Monday, 15 October 2007

Monday Round Up

Hello, and salutations on this Monday. It was a great weekend, and Monday morning, for hockey. CBC carried an excellent game of defensive mistakes and miscues between the Penguins and Maple Leafs. They folllowed it up with the Oilers losing to the Canucks yet again. Montreal's home opener was ruined by the impressive Hurricanes, and the Senators kept rolling along after defeating the Rangers. The games weren't the only things to be noticed, though. Jesse Boulerice was put on waivers this morning, marking the end to his NHL season most likely. However, I'll focus on a few of these things below.

Shinny Night In Canada: I have to hand it to the Maple Leafs for playing some of the most dreadful hockey seen so far this season. Not only do they lose to the Penguins 6-4 after leading 3-1 part-way through the second period, but they get outshot at home 52-27. How is it that a team, playing at home, can be outshot almost 2-to-1? Does anyone in the Maple Leafs' dressing room care about this season besides Tucker, Sundin, and Blake? If I am Paul Maurice, I am preparing my resumé as you read this. If he can't motivate his team to be better than what it has shown so far this season, he'll be the dreaded "First Man Out".

Most of the hockey game looked like a weekend pickup game on a local backyard rink. Poor passes by both teams, lots of giveaways, and far too many missed assignments. The Penguins played far too fancy, trying to make one more pass than necessary most of the night. The Leafs, on the other hand, seemed to think that this was some sort of training camp practice. The physicality was missing, the uptempo skating was not there, and the defence looked mesmerized by the skating Penguins.

If I'm a Leafs fan, I am begging for Raycroft to be put back in. Vesa Toskala, in four games, has allowed 18 goals-against for a whopping 4.48 GAA while posting one win versus three losses. His save percentage of .878 was only helped by the amount of rubber he saw in the Pittsburgh game, but those stats are atrocious.

Playoffs, Leaf fans? Keep dreaming if your goaltending and defence continue to play the way they are.

Minnesota Machine: The Wild have jumped out to a 5-0-0 record thus far this season, and remain the only undefeated team in the league. This can be accounted to defence and goaltending. Niklas Backstrom has backstopped four of the five wins so far, and has only allowed four goals. His two shutouts, .959 save percentage, and 1.00 GAA lead the league in those respective categories. His partner in between the pipes, Josh Harding, stopped 37 shots from the Kings for his first win and shutout of the season.

Yes, they play trap, so it can be boring hockey, but with the Wild's best start in franchise history so far, they may be pushing for that top spot in the Northwest Division. Vancouver, Colorado, Edmonton, and Calgary had better pick up the slack if they want to keep pace with the Wild or this race will be over before it started at this rate.

First To Worst: Think Bob Hartley is feeling the heat? How does a team go from posting a 43-28-11 record and being first in the Southeast to being 0-5-0 with no points and only nine goals to show for the effort in the first five games? I understand teams get off to slow starts, but no one in the NHL has scored less than the Thrashers, and only Toronto and Los Angeles have given up more goals. The difference is that Toronto has played seven games, and Los Angeles has played six.

If Atlanta's franchise is truly on the market for a buyer, bid low. This team has all the makings of a franchise ready to collapse on itself. When Ilya Kovalchuk resorts to throwing punches and no one steps in to help, there are serious problems on this hockey team. Take a look in the mirror, Hartley. They start with your leadership.

Phantoms Get A Goon: Jesse Boulerice was waived by the Philadelphia Flyers today, possibly ending his NHL season this year. His 25-game suspension will be reviewed by the AHL, but he is still responsible for 25 NHL games. Much like Steve Downie's suspension, it is thought that the Flyers could bring him up for a few games at a time to sit in the press box.

Honestly, though, why would you? Let him rot out his one-year contract with the Phantoms, and then be done with him. Why waste a roster spot? As for the rest of the NHL, teach this guy a lesson and don't sign him when he's done with the Flyers. No respect for your fellow players means no contract for next season.

Welcome "Q" Back: In what could be called a merciful move by the Los Angeles Kings, highly-touted goaltending prospect Jonathan Bernier is being sent back to Lewiston of the QMJHL. According to his TSN page, Bernier was on pace to record a season of 14-41-0 in 55 appearances. His 4.03 GAA and .864 save percentage wouldn't get Calder or Vezina consideration either, so off he goes back to Lewiston.

Honestly, this is the best move for Bernier. As spectacular as he was in England against the Ducks, he has suffered being back on North American soil. I think he'll be a decent goaltender in the future for Los Angeles, but this was really the only move that Dean Lombardi could make in order to save the kid's confidence from being shattered. I look forward to seeing Bernier play well in the "Q", and look forward to possibly seeing him in the World Junior Championships for Canada this season.

Back From Binghampton: Ray Emery returned to Ottawa after a two-game conditioning assignment with the Baby Sens. He stopped 34 of 38 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Syracuse Crunch, but responded on Saturday by stopping 46 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Hershey Bears.

With Martin Gerber playing as well as he had, I would guess that coach John Paddock would ride the hot goalie. However, knowing Emery's competitve nature, he may get the start in Ottawa's next game on Thursday versus Montreal. Paddock says he hasn't given any thought as to who will start.

I'm sure there's more I could write about, but that's all for today. Any thoughts, comments, complaints, and/or questions can be left on the comment section below.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Eighty-Two said...

Any idea why the Canucks have been wearing white at home?

Both, against the Oilers and Sharks they were in their "road" uniforms.

Teebz said...

All teams this season have been granted a certain amount of games (6, I believe) where they can swap their normal home darks for road whites. Phoenix posted their schedule of 6 games on their website, but I don't think Vancouver did.

The NHL permitted this with the absence of alternate jerseys this season.