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 07:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals (c) celebrates his goal at 15:45 of the first period against the New York Islanders and is joined by Nicklas Backstrom #19 (l) and T.J. Oshie #77 (r)at the Barclays Center on January 7, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
2 Comments

Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher didn’t mince words analyzing tonight’s opponent, the visiting Washington Capitals.

“They’re basically destroying everyone right now,” Boucher said on Tuesday morning, per TSN 1200.

And, well, he’s right.

With Monday’s 6-1 blowout of Carolina, the Caps extended their consecutive points streak to 14 games — the second-longest in franchise history. Washington is 12-0-2 during the streak and has scored at least four goals in eight consecutive games, and one of those losses came in overtime of a thrilling 8-7 tilt against the Penguins.

The streak looks even better in graph form:

caps

Unsurprisingly, the Caps have dotted the NHL’s weekly three stars announcements throughout January. Braden Holtby earned third star honors back on the 9th, Nicklas Backstrom netted first star on the 16th and, yesterday, T.J. Oshie scored third star of the week.

Those awards underscore the story in Washington — everybody is contributing across, the board.

Like last night, when Dmitry Orlov‘s rare two-goal effort helped the Caps past the ‘Canes. Or the game prior, when Matt Niskanen‘s three-assist performance pushed Washington over Dallas.

The Caps are a dangerous club at the moment. Even the players are willing to acknowledge it.

“We got all four lines rolling and with our depth and our ability when every line’s going, we’re tough to stop,” Oshie said, per ESPN. “Things are going well right now.”

Poor goaltending, lack of finish to blame for Kings’ latest loss

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jeff Zatkoff, left, looks at New York Rangers' Mats Zuccarello after Zuccarellos scored a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, in New York. The Rangers won 3-2. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP
2 Comments

It was the story of the Los Angeles Kings’ season last night in New York:

— Lots of shots, but not enough goals.

— Not many shots against, but too many goals allowed.

The Kings fell 3-2 to Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers despite winning the shot clock by a huge margin: 38-17.

“I think we had a lot of opportunities. You’ve got to finish,” said head coach Darryl Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “At the end of the day, we need better goaltending in there.”

Jeff Zatkoff was between the pipes for the Kings. His record fell to 2-7-1 with an .881 save percentage. So expect to see Peter Budaj tonight in New Jersey, and probably Thursday in Carolina, too.

The Kings (22-21-4) have lost four straight and sit three points back of Calgary for the second wild-card spot. The Flames also lost last night, and so did the team immediately below the Kings, the Winnipeg Jets. That was the good news for Sutter’s crew.

But with Jonathan Quick not expected back until March, it’ll be up to Budaj and Zatkoff to give the Kings the goaltending they need to get back into a playoff spot. And that’s a big ask for two guys who’ve played more AHL games than NHL games over the last few years.

As far as the offense is concerned, the Kings badly need more from Anze Kopitar, who only has four goals in 41 games. After all, Tyler Toffoli (lower-body injury) did not make the trip, and Jeff Carter can’t be asked to score every night. Carter (25 goals) and Tanner Pearson (14) are the only Kings with double-digit goal totals.

“We probably out-chanced them, what, five-to-one tonight? It’s the percentages,” said Sutter. “So the percentages are that you score on a percentage of those chances. The other team’s scoring on not-percentage chances, put it that way.”

 

No hearings scheduled after wild Flames-Leafs game

Leave a comment

None of the combatants from Monday’s incident-filled Toronto-Calgary game will face disciplinary hearings, an NHL spokesman confirmed this morning.

The two sides combined for 16 minor penalties across a nasty, chippy affair that included:

— Leafs forward Leo Komarov catching Johnny Gaudreau with a huge bodycheck.

— Flames captain Mark Gioradano quickly jumping Komarov in retaliation.

— A pair of Calgary youngsters, Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk, accused of slew-footing.

The incident that drew the most attention was Komarov’s hit on Gaudreau. The diminutive Calgary winger looked to be in trouble after the check — requiring assistance off the ice — but went through concussion protocol and was cleared to return a short while after.

Komarov’s hit was deemed legal, and he didn’t receive a penalty on the play.

“I feel fine,” Gaudreau told the Calgary Herald following the game. “It’s part of hockey, you’re going to get hit every once in a while and with the concussion-test stuff, they want to make sure you’re alright.

“So I had to go in there and do that, and it was fine.”