Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rebuilding the Maple Leafs

My recent poll asking which players should the Leafs keep as they rebuild got some surprising results. For one thing only 3 players received a vote of confidence from at least 50% of respondents. Even more surprising is that some people did not think the Leafs should include Luke Schenn in their rebuild plans. I cannot get my head around that. But then so many respondents have already written off three very young players - Tlusty (20), Kulemin (22) and Stralman (22). They may not turn out to be stars but all three will likely be very useful players in about 3 years. But then respondents went the opposite direction with Pogge (22) and he registered the second most votes although his record in the minors has not been inspiring. I'm beginning to get the impression Leaf management may be looking elsewhere for their future #1 goalie.

Luke Schenn 83%
Justin Pogge 53%
Dominic Moore 50%
Mikhail Grabovski 44%
Jeremy Williams 42%
Ian White 42%
Niklas Hagman 36%
Mike van Ryn 36%
John Mitchell 33%
Matt Stajan 33%
Jeff Finger 33%
Tomas Kaberle 28%
Anton Stralman 28%
Jonas Frogren 28%
Jason Blake 25%
Alexei Ponikarovsky 22%
Lee Stempniak 22%
Jiri Tlusty 22%
Nikolai Kulemin 22%
Nik Antropov 17%
Pavel Kubina 14%
Vesa Toskala 8%
Ryan Hollweg 6%

Storm finishes the season with big win

The Storm came back from their listless effort the night before to finish the season with a 6-0 drubbing of the Sharks. And yes the score was indicative of the play as the North York outshot Scarborough 23-6.

The scoring was spread through the lineup including two defensemen, SK and Allie who each got their first goal of the season. Gabbie led all scoring with 2 goals. Jackie had a goal and an assist. Lauren F scored the other goal. Asia coasted to her 7th shutout to match Bianca's total. They both shared another shutout.

The Storm finishes the season with a remarkable 13 wins and 30 points. They also scored 54 goals which happens to top the entire tier.

No Intensity + No Speed = No Win

Yes folks the let down was bound to happen. And it's going happen against the last place team. So the Storm finally lost a game - shut out 2-0 by the Etobicoke Dolphins. It was only the third win of the season for the Fish and only the third loss for the Storm.

The ending was pretty ugly too. With less than two minutes left in game and a scoreless tie, the Dolphins took a penalty. While the Storm was on the powerplay, a slapshot from the point was blocked which led to a breakaway and the first of two shorthanded goals. With Asia now on the bench for an extra attacker, the Dolphins took another penalty. So the Storm was now playing 6 on 3 when the turned over at the blue line and a Dophin fired it down the ice into the empty net with just 0.1 seconds left.

It was a frustrating game after such a convincing win last week to clinch first place. But it was a meaningless game. Let's hope we recover on Saturday and finish the season strong against Scarborough.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Darcy Tucker memory

Yes I was a fan of Darcy "Side Show Bob" Tucker during his turbulent stay in Toronto. Before he went soft and tried to convert himself into a goal scorer he played with an edge. Most memorable was his monster hit on Sami Kapenen during the 2004 playoffs.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A clock for smart people

Explanation of clock numerals
1 Legendre's constant
3 A Unicode character as a HTML entity
4 Modular arithmetic
5 The Golden Mean reworked a little
6 Three Factorial (3*2*1)
7 6.99999.. Though a different number than 7, still equals 7
8 Graphical representation of Binary code
9 An example of a base-4 number
10 A Binomial Coefficient
11 An example of Hexadecimal encoding
12 The cube root is the inverse of 12^3

Who is doing the fighting in the NHL

Up to January 21st, there were 449 fights in the NHL which works out to 0.64 fights per game. This is the fighting rate prior to the lockout in 2004-05. The two season subsequent to the lockout, the fight rates were 0.38 (2005-06) and 0.40 (2006-07) fights per game. It’s hard to say whether the crackdown on obstruction reduced the frustration levels in the league and indirectly the number of fights. A more likely explanation is that the crackdown on obstruction meant teams were either on the powerplay or killing penalties more often. Therefore, enforcer just saw less ice time and few opportunities to fight. Interestingly, preseason games have double the number of fights even though the games don’t count for anything. However marginal players fighting for jobs means more fights too.

There have been 288 players (out of 752 players have played in at least one game so far this season) who have received fighting majors for a total of 875 fighting majors. However, only 159 players have received more than one fighting major. Therefore, 21% of players account for 85% of fights (746). Not surprising, a small group of players are doing the bulk of the fighting. The league leaders are Jared Boll (Columbus) and Riley Cote (Philadelphia) with 15 each. Not surprising neither are exactly household names and somehow I doubt fans buy tickets to see Boll with 8 points this season and Cote with 1 point. Boll is averaging 8:51 in ice time per game and Cote only 4:03. So Cote is spending almost as much time in the penalty box per game as he is on the ice.

I’m not picking on Boll and Cote but somehow I think the league would be better if their spots (as well as others like them) could be taken by players that can actually play hockey.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fabian Brunnstrom demoted to the minors

Sean Avery wasn't the only free agent bust for the Dallas Stars. l'm guessing the losers in the Brunnstrom sweepstakes (Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver) are likely feeling better these days. He was just about the hotest sought after free agent. He makes $2.225-million, is nearly 24 years old and isn't even close to being an NHL-calibre player.

Athough Brunnstrom is ranked tied for seventh among first-year players in goals (10) he is also one of the weakest defensive players in the league. He is literally clueless in his own end.

Can you imagine this guy in the hands of Ron Wilson? It wouldn't be pretty.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ovechkin knows how to entertain fans

Does hockey need fighting?

The NHL has a fight on its hands: Those who want to keep fighting in the game vs. those who want an outright ban.

The debate is raging on all-star weekend and across the hockey world after 21-year-old senior league player Don Sanderson died following a bout earlier this month and in the wake of Philadelphia Phantoms forward Garrett Klotz suffering a seizure in an AHL fight (see video below). Sanderson did not die from a punch to the head but rather when he fell head first on to the ice after his helmet came off during a fight.

The Ontario Hockey League reacted quickly -- and with positive response -- to the Sanderson situation, increasing the penalties for those who fight with their helmets off or attempt to take the helmets off their opponents.

There are some strong advocates for fighting in hockey. Take Brian Burke, the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey czar who believes that taking fighting out of the NHL will "rip the fabric out of the game" and empower "the growing rat factor in our league". He and others believe that without enforcers, other marginal players will take runs against the stars of the game. The enforcers keep the cheap shot artists in line.

On the other side of the debate are those that point out that hockey is the only sport that condones fighting. In other sports the penalties are much stiffer so fights are almost nonexistent. Bob McGowan on The Fan 590 has been very vocal over the years and suggests that people come to games to see scoring but he is not aware of any fan that comes specifically to see a fight.

Many in the game of hockey often refers to the "Code" suggesting that its part of the tradition of the game. No one has really defined what this "Code" is which allows fight advocates to define it anyway the see fit. Don Cherry does it all the time. The National Post recently interview former and Maple Leaf and Canadien player Dick Duck who indicated at one time the Code meant you did not pick a fight unless it was an even match, you never hit a man when he was down and you never hit another player from behind. But you see those things in hockey all the time now.

What you now have in hockey are players who cannot play the game. Their sole purpose is to fight so when their coach sends them on the ice, they understand it is not to play hockey. The classic example is the fight between Garrett Klotz and Kevin Westgarth in the video below. The fight was off the opening faceoff so obviously it wasn't in the heat of the moment. It was a premeditated fight between two goons that serves no purpose. Klotz suffered a seizure in the fight and had to be rushed to hospital.

Let's face it the NHL believes it is part of the entertainment package and therefore reluctant to ban them. But the reality is that fighting hurts the image of the game and one day an NHL player will die if fighting is not banned. Combatants should be suspended but consideration should be given to protecting star players from the cheap shot artists who will prey on the Sidney Crosby's and the Daniel Briere's. The game doesn't have to be ruined with the elimination of fighting.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Storm are Central Division Regular Season Champs!

The Storm came ready to clinch first place with only Mississauga mathematically able to still overtake them. It wasn't even close as the Storm crushed the Chiefs 6-0. The Storm continued their strong play from the weekend before extending their shutout steak to 3 games. The team did not stop skating from the opening faceoff. They backchecked ferociously and picked up every stray puck. It was one of their finest games of the season.

The Storm were led by Jackie who had two goals including one shorthanded late in the first peiod to put the team up by two goals. Amanda opened the scoring with a goal off the rush just inside the blueline. In the second period Maddy scored at the end of a shift. The puck was in the Chiefs' corner and she was about to skate to the bench for a line change when she spotted Mari with the puck. So instead she headed for the slot and one-timed a pass by the goalie. In the third period goals by Gabby, Jackie and Mari iced the game. Bianca earned the shutout and made some key saves although her teammates provided some excellent defense in front of her.

The win set some new team records with two games to go including most wins (12), most points (28) and most goals scored (48) and longest winning streak (13). The Storm are not only in first place in the Central Division but have the second best record in the entire Midget B Tier.

The season closes next weekend against Etobicoke and Scarborough who will be the Storms opponents during the Provincial Playdown games next month.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Updated NHL Power Ranking - All Star Break Edition

Well we are at the All Star break and all Maple Leaf players except for Tomas Kaberle have the weekend off to rejuvenate both physically and mentally. The last few weeks have been difficult. The talent gap has become more glaring as other teams ramp up in an attempt to grab a playoff spot. That does not appear to be an objective of the Leafs although it will never be publicly stated. The Leafs have sunk to a tie with Tampa Bay and St. Louis for 27th overall which provide them with a lottery pick in the draft. Ottawa and Atlanta are only 3 points back. Only the hapless Islanders will keep the Leafs from dropping to the bottom of the standings. However, in about 5 weeks it is expected that the talent on the Leafs takes a further hit at the trading deadline. Anyone who thinks rebuilding will take less than 3-4 years will likely be very disappointed.

Here is how the various sports websites rank the Maple Leafs:

Sportsnet: 24th (+3)
ESPN: 25th (0)
Sporting New: 25th (0)
Fox Sports: 25th (0)
CBS Sportsline: 25th (-1)
AOL Fanhouse: 26th (0)
TSN: 27th (-2)
Sports Illustrated: 29th (-3)
CBC Sports: 29th (-3)
The Hockey News: 29th (-2)
Yahoo Sports: 29th (-2)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

People are turning on Ron Wilson already

At the start of the season I predicted that despite the fact that Ron Wilson is an excellent coach the media and fans would eventually turn on him. That’s just the nature of the beast – the hyper-inflated Toronto sports market. Well it appears that the negative vibes are happening already.

Don Cherry who many Canadian hockey fans revere has been calling Wilson “Napoleon” for criticizing his players. Others in media have joined in this debate on whether Wilson has been too harsh. Fans on radio call –in shows have also jumped on the bandwagon. They are suggested that the recent slump is directly related to Wilson’s harsh approach and that players have become de-motivated. This is a bunch of hogwash!

There are 4 newspaper dailies, two cable sports networks and the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada all focused on the Leafs. The coverage is relentless. In this environment there is constant pressure to find something new or contentious to feed the equally insatiable Leaf fans. During a 15 minute media scrum, if a reporter can coax a Leaf player or official to make a controversial remark, the media horde will run with it. It doesn’t matter that the comment was taken out of context. It’s today’s story. Maybe for the next couple of days if you can analyze it to death and get someone else noteworthy to comment on it. So after the game, the coach is asked to comment about a player who was on the ice for 3 opposition goals. Never mind the fact that the player was going to be trashed anyway in the post-game reports. If they coach says something negative then the story is written from the perspective of the coach’s remarks. That is more interesting than another report on a bad team.

The media works from a double standard. They can run negative after negative column without being called out. For example, shortly after the Jason Blake signing last season the chirping began and pick up steam as the season progressed. By the summer there were long extensive opinions on how Blake had to be either demoted to the minors or bought out. His contract was such a liability that he was considered untradeable. However, when Blake was sent to the press box for a couple games because of poor play then all hell broke loose. A few weeks ago the coach suggested that Blake had turned around his game and was one of the Leaf's best players. Now that comment was virtually ignored by the media.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stop Global Warming...

Leaf Nation meet Tank Nation

It's happening. The Toronto Maple Leafs are actually tanking. There is no other explanation for what is happening to this team.

Make no mistake; this is not the usual just-bad-enough-to-miss-the-playoffs style of losing that characterized the last three Leaf seasons. What's happening this year is different. We were fooled early in the season when the Leafs looked no worse than many other playoff contenders. The Leafs are turning into the team we thought they'd be this year and the team management predicted they would be. In other words, they're bad—and they would be making a strong run at the first overall draft pick in June except the Islanders are even better at tanking.

I was at last night’s game and it was painful to watch. But after 3 mediocre season you have to be bad, really bad to get good again. That’s what happened in Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington and it’s happening in Phoenix. Yet for the first few months of the current season the Leafs seemed intent on thwarting their destiny, not only were they winning, they were playing annoyingly well. On December 23, however, the downward spiral began. That night, the Leafs lost 8-2 to the Dallas Stars; they were down 3-0 before registering their second shot on goal, and from there it was simply a question of how the Dallas players would pad their stat lines. Since that game, the Leafs are 3-8-1 and are slipping down the NHL standings. They currently sit twenty-fifth, but teams twenty-six through twenty-nine are within four points.

So let the tanking continue from now until the end of the season. Last overall might be a stretch—the New York Islanders have that sewn up—but a top-five draft pick looks increasingly likely. New general manager Brian Burke seems to be on board: apart from the odd acquisition of Brad May he hasn’t done much. If you wanted to inject some life into this lineup you would try bringing up Boyd Devereaux or Mark Bell from the Marlies or pick up one of many spare goalies to give some relief to Toskala. However this team is going to look drastically different after the March 5 trade deadline. They will be worse, God willing. We've struggled to embrace a deliberate tank job, but it's what the team needs in order to fix its myriad problems. We'll never root against the Maple Leafs...but we won't be too upset when they lose, either. Seldom has rooting for our favourite team been so complicated.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Storm extends winning streak to 12 games

It was November 10th when the Storm last lost a regular season game. Over the past 2 months they have put together a 9 wins and 3 ties including today's 1-0 squeaker over North Halton. The team would happy not to see the Twisters again this season and their very stingy goalies. The only goal came on a powerplay in the first period. Jackie had won the faceoff in the Twister and pulled the puck back to Amanda on the point. Amanda fired the puck on the net and the rebound was banged in by Mari. Their was some close moments in the third period including a tense final minute with the Twister goalie on the bench. The Storm survived and Bianca earned the shutout.

The win was the 11th of the season which is at team record. The team is now has a 3 point lead over Mississauga and can clinch first place with a win next Saturday.

Checking in on the ex-Maple Leafs

With the revolving door installed in the Maple Leaf dressing room, it's hard enough keeping track of the Leaf lineup let alone recently departed players. You know these deals never seem to work out well for the Leafs. I think it's just bad karma left over from Harold Ballard.

Andrew Raycroft (Colorado)
By the end of last season I can't think of a Leaf player who was booed more than Rayzor. Is confidence was shot. He had to play better somewhere else. He didn't have a great start in Colorado bad suddenly put together a string of good games. After serving as the back-up to Peter Budaj through the first two months of the season, Raycroft has started in five of the last six games. He has a solid 2.73 goals-against average and .903 save percentage to go with a 9-3 record. We could use that now. Though in a start last week he stopped a puck behind the net and instead of shooting it in the corner he threw in front to Oiler Shawn Horcoff for the winning goal (see below). Sounds like the Rayzor we know.

Darcy Tucker (Colorado)
Darcy Tucker is having a Darcy Tucker year. He has played the agitator which at times has hurt his team. In a recent game against Minnesota he totally lost it and took a couple minors and a misconduct to seal a loss. No one was happy and as usual Tucker didn't really care. He is on course for a 10 goal, 18 point season which is not much for $2.25 million.

Bryan McCabe (Florida) McCabe now has eight goals and 12 assists in 33 contests this season. Although this season has been marred by injuries, McCabe seems to be rounding back into vintage form. He is a +8 and heading for a 16 goal, 40 point season and could help carry Florida into a playoff spot.

Mats Sundin (Vancouver)
It's taking Sundin some time to get into shape. In 5 games he has 1 goal and 1 assist but a -4. Not too much yet for that kind of money. Too early to say whether signing him was a mistake,

Kyle Wellwood (Vancouver)
When he arrived in Vancouver he was still out of shape as far as hockey players go and it looked like his NHL career had come to an end. But early injuries got him back on the roster and he has been very productive. He is currently 2nd on the team with 14 goals and headed for a 25-goal season. He is even a +4. However, the most recent Canuck game had Wellwood back in the pressbox which raised some eyebrows. Wellwood continues to be a one-dimensional player which means once he stops scoring his ice time disappears.

Alex Steen (St. Louis)
Steen had been struggling offensively with the Maple Leafs and was pointless in his first six games with the Blues. However, Steen has turned his season around, scoring four goals and 12 points in his last 15 games and just a -1.

Carlos Colaiacovo (St. Louis)
One of the byproducts of all their injuries on defence is that ex-Leaf Carlo Colaiacovo is playing a lot for the St. Louis Blues these days. In his first 22 games with the Blues, Colaiacovo is averaging almost 18 minutes per night and had scored eight points in 22 games, largely because he was getting time on the second power play. Trade is not looking too good so far.

Hal Gill (Pittsburgh)
Gill has been Pittsburgh's 6th or 7th defenseman this season despite the fact that the Penguins have been hit with injuries on the blue line. He has been a healthy scratch on occasion. However, he has provided the Penguins with a fair amount of toughness and has contributed with 3 points. OK, he's no Bobby Orr.

Wade Belak (Nashville)
After being traded to Florida, the Panthers signed him to a 2 year contract then put him on waivers in December. He was eventually traded to Nashville where he has continued to fill the enforcer role. His exit from Florida had nothing to do with his play. Rather he was the player designated to be the fall guy in a shake up during a team slump.

Mark Bell (Marlies)
Openings in the Leaf lineup has not provided Bell with an opportunity to return to the NHL. Instead the Leaf call ups have been Jir Tlusty, Jeremy Williams, and Andre Deveaux. Mark Bell is 3rd in scoring on the Marlies with 9 goals and 21 points in 41 games. He becomes a free agent this summer and may find a team to hook up with. But in won't be at $2.5 million.

Snow storm a problem for everyone

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Storm move into 1st place...for 4 hours

The Storm showed up today with their "A" game with great results. Markham-Stouffville could not even keep it close as the Storm won by a score of 5-0. The Storm controlled the play from start to finish firing 30 shots at the Markham-Stouffville net. Meanwhile Asia had an easy time in the Storm end facing only 3 shots to earn the shutout. The arena was frigid and it was obviously that she was frozen as she tended the net alone for much of the game.

In the first period the Storm took the lead early on a goal by Gabby who took a perfect feed from behind the net from Sheri. In the second period Mari and Amanda scored. Mari's goal was her 33rd point of the season which broke the team record she set last season. In the third period Jackie and Kailee scored. Jackie's goal was the first power play the team has scored in quite a while.

The win puts the Storm in first place though only for 4 hours. Later tonight Mississauga plays Markham-Stouffville which should make for a tough day for the Stars. The win is the team's 10th win of the season which ties a team record with 4 games still remaining. It's been quite a season so far.

MIDGET B Central

North York16102441209524
North Halton15357161810913

EDIT: Looks like the Storm will be in first place for at least a couple of more days. Mississauga just lost to Markham-Stouffville!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jason Blake is looking like a hockey player again

I have to admit I was never overly impressed by Jason Blake when he was on Long Island. His successful was in his final year in New York was a by-product of playing with Alexei Yashin. When John Ferguson signed him as a free agent in 2007 I was convinced that the team would over time regret it. I don't get that excited about hat tricks which included empty-net goals but last night Blake showed a lot of grit on goals one and two. Even on the empty-netter Blake drove to the net, was tripped on the way in and crashed into the goal immediately after the puck crossed the line to ice a 6-4 win over Carolina. Blake's first goal was a slick wraparound and his diving shot (pictured above) that beat Cam Ward later in the same period was a beauty. In addition, he did a lot of the leg work on the winning goal by Kaberle to finish with a career high 5 points.

Now one game doesn’t make up for a season plus of mediocre hockey. But even I have to concede that you have to give Blake a mulligan for last season because of health issues. Not only was he a bad hockey player, but he admits he was also a lousy teammate and spouse. But in the past 6 weeks since being paired with Domenic Moore, Blake has played some decent hockey. He has abandoned his harmless 50-foot wrist shots and has begun to drive to the net to create legitimate scoring chances. The numbers back this up. Last year he compiled the 5th highest shot total in the NHL with 332 but only scored 15 goals. His shooting percentage was an embarrassing 4.5%. This year he has increased his shooting percentage to 9.6% which places him tied for 287th in the league but no worse than stars like Henrik Zetterberg, Brad Richards and Alexei Kovalev. Blake has scored 13 goals this season on 136 shots which still places him in the top 25 for shots on net. However, this does not mean that the Leafs are getting value out of this contact or that he is suddenly tradable. Jason Blake still presents Brian Burke with a significant challenge as he attempts to rebuild the Leafs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Storm move within a point of 1st

The Storm returned to their winning way by defeating Markham-Stouffville 3-1. The victory was the result of a renewed commitment to a fast and aggressive style of play. The first two goals were the result of players crashing the opposition net, something that the team had not been doing for some time.

To their credit, the Stars are an approved team and were very aggressive on the forecheck, forcing numerous turnovers. They out shot the Storm 20-12 but couldn't create the quality scoring chances. Their aggressiveness did pay off when they scored in the first period on a turnover. The Storm continued to drive to the net and it paid off in the first period when Sheri banged in a puck thrown into the goal crease by Mari. Early in the third period Maddy picked up a puck at centre ice, drove down the boards into the goal crease where she was able to bang the puck into the net. The final goal was scored by Amanda who came in from the point and fired the puck off a feed from Alicia under the Star goalie.

A Wade Belak tribute? What's next?

The only thing that could have been more painful than watching the lifeless Maple Leafs fall to Nashville Tuesday night would have been to have watched the first period tribute to Wade Belak. Fortunately, TV audiences were spared and only those at the ACC had to endure it. For those who had lost track of Belak, after being traded to Florida last season he was put on waivers this season and picked up recently by Nashville. Since trading Belak on November 27, the Panthers are 12-5-4.

I can’t imagine a player less deserving of a tribute than Belak – player of limited skill who could not play more than two consecutive shifts without taking a penalty. In his 6 seasons with the Leafs he scored a total of 7 goals and 24 points. He did play 318 games for the Leafs, usually fewer than 5 minutes per game. What stands out most during his tenure with the Leafs was the number of games he sat out - almost 30 games per season. Any video tribute should have included shots of Belak in civvies sitting in the press box.

I can’t wait for the Jonas Hogland tribute.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What did he say?

So which is the back door?

Why is Vesa Toskala so bad this year?

Vesa Toskala is 44th among NHL goalies with a GAA of 3.34 and 47th with a SAV% of .882. There are just horrendous numbers. How could Toskala be so good last season and so bad this season. I had been suspecting for some time that he was playing through an injury. Last season he had gone through a rough period due to a groin injury so I just figured it had returned.

Sure enough, this week I heard Ron Wilson on The Fan more or less confirm that Toskala has been playing through a groin injury. Based on his numbers he has been less than successful. It makes you wonder why he keeps playing in a season that the team has no chance in making the playoffs. Wouldn't this be a good time to provide Justin Pogge with some NHL experience?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

NHL needs to rethink All-Star voting

The NHL All-Star game has always been a total bore. The best you can say about it is that it resembles a high calibre shinny game. No hitting, no back checking - just some fancy puck handling and lots of scoring. You just can't fix it. But the voting has become a bit of a joke. The NHL has gone to voting over the Internet which as been nothing but a problem.

Last year fans tried to write in journeyman defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick. Some people suggest he may have actually been voted to the 2008 All-Star game but the NHL fudged the numbers. Although the NHL has tried to prevent fans from writing programs to automate voting but have been less than successful. Montreal fans had obviously beaten the system and within the first few weeks Canadien players had huge leads before the NHL caught on. Pittsburgh fans tried to pump up their players' numbers. In the end 4 Canadiens and 2 Penguins received the highest amounts. A similar result occured in the West with 3 Chicago players and 3 Anageim players selected by the fans. No one was good enough from the Stanley Cup winning Detriot Red Wings.

Now there are always more deserving players who are overlooked but this year it has made the voting look like a farce. The 2 best defencemen in the NHL finished 4th in the West (Lidstrom) and 5th in the East (Charo). The goal scoring lead has been flipping back and forth all season between Ovechkin, Vanek and Carter. The finished 6th, 11th and 23rd in voting for forwards in the East.

You think the league has a problem?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Maple Leaf fans - some more depressing news

Sometimes doesn't it feel like anyone who puts on a Leaf jersey turns into crap? Would Alex Ovechkin be able to score 20 with the Leafs?

So here is the latest. Andrew Raycroft improved to 8-1 on the season by stopping all but one of 44 shots directed his way by Chicago, including several big saves late during a frantic Blackhawks' push for a tying goal that never came. He only won 2 games last year for the Leafs. His GAA is 2.53 and SAV% is .908. Oh, and Kyle Wellwood has more goals than anyone on the Leaf roster.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Storm recover in game 2

The Storm rebounded from a drubbing in game 1 to play a strong competitive game against the the Smith Falls Cubs. The game was quite physical but the Storm held their ground against a larger opponent to walk away with a 1-1 tie. The winning goal actually scored by Maddy but was waived off as a result of a quick whistle. It was unfortunate as she had a very strong game and nearly scored on a number of other opportunities.

The only Storm goal was scored by Genevieve on a one-timer from a feed by Mari. Genevieve was the recipient of a number of Smith Falls fouls as she played an aggressive and strong game. The single point puts the Storm in 4th place in the Pool with no chance of making the playoffs.

Ouch, we was wupped

The first game of the Scarborough tournament was against the Lakeshore Lightning - as good of a Midget B team as you will see. The Lightning out-skated, out-hustled, out-shot and out-scored the Storm to the tune of 6-0. It was incredible clinic on good skating and passing. Unfortunately the Storm did not play one of its strongest games and produced very few good scoring opportunities. In addition, the other games in the pool were one goal games which puts us at the bottom of the pool and in a big hole.

Next game is against the Smith Falls Cubs who beat Scarborough 1-0.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Toronto Maple Leafs: After 40 games

Well the Maple Leafs matched their least successful 10 game stretch earning only 8 points based on 4 wins. They regressed as the result of mounting injuires - something they had been able to avoid during the first 20 games of the season. During the most recent stretch the team was missing first line centre Matt Stajan as well as their most reliable defensemen - rookie Luke Schenn and Mike van Ryn. In addition, Vesa Toskala has sat out some starts as a result of a sore groin.

With Stajan out of the lineup, Antropov once again leads the team in scoring with 31 points. His also tied with Ponikarovsky for the team lead in goals with 13. Scoring is pretty spread out so the team may have as many as 5 20-goal scorers this season. Last season the Leafs only had 2 players that reached the 20 goal mark. Ian White leads the team in +/- (+6) while John Mitchell and John Mayer are tied with the worst rating on the team (-10). Mikhail Grabovski has cooled off considerably and has dropped to 5th place in rookie scoring.

With NHL and Brian Burke's trading embargo now over, there is considerable speculation regarding trades. Burke's first trade was with Anaheim to acquire some toughness with Brad May. Many fans will question this move since the Leafs gave up another draft pick (6th in 2010) for a 37 year old enforcer. The move is clearly to continue the process of changing the team chemistry. The coach and GM want the players to compete every night but the team continues to take some nights off. May has an excellent work ethic and is expected to provide some leadership in the short term. Management recognizes the need to change the team chemistry during the rebuild. Not too many more trades are expected until closer to the trade deadline when offers tend to max out.

The million dollar question


Wouldn't Cody Hodgson look good in a Leaf jersey?

I've got nothing against Luke Schenn. He is an outstanding prospect who has adjusted to the NHL with barely a bump. But the Leafs could have had the captain of the Junior team - Cody Hodgson. Vancouver drafted him with the 10th pick. If you recall the Leafs moved up two spots in the draft in order to land one of the big 4 defensemen (Schenn) in the draft last June. They had to give up a 2nd and 3rd round pick. They could have hung onto those two picks and grabbed Hodgson as well.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Drive for Five is Done!

The medal count since 1975:

Country Gold Silver Bronze Medals
Russia/SU/CIS 12 9 7 28
Canada 15 6 4 25
Sweden 1 8 4 13
Finland 2 4 6 12
Czechoslovakia 0 5 6 11
United States 1 1 3 5
Czech Republic 2 0 1 3
Slovakia 0 0 1 1
Switzerland 0 0 1 1

And Pat Quinn will probably be back in the NHL in the next month - maybe Ottawa.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A come from behind win to start the New Year

The Storm looked awfully rusty in the first period but came alive in the third to snatch a win away from the Mississauga Chiefs. It was the Storm's first game in over 3 weeks and it showed early on. Mississauga quickly took a 2-0 lead in the first 8 minutes of the game.

By the second period the Storm players began to get their skating legs and create a few good scoring chances. Late in the period Amanda missed a glorious scoring chance when a rebound bounced onto her stick alone in front of the net but she couldn't flip it by the goalie. Midway through third period the Chiefs took 3 consecutive penalties creating an extended 5 on 3 situation for the Storm. Lauren N finally connected on a slap shot from 30 feet out to get the Storm back in the game. Several minutes later Kailee came flying down the wing on a great pass from Lauren N and rifled a hard wrist shot into a top corner to tie up the game. With just 2 minutes remaining Mari scored the winning goal when she tried to pass the puck to Maddy in front of the net but it went off the goalie into the net. Game over.

The Storm crept within 3 points of Mississauga with 2 games in hand.

I'm sooo mad I could slap you

Alexander Semin has to be the most pathetic fighter in the NHL. I had a good laugh.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Nice goal by Pavel Datsyuk

Some people were calling it a wind assisted game. Sure 7 out of 10 goals were scored by the team with the wind at their backs. But Detroit won despite being against the wind in the first and third. Anyway a beauty by Datsyuk.

Bare Naked Ladies butcher Hockey Theme

Maybe some people like it but it did nothing for me.