Kotalik brings shootout skills to Edmonton

 

The Edmonton Oilers improved their shootout lineup with the trade deadline day deal for winger Ales Kotalik. Only two players have scored more shootout goals — Atlanta’s Slava Kozlov and Carolina’s Jussi Jokinen. Kozlov is 22 for 37, Jokinen 21 for 39. Kotalik was 18 for 36 in Buffalo. Nine of those decided games.

 
 
 
 
 

The Edmonton Oilers improved their shootout lineup with the trade deadline day deal for winger Ales Kotalik. Only two players have scored more shootout goals — Atlanta’s Slava Kozlov and Carolina’s Jussi Jokinen. Kozlov is 22 for 37, Jokinen 21 for 39. Kotalik was 18 for 36 in Buffalo. Nine of those decided games.

The right-handed shooting Kotalik’s signature move is a fake wristshot, then a backhand under the crossbar. Goalies know it’s coming, but he’s pretty lethal with it. He’s six for 11 this year; only the Avalanche centre Wojtek Wolski has more goals (seven, in eight tries). With games so close down the stretch, and shootouts inevitable, Kotalik could be a nice weapon.

Since the NHL instituted the shootouts in 2005, the goalies have stopped two out of every three attempts by the shooters. But Kotalik’s average is 50 per cent.

With his sparkling numbers, he’ll surely be at the top of the list of the Oilers shootout guys now.

Oilers forward Ales Hemsky has taken more shootouts than any player in history (42), but he’s only connected on 14 of them. He’s only good on one out of every three, but he’s got six game-deciding goals.

Sam Gagner has had 24 tries, and he’s scored eight, again just a 33-per-cent success rate. Robert Nilsson is seven-for-14. Shawn Horcoff is five-for-nine. The other incoming Oiler, Patrick O’Sullivan, is seven-for-16 lifetime.

Oilers don’t waste time inserting new players into lineup

Edmonton Oilers newcomers Ales Kotalik and Patrick O’Sullivan — who arrived in Ottawa just in time for a quick practice and a quick systems meeting — were in the lineup Thursday when the Oilers played the Senators. Kotalik played on a line with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff. O’Sullivan skated with Marc Pouliot and Andrew Cogliano.

O’Sullivan flew in from Los Angeles, ending his ties to the Kings after Wednesday’s trade deadline day dealings. Kotalik had been a Buffalo Sabre.

“I got in an hour before I went on the ice. I’m pretty exhausted. All I can think about is having a nap,” O’Sullivan said after the morning skate. “I think the guys here will make it easy for me.”

“He’ll be running on adrenaline, as will Ales,” said MacTavish. “But we tried to impress upon them how important every game is. We need a good effort tonight.”

Kotalik and Hemsky played together during the 2006 Winter Olympics, and there have been a few other occasions when they’ve both been in Czech jerseys.

“We have chemistry off the ice, that’s for sure,” said Kotalik. “We’ve been friends for a long time. He’s one of the best players in the league and I’m excited to get a chance to play with him.”

Hurricanes’ Cole-fanatic back on the bandwagon

There is at least one Carolina Hurricanes who is ecstatic about the return of Erik Cole to_Raleigh, N.C.

When the rugged winger was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in the summer, Deborah Halaby told the Raleigh News & Observer she cancelled her season tickets and packed away more of her Hurricanes gear. Now that he’s back, acquired in a three-way deadline-day deal with the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings, Halaby has taken her Hurricanes jersey out of storage and purchased tickets for Friday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

“I’m so thrilled.” Halaby told the newspaper. “You wouldn’t believe it. I just hope he stays this time.”

No NHL game at Michigan stadium

Michigan and Michigan State plan to play an outdoor game NCAA hockey game at the 108,000-seat Michigan Stadium in December of 2010. But there are no plans in the works to make it a doubleheader with the NHL’s annual Winter Classic.

“After talking to people involved in the game in Chicago, two games on the same day would be too much,” Mike Stevenson, Michigan’s executive associate athletic director, told MLive.com. “I don’t know if we could expect people to sit through six or seven hours of hockey in that kind of weather.”

The NCAA game is not finalized. It still requires conference approval.

Newest Flame garners kudos

Endorsements — on behalf of Olli Jokinen, from the opposition dressing room — continue to roll in.

One who shares a home town with Jokinen. The other who shared a dressing room with him — until Wednesday, that is.

"A great guy, I think, and a good player," said Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Kimmo Timonen, a native of Kuopio, Finland. "He can score from almost anywhere. I’m sure it’s a good pickup. And I’m sure if you play almost 800 games without a playoff game that you’re pretty excited to get in the playoffs. That’s why we’re here — to play for the Stanley Cup."

Added Daniel Carcillo, late of the Phoenix Coyotes, now of the Flyers: "He deserves a good team. He’s a great player. A great guy. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him."

Carcillo tried to put to rest the mounting gossip that Jokinen isn’t a good team guy, that he’s a cancer, that he’s too hard on young players.

"He’s tough on everyone," he said. "But he’s not particularly tough on first-year guys or second-year guys or third-year guys. He’s a good guy. I got along with him great — everybody did."

"I heard those comments, too, and I don’t think there’s any truth to them," said Carcillo. "He’s real vocal in the room, a good leader. I’d play with him — and protect him — any day."

Carcillo spouts the party line

Whenever the Philadelphia Flyers add a gritty player, the acquisition never fails to mention that he always cheered for the Broad Street Bullies.

Daniel Carcillo, a native of suburban Toronto, is no different. Carcillo was picked up from Phoenix at the trade deadline.

"Obviously, I’m happy to be a Flyer — my favourite team," said Carcillo, the NHL’s current penalty-minute leader. "It’s kind of surreal. I always loved them growing up. Even while living in Toronto, it always attracted me, their style of play. How rough and tough they were, obviously. My dad liked how they played . . . and I never really took to the Leafs. I just loved the way the Flyers were banging and fighting and scoring and winning."

And you want to talk about contrasts?

Wednesday, one of Carcillo’s bosses was Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time point leader.

Thursday, one of Carcillo’s bosses was Craig Berube, the NHL’s all-time fight leader.

"I’m going to be disciplined and mean, and help this team any way I can," he said. "I think I’ve cleaned up my act pretty good. Obviously, it’s something that I’m always going to have to work on. Just the way I play, it’s on the edge and it’s emotional."

Biron stays put

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Biron insisted Thursday he was never fazed by persistent rumours he was bound for another destination on the NHL’s trade deadline day.

"No, I really wasn’t worried," said Biron. "I was sliding on a hill with my little guy in the snow (on deadline day). So I wasn’t really going through the phones or the TV, because I didn’t need to."

But that’s not to say he didn’t feel for his younger — and more naive — teammates and their loved ones, who, more often than not, get sucked in by the hype.

"When (reporters) have scenarios and they put it out for everyone to see — they think they have a scoop — they have to understand that there’s people being discussed, families being discussed," said Biron. "We’re in the locker-room, we play the game, we’re used to it . . . but then you get a call from Mom and Dad, and buddies. Your wife and kids are at home and they’re there wondering."

Schedule favours Lundmark family

According to the schedule, the Calgary Flames were slated to be in Philadelphia for a couple of days.

Jamie Lundmark’s wife, staying at the couple’s off-season home there, couldn’t wait.

And she didn’t.

Erica delivered their second child — Carter — on Monday. The timing, with the two-day window in Philly, had been oh-so close to perfect.

"Earlier in the season, I looked at (the schedule) and thought that there might be a chance that I’d be around here," said Lundmark. "It kind of sucked that I wasn’t there (for the birth), but they’re back at home — everything’s good. And it did work out really good. I went home (Wednesday) and got to hang out with the two-year-old (Austin) and the newborn, my whole family."

Demitra, Salo take a break

Left-winger Pavol Demitra and defenceman Sami Salo were both excused from Vancouver Canucks practice Thursday for “maintenance.”  Coach Alain Vigneault said Demitra was resting his fractured pinky finger, while Salo has a sore hamstring and “a couple of other issues.”

“Nothing serious,” Vigneault said.

Energy forward Rick Rypien, who began skating on his own last weekend, appears again to be a question mark. Rypien has been on a personal leave following sports hernia surgery. He’s played just five games this season.

“Ryp’s personal issue needed more time, so we’ve given him more time to deal with that,” Vigneault said. “That’s where we are.”

He’s No. 2

Forward Cody Hodgson, the Vancouver Canucks’ first pick in last spring’s NHL entry draft, is ranked the second best prospect in the world by The Hockey News in its annual Future Watch edition. _Hodgson, who was taken with the 10th-overall pick, ranks behind only Nikita Filatov of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Canucks goaltending prospect Cory Schneider did not similarly impress despite his superb season in the American Hockey League. Schneider was ranked the 26th best prospect.

The Canucks’ system as a whole ranked a lowly 24th. The L.A. Kings were No. 1, followed Phoenix, Montreal, Columbus and St. Louis.

Ice chips:

Edmonton Oilers captain Ethan Moreau was placed on the IR with an eye injury suffered on Saturday. The winger has 12 goals and 11 assists in 61 games. . . . The Columbus Blue Jackets activated defenceman Rostislav Klesla and forward Fredrik Modin off injured reserve. Klesla hasn’t played since Feb. 10, while Modin has been out of the lineup since Feb. 14. . . .

 
 
 
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