Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Former Mississauga Derbys owner charged in hockey scam

Peel Police have arrested a 41-year-old Mississauga man, alleging he bilked players from as far away as the U.S. and Australia out of $100,000 for the privilege of joining the fake Brampton-based organization. It was called the Walton Gates Academy, a part of an organization known as The Canadian Junior Elite Hockey League. The $100-grand allegedly came from the tuition and fees the league charged.

Cops accuse Randy Gumbley, the former owner of the Streetsville Derbys, of going to elaborate lengths to continue his hockey league scam. They allege he spent months attracting 'prospects' using an elaborate website and took them around to arenas and community college facilities, claiming they were associated with the league and his academy.

Last Night's Stars

Evgeni Malkin, Penguins:

Hard to say who is the top Penguin is Sid or Evgeni? Every team should have this problem. Not a bad day for the 21-year-old Russian, whose day started with news that he was a finalist for the Hart Trophy, and ended with a three-point night and a 3-0 series lead for this Pittsburgh Penguins. Malkin took over sole possession of first place in the postseason scoring race with a pair of power play goals, including the game winner, and an assist in Pittsburgh's 5-3 win over the Rangers.

Brenden Morrow, Stars:

The captain's name won't be found on the scoresheet, but he played with a purpose in Dallas's 2-1 OT win over the Sharks. When Morrow wasn't plastering a Shark into the boards (or each other) with one of his 11 hits, he was planted in Evgeni Nabokov's grill, making life miserable for the San Jose netminder. Both of the Stars goals can be at least partially attributed to the effectiveness of a Morrow screen.

Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings:

Detroit's most dynamic forward was at his crafty best tonight, tearing holes through the Avalanche defense with his speed. He scored twice, and chipped in an assist as the Red Wings won 4-3 and took a commanding 3-0 series lead.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Toronto's Only Winning Team

The Toronto Marlies beat the San Antonio Rampage 2-1 last night to take the 1st round series 4-3. Let's face it, the Marlies may be the only Toronto team to win any playoff series this year. But only 1,982 fans were at the Ricoh Coliseum to watch it.

The Marlies now advance against the Syracuse Crunch, 3-2 overtime winners over Manitoba last night.

Getting top star billing last night was 30-year-old goaltender Scott Clemmensen, who turned back 37 shots in anchoring the Marlies to their first-ever playoff series triumph. He started in all 7 playoff games. That's right - the Leaf's goalie of the future, Justin Pogge is glued to the end of the bench. Top Marlie goal scorer in the series was John Mitchell with 3 goals.

Maybe Carey Price Isn't the Next Patrick Roy

That's the collective "Uh-Oh" coming from the good folks in Montreal after Carey Price channeled his inner Andrew Raycroft last night in Philadelphia, allowing three goals on only 12 shots.

More and more is Price beginning to look like the 20-year-old kid he is. The pressure in the Stanley Cup playoffs is immense and Philadelphia is a tough building to play in. Well I guess they will have to switch to Cristobal Huet. Oh wait, they traded him.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dancing Kittens

Can a team when a Cup after changing goalies in the middle of the playoffs?

Any coach will tell you that you need a great goalie to win a championship. Detroit who had won the President's Trophy was one of the Stanley Cup favourites. It was expected that Detroit would depend upon future Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek in net in their Stanley Cup run. But Hasek has been awful and is now parked at the end of the bench.

Detroit has moved to Chris Osgood in goal and he has played well. His .947 saves percentage is the best in the playoffs among anyone who has as much as two complete games played. He has a 1.09 goals against average, which is again the best in the league among goalies with two complete games played. Osgood is providing Stanley Cup calibre goaltending so far. Osgood has won the Stanley Cup before (in 1998). That Red Wings team likely won the cup despite a lack of elite goaltending. They won because the team in front of Osgood was the best in the league. It is ten years later now and there is no reason to imagine Osgood is a better goalie today then he was in 1998.

There is a recent example of a team changing goalies during the playoffs in a successful playoff run. In 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes began the playoffs with Martin Gerber in goal and switched to Cam Ward, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup.

Go Habs Go!

...while back at the ACC...

Leaf Nation! Brian Burke is not the Messiah!

The level of angst across Leaf Nation was incredible over the past week after Brian Burke announced that he would be completing the term of his current contract and staying in Anaheim for another season. Then to top it off, the ever vigilant media did 48 hours of nonstop analysis.

If Brian Burke really wanted to come to the Toronto Maple Leafs he could get out of his contract. If he expressed a strong enough desire to leave Anaheim, his employer would let him go. Afterall, who would allow someone to be in charge of their organization who didn't want to be there. Burke may want to move out east to be closer to his family but in his mind it doesn't have to be the Leafs. Then again, he does like his situation in Anaheim so he may even be persuaded to sign a contract extension. So forget the nonsense about waiting out the year for Burke. He's not that interested in Toronto.

But don't despair Leaf Nation. Burke is not a hockey Messiah. He has a good track record but he is not at the top of the heap. As GM of the Canucks, Burke’s teams missed the playoffs two of six years, went out in the first round three times and were eliminated in 7 games by the Wild in their lone second round appearance in 2003. He had some awful draft picks with the Canucks and traded R.J. Umberger for Martin Rucinsky - a move that just reeks of JFJ/ MLSE level incompetence: a first round prospect exchanged for an oft-injured mid-pack vet who played all of 13 games for the Canucks. Burke traded away a Canucks’ first round pick to bring Trevor Linden back to Vancouver. And what became of that first round pick? The Caps used it to select a guy by the name of Alexander Semin. The ridiculous Bertuzzi signing. I could go on and on to point out terrible draft picks, signings and trades made by Burke but why bother. He's not coming to Toronto anyway.

Though the top executives are just not available and likely not interested in moving here. However, there are some good executives who just as good as Burke who might be interested in the Leaf job. Don't ask me who they are. However, the media just can stop speculating who might get the job and quite a few swear to have inside information. Somehow I doubt Gord Kirke knows himself. With 8 teams still in the playoffs, he may still need to wait to get permission to talk to some candidates.

But if I was asked to come up with a name of a guy who would do a great job and would also be available, it would be Doug Armstrong. He apprenticed under Bob Gainey and was an Assistant GM when the Stars one the Stanley Cup. He built the current Stars team that just knocked off the Ducks and could do the same to the Sharks. You could do a lot worse.

Last Night's Stars

1. Johan Franzen, Red Wings

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound center - known as ''Mule'' - redirected a shot in front of the net early in the game, scored on a wraparound in the second period and whacked a rebound out of the air in the third. It was his first career hat trick in the NHL, and first since the Swede was a teenager.

2. Martin Biron, Flyers

Biron made 34 saves in a game the Flyers could have easily lost. Not only did he have to stop a barrage of pucks but the Canadiens were running the little goalie all night.

3. Daniel Briere, Flyers

Briere, booed throughout the first two games at the Bell Centre, got his seventh goal of the playoffs 13:33 into the second to restore the Flyers' two-goal lead after Koivu scored on a power play late in the first. Although it was his only shot on net, he was a constant threat throughout the game.

2008-09 Storm Midget B Lineup

Alicia (1993)
Kailee (1992)
Lauren F (1992)
Mari (1991)
Gabby (1993)
Genevieve (1991)
Sheri (1991)
Maddy (1991)
Jackie (1991)

Madeleine (1993)
Lauren N (1993)
Sarah-Kate (1991)
Amanda (1991)
Paitra (1992)
Allie (1993)

Bianca (1992)
Asia (1991)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

AHL Marathon Game

Ryan Potulny’s first goal of the playoffs, 2:58 into the fifth overtime, ended the longest game in American Hockey League history, lifting the Philadelphia Phantoms past the Albany River Rats, 3-2, at the Times Union Center.

Potulny scored on the Phantoms' 101st shot of the game, beating Rats goaltender Michael Leighton with a 15-foot wrist shot from the slot and ending the game at 12:39 this morning after 142 minutes and 58 seconds. Leighton finished with an AHL-record 98 saves.

The previous AHL record for longest game was 134:56 set in Game 2 of the 2003 Calder Cup finals, where Hamilton beat Houston,

More of the Buried Red Sox Jersey

You may recall a Yankee hating construction worker buried a David Ortiz Red Sox jersey in wet concrete in the yet to be completed new Yankee Stadium. Yankee officials spent thousands to dig it up. So this shredded jersey that had the Yankees quaking in their cleats has officially sold on eBay--for $175,100. So what would an intact jersey bring in?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Last Night's Stars

1. Johan Franzen, Red Wings
The 28-year-old forward had two goals and an assist to help the Red Wings earn a tough Game 1 win over the Avalanche. His blast in the second period (fourth goal of the playoffs) ended up being the game-winner. Franzen, not known as a scoring machine, had just three two-goal games during the regular season.

2. Martin Biron, Flyers
Biron had a better game than the line score shows. He had 30 saves and should've been in line for a regulation win, but Alex Kovalev's questionable short-handed goal in the second period tied the game at 2-2 and seemed to give the Habs some extra energy.

3. Alex Kovalev, Canadiens
Kovalev delivered -- notching a game-tying goal with just 0:28 left. Of course, this shouldn't come as a huge surprise considering that he scored 17 PP goals and five game-winners during the regular season. The guy comes to the forefront when needed most.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

ESPN's Fan Satisfaction Rating

ESPN has published their fan satisfaction rating and the Maple Leafs did even worse than last year. In 2007 they ranked 99th out of 122 pro teams. This year they rank 121st. Only the awful and scandal-ridden New York Knicks did worse.

This is how the Leafs broke down:

Bang for the Buck (wins over the past three years per revenues directly from fans) 120th
Fan Relations (ease of access to players, coaches & management) 113th
Ownership (loyalty to players and city) 108th
Affordability (price of tickets, parking and concessions) 122nd
Stadium Experience (friendliness of environment; quality of game-day promotions) 96th
Players (effort on the field; likability off it) 117th
Coach/Manager (strong on-field leadership) 106th
Title Track (titles already won or expected -- soon
) 121st

As for other Toronto teams:

Raptors 44th (45th last year)
Blue Jays 67th (41st last year)

Sarah Rides the Behemoth at Wonderland

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Last Night's Stars

1. Jeremy Roenick, Sharks

Roenick was benched for Game 6 because of lack of production. But the 38-year-old veteran rose to the occasion in Game 7 when he was re-inserted in the lineup. Roenick tallied two goals and two assists -- in the Sharks' series clinching win over Calgary. His four points were the most scored in a Game 7 since 1993.

2. Joffrey Lupul, Flyers

If at first you don't succeed... The Flyers winger was stymied 19 times over seven games by Cristobal Huet, but he made the 20th shot count. Lupul buried a rebound of a Kimmo Timonen shot past Huet in overtime to give Philadelphia a 3-2 win and propel Philadelphiai nto the second round date against the Montreal Canadiens.

3. Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals

The NHL won't get its dream second round matchup of the Capitals and Penguins, but it's through no fault of Ovechkin. Despite being subjected to blanket coverage by the determined Flyers, Ovechkin still managed nine shots on net, threw three hits, set up Nicklas Backstrom for the opening goal and then beat Martin Biron with a wrist rocket for Washington's other goal. What more could the guy do?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Leafs Need Fabian Brunnström

Cliff Fletcher has to get this guy. He is a 23 year old Swede who is a free agent. Probably the best player outside the NHL.

Lame Fan Drops Ball While Celebrating Catch

Have some pride. Once you drop the ball don't sit there and beg for it back. Just cut your losses and sit down.

Last Night's Stars

1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington:

After going scoreless for four games and 250-plus minutes, Ovechkin awoke with two third-period goals on Monday -- the former clinching the Capitals' 4-2 road win in Philly; the latter serving as a warning shot to those who doubt whether Ovechkin can carry Washington to its second-ever Game 7 playoff victory on Tuesday night.

2. Carey Price, Montreal:

The rookie goalie did not buckle under the weight of Game 7 pressure, stonewalling all 25 Bruins shots in the Habs' series-clinching 5-0 home win. The 20-year-old Price, who had allowed 10 Boston goals in Games 5 and 6 (both Montreal losses), rebounded to post his second playoff shutout and once again remind Hab fans of the last time a rookie Canadiens netminder dominated his competition in the playoffs -- Patrick Roy in the Cup-winning season of 1986.

3. Alexander Semin, Washington:

Ovechkin, understandably, will grab the lion's share of headlines from the Caps' Game 6 win. But Semin, hardly a second-fiddle performer throughout the series, produced the game-tying goal late in the second period, deftly converting a rebound-save off Philly goalie John Erskine into his third goal of the playoffs. Earlier in the period he set up a goal by Backstrom to bring Washington to within one goal of the Flyers.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Last Night's Stars

1, Phil Kessel, Boston Bruins:

He chipped in with a pair of goals to power the Bruins to a Game 7 confrontation Monday with the Habs, including an ankle-breaking move early in the second period that left veteran defender Francois Bouillon scrambling for his cup while Kessel deposited the equalizer behind a Carey Price.

2. Cristobal Huet, Washington Capitals:

For the second consecutive game, Huet gave the Capitals a chance to win one they could easily have lost. While his mates floundered against a demonstrated third-period assault by the Flyers, he turned in a remarkably composed performance, highlighted by 20 saves in that furious final period.

3. Jose Theodore, Colorado Avalanche:

His counterpart, Niklas Backstrom, might have been more spectacular, but Theodore did exactly what he had to do — allow one less goal in a 2-1 Colorado victory. Arguably the year’s best comeback story, Theodore stopped 34 of 35 shots as the Avs eliminated the Wild and moved on to the second round.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Last Night's Stars

1. Jarmar Jagr, Rangers

It look like the Jagr of old last night although clearly time has slowed down this superstar. He was involved in just about every Ranger scoring drive and finished with a goal and two assist to ensure that the Rangers move on to the second round.

2. Dan Ellis, Predators

Ellis is doing his best Patrick Roy imitation and doing it well. Again, he was spectacular but this time in a losing effort as the Red Wings beat him in overtime. Still he stopped 52 out of 54 shots and keeps the Predators hopes for an upset alive.

3. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Ducks

It's well known in hockey that you don't get very far in the playoffs without great goaltending so it's no surprise that the stars performers are often goalies. Last night it was Giguere who turned away 40 shots including 30 in the first two period to lead the Ducks to a gritty win and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Dominek Hasek May be Done

"Last 60 minutes is the worst hockey I've played in my life. I have nothing to say about it. It's terrible. I feel very bad about myself."

This is how Hasek summed up his play the other night in game 4 of the Red Wing series against the Predators. He will likely not see anymore games as the Wings are going with Osgood. The Red Wings with the best record during the regular season are reeling and on the verge of elimination against a team that essentially had a fire sale over the summer. Hasek is 43 and a free agent this summer.

He might retire but he is just a year beyond posting 38 wins, with a 2.05 goals-against average in 56 starts. It wouldn't a shock to see a team take a flier on Hasek, for maybe a one-year, incentive-laden deal. Some guys just don't know when its time to leave the game.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Passover

...and easy on that matzah!

Last Night's Stars

1. Marty Turco, Stars

Just when the Ducks had gotten back in the series with a Game 3 win, Turco comes to the rescue for the Stars -- turning aside 28 shots, and carrying a shutout until the final few seconds of the game, to give Dallas a huge 3-1 series lead. What made Turco's effort even more impressive was that he had three rookie defensemen playing in front of him.

2. Jeff Carter, Flyers

In addition to notching his second and third goals of the series, an assist and a whopping eight shots on goal, Carter provided high-end energy on both ends and was aggressive on the forecheck. Heading into Game 5, Carter had one goal and no assists, so this could get him going for Game 6 and possibly the next round. Carter is a retricted free agent and would look great in a Leaf uniform.

3. Jose Theodore, Avs

He had 38 saves, with the majority of the spectacular variety coming when it mattered most -- the third period. From his toe save on Marian Gaborik to a impressive glove save on Brian Rolston, Theodore has shown signs of his '02 Vezina form throughout this series. Colorado actually had no business winning last night's game and scored 2 goals in the 3rd on just 3 shots to steal the win.

"Month of Lies"

Someone once described tryouts as the "Month of Lies". People will say anything when it comes to tryouts. I usually can't wait for it to be over. It's stressful for everyone - players, parents and coaches. Players want to play with their friends. What will the dressing room be like? Will these coaches be fair or will they have their favourites. Some people get what we call the "letter syndrome". All that is important is that they make a "AA" or "A" team. What they often find is the calibre of these teams can be poor and are they can be very uncompetitive. Each year we have players from higher levels come down to play because they just want to enjoy hockey again . I've seen parents take their daughters from one tryout to another to the point where they can't really skate very well because they are exhausted. It's no fun for coaches either. They hate having to tell players that haven't made the team. You hope that you make good decisions based on skill and team chemistry but how can you really evaluate someone properly based on drills done over an hour with 25 or more players on the ice. I've seen players who can do these drills very well but have no hockey sense. While others are not that flashy during the drills but turn out to be higher energy players during games. We try to get out to see other teams in our organization where you might draw players from so that you can have some idea what the players who may come to tryouts look like in games. When it's all finally over - the lies, the tears, the dealmaking, you can go back to playing hockey and having fun.

Can you take the Senators seriously after watching this?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Last Night's Stars

1. Dan Ellis, Predators

Given a two-goal lead early in the first period made the job easier, but Ellis still came up huge, stopping 39 shots to help the Preds pull even at 2-2 with the favoured Red Wings. The second-year NHL pro, in his first postseason, is performing like a cool veteran.

2. Marc Staal, Rangers

Talk about redemption. Just three days after a puck clipped his skate and went in for the Devils' winning goal in Game 3, the rookie blueliner scored his first official NHL playoff goal in the Rangers' 5-3 win. With each game he is looking more and more as a future star. As far as I'm concerned he already is the Rangers best defenseman.

3. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

The 21-year-old notched a power-play goal and six shots on goal to help the Pens complete a four-game sweep of the Senators. Malkin, who now has two goals in the playoffs, was all over the ice and aggressive in the corners.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mascot Bloopers

Last Night's Stars

1. Carey Price, Canadiens

President's Choice Memories of Ken Dryden. Not only did the 20-year-old turn away all 27 shots he faced for his first playoff shutout, but he carried the Habs to within one win of advancing to the second round. I've run out of superlatives for this kid.

2. Daniel Briere, Flyers

This is exactly why the Flyers spent a bundle to sign Briere. His two-goal, one-assist showing last night was nothing new, as the veteran forward now has four goals and six points in the series. In fact, no player has more postseason points in the past three years. He got booed during the regular season (not uncommon for players with big contract and big expectations), but all will be forgotten by the Flyer Nation if he continues to produce like this.

3. Chris Pronger, Ducks

The Ducks were basically in a must-win situation last night after dropping the first 2 games at home, and the captain delivered with two power-play goals and an assist. Pronger headed into the game with zero points and five shots on goal. Considering Dallas' postseason play at home (1-7 in last eight), the Ducks are most definitely back in this series.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Last Night's Stars

1. Marian Hossa, Pittsburgh:

The Penguins winger put his former team on the brink of elimination with a pair of assists and his first postseason goal since he played for the Sens in 2003-04.

2. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa:

Alfredsson returned to the lineup at far less than 100 percent but displayed the type of character that best defines the NHL playoffs. Too bad his teammates don't follow his lead.

3. Ryan Suter, Nashville:

The young defenseman had his second-period point blast deflected by Alexander Radulov for the Predators' first goal, then tied the game at three late in the third with another cannon from the blue line.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sean Avery Reaches a New Low

The Sean Avery coverage at times is overblown, but he's actually quite disliked throughout the league, and in a way that goes beyond that of the traditional Darcy Tucker/Jordin Tootoo type pests. Hard to believe the league passed a new rule to deal with the jerk.

Biggest Hit of the Year

Sarich lays out Marleau and the hit was clean.

Last Night's Stars

1. Marc Savard, Bruins.

The Canadiens have owned the Bruins all season but Savard changed all that. He scored on a delayed penalty 9:25 into overtime for a 2-1 win that ended a 13-game losing streak to Montreal and trimmed the series lead to 2-1.

2. Martin Biron, Flyers.

After giving up five goals in the Game 1 loss, Biron bounced back with 24 saves in blanking the Capitals 2-0 for his first playoff shutout and his third in the last four games. Although Huet was pretty good at the other end stopping 39 of 41 shots.

3. Owen Nolan, Flames.

Leaf fans will have a tough time with my third pick but he delivered the go-ahead goal with 3:45 remaining and assisted on two more Calgary scores as the Flames rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Sharks 4-3 for a 2-1 series lead.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Provincial Finals - Midget B

Qtr Lambton Shores 4 - Glengarry 1
Qtr Lambeth 3 - Durham West 0
Qtr Twin Centre 0 - Walkerton 1
Qtr Temiskaming 4 - Barrie 0

Semi Lambton Shores 0 - Walkerton 2
Semi Lambeth 2 - Temiskaming 3

Gold: Temiskaming 5 - Silver Walkerton 2
Bronze: Lambeth 2 - Lambton Shores 1

Yankees Uncover Saboteur

The three-day quasi-nightmare for-superstitious Yankees fans is over: The Red Sox jersey buried in cement by a Yankee-hating construction worker along the third base line at the new Yankee Stadium has been found and will be removed in an "extraction ceremony."

At first, the thought of Red Sox jersey buried in the new stadium seemed like a joke, but yesterday the NY Post published photographs worker Gino Castignoli claimed he took while after placing a David Ortiz jersey under the concrete. Yesterday, two workers remembered where Castignoli worked (he was only on the site for day) and told a construction manager:

They led the manager to a service corridor near the site of the planned Legends Club restaurant, behind home plate and toward the third base side.

After the hardhats pointed to the spot, workers brought out jackhammers and dug furiously for five hours, creating a 2-foot- by-3-foot, gravel-filled pit in their search for the tainted threads.

They spotted the jersey at 3:25 p.m. and called Yankee brass. The cursed shirt was about two feet deep in cement

Last Night's Stars

1. Alexei Kovalev, Canadiens:
His retaliatory slash of Aaron Ward on a third-period penalty kill gave the Bruins a five-on-three advantage and paved the way for Boston's tying goal. But just as he was being fitted for the goat horns, the NHL's leading scorer with the man advantage made amends with slapshot of his own that lifted the Canadiens to a 3-2 overtime win and a 2-0 series lead.

2. Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings:
Though he only had one assist, Datsyuk was clearly the impact player during Detroit's 4-2 win over Nashville. He won 10 of 15 faceoffs, had two takeaways, delivered three hits, and consistently set the Predators back on their heels with his speed and playmaking.

3. Mike Ribeiro, Stars:
His breakaway goal opened the scoring and sucked the life out of the home crowd, but it was his pair of power play assists, including on Mike Modano's third-period game winner, that better exemplified what he brought to the game. He brought the passion out last night and single-handedly overwhelmed the Ducks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Game 52 Came Too Soon

The season came to a close with a one-sided loss to Lambton Shore by a score of 5-0. The skating and shooting of the opponents clearly demonstrated how much more work the Storm need to do to compete at the highest level of the Midget B tier. Lambton Shore were last year's champions but they may not be good enough this year to win a medal.

Still this team has come a long way over the past 7 1/2 months and 52 games. They really came together as a team and for the most part were able to challenge some very good teams. There is reason to be optimistic about next season.


Last Night's Stars

1. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers
Lundqvist made 26 saves, some of them spectacular. His goaltending was the difference last night and lifted the Rangers to their ninth victory in 10 games against the Devils this season. Which tells you how this series is gong to go. The save of the game may have come in the second period when Lundqvist stoned Paul Martin on a power-play point shot.

2. Sidney Crosby, Penguins

You cannot overlook the four-assist performance by Sid the Kid including setting up the late 2 goals by Ryan Malone to win the game. Honourable mention should go to Martin Gerber who faced 54 shots in the game and kept the Senators alive until the final few minutes. He would have been a star if his teammates had been able to help him steal a win.

3. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
How do you make an impression in your postseason debut? By netting the game-winner and lifting the Caps to their first playoff win since 2003. Even more impressive: Ovechkin, whose 446 shots were second-most in a season in NHL history, didn't register a shot until nearly 13 minutes in the third. But he lead all players in the game with 8 hits.

Storm Eliminated from Moving On

Well it wasn't a great way to start a pivotal game. The Barrie Sharks scored just 32 seconds into the game although the Storm played hard the rest of the way. It just wasn't good enough to beat the strong Shark team. The 4-1 loss eliminated the Storm from moving on the the Quarter Finals. In the second of the day the Storm generated some good scoring chances but the Barrie goaltending was outstanding as it has been all season. It wasn't until the third period when Sheri stripped a Barrie defenseman of the puck and went on a 2 on 1 with Marley that the shutout was broken. At that point the score was 3-1. Kendra was pulled in the last minute of the game and Barrie clinched with an empty net goal.

Lambton Shores, with 2 wins has already won a quarter final pot. The other will go to the winner of the Barrie vs. Vaughan game.

The other Storm teams have been doing much better. Bother the Midget A and BB teams have opened up with a win and a tie each. Both are in the running to move on to the Quarter Finals.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Yankee Stadium has been Sabotaged

The new Yankee Stadium may be cursed!

A devilish Boston fan working on a concrete crew at the $1.3 billion stadium covertly buried a Red Sox T-shirt under what will become the visiting team's locker room to jinx the Yanks, two construction workers told The New York Post yesterday.

"In August, a Red Sox T-shirt was poured in a slab in the visitor's clubhouse. It's the curse of the Yankees," one worker said. "Nobody knows about it. It's in the floors, it's buried."

The workers say they now fear that they unwittingly helped hex their beloved Bronx Bombers.

"I don't want to be responsible for sinking the franchise," said a second worker, who witnessed the sabotage. "I respect the stadium."

Provincial Let Down

Playing in pressure games is tough and the young Storm team certainly found that out in their first Provincial game. In response to the pressure, players reverted back to a style of play that we haven't seen in many months. The result was a disappointing 3-1 loss to Vaughan. It was disappointing because all the players knew that could have done better and the opponents were beatable.

The game started off well and Mari buried a big rebound off a shot by Sheri in the first period. The one goal lead until the second period when the Vaughan captain scored the first of two goals on the powerplay. Less than two minutes later she scored again and the final goal was scored with only 28 seconds left in the period while on the powerplay.

The goal for the next two games to get back to the wide open style of game that has been so successful for the team for the past 3 months.

Last Night's Stars

1. Evgeni Nabokov, Sharks
Nabokov came up with a pure gem Thursday night in the Shark Tank -- and his sixth career postseason shutout. Without it, the Sharks would've gone to the Saddledome in a huge 0-2 hole. And that scrambling, diving save on Owen Nolan was incredible.

2. Carey Price, Canadiens
In addition to the flying Kostitsyn brothers, Price also was making his postseason debut. The unflappable rookie only had to make 17 saves, but more than a few were with heavy traffic swarming in front. The kid also had the weight of 21,273 fanatic Hab fans watching his every move.

3. Dan
Yup, I'm going with three goalies for the three stars. It's playoffs afterall. Although Nashville lost, Ellis was spectacular stopping 37 out of 39 shots. He had faced 26 shots going into the 3rd period with the score 1-1 until giving one up to Zetterberg on a possibly offside play.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We found a linemate for Marley and Maryssa

Last Night's Stars

1. Gary Roberts

Roberts is always the playoff warrior and in recent years has broken the hearts of Senator fans. Last night was no different as he shook off the rust from sitting out two months with a broken leg with two goals. The first one was 68 seconds into the game and set the tone of the game. Roberts had some typical big hits that at times border on being illegal. Hard to believe he is 41.

2. Joe Sakic

Sakic has always been Mr. Clutch and at 38 that hasn’t changed. His overtime winner last night was his 8th in the playoffs and set an NHL record.

3. Scott Gomez

The Rangers will win this series if they can generate enough offense to beat Brodeur and the scoring-challenged Devils. Gomez provided the spark last night the Rangers need to take away home ice advantage from New Jersey.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Is Brian Burke Coming to Toronto?

It is almost universally accepted that Brian Burke is at the top of the Maple Leaf's list of prospective General Managers. And why would he be with his track record. There also is a constant buzz that he is headed here once the season ends for Anaheim. But is he really interested in the Maple Leaf job?

According to Burke, the Leafs haven't asked Anaheim for permission to discuss the job with him and he emphatically states there has been no contact. The mere suggestion of which hints towards tampering, which aside from a seven-figure fine for the teams involved and the forfeiture of draft picks, would also force Burke to the sidelines for a year. So expect everyone to be above board. With Fletcher filling in as interim GM, the Leafs can wait until their preferred candidate is available. As well, since Burke's contract expires at the end of the season, I don't think the Leafs would even need to ask permission to approach him at that point.

An important factor is Burke's wife Jennifer who is a a successful television host in Vancouver. Burke told the Regina Leader-Post that the chances of his leaving Anaheim for Toronto are remote. Again, that message may be more to ease concerns of his team as they begin another run at the Cup.

Clearly he is happy in Anaheim. He is working for a terrific owner and has constructed a first class organization. But in southern California people care about UCLA football, the Dodgers, the Lakers, etc. But no one really cares about the Ducks. So there may be a desire to move to a better hockey market. That might not be Toronto since someone like Burke would be a welcome addition to most NHL teams. As I see it, there are 3 possible scenarios.

  1. Burke will use the Leaf vacancy to leverage a mega-contract from the Anaheim owner.
  2. Burke is trying to create a bidding war for his services and will go to the highest bidder.
  3. Burke is intrigued by the Leaf offer and will bolt from the Ducks once his contract expires.
Only time will tell which scenario plays itself out.

Classiest Player in the NHL

Alright, hockey fans. After months of deliberation and tireless research, we have narrowed the field to three nominees for the title of “Classiest Player in the NHL”

Nominee No. 1 - Jarome Iginla

This will even bring a grown man to tears.

Nominee No. 2 - Sean Avery

Nominee No. 3 - Steve Downie


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

NHL First Round Predictions

Detroit Red Wings vs. Nashville Predators
Detroit has several players on their roster (Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Rafalski) who should be better than any Nashville player in this round. Lidstrom is likely the second best player in the league this year and will get Hart Trophy votes. Detroit should win.

San Jose Sharks vs. Calgary Flames
Calary has the three same players carrying it - Iginla, Kiprusoff and Phaneuf. But that's pretty much the NHL these days under the salary cap. Joe Thornton, Brian Campbell and Evgeni Nabokov are approximately equal to the big three in Calgary but the supporting cast is better. I'm taking San Jose.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Colorado really improved down the stretch adding Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote and having Paul Stastny, Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth return from injury. Forsberg hasn't played much but has looked good. Avs should win.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
Anahein is just too strong for the Stars. This one might not be very pretty considering how much Dallas has struggled lately.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins
A classic original 6 match up. Montreal has a very good balanced attack and Carey Price. That should be enough to win in the first round.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators
Ottawa fell apart in the stretch and lost Daniel Alfredsson to injury. Pittsburgh may still have questions in goal, but they made a big trade adding Hossa to go with Malkin and Crosby (who may not be 100% healthy). Pittsburgh looks like the team to beat here.

Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Washington has been the best team in the east for the last couple months of the season and needed that run to barely make the playoffs. The Flyers actually finished with a better record but they struggled at the end of the season. Ovechin was the best player in the regular season but has never played in the playoffs. Still I like Washington in this one but I expect it to be close.

New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers
The Devils have a better team on paper and the better goalie. Still I'm thinking that if an upset is going to happen in the first round, this might be it. So I'm picking New York.

Leafs Pick 7th

The Leafs pick 7th overall in the first round of the Entry Draft which should be a pretty good player considering the strength of the draft this year. There are 4 outstanding defenseman in the draft although they may all be gone by the 7th pick. Here is a history of 7th picks over the last 10 years. However, not every 7th pick turns out to be a star player.

2007 - Jakub Voráček - Columbus
2006 - Kyle Okposo- NY Islanders
2005 - Jack Skille - Chicago
2004 - Rostislav Olesz - Florida
2003 - Ryan Suter - Nashvillie
2002 - Joffrey Lupul - Anaheim
2001 - Mike Komisarek - Montreal
2000 - Lars Jonsson - Boston
1999 - Kris Beech - Washington
1998 - Manny Malhotra - NY Rangers

Storm Warm Up for the Big Show

The Storm shook off some rust tonight in the first period and then coasted to 3-2 win over the Vaughan Flames in an exhibition game. As the game progressed the skating and passing improved and in the second period the Storm exploded for three goals in just five minutes. The last two goals were scored 17 seconds apart with less than one minute remaining in the second period.

Scoring for the Storm was Jackie, Lauren N and Marley. In addition, Sheri picked up a pair of assists. Jackie scored on the powerplay when she skated from the faceoff circle to in the front of the net and lifted a shot into the top corner on the goalie's glove side. Late in the second Lauren fired a wrist shot at the net that changed directions when it went off a Vaughan defenseman past the goalie. With just 17 seconds remaining Marley crashed the net off a faceoff to bang in a rebound. It was overall a good effort.

On Friday morning the two teams meet again but this time the game counts.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Renovated Museum Station

On April 8th, the TTC will be unveiling the $5 million renovated Museum station. The load bearing columns are based on artifacts displayed in the Royal Ontario Museum – a First Nations' house post, a figure representing the Egyptian god Osiris, replicas of imperial Chinese columns from the Forbidden City, pristine Doric columns from Ancient Greece and a column based on a Toltec figurine at the Gardiner Ceramic Museum.

The trackside walls have sleek aluminum panels instead of tiles. There's a bold new MUSEUM sign on the walls, with hieroglyphics contained in each letter that come from the tomb of an Egyptian nobleman who died around 2,300 BC.

This is the first of three station renovations planned on the University line, a cultural corridor that includes Osgoode station, beside the Opera House, and St. Patrick, a few minutes' walk from the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Below are before and after pictures.

Free Agent Signings

If you were disappointed in the Jason Blake signing well he wasn't the only free agent disappointment. Of the top 25 scorers in the NHL in 2007-08, not a single one was acquired as a free agent last summer. The top free agents were Daniel Briere (28th) and Scott Gomez (37th), and it took a boat full of money for the next 7 years or so to sign them. And for that you get 70-point seasons from players at the supposed peak of their careers.

Of the top 50 NHL scorers, only 14% were acquired through free agency. Most of these top scorers were still playing for the team that drafted them. The lesson here is, if you're a team like Toronto that will be looking to add a scorer via free agency in the off-season, be prepared to (a) overpay and (b) receive dwindling production. So hang onto Sundin until you can develop your own scorers. With the salary cap and parity, most teams are able to afford their top stars and sign them long term.

Leaf Fans are Pathetic

Great Career Ended This Weekend

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Who would you want to avoid in the NHL East?

There is no question I would not want to be facing the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. They are coming in with tremendous momentum and Ovechkin is destroying team records as he carries the Caps into the postseason. He will likely make Bruce Boudreau coach of the year. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

When Ovechkin hit the magic 60-goal mark on March 21, he became only the 38th player to do so in league history. Until this season, however, every 60-goal campaign had come in a season that averaged at least 6.13 goals a game. The NHL has averaged 5.45 goals scored a game this season, which means 2007-08 is set to become the sixth-lowest-scoring season in the past 50 years.

Gretzky's 92-goal campaign in 1981-82, for instance, came in a year when goal scoring reached an all-time high, 8.03 goals a game. Comparing the two vastly different eras is difficult, but Gretzky's season, percentage-wise, converts to 64 goals in 82 games by today's standards. That's how good Ovechkin is.

So tell me which team you would want to avoid in postseason? Poll is on the sidebar.

5 MLSE Employees Fired

if it wasn't enough that the Leafs are out of the playoff and rudderless, still without a GM, and the Raptors are now at risk of missing the playoffs too, there's been a shake-up at the senior executive level.

Jim Edmands, director of sales and service, has resigned, following a discovery of ticket irregularities during the last week of March. Five other employees have been fired.

It's not clear what kind of "irregularities" occurred. If I were venture to guess it would be the discovery of employees supplying scalpers with tickets. Or maybe something more sinister like spiking the players' water bottles with tranquilizers.

Why The Leafs Stink

There is absolutely nothing new in the Macleans article this week. They break down 41 years of Maple Leafs futility including all the bad draft picks and bad coaches. They also discuss the Maple Leafs' general managers who authored some of the most disastrous trades in NHL history. Because you want to be reminded about the Kenny Jonsson and Roberto Luongo for Wendel Clark and Mathieu Schneider trade or about 1st round picks like Brandon Convery, Jeff Ware and Luca Cereda.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I strongly recommend not bringing these Leafs back

I really thought I was done dumping on the Leafs until I saw last night's game. Despite how the announcers called it and despite the fact the league indicates that the hit was clean, Mark Bell hit on Alfredsson was uncalled for. It's not like Bell has been throwing body checks all season. In fact, he has shown very few signs of life out on the ice. And that shoulder he hit Alfredsson with had some elbow in it. Check it out for yourself below. It was borderline and on a guy with his head down. Beside it was a game that meant nothing to the Leafs and they played like it didn't matter. Just another example of how the players show little respect for each other on the ice. Oh and earlier in the game Bell knocked Mike Fisher out of the game with a knee injury. By the way Ferguson wasn't forced to take Bell with Toskala. He claims he wanted him.

Even worse was Darcy Tucker. After his shoving match with Dany Heatley he can clearly be seen mouthing the words "watch your knees". Now if you recall, Heatley seriously injured his leg in that fatal car accident he was involved in while with Atlanta. Yelling threats like that is totally uncalled for. Why does the NHL allow it. Other professional sports league would fine a player for that.

Just another example of why this roster needs to be cleared out.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Oops, Cubs commit another error

Let's face it the Chicago Cubs are more inept than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Given the Cubs century of futility, it's only fitting that once again a joyous event in team history is tainted with failure.

As part of Monday's Opening Day festivities, the team unveiled a statue of Ernie Banks outside Wrigley Field. Banks was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1958 and 1959 while playing shortstop. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Banks played his entire career with the Cubs (1953-1971). He was a 15-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove at shortstop in 1960.

Well it seems along one side of the statue's base, sculptor Lou Cella of Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany carved Banks' famous quote "Let's Play Two" into the block of granite. Except he forgot the apostrophe, so it reads, "Lets Play Two."

An engraver came by today and added the missing apostrophe. Still just another reason to dump on the hopeless Cubs.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Maple Leaf Season Highlights

Darcy Tucker shows that he can still yap with the best.

Bryan McCabe scores on his own net in overtime.

Vesa Toskala gives up a 178 foot goal.

Ponikarovsky blows a lead against Carolina with seconds left.

Colaiacovo gets hurt, again.

Andrew Raycroft misplays another puck.

Andy Wozniewski shows off his foot speed.