Wednesday, January 31, 2007
It was then that Leafs Captain and future Hall of Famer Mats 'GWG' Sundin was sent in alone by Ian White as he ripped a wicked wrist shot into the top corner of the net over Lundqvist's glove hand to give the good guys a lead that they would not relinquish. That gave Mats the Leafs' club record for 20-goal seasons with 12 and his career streak of 16 puts him at third longest in NHL history.
Hal Gill did a great job of shutting down Jagr [apparently he now has 2 goals in 13 games against the Northeast] and Andrew Raycroft held the opposition to one goal again as he continues his renaissance in 2007.
The Leafs will look to get February off to a good start as they travel to Kanata to take on the senators in the 6th installment of the BoO. The last game on December 30th was a tight, hard-fought game that evil won in OT on a Chris Phillips change-up. I will be in attendance helping to boo Alfie and hoping that Chris Neil gathers up the testicular fortitude to fight someone.
No fighting on the ice but lots of drinking in the stands so look for those rowdy sens fans to start a fight around the 50th time that I mention the playoffs.
Look at a couple of the famous people that carried this nickname with them, and then look at Emery and Raycroft.
Ray 'Razor' Emery
Andrew 'Razor' Raycroft?
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Tomorrow night the Leafs look to take their revamped, simple style of play into Madison Square Garden as they face one of their principle competitors for a playoff spot, the New York Rangers.
A special thank you to the ottawa senators for beating the Washington Capitals 3-2 and helping to open up a five point gap. That ends the Washington portion of the season for the sens but they still play:
Boston - Home, Away
Carolina - Away, Home
Pittsburgh - Home, Away, Home
Rangers - Home
Islanders - Home, Away
Lightning - Away
So the gals in black, red, and gold will have a say in whether the Leafs' second half push leads to a playoff berth or more late heartbreak. The list does not even include the three games against the Canadiens who are slowly falling back towards the pack. So as you are cheering on the sens keep in mind that you are helping out the Leafs. I hope that takes all of the joy out of any victories.
Meanwhile, Ottawa is the recipient of good and bad news. The good news first, one of the only palatable players on the sens, Mike Fisher, returns to the lineup. But Gerber gets the start so it's really a mixed bag for sens fans.
Capitals 5-8 (depending on when Gerber gets the hook for the goalie formerly known as Razor)
Monday, January 29, 2007
While there's no doubt that special teams and goaltending can take you deep into the playoffs, a smooth transition from regular season dominance to playoff dominance is elusive. Consider the table below, which summarizes Strachan's combined PP+PK metric for the last two seasons. Of the last four finalists, only one (EDM) had a combined top ten special teams rank by the end of the season. The top five had a decidedly mixed record, with only one per season making it to the third round. Rewind further and you'll see the Ducks and Devils had poor/mediocre regular season power plays (although they both topped the league in PK). Jersey's combined ranking that year was 15th. Deadline acquisitions, along with the X factor that gets teams to overcome in clutch situations have more of a positive impact on performance than regular season special teams record. If I could identify and bottle this X factor, I'd sell it on Ebay, leak it into the Kanata water supply or maybe bet the farm on the next Carolina-Edmonton or Calgary-Tampa Stanley Cup final.
(click to enlarge)
Speaking of Dryden, when he came out onto the ice one time as Leaf prez during a season opener, my brother heard a Leaf fan yell; "Hey Dryden - go read a book!" An insult from Leaf Nation.
It has come to this.
This Saturday's Battle of Ontario tilt has more on the line than provincial honour and 2 points in the standings.
The winning netminder gets to use the 'Razor' nickname in public while the other can not.
We, the fans, have decided that it is no longer acceptable to have both goalies in Ontario with 'Razor' nicknames.
We have gone through the arguments on who should be allowed the nickname: Raycroft's seniority in the league, Emery's pugilist past, etc. There is only on way to settle it; on the ice.
May the best Razor win,
Don from the Battle of Ontario
Sunday, January 28, 2007
You read that correctly. My apologies to Sherry and the rest of the HLOGgers, regardless of what Deadspin wants you to do, but Razor is taken. He is engaged to Erin something or other so all of the women that find this site or mine with searches like 'Raycroft Fiancee' or 'Raycroft girlfriend' or 'Raycroft wife' (more than you would think) can cool their heels and move on to searching for 'Mats Sundin wife' which you won't find because he is single. Have at it ladies!
It's on this weekend: Emery vs. Raycroft for the right to call themselves Razor.
[helmet tap to Sherry at Hockey's Ladies of Greatness for the link]
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Sens beat the Bruins in game 1, improving their atrocious record in one goal games (now 6-12) but still can't seem shrink the four game differential with the B's. Are these guys done for yet? I think Ottawa's well out of their reach, but the Buds, Rangers, Islanders, Pens and Bolts need to keep on their toes.
Open thread for a Habs-Leafs classic, assuming you aren't all at the bar yet.
I hung out with number 18 most of the night:
I tried to leave my Sens bias at home and just take in the atmosphere, so I decided to throw on my Team Canada jersey (there's nothing worse than people who wear their team's gear to games they're not even playing in, right Leaf fans?).
I've been at ice level before, behind the goalie. Being next to the bench is similar in that you have to look up at the scoreboard when the play goes in the other end (and the players are standing up and changing). I'd have to say the Canuckleheads are a generally rowdier bunch than the suburban Scotiabank crowd. This observation is backed up only by multiple trips to Lions games, but on Friday at least one beer throwing scuffle erupted in the upper level and several minor fisticuffs broke out on the plaza level. Weird, but there were actually plenty of Kings jerseys in attendance. Seriously, who's still a Kings fan outside of L.A.? Gretzky-era holdovers? Film and television industry workers poached from So-Cal by Hollywood north? I think the last serious Kings fan I saw was Sue from Swingers ("they're a finesse team").
Despite the restricted view, it's well worth the price to get up that close to the action and complement your whole GM Place experience. Details like Rick Bowness losing his shit after a risky defensive pinch, the tape dumbell at the end of Loungo's stick, the aforementioned Bieksa sulking on the way back to the bench, Canuck Fan yelling at Linden and Burrows to SIT DOWN after the play goes up ice, Canuck Fan talking about how awesome picking up Forsberg would be (dude, him and Nazzie are like, best friends, they hang out together and shit), and last but not least, the sweet whiff of B.C. bud in the air on the way to Skytrain after the stadium empties out. Good times.
Friday, January 26, 2007
CBC's schedule for the next two Saturday's:
Saturday, Jan. 27
BOS vs OTT 3 pm
MON vs TOR 7 pm
LA vs EDM 10 pm
Saturday, Feb. 3
EDM vs COL 3 pm
TOR vs OTT 7 pm
VAN vs CAL 10 pm
Tie Domi v. Rob Ray
Tie Domi v. Bob Probert (9 fight compilation)
Wade Belak v. Donald Brashear
Wade Belak v. Andrew Peters
Chris Neil v. Chris Dingman
Brad Brown v. Brian McGrattan
The Future of the BoO
100 Games a Season, a blog by Gare Joyce, is a new blog that I found through Mirtle. Joyce is the author of When The Lights Went Out about the 1987 WJHC in Piestany, Czechoslovakia. He mentions the progress of a couple of the BoO's most highly touted prospects and it is not what fans will wnat to hear.
On the flipside, UND defenceman Brian Lee, the Senators' first-rounder (9th overall) in 2005, did little to impress with the US team and, by a lot of scouts' reckoning, played scared against Canada in the semi-final. Hard to see how he cracks Ottawa's line-up anytime soon.
It should be a cold shower to the phone-in fans who badger talk-radio hosts with demands that Pogge be raced to the big club.
He mentions the list of Canadian goalies that have been superstars at the WJHC and won the top goaltender award but have failed to live up to the hype in the NHL: Jimmy Waite, Mathieu Garon, Stephane Fiset, and Jamie Storr. And that is without even delving into the international goalies that have not panned out which is one of the reasons that some Leaf fans (the ones that do not hysterically call into the Fan590) were not too broken up to see Rask go. Goalies take longer to adjust to the quicker paced game and a two week tournament is not as good a measure of potential success as their entire junior careers as well as the improvements and adjustments that they make once they reach the professional ranks.
The light at the end of the tunnel can be found in Pogge's desire to make the NHL:
At the same time, his willingness to work ferociously remains his greatest quality. "I don't want to sound cocky, but (the NHL) is where I want to be," he says. "That's my goal, and I like to accomplish my goals."
Both propects play positions that take notoriously long to develop fully so it is no time to panic but it is nice to hear some updates on their progress and hear that they are moving their way towards the big team.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Time once again for a quick check on who's getting the most bang for their cap bucks.
I've sorted the top 30 forwards and goalies, along with our BoO favourites (click to enlarge).
My infallible plan for hockey domination: draft Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, then acquire Mike Peca at the trade deadline.
As a counter to such depressing thoughts, I found this hilarious video of the Penguins and Stars in what I assume is the 1991 Stanley Cup Final. The language is NSFW so plug in the headphones (it's probably offensive) but it is funny to hear Bryan Trottier and Kevin Stevens pile on poor Brian Bellows.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Once again, the league has allowed a topic that should have been settled earlier (and with a better schedule) to steal the limelight from the selling of the league. No doubt the television broadcasts that care will spend an inordinate amount of time trying to sell Brian Burke's ridiculous claims that the current schedule is great since it saves for travel wear and tear (read: it saves owners money). Players travel by charters and stay in luxury hotels and PLAY A GAME FOR A LIVING! I think that they can handle two extra cross-continent flights.
In its current state it is very simple to sum-up the schedule: It sucks. I hate seeing the same teams over and over and apparently all the empty seats throughout the league agree. The Leafs played the Bruins 7 times in 5 weeks. That is ridiculous. The playoffs go until June. Somewhere there is a way to solve both problems with one brilliant move. Unfortunately, that solution is not to be found in the head of anyone associated with the NHL. Many proposals were brought up the last time this issue was discussed but so many are non-starters because they involved more travel or fewer games. God forbid that owners that fought for and received cost certainty on salaries use some of those savings to give fans what they want. How about this proposal from David Johnson of HockeyAnalysis.com (an idea I agreed with so much that my subconsious tricked me into believing that I had thought it up. Damn you Jiminy Cricket! Note: I know that he was a conscience but in my head he has multiple roles.):
- 4 games against each team in your conference (since you are fighting each team in your conference for a playoff spot, not those in your division, it is fair that you play each the same amount of times) which results in 56 games.
- Play each team in the other conference once (alternating home and away) for 15 games (total: 71)
- Leaving 11 games to be scheduled at each team's discretion (much like college sports) that will serve to accentuate or maintain rivalries. Rules could be put in place to regulate that not everyone plays the same teams every year but the possibilities for these games would be immense. They could serve to add a couple of regular season matchups between last year's Stanley Cup participants or to rehash an exciting playoff series or to schedule the Habs and Leafs in Western Canada or any of a myriad of scenarios.
That gives us 82 games (since we would not be able to pry any money out of the cold, dead hands of owners or players) in a season and cuts down immensely on the issues with the current schedule that bother a lot of fans. All fans want is a little creativity in resolving the scheduling issue but greedy and stupid NHL owners, GMs, and officials are hell-bent on letting this atrocious system finish it's ill-conceived three-year cycle. RIP HDiC, you will be sorely missed.
Update: Looks like the Penguins' potential nomad existence played a part in keeping the schedule the same. Unbelievably, enough teams voted for change but couldn't agree on what change so there will be NO change. Isn't Bettman's job to mediate these issues?
And Wellwood is out for 8 weeks. Cancel the season.
Monday, January 22, 2007
We will reconvene Saturday, January 27, 2007 for a couple of important Northeast Division tilts as the sens hot the Bruins (please win again) and the Leafs host the Habs (and the Leafs will return the favour). Until then, take care!
In the press release:
The 1966-67 edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs captured the franchise’s 11th Stanley Cup and fourth of the decade.No mention of the fact the Leafs haven't won or even been to the final since.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Pittsburgh's citizens and officials better get excited about this team because it would be a shame for the fans to suffer through the recent dismal teams only to have this squad disappear. Many of the goals were of the highlight reel variety with Crosby, Malkin, and Staal showing that they are more than hype. Mark Recchi must feel like he has won the lottery when he lines up alongside the former two on the powerplay. Tonight was the 7th straight sell-out so that bodes well for the future of the franchise.
In the other half of the BoO, the sens rode their hot stick Dany 'I Don't Need Spezza' Heatley as he added two goals. On the scoresheet it looks like Boston had a bit of a discipline and offence problem as well and Toivenen kept the game closer than it should have been. Also, Shubert will be receiving a letter from the NHL for his Buffalo-like theatrics.
So Ottawa further solidifies itself above the playoff race morass in which the Leafs continue to wallow. Thoughts, insults, jokes, and hopes heading into the all-star break in the comments.
My first hope: That the BoA is better than the Mellon Massacre I just watched.
Meanwhile, the dark side of the BoO travels to Boston with their 14-9-1 record to take on SOB Zdeno Chara and the rest of the Bruins (Official BoO nemesis). Another loss to the beantowners combined withe the Leafs' win will cut their lead over the blue and white to just four points with Toronto having a game in hand.
Leafs 4 (because they can't win otherwise)
Friday, January 19, 2007
Darcy Tucker, who just happens to be the guy on the left's favourite player, has fought three times this year. His opponents: Paul Mara, Patrick Eaves, and Brian Sutherby.
A loss, a win, and a draw respectively.
Chris Neil has fought four times and is only credited with one decisive victory, that one against Paul Gaustad. I dug around and Gaustad has fought one other player this year - Alexander Ovenchkin. Draw your own conclusions.
If Raycroft keeps up these recent performances he will surely gain the benefit of an adoring chant at the ACC, much like the "Cujo" and "Eddie's" of the past. I pick "Razor" as the name we should call out. It's easy to remember, and has a nicer ring to it than Gerber's nickname in Ottawa which is "Backup".
Rogers Sportsnet has reported an average of 176,000 viewers for Sens games so far this year. A huge growth from 2004 when 50,000 was the average tuning in.
Asked why the sudden increase in ratings for games, an anonymous and very drunk exec at Rogers exclaimed: "Those post-game stationary bike interviews are a lot like the senators themselves: lots of talk, but going nowhere... sorry, what was the question?"
Meanwhile, in the National Capital Region, the senators fell to a 34 save performance from Eastern Canada's most hated goalie. This morning the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch is trying to justify not making a trade for Luongo. Does anyone else agree? I think that every team should have made a bid for Canada's future # 1 and wish JFJ had tried to swing a deal.
Is the Northeast not as tough as it was a few weeks ago because of Vancouver's rape and pillage of Upper and Lower Canada?
The senators travel to Boston and the Leafs go to Pittsburgh as both squads play their last games before the All-Star Game.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Ones to watch:
1. Roberto Luongo - when was the last time the Sens solved a top caliber goalie? The Detroit game? A big test here for the Sens guns, who need to win tight games and score ugly goals, most likely what they'll have to do to win tonight. Aim for the throat!
2. Kevin Bee-ek-sa - like Tom Preissing, a relative unknown but a stalwart on the blueline, fourth in team scoring and gobbling up plenty of prime minutes.
3. Those twins - Volchenkov and Phillips will have their work cut out for them. Whether playing with (soon to be traded?) Bulis, Naslund or Linden, they're a slippery little duo to contain.
Local TV is A-Channel, but if you have Sportsnet Pacific, you can catch the game live at 4:30 or on replay at 7:30 (how very thoughtful of them).
Prediction: 2-1 Sens (regulation). Alfie gets his 5th game winning goal, ties Newsie Lalonde.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
1. Would I recognize Tom Preissing if he walked up to me in the Rideau Centre? I think I'd recognize most of the roster in their civvies, with the exception of maybe Dean McAmmond or Denis Hamel.
2. Would I break up Heatley / Kelly / Alfie to accommodate the returning Spezza? I'm with Mendes here - worth seeing if he can fire up Eaves and Vermette.
3.(carrying on yesterdays discussion) Would I sign Phillips to a slightly DiPietro-esque lifetime extension? According to Garrioch, he wants to stay put. Can his contract be tapered out over a longer period of time, so that the team's yearly outlay is minimized and he takes up a lower percentage of the cap over time as it gets adjusted for revenue / inflation?
4. How would I improve the All-Star game? My favourite ideas so far (by no means practical according to current labour / franchising agreements) include:
-Have the Stanley Cup winning team face the rest-of-the-NHL All-Stars. (I heard this one suggested on Pratt & Taylor the other day). Think of how many teams suffer a severe hangover in the year after they reach the finals. Winning such a one-off challenge might help get things back on track before the stretch drive and provide some more championship continuity from season to season. Even better, you host the game at the home arena to increase the intensity and see how well the defending champs hold up against the league's best.
-Lay out a big pot of money and have the selected All-Stars go "sticks in" or use league / fan nominated Captains to pick teams just like in road hockey. It would be kind of cool to watch the dynamic that might develop.
-Set the game aside and focus entirely on the skills competition. Again, having wads of corporate cash available to shower on individual winners should help in the motivation department. Works fine in NASCAR, golf, tennis, etc.
All of these achieve the goal of providing a one-day high-profile show in the slowest part the schedule without diminishing the end of season spectacle of chasing Lord Stanley's mug.
Anyone else have anything they want to get off their chest?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Really, Jay has said in the past that winning the Cup wouldn't be as sweet if we didn't go through TO so in some ways I am hoping they make the post season. In other ways I'm not.
Comment on the wins.
In recognition of this milestone I propose a look at everyone's favourite memories of the BoO since Ottawa's return to the NHL in 1992.
I'll start it off with this video of the 2002 playoff series between the two clubs. After the sweep, this one is my favourite installment of the BoO: Playoff Edition. It was the first to go seven games and had a little bit of everything including heroes (Roberts and McCauley who stepped into the void left by Mats Sundin's broken wrist), villains (Alfredsson for almost inciting a riot in Toronto when he scored the game-winning goal after hitting Tucker from behind), and goats (poor Ricard Persson whose epitaph will read: Doomed by Domi's Balance - Sacrificed by Alfie).
All of a sudden the Buffalo Sabres are starting to look a lot like last year’s Senators without losing their starting goalie at the Olympics. After everybody gave them the Stanley Cup at the end of October, the Sabres have lost five of their last seven.
- San Jose coach Ron Wilson
With trade deadline coming up and 11 teams jockeying for position in the East, there are no more nights off. No matter where you are in the standings. It's now or never for many clubs.
Ottawa host Washington, a team that might be fighting with Philly for the first overall draft pick this June if it not for Ovechkin's play this season. In light of the Crosby/Malkin duo, maybe it would be the best thing for them to mail it in? Ottawa may not give them a choice.
Toronto are in Tampa Bay who have been hot lately. Toronto have been anything but. The shred of positive for the Leafs is that our road record is decent and 12' 10" of hockey players are back tonight off the IR. According to Maurice our Powerplay and team-defense will improve with their return.
We'll see about that.
Predictions? Thoughts? 80's Rock Poetry?
Saturday, January 13, 2007
This is a different Canucks team from previous incarnations. Instead of relying on lots of offence, puck moving defence, and shoddy goaltending the Canucks have been getting by on shoddy offence, strong defence, and amazing goaltending. After years of Brian Burke trying to convert backups into starting goalies Dave Nonis pulled the trigger on what will probably become the most important trade in franchise history by ridding himself of Vancouver's favourites Neanderthal attempted murderer Todd Bertuzzi (seriously, Canucks fans defended this guy...weird) and some spare parts for this year's Western Conference starting goalie Roberto Luongo and spare parts. Unfortunately, this move came about four years too late:
Good thing for Canuck fans that Cloutier will not be around to face the league's fifth highest scoring offence.
Thanks to Jay for the trip down memory lane. I had almost forgotten how that 1994 season ended:
I will be in attendance at the game from about six rows behin Luongo so I will be well placed to see how he deals with the Leafs explosive offence. GO LEAFS!
Friday, January 12, 2007
Should be interesting to see how the special teams play out on this one. Vancouver's third best PK vs. Leafs' fifth best PP and Vancouver's sixth worst PP vs. Leafs' eighth worst PK. Squeegee and Naslund will renew the battle of Swedish captains. Watch out for those Bobbseys - if they get their cycling game going, they'll blow the Leafs out like B.C. Place's ill-fated roof.
Go Canucks, Go Sens and have a Happy Hockey Day, everyone.
P.S.: Props to the Sens resident egghead for edging Nick Lidstrom in the Bud Light Plus Minus standings. Considered the time he spends paired with the reckless Joe Corvo, that's no easy feat.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The sens held on to dear life as they almost blew a 5-0 lead (in no way does that imply that they ran the score up) to defeat the bike-less Rangers 6-4. Eaves took Don's threat of being dropped to heart and potted a pair of tallies including a nice breakaway.
Have at it in the comments.
Volchenkov hurt for tonight's game?
This post sounds looks familiar.
Kids asking why they need to take math? At your job right now wondering why you did? It's to understand things like this.
From games 21 to 40 guess which team was 2nd best in the east and which was 2nd worst?
Now, Mats Sundin would never complain publicly about the lack of talent around him because the Captain is also a good guy. Right now, though, Sundin is playing more minutes than he ever has before as a Maple Leaf. He's also playing a more physical game, perhaps out of frustration.More physical? In practice perhaps? His hits and blocked shots stats aren't any different than usual. Dreger may be talking about his after-whistle face washes. Squeegie is stepping it up!
The frustration for Sundin now could be the realization that he's in the twilight of his career.
Why Squeegie? THM defined it this way:
Sundin is like a squeegie kid. After the traffic slows, he offers to wash the windshield - with his glove - and then runs off to the curb once traffic starts up again.
Heretofore, Mats is now "Squeegie" Sundin
THM even provided this great picture. Leaf fans can e-mail me for a higher definition version that you can print poster size to accompany you in your parents basement.
Just stay out of traffic old man until you're moved to a contender at the deadline.
None of the injuries are likely to return and in possibly the worst news of the year, super sophomore Kyle Wellwood might join Mike Peca and Nik Antropov on the Long-Term Injury Reserve.
Meanwhile, the senators travel to the Big Apple to take on the struggling Rangers. The sens are 1-1 against the Rangers this year. Mike Comrie looks to continue his resurrection of the senators and Dany Heatley will need to continue his Hart Trophy push away from his binkie Jason Spezza who is still a while away from returning.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
My tongue placed firmly in cheek when I say JFJ finally pulled the trigger!
Well, he's a vet guy and can win faceoffs and comes to the rink in a bad mood. A pretty cost effective way to get help while guys are injured.
He has 2 points in 7 games and is a plus 3 this season with Anaheim. This is his second tour with Toronto.
Who's coming out?
Hennessy and Hamel are the first two obviously. Hamel only got 3 minutes of icetime on Saturday and yesterday's game (9 min on Sunday). Who's number 3?
McGratton could sit in the press box against some teams and I suppose he'll be there come playoff time.
Does salary cap issues come into play though forcing the team to move a player to Bingo instead of keeping in the Press Box? McGratton would have to clear waivers. Eaves wouldn't and that was brought up on the Team1200 in the afternoon but I can't see it happening.
What would the lineup look like in the playoffs if everyone was healthy?
The lines up front could look like this:
Heatley - Spezza - Alfredsson
Vermette - Comrie - Fisher
Schaefer - Kelly - Neil
Schubert - McAmmond - Eaves
Heatley - Kelly - Alfredsson
Vermette - Spezza - Neil
Schaefer - Comrie - Fisher
Schubert - McAmmond - Eaves
Or even this:
Heatley - Spezza - Kelly
Schaefer - Comrie - Alfredsson
Vermette - Fisher - Neil
Schubert - McAmmond - Eaves
Unless Eaves starts to finish a little better - and he's really only has until players start to come back into the lineup - he's not going to get the icetime of the other right wingers.
It's a fun exercise but in reality the probability of the Sens going into the playoffs with everyone healthy is small.
There have been numerous alterations to the Cup structure. In its infancy, tiered rings were added periodically to the bottom of the bowl. This was followed by long narrow bands in 1927 which were later replaced by uneven bands in 1947. Because the Cup is the only professional sports trophy where the name of every member of the winning team is inscribed, bands are often retired to make room for new champions.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Sat Oct 28, 2006, AWAY, Bruins 1 - 2 L
Sat Nov 11, 2006, AWAY, Bruins 3 - 4 L
Tue Dec 19, 2006, HOME, Bruins 7 - 2 L
The Leafs seemed to be able to figure these guys out after having trouble earlier in the year. I'm hoping the Sens have too.
And if Leafs fans really want to get depressed, they should know that if Toronto doesn't win a championship within the next 26 years, the Leafs would be off the Cup completely.
You can bet on it.
There's talk in Ottawa that when Spezza returns Murray should consider playing him on a different line. The thinking is that Heatley plays a bigger game when he's not only the trigger man for Spezza.
While I've advocated this in the past I'm not sure that the long term answer should include Chris Kelly as the center for Heatley - the memory of open nets missed during the Sabre series last spring when he was playing the wing with Spezza and Heatley. Maybe playing the pivot puts Kelly in a more comfortable situation by giving him a more defensive role allowing Alfie and Heatley to press. The other question is then if not Kelly then who? Comrie? Fisher or Vermette when they come back?
However, the Gerber debacle in the fall taught us one thing. If the team gets wins with a certain lineup then go with it. That means keep Kelly between Heatley and Alfie until the results demand otherwise.
So who does Spezza play with? I'd like to see him play with Neil and a guy like Vermette.
Monday, January 08, 2007
A lot of the talk lately has centred around the BoO's chances for qualifying for the playoffs, the historical merits of the sens logo, and the value of blowouts. However, the first one is much more interesting. In as easy and straightforward a fashion I tried to see where the threshold for post-season qualification might lie. Last year it stood at 92 points (Tampa's final tally) and this year it looks to be in the same range. Instead of doing a real mathematical analysis (I saw this on some blog last year and cannot remember which one so if anyone finds it please e-mail it to me or post it) I just took the points per game average thus far and carried over the games left to play. Like a sens fan it is very simple but I don't have the willpower to analyse strength of schedule, previous results, probabilities, and whatever mind-bending mathematics I might have to perform to make this more legitimate. Maybe David Johnson can do it.
Without further ado, here are the projected standings:
Buffalo - 123
New Jersey - 105
Atlanta - 104
Montreal - 99
NY Rangers - 92
Boston - 90
Ottawa - 89
Carolina - 89
Pittsburgh - 88
Washington - 87
Toronto - 84
NY Islanders - 82
Tampa Bay - 80
Florida - 73
Philadelphia - 51(!)
Much to my dismay (and TSN and CBC's) this will leave the Leafs out of the top 8 and will cost JFJ his job. Basically, it will be bittersweet. However, it would offer up the following playoff series:
Buffalo - Carolina: This will allow all of those whiny Sabres fans to complain about how much the 'Canes dive without any sense of irony.
New Jersey - Ottawa: The goaltending battle shapes up well for Ottawa, Brodeur v. Ray The Gerber Baby...well means badly right?
Atlanta - Boston: The South takes on the North once again. Didn't work out so well last time.
Montreal - NY Rangers: The battle of the overrated goalies! Who cracks first? Huet or Lundqvist?
The matchups change but the jokes fit. More or less.
All of these series would feature good recent history and would go a long way to making Bettman's dream of fiercer rivalries a reality. Of course, the Leafs will make it so either Carolina, NYR, or Ottawa is out of luck. My money is on the soft southeast only sending one representative.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Whereas Arnason was actively shying away from physical play, Comrie participated in it and even initiated a little. He has obvious great creativity in his offensive skills. I'm tentatively optimistic.
No. 89 was cheered repeatedly and made his presence known with two assists. Early impressions have been encouraging -- he keeps his stick down, and always looks prepared to take the puck. We think he'll be a nice fit, so golf claps go out to Muckler for making the move.
And, while not a review, Steve Warne has linked to some a few scraps that Comrie has had over the years. Interestingly, the guy has had more fights in his career than the Leafs centres (Sundin, Antropov, Wellwood, Stajan, and Pohl) combined have had in theirs.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Er, OK, so he's not that much of an impact player. But he does come away from his first Sens game with two assists, a decent showing on the power play and 60% in the circle. Comrie also brings over his number 89, the highest since Pierre Gauthier banished the "race car numbers" way back in the 90's.
There appears to be hope for we schizoid fans of Capital City. Sens have an unbelievable 11 points in the last six games since losing Spezza (then Fisher...then Vermette...). While Buffalo looked atrocious - the way Heater lit them up reminded me of another blue and white jerseyed Northeast club - seizing the opportunity to accumulate fourth wins against division rivals, given the roster situation they're in, will go a long way towards securing a playoff seed come April.
This trade brings snother soft centre that puts up points in the regular season. His post-season experience is limited to a couple of six-game series losses with the Oilers so that should stand him in good stead with the senators. This is definitely an improvement over the planned Petr Nedved pick-up. This move will allow Fisher to move back to a more defensive 3rd line role while Spezza will return to his spot on the top line (Injuries permitting).
The good thing about this trade from an outsider's perspective is that this will most likely make Bryan Murray try to put Alfie on the second line when he should be on the first with Heatley and Spezza. Since some people have attributed last season's playoff loss and this year's struggles to Murray's insistence on splitting up the Pizza Line anything that encourages more of the same thinking is great.
In the end it doesn’t solve any of their real problems: soft forwards, bad defence, and inconsistent goaltending. It’s just another Tyler Arnason trade. At least this time they did not lose a player that would suit up for the big squad.
Update: The Hat is reminded of Arnason too. Thanks Mirtle.