It took me a while to find out what the problem was, but I have now diagnosed my computer issues in terms of being able to access Blogger at home. Apparently, one of my firewall settings didn't like Blogger's IP address, and was preventing me from logging on. I could view blogs, but I couldn't access my own. Thankfully, a few tests after some long hours of cursing will now allow me to post all week since I am on holidays for a week. In any case, I will be posting a bunch of stuff this week that I missed out on last week, hopefully catching myself up from these software issues that I was experiencing at home.
First, the trade made between the St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks was beneficial to both teams this weekend, despite both teams losing their respective games. Andy McDonald, wearing #10 for the Blues, had a goal and an assist in yesterday's 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames. McDonald looked like he fit in well with the youthful Blues, playing on a line with Paul Kariya and Brad Boyes. Personally, this line could be dangerous for the rest of the season. They have speed, the ability to score, and pass very well.
The Ducks, meanwhile, welcomed Doug Weight to their lineup, as well as activating Scott Niedermayer. Weight played on a line with Bobby Ryan and Todd Bertuzzi, and set up Ryan for a beautiful one-timer goal in the Ducks' 2-1 shootout loss to the Sharks. I was reluctant to think that Weight would be the right kind of player to fit into the Ducks' offensive scheme, but he seemed to fit in well. Niedermayer also contributed defensively, and nearly scored the overtime winner after ringing the puck off the post in the extra frame.
Another Call-Up Gem: Another one of those "kids" from the farm made an impact this weekend. After being called up from the AHL San Antonio Rampage, the Coyotes threw winger Joel Perrault into the mix, and he responded versus the New York Rangers. Phoenix head coach Wayne Gretzky, making his first stop in Madison Square Garden since he retired, had Perrault on the powerplay as well as his regular shift, and Perrault scored his first two goals of the season on the powerplay. He also had an assist on an even-strength Daniel Carcillo goal, and the Coyotes defeated the Rangers by a score of 5-1. In two games with the big club, Perrault now has two goals and two assists.
"I was pretty proud of the way I played yesterday in my first game back since last January," Perrault said to the Associated Press. "I was pretty happy with my skill level, and today was even better.
"There was good bounces for the first goal. It's just fun to get it started."
No doubt. Phoenix had been 1-and-9 versus the Rangers on MSG ice since their last win there on October 28, 2002. Their last win there before that one? They won as the Winnipeg Jets on January 6, 1992. Madison Square Garden hasn't been very nice to the Phoenix franchise.
More Bad Ice: The Philadelphia Flyers ran into a wall yesterday known as Martin Brodeur. In doing so, the Flyers extended their winless streak in New Jersey to 10 games, and the Devils won the game 4-2. Philadelphia last won in New Jersey on March 9, 2004.
Jamie Langenbrunner sealed the win for the Devils with an empty-netter, and has become one of the on-ice leaders on the Devils' team. Langenbrunner might be one of the most underrated players in the NHL today. Like Ron Francis or Rod Brind'Amour, he does so many things right, playing the game hard for the entire 60 minutes.
In 16 games so far this season, Langenbrunner has five goals and 11 assists. That's right - in a Brent Sutter defensively-minded system, Langenbrunner is averaging a point per game. Offensively, it almost appears that as he goes, so do the Devils.
Of course, John Madden isn't complaining either since it appears that those two are clicking on all cylinders. Stop Langenbrunner and Madden, and you'll stop the Devils.
Killer B's: The Alex Auld trade to Boston appears to have reversed a couple of trends. First, Auld appears to have escaped the goaltending graveyard in Phoenix to find himself playing extremely well in between the pipes in Beantown. When Tim Thomas returns from injury this week, the Bruins will have two very good goaltenders ready to go on any night.
Second, the Bruins attitude towards losing games has disappeared. With the shutout of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, the Bruins are 6-3-1 in their last ten, and sit in second place in the Northeast Division. They trail the first-place Senators by six points, something rarely spoken about in Boston in some time.
"Tim carried the load for us most of the year and Alex has stepped in and done a good job," Bruins head coach Claude Julien told the Associated Press. "Our goaltending is one of the reasons we are where we are right now."
Julien is right. Since the acquisition of Auld on December 6, the Bruins have gone 4-1, losing only to New Jersey. Auld has played extremely well, and the return of Tim Thomas this week only looks to help the Bruins continue that winning theory.
"It's been great," Auld said of the trade. "Coming here was awesome, and having a chance to play a lot has been great. Being able to work through some things after not playing for a while, I think any goaltender will tell you playing a lot will help."
In winning over Columbus, the Bruins are the only team that has not lost consecutive regulation games. Despite losing some close games early in the season, the goaltending in Boston has given the team a renewed confidence, and it has been reflected in the standings. Good on Boston for righting the ship early on.
Is It Really A Loss?: When Andrei Kostitsyn hit Bryan McCabe into the boards Saturday night, McCabe ended up breaking three bones in his hand. It is thought that McCabe will miss six-to-eight weeks after getting surgery to repair his hand. My question is this: if the Leafs seem to play better without McCabe in the lineup, why is there all this complaining?
Look, I get that McCabe plays 30 minutes a night. I understand that it's impossible to replace a guy who logs that much time on the ice. But really, aside from supporting a fallen teammate, why is there such outrage over losing a guy who has played horribly thus far this season?
"He's too good a player to miss that much time after a (expletive) play like that," Maurice told the Canadian Press. Maurice was livid that Kostitsyn had allegedly horse-collared McCabe and threw him into the boards. No penalty was assessed on the play, and McCabe was visibly in a lot of pain.
"It's not a natural thing, it's not like getting hit into the boards where you can recover, but when you get hog-tied around the throat and you go back into the boards that's just brutal," Maurice said. "He's too good a player to miss that much time on a play like that.
"It's unbelievable, a little respect out there would be nice," Maurice continued. "You'd almost rather take a cheap shot than that. It doesn't matter, it's going to be his hand, it's going to be his knee, when you do something like that somebody's getting hurt. That's just not a natural thing to have happen on the ice."
Here's the hit that put McCabe out:
Notice that Don Cherry says nothing about Kostitsyn.
In honour of standing up for his player, I'd like to present Paul Maurice with some highlights of why the Leafs will miss the playoffs this season, compliments of his most-trusted rearguard, Bryan McCabe:
November 17, 2007: Beautiful pass for a breakaway.
October 15, 2007: On the doorstep for an easy goal.
November 20, 2007: Another beauty pass.
$7 million for a guy who has been a part of or directly involved in giving away four points in the standings? Sorry, Toronto... you're better off without him.
Ok, there may be another post today if I get time. I have some errands to finish, but with this week of holidays, I'll be updating and posting often. Keep your eyes on this space!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!