Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Let’s call it “The battle of the overpaid defenceman"

Season Team GP G A P +/- PIM GW GT Shots Pct
McCabe 2006-2007 Maple Leafs 13 1 8 9 2 18 0 0 37 2.7
Redden 2006-2007 Senators 9 0 1 1 2 8 0 0 15 0

Has either one done anything to justify the outrageous amount of money they were given in the off season?

Would Chara have been the better option for Ottawa?
Would Chara have been the better option for Toronto?

Do Sens fans still think that Wade Reddden is an undeniable all-star…? I never have.


(This post was written by Five-O. The first entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member)

Sens - Habs

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Leafs won last night.

Tonight the Sens play in Montreal. The Leafs put 51 shots on the Habs on Saturday night but needed a shootout to win it. With his 47 save performance that night, Aebischer earned a second straight start and will face Emery.

Note to David Aebischer fans: Time to update the website. Wait a second - David Aebischer fans?

The game is on Sportsnet East for us in Ottawa. Sit down, watch the game, and finish off the Halloween leftovers or go through the kid's bags for the best treats - I'm partial to those old school kisses but haven't seen any for years it seems.

Calling Leaf Nation

Since it’s Halloween I figure it’s a good time to call out the ghouls and goblins.

As you might have noticed, there is a noticeable lack of Leaf content. This isn’t normally a bad thing but it makes for a one-sided Battle of Ontario here. So, if you have a blog or even if you don’t, here’s your chance to join the awesomest sophomoric hockey Battle site in the blogosphere. The expectation is that you’d be awesome too and contribute a few posts a week.

Here’s how it’s going to happen:

Send me (don.battleofontario@gmail.com) a guest post on the Battle of Ontario – from a Leaf fan’s perspective. If it’s not really, really bad then I’ll put it on the site. If you've got a blog already and want to cross post an entry here then send me the link. After a while we’ll decide who gets the invitation for the full-time position with all the benefits membership entails based on my opinion, the Godfather, and the BoO readers.

C'est l'Halloween

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'awl's neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller

Monday, October 30, 2006

Deal with it now

Some Blogger posting issues over the weekend so we won't mention Saturday's games other than this....

Don Brennan brings up an uncomfortable topic in his column today.
No matter how good the Senators have looked at times during Bryan Murray's year and a bit behind the bench, they've never been without one particularly disturbing blemish -- their record in one-goal games.
Last season, while compiling a conference-leading 52-21-9 mark, they were a weak 10-15 in games decided by a single, lamp-lighting shot.
In the playoffs, they lost 5-of-7 one-goal games, including 4-of-5 in a swan-song series with Buffalo.
The Senators are picking up right where they dropped off. After Saturday's 2-1 loss in Boston, they are now 1-4 this season in games decided by a single goal.

It's an issue that needs to remain front and center until the players understand that close games require something more than what they've offered so far. I hope the media keeps bringing this up until the team deals with it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

"Rayman, I've been watching you, brother."

Another outstanding Emery interview with ESPN's David Amber [link via Scarlett Ice]:
Q: If you had to go toe-to-toe with a goalie in the league right now, who would be a good battle for you?

A: Dan Cloutier is supposed to be pretty tough and a little crazy, so maybe that is a good matchup. But he is out in L.A., so we barely play those guys. We'll see.

Roy Mlakar, you've got the connections, go get this guy a spot on Rome.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Throw in the towel.

Four rounds in and the question is - will they just call off the rest after the pummelling the Leafs just took?

I'm not online tomorrow so behave yourselves.

I would suggest the discussion should involve the following:
- Does Kubina really make that much of a difference?
- Is 'His name is Ray' destined to become the greatest Ottawa based hip hop song since 'Check the OR'?
- Was Maurice staring down his team on the bench as they left to the dressing room after the game?
- Was seeing Darci bleed after his ride on the A-Train as good for you as it was for me?

Game thoughts?

Let's hear 'em


Round 1: 4-1 Sens in Toronto
Round 2: 6-0 Leafs in Ottawa
Round 3: 6-2 Sens in Toronto

Round 4 tonight at 7:30 in Ottawa.

TV: A-Channel in Ottawa, TSN in Southern Ontario
Radio: Team1200 in Ottawa, AM640 in Toronto

Starting tenders:
Ottawa: Emery
Toronto: Raycroft

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Anyone found good video of the Kilger spear on Schubert? Or, in McCreary's view, the Kilger roughing of Schubert? TSN's report from John Lu has a far away view.

UPDATE: Some more info and insight into McCreary's thinking - obviously he didn't see what happened at the time....
The Senators also weren't impressed with Kilger, who speared Schubert in the groin after the Ottawa defenceman tripped the Leafs winger.
"I didn't really trip him on purpose, I've got to be honest. I was falling down and next thing I see, I just got a stick in my two lovely friends," said Schubert, whose account of the incident made reporters burst out in laughter.
"I don't know what made (Kilger) so upset to spear me. If I get a chance tomorrow to ask him, I'd want to know why he would do it, but it's fine with me. I'm all OK. I'm not hurt or anything, but it's just interesting for me what's sometimes going on in other guys' heads."
Kilger received a minor for roughing on the play. Schubert received two minutes for tripping and a lecture from referee Bill McCreary.
"(McCreary) was yelling at me that I should get up and stop being an actor," Schubert said. "But he apologized in the third period."

Game story

I think a sign that the emotional rivalry is picking up is that the talk today on the radio and blogs isn't entirely on the final score. Kilger's spear on Schubert and Tucker's attacking Eaves is what people are discussing.

I found this opening paragraph of the CP story to be laughable:
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Darcy Tucker has evolved from a temperamental NHLer to a cool, calm leader.
Right up there with Kim Jong-il. Tucker shows himself yet again to be a player who lives on the edges of what is acceptable in the game even though he has put up numbers and could play a style of game that would be respected . Eaves stood up for himself - we can draw comparisons to previous Senator 'skill' players - and showed some more of the character on the team.

After 3 rounds, this year's battle still lacks a storyline in my opinion. Three games with three lopsided scores. We'll see if tomorrow's match changes that.

Some reaction

Scarlett Ice:
Tucker needs to learn how to take a hit without bitching about it. Eaves and Tucker were battling along the boards for the puck and Eaves gave him a completely legal hit which caused Tucker to fall. I guess he didn't like to be embarrassed by a young'in like Eaves because he immediately reached out and challenged him while Eaves was skating away.

Hockey Country:
Martin Gerber in the third period. I was getting flashbacks of Patrick Lalime, and it sure seemed like the Leafs were too based on how often they were firing the puck from any and every angle. Gerber had a decent enough game overall but was not very reassuring at various points and has pretty much established himself as the worst puckhandling netminder in franchise history. And considering we’ve had both Lalime AND Hasek, that’s saying a lot.

Chris (as in 'Who the hell is Chris Stevenson?') Stevenson:
Senators centre Jason Spezza has been criticized this season by coach Bryan Murray, but he drew raves tonight. "He had one shift tonight that was as good as he's ever had in my two years here," said Murray.

Neate Sager:
Seriously, can the politically connected suits at Maple Leaf Sports score some sweetheart deal where they receive federal disaster relief for every second Wade Belak is out on defence? The big plug gets another penalty for putting Mike Fisher in the kind of hold that usually comes with a 2-drink minimum.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In-game thoughts

Your thoughts, fears, dreams, etc......

For those of us Out of Towners

Thanks to Sacameno at BoA and kinger at Always on the Road for pointing out the TVU Network - a P2P streaming deal that broadcasts games over teh internets.

I'll sample it for the first time tonight as they plan to show the first of the Leafs-Sens home and home. It's currently free, but looking through the discussion forum it looks like the inevitable commons tragedy is in the works as the Leafs fans are elbowing their way to the front of the buffet table:

With all the complaining about Leaf games by non-Leaf and leaf fans, I propose a possible solution. Show only Leaf games that will be broadcasted on Leafs tv. This will prevent the mass chaos that was last Thursday.

There are a lot of leaf fans outside the toronto region, but there are more leaf fans that don't have leafs tv due to it being a exclusive channel. This will also bring back polls for games. the polls will exclude all leaf games, but when a leafs game is on leafs tv, that game will be shown.

seriously, I don't feel one iota of sadness for a Leaf fan in Canada that can't get a game on Leafs TV, you get 10,000 hours of coverage a week.

I do feel for the Leafs fans overseas that get no games at all, so I'd rather just the best and most entertaining games are shown, regardless of "Leafs TV"

People on this board need to come to the realization that there are alot more leafs fans here than any other team. One look around this forum would tell you that.

I've actually seen more Canucks fans posting thank you's to kago [moderator], and all the Leaf fans spamming and whining about not being catered to because they are Leaf fans and they deserve more than any other fan for this reason or that.

Your statement right there should go in the "why do people hate leaf fans" thread. Unfounded Arrogance.


Yo, yo, come on, come on

His name is Ray.

Some league leaders

RK Player Team Hits
RK Player Team Missed Shots
RK Player Team Giveaways


Round 1: 4-1 Sens in Toronto
Round 2: 6-0 Leafs in Ottawa

Round 3 tonight at 7:30 in Toronto.
TV: A-Channel in Ottawa, TSN in Southern Ontario
Radio: Team1200 in Ottawa, AM640 in Toronto

Starting tenders:
Ottawa: Gerber
Toronto: Raycroft

Update: I know the Sens had trouble stopping the Leafs last time but don't you think this is a little overconfident:

The team (Leafs) did nothing in set line combos in Tuesday's skate, but did some 3-on-0 line rushes and took shots on the goalies.

Tucker contract con't

Another article in the TO papers today about his contract. It included this:
Though Sosa will not get into specifics on what he thinks Tucker is worth after a career-high 28 goals last season and seven thus far in 2006-07, it's likely he noted that left winger Brenden Morrow of the Dallas Stars signed for six years at $24.6 million last month.
Morrow, the team's new captain, has nine points to Tucker's 10 thus far.

Ya think Hornby, the writer of the column, is getting paid by Sosa?

Monday, October 23, 2006

The day before the storm...

A few paragraphs from the Toronto Sun...

Faced with the prospect of a home-and-home series against their cross-province rival this week, the Leafs were hoping the sleeping giant wouldn't wake up.
No such luck.
Now, with the Senators regaining confidence after their lopsided victory, the Leafs realize the task ahead will be even more daunting.

Ottawa native Brendan Bell had the following to say:
"I went to a lot of games over the years, including the Leafs and Sens," he said. "I wasn't really a Leafs or Sens fans, I was a hockey fan. Actually, I don't know if I should be saying this but I was a real Wade Redden fan."

He needs some fans these days. We expect a little more out of the 6.5 million dollar man than 0 pts and a -3.

No word on Ottawa's starter. Hard not to put Emery in net when he's leading the league in SV%. I imagine Murray will give each a start.

He's leading the team in goals - contract up?

Fidlin's column on Tucker ended with this:
He's made no secret that he wants to stay and, given his value to the team, the rumours of a five-year, $15-million US contract request don't sound out of line at all.

The organization has almost become sane with the Domi and Belfour moves - as if they'd regress and do something assine like that!

Related: Thanks to The Mad Hockey Blogger for this post today. It was marginally from behind but Tucker obviously embellished it by diving into the boards.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

In case you need a release

Open post to discuss the Sens win and Leaf loss.

More on Monday - the Battle resumes on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

You wanted cowbell

What a difference a year makes! 1/10th into the season and the Leafs and Senators are moving in opposite directions. The Sens bloggers are doing an excellent job of kicking the Senators while they are down so I will talk up the Leafs (surprise, surprise).
First, let's give credit where credit is due - John Ferguson was very smart is trading Tukka Rask to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft. I am on record that the Leafs missed the playoffs last year because Ed Belfour did not provide NHL calibre goaltending. Further, whether the Leafs make the playoffs this year will be determined by the same criteria. So far Andrew Raycroft is providing more than the Leafs could hope for (and I am not just saying that because I have him in the pool).
The second smart move (but by this point necessary) was to replace Pat Quinn with Paul Maurice. The Leafs are playing with more intensity that they have displayed in years. This team cannot win on talent alone and they seem determined to never be outworked (leaving a game against Colorado aside).
Ferguson's moves on defense cannot be judged due to injury to Pavel Kubina but Hal Gill has not been as bad as advertised. But any defense that has Wade Belak on it is a cause for concern. Further power play needs a second unit which Ian White may be capable of but no one else seems to be (until Kubina gets back). Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle have to do a lot more offensively though.
As for the forwards it seems the city of Toronto has finally realized what they have in Mats Sundin. It has taken almost a decade for him to get out from the shadow of Doug Gilmour and paring him with Kyle Wellwood (and the extra minutes) have helped his play. However the coaching staff is still searching for a third. Darcy Tucker is excellent with them on the power play but they seem disinclined to load up even strength. Alexei Ponikarovsky has already flamed out in this role as his foot speed and finishing are not up to the task. For the game in Columbus last night Alex Steen was tried for no other purpose, it seems, than to get him back to playing to last years level after a disappointing start. As my brother says he is all Swede and no Finnish right now.
I have been pleasantly surprised with the play of Michael Peca. He won't provide enough in the way of offense but he is valuable as a shut down centre. Matt Stajan has his good games and bad games and it is unclear which direction Jeff O'Neill is going in. The Leafs must be happy with the play of Bates Battaglia and Chad Kilger though.
So all in all the Leafs have surpassed expectations and if they can keep playing this hard the should be able to get a low seed into the playoffs.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Weekend Agenda

The Leafs play Columbus tonight and then host the Rangers tomorrow. Notes for tonight's game:
"Andrew Raycroft starts, Ben Ondrus is in the lineup, Wade Belak plays defence and [Jay] Harrison is out," the Maple Leafs head coach said Friday morning after spending a few minutes using words like "very probable" in his scrum after the game-day skate.The changes for Friday night's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets were not surprising, except for Raycroft. The Leafs play back-to-back games on the road and at home, and there was some thought that Maurice would play backup goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin against the Blue Jackets and come back with Raycroft on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre against the New York Rangers.

The Sens meanwhile are putting the dynamite to the 'big line' for tomorrow's game at home against the Devils:
Murray used Spezza on a line with Mike Fisher and Chris Neil on Friday in practice.
Heatley skated on a line with Chris Kelly and Antoine Vermette. Daniel Alfredsson was on the right wing with Patrick Eaves and Dean McAmmond.

A Quiet Girl suggested that after last Saturday's game:
They're too dependent on each other: Heatley, known for being a great playmaker before Spezza, is just a sniper leech and Spezza's lost all ability to shoot and looks for Heatley everywhere. Indulge me in this analogy: it's like an intense relationship, and when things are good, they're almost better people, but the more they're together, the more they forget who they are outside of the relationship. They're losing themselves.

Emery is back in net.

One step closer to nirvana

I'll second Mirtle's post singing the praises of hockey-recap.com

From Gary:
Hockey-Recap produces a 1-page report (for free) on a daily basis which includes the previous day's statistics, leaders and other important elements such as standings, transactions, injuries and quite a bit more. There are also pages for all players which include game by game extended stats for 2006-2007 and will soon have career stats.
You can subscribe to the site and receive a copy of the report in your email each morning or you can simply visit the site. There will be enhancements to the site every week.

Go there and evolve.

Power Play Declined

Can we decline a penalty like in football?

1 goal scored in 34 chances. 3 shorties allowed. What the?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Ex Sens Files

Sigh. Breaking up sure is tough:

Martin Havlat: 6 GP, 7-6-13, +8

Marian Hossa (gothiminthepool!): 6 GP, 5-3-8, even

Zdeno Chara: 5 GP, 0-5-5, -2 (logged 29:55 in tonight's Flames-Bruins tilt)

Like the crush of an ex-girlfriend, the longer the scoring drought continues, the fonder the heart seems to grow...

Rules of Engagement

It's a Battle here but there are some rules of engagement - well, just one so far.

1. In comments, don't refer directly to another commenter. You can stereotypically disparage the fans of one team directly of course but not a specific person.

Example of a good comment: Leafs Suck.
Example of a bad comment: Jim sucks.
Example of a bad comment: You suck.

Carry on.

Need more cowbell*

Alright. This blog is quickly become the greatest hockey blog in the history of hockey blogs that exclusively cover a NHL rivalry consistenting of two teams based in Ontario. Agreed?

However, I think there may be a way to improve upon it - hold on, don't scroll down or click away - I'm serious here. I know what you're thinking. Talking about improving the current site is like talking about chocolate becoming browner. Give me a second.

Here's the problem - I have found myself actually trying to be 'balanced' in some posts. This is a very serious situation. 'Balance' might develop into something like sympathy for the 40 year old train wreck that is the Leafs.

It is therefore incumbent upon me to call out the three 'Leaf' supporters on this blog. Either buck up and post for your team or, or, or I'm going to develop a split personality and post as Idiot Leaf Fan.

Either that or we bring in another Leaf contributor.


The pot said what?

Steve Simmons today:
It strikes me that Maple Leafs nonsense is at an all-time high. What with blogs, internet sites, radio hysteria, chat groups and 24/7 focus on everything that is and isn't Leafs, much gets overblown.

Or maybe you were reading your back columns.

Note: I should say that he does deserve significant credit for continuing to be all over the Frost/Jefferson/NHLPA disgrace. Maybe he should have been a crime beat writer instead.

Dreary, dismal

Those words are from TSN. Sundin called it sluggish. Submit your own adjectives to help describe the Leaf's performance last night.

Obviously, Colorado determined that they could win yesterday with their backup goalie and will put the former Vezina winner against Joe Corvo and the Senators.


Don't Sweat the Weak Start

I've convinced myself the diminished expectations mean the plan is unfolding as it should [cue NFL films music]:

The Senators stumbled out the gate to start the 2002-2003 season...

....Heading into a November 9th game against the Boston Bruins, the Senators were an uninspiring 5-5-1. Fans and media started to panic. The familiar "maybe it's time to make a deal" cry flooded the airwaves and papers. It wasn't that the Senators were playing terrible hockey. They just seemed unable to put together quality back-to-back performances.

The game against the Bruins was the lowest point of the season. The 7-1 loss wasn't what bothered fans but the uninspired play. The Senators played selfish, apathetic hockey. It was one of their worst performances in recent memory.

The Senators were determined not to let the loss get the better of them. After the blowout, the team went on a 10-game unbeaten streak and by the end of December they were at the top of the Eastern Conference, battling with Dallas for the lead in the overall league standings.

-Chris Robinson, "The Ottawa Senators - Great Stories From The NHL's First Dynasty"

So let them lie in the weeds for another month or so, then watch them pounce. I'd much rather see the team battle through this haze and come out stronger for it than float through 82 games with minimal adversity. This time round, though, Redden will pick up the open man...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Something to ponder

The Leafs are last in the league in this statistical category. Question - why is the west having all the fun? Again.

Go Jose!

Update on the Avalanche roadie through our beautiful province (once you get out of the GTA anyway):
Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville didn't meet with the media after practice Tuesday to discuss his possible goaltending rotation on the trip, but it's likely that Peter Budaj will play one of the games in Ontario, most likely the meeting with the Senators on Thursday.

Obviously Quenneville realizes that the Thursday game is a throwaway as they have no chance against the explosive Senators. With Joe Corvo scheduled to return the Senators are an instoppable force.

UPDATE: The Sens are going with their backup too. Er....

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sched watch

The Avs make an Ontario swing playing in Toronto tomorrow night and here in Ottawa on Thursday. They've only got one win so far this season and the pressure is on Theodore to match up against the opposing goaltender - something he hasn't done this year - and for the team to score more.

They failed to sellout their building on Monday night for the first time in 11 years. From the Denver Post:
The official attendance of 17,681 for the Avalanche's 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was only 326 short of capacity in the Pepsi Center, but it ended the longest recorded sellout streak in National Hockey League history at 487 games.
The streak began in the Avalanche's eighth regular-season home game, just after the franchise was moved from Quebec to Denver, when a crowd of 16,061 watched Colorado tie the Dallas Stars 1-1 in McNichols Sports Arena on Nov. 9, 1995.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Almost forgot

Congrats Mats on your 500th goal.
Don't forget Leaf fans, Sundin's career best goals, assists, and PIMs all came in Quebec. It's sad to think of what he could have accomplished had he not gone to Toronto. What a waste.

For those not in the Ottawa area

Here's today's Sun:

What do you think?

Steve Simmons:
That tick, tick, tick you're hearing is the sound of the Ottawa Senators. And it's about to blow up, real good ...

Chris Stevenson:
“I heard some of the veteran players aren’t happy playing for Murray,” said one reporter.
It’s like in Montreal there has to be a coach on the verge of being fired and since it sure isn’t Guy Carbonneau right now (he got a wonderful ovation from the Bell Centre crowd as he was introduced for his first regular season home game), Murray is the next best choice.

And in Stevenson's column:
The 32-year-old Gerber was John Muckler's big free-agent signing in the off-season and the general manager isn't going to make that kind of investment without giving the player a chance to prove he is worthy of it.
Now, in general terms, that might make the relationship between a coach and a GM a little frosty since the coach is interested in putting the guy in net who is going to give him the best chance to win that night.

Can't say I've ever been impressed with Murray but to think Muckler is going to go twitchy finger on the trigger is ridiculous - not going to happen. The team has a long time to work out of its funk and only if they are sitting out of playoffs come Christmas could I see a major change happening.
I think Muckler is going to allow this line-up to develop more as they seem to be searching for a style of play. Expect lots of changes to the lines until they find some type of team chemistry.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bizarro NHL

Okay, wake me up already...

Total Goals For

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sending a message?

Just caught the tail end of the Habs-Sens match (we got the Leaf propaganda show out here on the west coast).

Vermette-McAmmond-Fisher in the shootout?

...and they get the job done, of course.

Goatchenkov looked drunk for what it's worth. Ottawa viewers, did he look this bad all night long?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hear the one about the drunk Leaf fans...

It starts like this:

As 20-year-old Jeff Nolan left his ice-level seat at Scotiabank Place, he said he encountered four men in Maple Leafs jerseys, celebrating the visiting team's 6-0 win.

And the punch line:

Mr. Nolan was admitted to hospital at 11 p.m., but had to wait nearly 36 painful hours for surgery. A metal plate was permanently inserted into his chin to close the gap created in his jaw, and his mouth will be wired shut for six weeks

Story here.

Weekend Agenda

Saturday's games should be good. Ottawa-Montreal has turned into a decent rivalry lately. The Flames go into Stinktown and will face the offensive juggernaut that is the Toronto Maple Leafs.

I assume Gerber will be back in net unless Murray wants to create a crisis. Might be a battle of Swiss tenders as Aebischer has played well.

No predictions allowed.

UPDATE: Emery starting.

What's worse?

Losing a 1-0 game where you bang a couple off the post and otherwise get stymied by the Vezina trophy winner and one of the best defences in the league or cough up a 6-3 lead in third period and lose in the shootout?

Silver linings.

PS: Note to Peter Schaefer....
You've read that you're pretty good with the puck along the boards, have you? Well, when you get creamed on the boards in the offensive zone, don't stand around looking for a call, slowly go back into your end, and then try again to show your mastery of board work when you could have got the puck out. It ended up resulting in the only goal of the game.

PPS: Note to Denis Hamel and Volchenkov
Denis - you got creamed by Phaneuf! Holy shit! Anton - remember when you used to be in proper position to hit guys like that? We used to call you the A-Train.

PPPS: Note to Almonte....
Retire already. You're terrible.

PPPPS: Note to Tanguay....
Did you play last night? I saw a guy wearing number 40 but it couldn't have been you. 0 shots. 0 hits. 9 min of ice time.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Looking for a linemate for Iginla maybe?

Chris Stevenson's dispatch from the morning skate:
It’s not a panic situation, but it was interesting to see five - five! - coaches on the ice for the Calgary Flames this morning at their skate at Scotiabank Place.

Games today

Open post for discussion on today's matchups.

I'm going to the Sens-Flames tilt tonight and expect to see both teams come out flying considering the pressure that's on both of them so early this season. Sens 3-2 in OT

The Leafs start Aubin tonight. I think the Devils will take this one at home 4-0 giving Cox et al. something to write about in the papers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Early struggles

Gerber's not the only goaltender struggling right now. As we host the Flames tomorrow we might face the number 24th ranked (SV%) goalie in the league.
Rank Goalie Team GP SV%
23 CAM WARD CAR 3 .887

Looks like Gerber isn't getting the chance to improve his numbers though. Emery is getting his first start.

Meanwhile, the Leafs play the Devils....
Rank Goalie Team GP SV%

Note: For your information, if Gerber had a .950 SV% it would mean 6 fewer goals in those 3 games.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Quick thought after the Buffalo loss

First, go Habs!

Second, the Sens looked great in the 2nd half of this game. Would it kill Murray to just leave Alfie with Spezza and Heatley? I couldn't understand why he kept going away from them in the playoffs last year and I still don't get the logic - it's not like they don't have talent on the 2nd and 3rd lines.

Off to watch the shootout in Toronto.

WASP line?

Not exactly politically correct, 2/3 of the line (at least) are not Anglo-Saxon and who knows how many of them are Protestant but what else can you do with Wellwood, Sundin and Ponikarovsky?
The good news for people who like line nicknames is that Paul Maurice is more likely to stick to a line combination than Pat Quinn would be.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Turkey Shoot

Can't think of anything to write about a Turkey Shoot but love the phrase.

Here's the weekend's offerings for our two beloved teams...

The Sens face Buffalo on Saturday on home ice.
The Leafs host Montreal on Saturday and Bertuzzi and the Panthers on Monday.

Discuss. (Can you tell I'm anxious to move on from last night's game?)

Right on cue

You knew it would be Brennan or Garrioch that would write something like this:
Think maybe John Muckler should have went after Andrew Raycroft instead of Gerber in the offseason? He would have been able to keep Zdeno Chara had he done so.

Let's do the math. Gerber - Raycroft = 1.7 million. Chara - 1.7 million = 5.8 million. I don't get it. Did we sign somebody for 5.8 million to replace Chara?

On the back end Corvo is at 2.6 and Preissing is 0.9 and they are replacing Chara and Pothier. McAmmond was signed for 0.75. The rest of the cap room when to resign guys and we are at 41 million.

The conclusion which we already knew - Brennan is an idiot.

Leafs 6 Sens 0 (WTF??)

By The Meatriarchy

OK everyone be honest. If you had come late to the game last night and were told that it was 6-0 and the goalie had been pulled you would have figured the Sens were at it again right? Just like last year?

What a difference 24 hours makes.

But despite the almost universal writing off of the Leafs by the Toronto media in the aftermath of the season opener the Leafs played almost the same game as they had the first night and the result was much different.

The key difference? Gerber.

He stoned the Leafs in game one turning aside 34 shots and looking incredible. Last night he looked ordinary and the result was far different.

Yesterday in the aftermath of the first game I could only find two people in the Toronto media who were willing to point out this salient fact: get over 30 shots a game in this league and you will score. They were radio colour man Jim Ralph and Leafs coach Paul Maurice. Maurice to his credit was adamant that the Leafs played reasonably well in the first game and after last night's game he made it clear to the media scrum that he felt that they didn't play a great deal different last night.

But if you had listened to the radio or read the papers yesterday you would have thought it was the last game of the season not the first.

Now we are only 2 games into a long season and one victory doesn't mean a hell of a lot in the long run but the glee with which the reporters and columnists dissected the loss in the home opener was in full mode yesterday.

Howard Berger commiserated with Fan590 afternoon drive host Bob McCowan (who opened the show on Wednesday complaining about how much he hated hockey) about having to follow "the wreckage" that is the Leafs around for a whole season.

Berger however wasn't ready to write the Leafs off completely saying he preferred to wait because the season was still young. How long is he prepared to give them? 5 games! That's right 5 whole games will be the barometer of an 80 game season under a new coach with a completely different system.

Meanwhile over at the Globe Dave Shoalts weighed in with a gloating column entitled "Leafs faults on full display" Maybe today we could have one with "Toronto Sports Media Faults on display"?

Raycroft who stopped 33 shots in game one was excoriated all yesterday for having what the experts claimed was a "bad game" and by extension John Ferguson was a complete fool for signing him. Would any of these experts have listened if you told them that Raycroft would have shutout in the books before Gerber??

Sens fans it is obvious after two games that Havlat and Chara will be missed sorely. Giving up over 30 shots in two games to a team that isn't supposed to make the playoffs (lots of prognosticators have the Leafs finishing dead last in their division) is not a good omen for a team with Cup aspirations.

And face it this team did not look as dangerous in the past two games as they did all last season. Even in the first game which they won I didn't think they looked that great.

Did Alfredsson play last night? I didn't notice him at all. And after the midway point of the game Spezza, Heatley and Redden seemed invisible as well. And Mezaros had an awful night going -3 overall.

I think the most improved player over the past two nights was Tucker. In game one he was barely evident but last night he was at his edgy abrasive best.

O'Neil as well looked a bit better also. I like the idea of a Tucker-Stajan-O'Neil line if this guy can get his game back on track.

Candiens are in town on Saturday. Let's keep the momentum going!!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

We need to know.

Is he or isn't he? At least 4 seats in the Ottawa area will be lost instantly if it turns out he is - bad enough his son wears the blue and white.

Game 2

My prediction was the closest - I rule.

Tonight we'll see the Sens win again but it won't be as close. 6-1.

Three quick points:

- Let's hope the rink is more electric than the ACC last night. The prolonged event before the game must have killed the buzz. From Pension Plan Puppets:
Where was the crowd enthusiasm? I bet the decible level at the ACC never rose above 80 db's all night. (Ed.'t Note: It was almost embarrassing. The platinums were, predictably, empty in the first five minutes before and after each intermission. This will drive me insane during the three games that I will watch from the purples.)
- I couldn't believe the power play unit I saw on the ice for the Leafs in the third. They are down by 2 goals and need one badly and who does Maurice ice? Battaglia, O'Neill, Pohl, White, and Wozniewski! Wow.

- I could have gotten tickets to tonights game but, alas, my daughter's birthday is today. She owes me big time.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I Forgot How Much I Missed Wade Belak

You know, before the game began, I was about to compose a post that pre-emptively assigned goat horns to Gerber. The last thing I wanted to sit through this season was a goaltending controversy and yet all signs were pointing in that general direction.

I'm always happy to be proven completely wrong of course, and luckily I thought better of it. Gerber was the difference in this game.

Tomorrow the Leafs get another crack at it. Preissing and Corvo will likely both be out of the lineup which means even more time for the scrambly Phillips / Volchenkov pairing. If these are the "horses" that are going to take up Chara minutes, they're going to need to get things settled down back there.


Open post for tonight's game.

My prediction is Ottawa 5, Toronto 1 with Raycroft getting booed by the end of the game.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Wow. Thanks to Duff in the comments below for reminding us that this season marks the 40th anniversary of the last time Lord Stanley's Cup was won by Toronto.

Let's come up with some slogans for this year's Leafs worthy of this milestone.

Off the top of my head:
40 years of celebration!
1967-2007 A work in progress.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Reality hits Hogtown

Over on the Leaf website there is a poll:

Now, the motto for MapleLeafs.com is "A passion that unites us all". I have to say the poll results don't really show 'passion'. Maybe 'A work in progress' is a more fitting motto for LeafNation.

Either that or: 'When Sundin leaves we are really, really screwed!' or 'We were 27th in even strength goals last year - here's to matching that this year!'