Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Superfreak Saprykin makes his debut at home and it will be interesting to see where the restive line-juggler Bryan Murray decides to slot him in (Saprykin/Comrie/Eaves perhaps?). Emery is back between the pipes, hopefully to stay, while Johnny "25% rule" Grahame would prefer to sit this one out and avoid another humiliating defeat at the hands of the Sens (2-9, 3.64, 0.877).
I am pleased with the comeback effort last night, particularly after yet another trade deadline has come and gone without any significant action on the part of John Muckler. Redden had a slump-busting game winner, Volchenkov added a rare goal to his usual 5 blocked shots and even Joe Corvo managed to stay on the plus side of the board by chipping in an assist. On net, however, despite the teams recent record, goal differential and the impressive rally from a first quarter catastrophe (see linked post below), I am left with a feeling of melancholy when considering the likely fate of this team in the playoffs. While Redden's goal may be the signal that he's turned the corner this season (following his counseling session with the coach), I remain haunted by visions of him and partner Meszaros being absolutely savaged in the playoffs (remember #14's Round 2 ghastliness last year?).
We've seen this act before. A high flying offensive team with occasional lapses in detail pick up a moderately useful forward and find themselves exposed trying to advance into deeper playoff rounds. If the Sens meet the Penguins in Round 1, I'm actually not that terribly concerned. In many ways I think they'll be like the Lightning were last year: a Big Three of forwards, a gritty veteran (Gary Roberts as Tim Taylor?) minimal defensive depth, weak goaltending and an abrasive head coach who's not afraid to rip into his players in the media. One round appears doable, but going much further than that seems almost inconceivable considering the lack of fundamental change from this year to last.
Open post for game comments, out-of-town watering hole recommendations and general words of comfort.
Wow, Ottawa's goal differential really shot up in the third quarter. The most interesting aspect is that while the sens only picked up four more points than the Leafs their GD was +25 goals better. It seems to give credence to the fact that the sens like to win big (and lose the tight ones) while the Leafs do not just lose, they implode spectacularly.
The Leafs need 11 wins to get to 90 points (91 actually) which is where the threshold seems to be heading. We'll know better once DJ has a chance to update his projected standings but that would mean that the Leafs would have to pick up 25 points over the last quarter, something which they have already done twice, and they have picked up 3 so far. Whatever happens, it should be another close finish in the East.
There was fury in the Leafs' executive suite because Ferguson and his aides felt Panthers general manager Jacques Martin and his assistant, Randy Sexton, brushed off a better offer from the Leafs for little more than spite. They feel Martin had no intention, despite Roberts' public stand he would only waive his no-trade clause for the Leafs or Ottawa, of making a trade with either club, but was not upfront with them about it.Also, Mendes has thoughts on our perception of Roberts:
Those around Ferguson wonder why Martin simply could not say upfront he had no intention of trading Roberts to Toronto. They wonder because of a couple things. As the head coach of Ottawa, he lost three consecutive playoff series to the Leafs and he also is great friends with former Leafs coach Pat Quinn, who was fired by Ferguson last year.
In my humble opinion, the legend of 'Gary Roberts - Playoff Hero' is a creation of the Toronto media.
I don't know my favourite part of that clip. Is it Jeannerette losing it? Or watching limp wristed stick check from Alfie and Redden (the 'leaders')? Or seeing Emery step up his game in a big moment? Or knowing that last year's sens team was much better than this one?
And because I'd hate to be one-sided, here is a video made by some Sabres' fans. The Unintentional Comedy is off the charts. Was it a coincidence that last night was the first Leafs-Sabres game when some of their big stars were missing and it was the only one of the five in which I didn't hear the words 'embellish' or 'dive' directed towards the Slugs?
While I am happy to see that John Ferguson is finally willing to put his glut of young rearguards on the market, I am dismayed to see him expend that glut with absolutely no eye even to the short-term future. This is an absurdly high price to pay for Perreault, and utterly pointless.Rest here.
"It's kind of hard to block that out," he noted, of the sheer intensity of cascading raspberries every time he touched the puck in the third period, when any notion of a Toronto comeback was soundly dispelled.Raycroft:
"But that's Toronto for you. It seems like there's always someone, every year. It's the first it's ever really happened to me. What can you do? Just play through it. I'll be better next game."
It would be difficult to be worse,
Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft surrendered four goals on 11 shots before being pulled after two periods in favour of backup Jean-Sebastien Aubin. It was the third time in five games that Raycroft, who has started 25 consecutive contests, has been yanked by Maurice.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Tonight's game came right out of the Bruin's book 'How to Make Leaf Fans Kick Kittens'. The Leafs came out with jump and drew three penalties in the first period and scored on none of them (Where are thou Tucker?). The Sabres go down the ice and score on a rebound when the player should have been tied up. Two bad bounces later the Leafs are down 3-0.
Finally, Ponikarovsky scores a goal and the Leafs are coming on! Unfortunately, their hands are still...somewhere where the Leafs last played well...so the chances go wanting. Then a boneheaded move by Ponikarovsky (hey, weren't you just the hero?) led to a scrambled play, another crappy bounce, and a 4-1 lead for the Sabres. 4 goals on 11 shots only tells half the story. The Leafs' shitty defensive play tells the other half. McCabe got the Alfie treatment from the home crowd which was a long time coming.
This personal anecdote sums up my thoughts on the Leafs' defensive coverage: one year I played on a terrible hockey team that also had trouble clearing the zone. A teammate's dad coached us one game because our coach was out of town. He said he was going to bench anyone that tried to clear the zone on their backhand or who failed to clear the zone when within ten feet of the blue line. On the first shift one of our better players screwed up and we watched the coach to see if the rule would apply. He promptly benched the player for a shift and the rest of the team bought into the system. It resulted in one of the team's best performances of the season. Unfortunately, our old crappy coach came back the next game and all progress was lost.
But my point is this: Maurice is hamstrung by the injuries to Wellwood, Tucker, and Peca. It wasn't a problem when the team was giving their all every night but that counted on contributions from guys that have never been counted upon to produce night in and night out. They were bound to hit a wall and they have done that. Unfortunately, Maurice can't institute a similar policy to that long-ago replacement coach. He cannot punish poor performance with a spot in the press box because who will he call upon?
On another note, a female friend suggested that I need to internalize each game and move on once the result is in. That is the kind of sentiment that keeps women's sports from being successful. But, in the interest of openmindedness I am going to try this out. It seems to work for Razor so why not me? These will be my last thoughts on tonight's game (post-game ranting e-mail which has been sent aside).
Yanic Perreault our (Leafs) nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.
Here are the trades that affect the two greatest franchises in Ontario (the Leafs and the Marlies) and the sens:
Leafs get: Yanic Perreault - He'll help with faceoffs and penalty killing. Basically Travis Green but with more (some) scoring and less grit. Third stint with the team. UFA at the end of the year. Also pick up a 5th round pick in 2007.
Leafs trade: Brendan Bell - realistically, only 9th on the Leafs depth chart. 2nd rounder in 2008 (thanks DJ!) which is supposed to be a weak draft.
Sens get: Oleg Saprykin - Another skilled player (read: soft). That first rounder for Roberts doesn't look so bad now.
Lawrence Nicholat - who?
Sens trade: Andy Hedlund - Again, who? and a 6th round pick in 2008.
Basically, both clubs spun their wheels. John 'have you seen my testicles' Muckler and John 'I sat on my hands as long as I could' Ferguson Jr. did passable impressions of a high school date. Lots of talk turned into nothing.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the Sabres blew it (Regier is a genius? Two Fs in a row), the Pens missed the boat (no D?), and Garth Snow made Leaf fans sweat bullets (Smyth? You sneaky bastard Snow!).
This will make the race even tighter to say the least.
Monday, February 26, 2007
I'm following Spector's Hockey, with an eye to the TSN Tradecentre page.
Hopefully, I can complete this post before something more exciting than a Craig Rivet trade occurs.
I sincerely believe Muckler is going to have to pull off something huge. If the team can't make it out of the second round, it's going to be his ass. Bryan Murray, finding himself in a somewhat similar position, made the same point to the media recently:
"The biggest thing to me always has been the message you send to your team," said Sens coach Bryan Murray. "[Carolina] went out and got two veteran guys [Doug Weight and Mark Recchi last season before winning the Cup] who'd played and had a reputation. It was: 'Hey, see, we told you. We're trying to win here.'
To date, the most dramatic deadline move the team has made involved Marshall Johnston sending Ron Tugnutt and Janne Laukkanen to Pittsburgh for Tom Barasso. The move was a bust, but you had to admire Johnston's courage in trying to address the Senators post season ills - playoff goaltending and stanley cup experience - with a controversial move.
Here's the current roster, color coded according to my deadline preferences.
Left Wing / Centre / Right Wing
Dany Heatley / Jason Spezza / Chris Neil
Peter Schaefer / Mike Fisher / Daniel Alfredsson
Antoine Vermette / Mike Comrie / Chris Kelly
Christoph Schubert / Dean McAmmond / Patrick Eaves
Brian McGrattan / Josh Hennessy (M)
Defence / Defence
Anton Volchenkov / Chris Phillips
Andrej Meszaros / Wade Redden
Tom Preissing / Joe Corvo
Red: Do Not Trade On Penalty of Death
Yellow: Dangle With Discretion
Green: Do You Have A Used Couch You'd Like Us To Drive to the Landfill?
As far as my wish list goes, it's real short. There is no tonic out there capable of preventing blown 2 and 3 goal leads - if there were, I'd be offering up any superfluous organs on my person to obtain one. Instead, what is urgently needed is someone who can play on the top line with Heatley and Spezza. Just about everyone short of Emery has played up there this season and none have been able to find the back of the net with any consistency. The asking price is ticking up by the minute.
Over to you, BoO readers...
My own trepidation was based on early reports that had the negotiations centred around a 5-year deal worth between $4 and $5M per season. Tucker's injury made him almost impossible to trade for fair value and it apparently helped to depress his demands. The report states that the contract is for 3 (maybe 4 years) at an average of $3M and the no-movement clause that JFJ loves to throw around like tissues at a sens playoff party is non-existent. In its place there will likely be a no-trade clause that applies only in the last year of the contract. (Update: I just read The Globe and it looks like the no-trade clause is for the first three years of the four year deal but they are still hammering it out. At least JFJ got a discount this time.)
All in all it's a pretty good deal in terms of length and money. Tucker had 19 goals in 39 games before getting injured and was a vital piece of the powerplay. He hits, fights, antagonizes, and fires up the team and the crowd. If he can maintain his style of play and the goal-scoring pace he has set in the last couple of years then this can be looked upon as a third great contract by JFJ (Raycroft and Kaberle being the others).
Here's a nice compilation from the guys at www.baystreetbullies.com that shows what $3M per season gets you:
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Here are mine:
AWARD FOR BEST COMEDY: This one goes to Duff. I have no idea what you look like or how old you are, but when I read your posts I always imagine you have a voice just like that kid with the upside-down face on Family Guy.
BEST ACTOR IN ROLE OF A LEAFS FAN: This goes to you Yoda, the Pittsburgh fan who came to BoO and cheers for the good guys.
BEST SUPPORTING ROLE USING AN EMOTICON: GeeIwonder. Your cruel one liners about the Leafs followed up by a smiling bubble happy face really mess with my emotions.
BEST ACTOR: This goes to PPP. In recent times he's really opened up to the Sens and even cheered for them against teams the Leafs are chasing. Now that's acting brother!
BEST ACTRESS: This goes to symbiont1. Her work in the saddest mini series of the year: "I'm a Bruins Fan", has touched many hearts.
BEST MUSICAL: For his masterpiece, THE BON JOVI "BoO" SONG, this one goes to Don. Many a tear rolled down the cheek of a blogger that day.
BEST WALK-ON ACTION ROLE: Five-O. We don't know where you go on those long stretches, but you come back with a vengeance every time.
BEST AWARD ACCEPTANCE VIA SATELLITE FEED: This one goes to Conrad for being a Leafs fan in Vancouver. I've been there, it's tough. Although the 4pm Saturday HNIC Leaf games are nice.
THE RAPPER AWARD: To the best of my knowledge, DC in YOW wins the award for most comments in a single post with 30+ in this one alone. He always has something good to say.
AWARD FOR BEST DRAMA: The Muppet and THM for their roles in "Emery's Mask": a story about boxers, airbrushing, and woman's rights.
THE FAIREST BLOGGER: Indrew. For about a month I actually thought you were a Leafs fan.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Jay Jardine. He started the best blog about the best hockey rivalry, and he looks a little like Sydney Crosby. Not a bad combo.
That's right, folks, it doesn't get any better than this. Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Who else outside of Ottawa isn't just dying to tune in with their greater Toronto brethren to watch the 10th and 15th place teams in the east? It's The Passion That Unites Us All!
Open thread for pre, during and post-game commentary.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
2. To answer Sabre's Rattling question "If the Hit was Clean, then why is Drury concussed?" Well, because his helmet flew off and his head hit the ice.
3. Stevenson reported last night there would be a 'stern talking to' as a result of Thursday's activities.
UPDATE: So, Ruff gets a $10,000 fine.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Here is the hit. Judge for yourself but it looks like more damage was a result of Drury not wearing his helmet properly.
As an aside, Peters came to an alumni tourney in Toronto that I played in during the lockout and was an absolute twat. Felt like quite the big man. I wish Emery had taken his shoulder pads off.
Regardless, feel free to move from 'Batshit Insane Proposals, Wild Drug-Induced Speculation and Premature Triumphant Exuberance' to 'Thoughtfully Considered Scenarios, Sober Analysis and Trade Completion Justification and Celebration' and everywhere in between.
I'll get the ball rolling:
BIRT The senators need a 'Butch Goring' in order to try to avert their usual playoff fate (read: hilariously meek/early exit).
Furthermore, BIRT the Leafs should only make moves to shore up the team for the future since one old guy (NOT! Roenick or I will hunt down JFJ and eat his liver with fava beans and chianti) is not going to put this team over the top.
I can't wait til he disappears in the playoffs.Comrie's playoff record with the Oilers was:
He was 20 and 22 years old respectively. In that 02-03 series, they only scored 12 goals in total and Ryan Smyth had 2 pts. Is there something I'm missing other than the 'boo-hoo, he doesn't want to play in our sandbox anymore' attitude?
Is this team as it is good enough to go far or does it need somebody like Gary Roberts or Bill Guerin?
Is the price of Antione Vermette or Patrick Eaves too high for those guys? Or are they worth the price?
They do need somebody like Roberts but never would I give up Vermette or Eaves for him. Ideally, they can pick up a veteran rearguard and Roberts for draft picks and Corvo.
At 7:00, the Sens travel to the armpit of America with some controversy following in their wake. From the same people who brought you such classics as "Lets Sign Redden Instead of Chara", and "Hey, We Don't Need Havlat Lets Get Corvo and Gerber Instead", their latest hit is "Let's Start a Pointless Goaltending Controversy", which you can watch here.
The 7:30 game, or, "The Main Event" as any involving the Leafs has come to be known, features two teams deadlocked in the standings. Toronto have been hot on the road and the Islanders have reaped the benefits of a coach they actually like.
This should be a good one. Both teams need the win, however if you're a betting man, put your loonies on the Leafs. They are the favourites 160 to 190 according to Proline.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Thank God that I couldn't watch that game and that the Leafs are headed back out on the road. The Bruins are now four points back of Toronto with a game in hand. At least Carolina lost. Go Washington, Go Florida, and Go New Jersey!
The struggles of one Andrew 'Razor' Raycroft this season have been well documented. A promising early stretch that included a great post-game interview after his 8th victory was derailed by a groin injury in November and the ambiguity of his position. However, in 2007 his performance has been on the upswing. Paul Maurice's confidence in the goaltender, he vowed to start him until the playoffs, seems to have given him the self-belief that too often seemed to be lacking at times during the dark days of November and December. At lunch yesterday, a friend was joking that he had really stepped up his game since the brow beating we gave Razor after the Canucks debacle (which cost us a pretty penny to go see as well as a night of trashtalk from the solitary Canucks fan that accompanied the three of us) and we should get some sort of reward for spurring Raycroft to greater heights.
Personally, I think that the change came when Maurice made it clear that he was going to be the starter the rest of the way. Starting with the December 30th game against the senators he has started every game for the Leafs. So I used December 29th to divide the season so far and compared the stats among goalies and compared their standing amongst their peers to their standing for the year-to-date. It's pretty basic but by looking at the tables you can see a few interesting tidbits. Note: Any goalies that are missing have either not played more than 5 games since December 29th or have not played enough games all year to be able to make a comparison.
Gerber has been anything but confidence inspiring. On Saturday's second Atlanta goal on Saturday, he displayed his signature move of closing his eyes and praying for the puck to him (despite a glaring short side). A technique you might expect if you threw me out there in front of a Glen Metropolit shot, not from a $3.7M professional goaltender.
The Oil have always performed well in the Sen's barn, going 5-1-0 (plus 2 ties - remember those?) in the last 8 visits. Facing a desperate road team, Coach Brian Murray may be in tough for his 600th win, however, if the Oiler's D continue to fail miserably at making outlet passes, the Sens should feast on the opportunities provided by a strong forecheck.
Prediction 7-3 Sens (Fish and Schaef with a pair each, Heat, Meszaros and goal-suck Comrie with singles). Oilerz get to Gerber early, but eventually roll over under a sustained attack. Fantanking commences in earnest.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
In the main event the 1967 Leafs got a nice tribute, a nice ovation, and we all got to see Dave Keon's fur coat. I can only assume that he forgot his hat and pimp stick at home. During the game the Leafs got braces from John Pohl and Mats Sundin to edge the Oilers 4-3. The second goal by the Captain was especially nice as he dominated Steve Staios down low before bursting to the front of the net and slotting the puck home on the far side. Watch Sportsnet Connected to see Sean McCormick hang himself with his shoelaces. It would have been his tie but they are casual over at the 'Net.
And the cherry on top for fans of the BoO? Cristobal Huet is out for the season (I am sure he is disappointed at getting off that sinking ship) and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Habs 5-3 to hand them their 6th straight loss.
As always thoughts, reactions, poems in the comments.
Atlanta have the lead, 1-0.
So far, so good.
Toronto plays the Oilers at 7pm, which should be a good one. Two quick teams battling for their playoff lives. The Oil are the NHL's lowest scoring team and have only 55 goals on the road. That's bad. Really bad. And for all you Leaf fans who had to listen to Sean McCormick's crap all summer and fall on his sportsnet blog, the Oilers being in 9th and mired in a downward spiral is very pleasing.
Maybe the Big Dude should consider calling himself The Big Mouth? Or The Big Jinx, if Oiler fans choose to blame their plummeting season on McCormick's overly cocky ways. I know I want them too.
I have my own hockey game at 7, so I'm hoping the 1967 team love-in takes a long time and I won't miss much past the first period while we play.
Enjoy the games.
Friday, February 16, 2007
It actually gets worse for the leafers. While it can be pointed out that 80 years have passed since a cup was raised in Ottawa, if you subtract out the 59 years that the franchise wasn't around it's actually more like 21 years. So for a more appropriate frame of reference it would be like comparing the Senators last franchise win in 1986 to the leafs last franchise win in 1967.
ATL vs OTT [National] 3 pm
EDM vs TOR [National] HD 7 pm
CAR vs MON [Que] 7 pm
COL vs CAL [National] 10 pm
Doesn't it seem ridiculous that they call the 7pm EDM/TOR game a 'National' broadcast but don't show it in Quebec. Also, I don't understand why the french CBC, Radio-Canada, doesn't broadcast any hockey games.
If the CBC/Radio-Canada wants to talk about it's mandate/funding then maybe they should consider that one of the things this 'national institution' should do is actually use hockey as a bridge between Quebec and the rest of Canada as opposed to creating another wall.
Heck, let's quote from the CBC/Radio-Canada mandate:
vi: contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,I think that they are doing the exact opposite. Radio-Canada moves away from hockey at the same time CBC is increasing it's coverage.
According to the wiki article on HNIC:
Beginning with the 2002-03 season, RDS secured exclusive French language rights to the NHL. The deal, negotiated with the Canadiens and not with the league itself, was meant to ensure a consistent home for all Canadiens games. Radio-Canada did not bid for these rights, saying that, as a general-interest network, it could not give up so much airtime to hockey.Bolding mine. So, Radio-Canada says it can't give up so much airtime to hockey while CBC fills most Saturdays with it and even is showing jersey retiring ceremonies.
Radio-Canada soon reached an agreement to produce the Saturday night games, to remain branded La Soirée du Hockey, to be simulcast on both SRC and RDS.
However, for reasons that are unclear, that agreement was terminated after the 2004 playoffs.  Nonetheless, the RDS-produced replacement, Le Hockey du samedi soir, was simulcast on Radio-Canada outside Quebec, where RDS has limited distribution, through the end of the 2005-2006 season. Radio-Canada no longer simulcasts RDS broadcasts as of 2006-2007.
And yet somepeople wonder why others question the wisdom of putting $1 billion into the CBC every year.
If the CBC can't explain why it's important to bid on the english TV rights and not the french rights then I think we should move on to discuss how much CTV should pay Ron MacLean and how much for the HNIC theme song.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I’M SAYING GET RID OF THE POPCORN SHRIMP,it’s enough guy’s. Our D is to small too and it’s cost us hasn’t it ? I for one am really tired of the Habs being pushed around like ragdolls ,which really shows when we play teams like the “1967 stanley cup champions” laffs.That’s one big reason why the Habs SUCK so badly and as the other team go to the finals ,thier going to mop the ice with the habs.Look,we can’t even win a fight and putting Niinimaa as a foward last nite showed me ,we are so fucked.I am embarrassed for all of us that the Habs is our team, truth is we are the laughing stock of Hockey and heads have too roll !!!Awesome. All the hallmarks of a great post: lots of exclamation points, caps lock, and only a passing awareness of the rules of spelling and grammar. I wonder what they will say if the Leafs win.
Other games of interest:
Bruins over the Islanders
Sabres over Oilers
Rangers over Hurricanes
Capitals over Lightning
Coyotes over Ducks
Flames over Avalanche
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says it's rarely a bad idea to add Cup winners, "especially if it's someone who was a big part of it." Another valid approach, Alfredsson says, is to find a hungry veteran who recognizes he doesn't have many opportunities left.Murray:
When I asked head coach Bryan Murray the other day if he would welcome another player, he replied, as directly as a coach can, that he liked the "positive message" a move sends to the team. In other words, bring it on. The message is that the organization is serious about making a run right now, because it believes there is a chance to win. The Carolina Hurricanes delivered that message last year when they acquired Doug Weight and Mark Recchi (in part, to replace Erik Cole and his broken neck). Carolina survived a first-round scare from the Montreal Canadiens to win the first Stanley Cup in the history of the franchise.The added emphasis is mine but it seems like I have heard those sentiments before. Looking at the needs of the members of the BoO what moves would everyone like to see? Should either team even make a move? Realistic or not, it will help pass the day after the most contrived holiday in history and push us one day closer to the weekend.
The Scanlan article also had a run down of TSN's Top 10 Swedish Players. No surprise about which BoO SC came in highest (MSC!):
- Nicklas Lidstrom
- Peter Forsberg
- Borje Salming
- Mats Sundin
- Kent Nilsson
- Markus Naslund
- Daniel Alfredsson
- Ulf Samuelsson
- Mats Naslund
- Thomas Steen
Alfie's reaction was to be expected:
I don't understand! THM and Gee at the BoO are always writing that I am the best Swede. Maybe they realized that I am senzstillrule and they were messing with me.
Poor guy, he still has time to pass Markus Naslund who really has no business being ahead of Alfie not to mention the fact that Ulfie is on the list. Here is my favourite clip of the Knee-Clipper. Revenge for Neely via Domi, couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
Did he look like a guy interviewing with a new team?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
As the clock ticks down to the trade deadline (two weeks from today), nobody in the Senators dressing room knows more about what a deadline deal can do for a team than goaltender Martin Gerber.Now, it may be that he will get to know more about it soon. I was a big fan of this rumour when I heard it first:
Corvo and Gerber for Blake and Burke?Is there any way that if got a team interested in Gerber (therefore his salary) that we could squeeze Forsberg onto that 2nd line with Alfie? What would Sens fans give up to bring him on board? Would it take a 1st rounder and a Vermette/Eaves?
Let's work the numbers:
Forsberg's salary: 5.75 Remainder if traded at the dealine ~1.55
Gerber's salary: 3.7 Remainder if traded at the dealine ~1
Cap room today: 0.7 (link)
Consider that you'll need to give up that Vermette or Eaves type player making 1 million and pick up a veteran tender too. Very tight but very possible.
A romantic date for the participants of BoOs past to renew acquaintances. Coach and GM (snicker) Jacques Martin returns to Scotiabank Place with the men who may well have cost him his job - Gary Roberts and Ed Belfour - in tow.
The four or five league bottom feeders are dangerous animals to mess with at this time of year. Their opponents are scoreboard watching, trade bait is being showcased and the rest of the guys are playing out the season for contracts and pride. In the past week, we've seen the Flyers wax Detroit, the Blue Jackets come back to edge the Flames and the subject Panthers send Hab Nation into fits of apoplexy.
Marty the G. starts in net and will face two of his former divisional rivals and The Oil over the next three games. Kelly Guard has been called up to replace The Gangsta on the bench during his league-imposed time out. Florida appears to be the best team for him to start off with as last year he went 6-1-1 against the Panthers with a 2.23 GAA and 0.926 sv%. Look for Jason Spezza to show up his old coach and for Bruce Garrioch and myself to enhance our Gary Roberts man-crushes in a 5-2 Sens romp.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Leafs are in 10th on goal differential but the Habs lost thanks to Eddie Belfour's shutout. Thanks Eddie! Could have used a couple more of those last year. But thanks anyway Eddie, give yourself a billion dollars.
I think habsgood of our new favourite site summed up the two games best:
What a beautiful loose. they go to special training to loose like this.A special loose indeed.
Meanwhile, the good guys have a busy week with home dates against the Islanders tonight and the Oilers on Saturday sandwiched around a visit to the Wachovia Center on Thursday. The Leafs are 1-0 against their Eastern Conference opponents and will be facing the Oilers in their only matchup of this and next season (Go Bettman!). With the Islanders just one point back of the Leafs it will be important to ensure that no teams get between them and the last playoff spot. That means the Leafs need to avoid the Isles' propensity for OT/SO losses and wrap it up in regulation (NYI 5-1-4 L10). The Leafs will also want to deliver a win to celebrate The Captain's 36th birthday. Let's all move past the gigantic misunderstanding that was Mask-Gate and revel in the greatness of a future Hall of Famer.
Winners in other games:
Edmonton over Boston
LA over Carolina
Florida over Montreal
Phoenix over Tampa Bay
San Jose over St. Louis
Anaheim over Colorado
Calgary over Atlanta
Monday, February 12, 2007
Three games for a reaction slash that accidentally went to the head after Lapierre slashes his arm on his way in.
Did Lapierre even miss a shift? Does Emery have a suspension history in the NHL to warrant three games?
I read Saturday's summary in the Star which ended with this:
Goalie Andrew Raycroft, so strong on the road trip, had another tough night at the ACC, allowing six goals on 28 shots.What are Raycroft's Home and Away numbers:
"I definitely would have liked to have gotten in front of a couple more, but that's the way it goes sometimes," he said. "We got a point. It was a hard-earned point."
Ah, they are playing to ensure away ice advantage in the playoffs!
Personally, I'd prefer my guy to have good numbers on the road and amazing ones at home:
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Meanwhile, in the Centre of the Universe, God's team takes on Sid the Whiny Kid and his Russian spy sidekick. The Leafs will be looking for a much better performance in order to avenge the 8-2 whipping that the Pens dished out in Pittsburgh. Keys to the game: Stop Sidney. Easier said than done.
Habs 2 (solely for maximum comments hilarity)
Friday, February 09, 2007
The Buzz: Toronto goaltender Andrew Raycroft is hot again and a save in a recent game at St. Louis has more jaws flapping than the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
The BACKHAND: Nice, and some of it is well deserved, but hard to warm up to a guy who blew off a post-game, on-ice interview when a Toronto-based mic stick tried to toss a bone his way when things weren't going quite as well. Raycroft may not thank us swarthy media types for bringing this up, but class shows. Martin Broduer could teach Raycroft a few things, and not just about how to play the flop shot.
The Buzz: Ottawa coach Bryan Murray heads into the final months of the season with no ongoing talks regarding a new contract.
The BACKHAND: So what. This goes on all the time in the new NHL. Craig MacTavish did it. Lindy Ruff did it. Peter Laviolette did it. Nobody dies on this except sportswriters who think everything should be viewed from their perspective. News flash: All these guys can coach. They take their chances in a tough business environment. Oh, and one more thing. The days of golden parachutes for just about everybody in hockey are fast coming to an end. Murray's situation is fast becoming the norm, not the exception.
I hate to say it but i’m slowly giving up!!!
WHEN THE HELL DID WE LOSE OUR TEAM?!?! For the first time this season…I’m actually turning the game off with 4 minutes left in the 2nd…Enough is enough!
No one can score…Huet couldn’t stop a soccerball! Carbonneau Sits samsonov and play MURRAY! Koivu higgins and Ryder can’t complete a pass..let alon a shot on net…
I AM DISGUSTED!!! Enough with the goddamn patience! Pull the fucking trigger gainey !!! And axe CARBO as well!
Put the whole lot of them on waivers!!!!Bring up the Bulldogs because they can’t do any worse.
I honestly beleive it is time for a restructuring of this team. They should unload the core guy’s like Koivu and Kovalev. Are any of these guy’s worth anything close to the money they make…NO!
Gainey, Carbonneau and Gillette open your FUCKEN eye’s, your team is going to shit in a hurry.
Here’s the bright side that you were waiting for. Nashville 2 and Toronto 1 still 15 minutes to go though. Go Preds Go!
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Sens pulled off a big win tonight, taking the Canadiens down a notch and mercifully sparing Scotiabank patrons the spectacle of 'ab fans running riot in our barn. Montreal were 0-fer on their much vaunted powerplay, but killed off 7 of 8 Sens opportunities. If this team is going to live or die on its special teams, they're likely going to wear Sheldon Souray right into the ice. He was out for almost half an hour and was -2 on the evening.
Keys to another victory, and more importantly, post season success are much the same items that needed improvement at the end of last season / early this season. It is often pointed out that the Sens have been a .500 team since Hasek's injury and they can't afford to ease off the throttle with about 7 or 8 teams in hot pursuit:
-Continued shut down performances from the defensive pair of Phillips and Volchenkov. A-Train is throwing his body in front of every shot that comes his way and while the Big Rig doesn't score much they do tend to be clutch goals.
-Backchecking from the Big Three. Jury is out on whether Spezza will mature into even half the responsible player Yzerman turned out to be, while Heatley has rounded out his game and Alfie is at his most valuable when doing all the little things and paying attention to detail.
-Emery shouldering a workload. No signs of strain whatsoever from the number one. Still needs to improve rebound control and puckhandling to inspire playoff confidence (particularly if you plan on facing the likes of Brodeur at some point).
-Floaters shortening their shifts. Chris Stevenson pointed out the 144 and 131 second shifts taken by Comrie and Vermette that lead to the Sundin goal on Saturday night. Vermette has had a rep as an ice hog in the past, and Comrie's a guy I fear will disappear come playoff time.
-Chris Neil contributing offensively. You know that gritty winger people are always saying the Sens need? Well they have him, he just needs to consistently bring the game he showed early in the season. The Schaef / Fish / Neil line strikes me as the one that should be reunited and ready to roll in the playoffs.
-Variety is the spice of life, but it would be nice to see Murray settle on some line combos.
POSTSCRIPT: Ex Sen watch - Former Heatley and Spezza linemate Brandon Bochenski scores 3 goals in 2 games for the 'Ruins and belated props to Patrick Lalime for shutting out the Canucks. Is he being shopped at the deadline?
Meanwhile, on A-Channel, the sens announcers are hilarious homers. Komisarek got called out for repeated face washes, "whenever he gets near a sen his hands go right to their face", and for not fighting Neil. Neil had the last laugh as the sens helped the Habs down the standings with a 4-1 win. These two teams meet again in Montreal on Saturday.
First five meetings:
10/14/06 Ottawa 3 at Montreal 2 Shootout
10/31/06 Ottawa 2 at Montreal 4
11/13/06 Montreal 6 at Ottawa 3
1/13/07 Montreal 3 at Ottawa 8
1/29/07 Ottawa 1 at Montreal 3
The leafs (do we really need to do this capitalization thing?) are in Nashville on leafsTV. They could fall to 10th if they lose and the Islanders beat Jersey. Yes, it's never too early for scoreboard watching.
James Mirtle (via Conrad) has continued his tradition from last year of updating the records that each team needs in order to reach the playoff threshold of 95 points. Here is the initial table and be sure to check out Mirtle's site for periodic updates.
Nashville - 9-18-0
Detroit - 9-17-1
Anaheim - 10-16-1
San Jose - 12-15-0
Calgary - 15-14-0
Dallas - 14-13-1
Vancouver - 15-11-1
Minnesota - 16-10-1
Colorado - 19-9-1
Edmonton - 19-8-1
Phoenix - 21-5-1
St. Louis - 22-5-1
Chicago - 23-5-0
Columbus - 24-4-0
Los Angeles - 25-0-1
Buffalo - 8-17-1
New Jersey - 11-16-1
Atlanta - 14-12-0
Pittsburgh - 16-13-0
Montreal - 15-11-1
Ottawa - 16-11-0
Tampa Bay - 16-10-1
Toronto - 17-10-1
N.Y. Islanders - 18-10-0
Carolina - 17-9-0
N.Y. Rangers - 20-8-0
Boston - 21-8-1
Washington - 21-5-1
Florida - 22-5-0
Philadelphia - Cannot get 95 (max 91)
All in all, it looks pretty good for the combatants in the BoO. Both records are within the team's abilites, they certainly aren't being asked to play like gods like poor LA, and the team's behind them have definitely not shown the ability to reel off the sort of streak that is being asked of them now. It looks like one year after their Cinderella run to the finals and a mere seven months after unveiling the greatest collection of forwards ever that the Oilers will miss the playoffs. Fellow finalists Carolina are also in a tough spot.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Oct 7: 4-3 Sabres win in Ottawa
Nov 15: 4-2 sens win in Buffalo
Nov 18: 4-1 sens win in Ottawa
Dec 16: 3-1 sens win in Buffalo
Jan 3: 6-3 sens win in Ottawa
With the Sabres having a bit of an up and down 2007 and the sens having a strong 2007 so far it looks like the sens could run out of the Queen City with their fifth straight win over the 2006-2007 Stanley Cup Champions. As a Leaf fan it would be nice to see the smug Sabres fans reminded that they have not won squat but it would also be nice to be able to catch the sens sooner rather than later.
And as with all meetings between two hated teams I will be cheering for the meteor.
On another note, look out Ottawa because here come the Leafs! Also, be careful of falling Habs.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Anyway, the one and only Razor picked up the first star in a snoozer in St Louis. Final was 2-1, with Steen getting the winner on a sneaky little play.
Maddeningly Toronto is still in 9th place despite their 5th straight. They do move within 3 points of Ottawa, and four points out of 4th place.
It's getting tight, to say the least.
The recent resurgence of Andrew Raycroft has started to highlight the Leafs' strengths. Since January 1, 2007 he is 9-4 with a 2.52GAA and .914Sv%. Those numbers would have him in the top 12 for GAA and top 10 for Sv% over the course of the season. If he can maintain his new-found consistency then the Leafs will be a dangerous team in the playoffs. Sure, it's probably a pipe dream but here are the current standings. The Leafs are not necessarily destined to scrap for 8th place. They are within striking distance of 4th. The key will be maintaining their recent consistency. The Leafs can extend their four game winning streak with a win against the St. Louis Blues tonight (8PM Sportsnet Ontario). Here's the Tale of the Tape.
More great goaltending from Razor and John Pohl makes the Blues pay for giving up on him with two powerplay goals.
If you are interested in contributing to the Battle of Pennsylvania send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I will also be scouring the web to see if I can find some guys/ladies to contribute.
It's a little bit of a low blow in my opinion - not the first time for Brashear.
"It's not the same (since the end of the lockout) and it makes it that much harder. ... Before that's how you would get your message across. If you do something wrong I could be coming the other way," Brashear said. But now, Brashear said, there are a number of physical players who are taking liberties with skill players that they wouldn't normally have in the past.
In particular, Brashear singled out Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators as just one such player.
Neil suffers a bit from the perception that he's a heavyweight in this league and people continue to view him from this angle. I don't think he ever was. He played that role because he wanted to play on this team in this league and the team needed him to.
Neil plays on the 2nd or 3rd line regularly - averaging 14 min a game this year. He leads the NHL in hits. He's physical with the skill players because he's physical with everyone.
UPDATE: On a related topic, Eric links to a Vancouver Province vote on the best fighter in NHL history - it's a multi-round voting setup.
How much does effort count? Wendel gets a spot in the top 16 Leaf fans. Of course Tie is in there as well as fellow Leafs Tiger Williams, and Kordic. The Sens get some rep from Chara, and can I count Rob Ray as a Sen?
Monday, February 05, 2007
Sens want Roberts on their side
While GM John Muckler only has a limited amount of cash to spend after picking up center Mike Comrie from Phoenix, Ottawa has admitted it would like to add one more veteran with playoff experience. The player who fits into that category best is Florida winger Gary Roberts. He's nursing a hip injury, but the Senators were interested in signing him before he agreed to a two-year deal with the Panthers in August 2005. Roberts has always been strong against the Sens in the playoffs and there's a chance the Leafs will also make a pitch for his services.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it Garrioch who got this one started last year? Are his sources actually his own previous rumors?
Seriously, where do you get the room to acquire Roberts? Our old friend Jack Martin is going to want more than a roll of hockey tape and we're all out of disgruntled Russian centers.
From the Sun:
"I was really disturbed after the second. I really didn't think we were competing on the body the way we should have, but we started to do that in the third and we could have had a couple more."
I tried to come up with a better descriptor (agitated, troubled, nonplussed?) for my mental state watching the Sens retreat into whatever that timid, stick-waving parody of a penalty kill formation was leading up the Sundin goal (they did it again during the four-on-four OT), but I think that works best.
Then there's this:
"We had no contact whatsoever in the first two periods. I went in after the second and I suggested that (it might help) if one forward on our team could make a bodycheck on a defenceman. You can't give them that much time to be creative."
It was too late. Leafs were in control by that point and the best they could hope for was to come away with at least one point.
Onward to Buffalo and a huge home + home with Montreal. Both of these are logical Emery starts (8-1 against Sabes lifetime, .500 vs. Habs), however, let's see if Gerber sees some action against the Habs (3-0, 2.00 GAA last season). Let's also see if Jason Spezza can kick the habit of throwing passes behind his back in time for the playoffs.
What's your name now?
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Round 2: 6-0 Leafs in Ottawa
Round 3: 6-2 Sens in Toronto
Round 4: 7-2 Sens in Ottawa.
Round 5: 3-2 (OT) Sens in Toronto.
TV: 7pm on Hockey Night in Canada coast to coast
I'll keep this post at the top until the game is over for game comments.
Remember, at stake is the Razor nickname. The losing goaltender can no longer be referred to as Razor.
Friday, February 02, 2007
The Bertuzzi/Luongo trade may have to be the most lopsided trade ever, with Joe Thornton for Sturm and Stuart a close second. Any other horrendous Eastern Conference deals up for grabs, jerks?
I think JFJ will have the final hilarious word on that, but with the buds recent record it looks like he's holding off on the Exploding Death Star option for this season.
Predictions (from my Sudafed/Advil/Fisherman's Friend induced delirium):
6-2 Sens. Heater with a quad, Spezz / Fish with one each (gotta love this new second line, 'specially against the Leafs). Sundin and Ponikarovsky keep it close early, but then they roll over in the third like they're supposed to.
Razor holds his edgeWhile that Toronto money may be able to buy off the Sun headline writers, it won't be able to influence the game when the players are on the ice.
Leafs goalie stops 37 shots
By IRA PODELL
NEW YORK (AP) - Mats
Sundin put 16 years of experience...
Or will it?
A reliable source has informed me that a significant number of NHL referees are from the Toronto area or within a few hours drive or may have some family members living somewhere in or around Toronto. Can they be influenced?
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Team: God's Team. The Toronto Maple Leafs for the uninitiated.
Uniform Number: 22
Position: Right wing on the top line - might as well dream big.
Nickname: Most inappropriate for printing but probably Hector.
Dream Linemates: Dougie at centre and Wendel on the wing.
Rounding out the PP: Kaberle and Mats
Job: Finishing Dougie's passes and riding shotgun to Wendel.
Signature Move: Cutting in off the wing and ripping a wrist shot high on the glove side. It might miss, it might get caught, but when it goes in, oh boy!
Strengths: Size, speed (In this alternate universe I still have the speed from my youth), and silky smooth hands.
Weaknesses: The Flamingo, Cherry would hate it but I would make up for it by teaming up with Wendel for the most fighting majors by linemates in NHL history.
Injury Problems: I'm fine, stop asking me. I wouldn't tell you anyway!
Equipment: Same as now but I would make Bauer bring back the Supreme 3030 Stiff Flex. Sticks need to be heavy!
Nemesis: I would be Old School. Anyone without a Maple Leaf on their chest would be my enemy.
Scandal Involvement: 'Sean, I have no idea how Elisha ended up in my hotel room but she is most definitely not the Girl Next Door.'
Who I’d face in the Stanley Cup Finals: Since I would only be able to break the sens and Habs hearts in the first three rounds I would have to settle for one of the teams from Western Canada. I'll go with Edmonton.
What I’d do with the Stanley Cup after our victory: A month-long 5-city tour of the other Canadian NHL cities to share the moment with the Leafs legions of fans. Features of the trip would be Queen's We Are The Champions being in heavy rotation, large billboards of the Cup presentation being put up in highly visible areas, and an (Insert Canadian team) futility counter in front of each of the five arenas. Yes, if the Leafs win the cup I will be releasing a lifetime's worth of pent up rage.
Would the media love me or hate me?: They would love my grit, heart, Old School approach to hating everyone not on my team including any former teammates that would dare to leave, and my frequent dalliances with Hollywood's leading ladies (McAdams, Johansson, and Snow, Oh My!). Plus I would be a quote machine.
This should be a fun exercise for the boys during the break before the Name Game. I will tag Ninja, Bitter Leaf Fan, Wardo, and J. Bluebud in the hopes that they'll keep the game alive.
Two goalies, both alike in nickname,
In fair Kanata, where we play our game,
From B-o-O* grudge break to new mutiny,
Where dropping gloves makes penalty score sheets unclean.
From forth the final blocker saves of these two foes
A pair of points teams take their season record;
Whole misadventured piteous blog posts
Do with their G.A.A.** bury their fans' strife.
The fearful passes of their Swedish captain's puck,
And the continuance of their fans' rage,
Which, but their coaches's firing end, nought could remove,
Is now the three periods' traffic of our rink;
The which if you with high-priced tickets attend,
What here shall miss, our nickname sharing shall strive to end.
*Battle of Ontario
**Goals Against Average
The MSM has to appreciate any attempt to tie a sporting event to history's greatest writer.
The teams are really geared up for it. Jason Spezza was quoted as saying; "We're really going to go out there and try to win this for Razor. That's the real Razor I'm talking about - Ray Emery."
Andrew Raycroft tried to downplay the event as just another game and that the two points would be victory enough but didn't hide the fact that the nickname meant a lot to him; "Yeah, it's important. My Grandfather gave me that nickname when I was just a few years old. He caught me playing with his old straight edge and the name stuck I guess. I'm dedicating this game to him."
The Senators confirmed today that former Canadian Heavyweight Champion Donovan 'Razor' Ruddock will be on hand at the game to drop the ceremonial puck at the start of the game.