Hockey Notes


A quiet day in the NHL with only 2 games on the schedule.
One of those games features the Toronto Maple Leafs at the New York Rangers.
The Leafs have dropped their first 2 games and have look disorganized and overwhelmed in both contests. I imagine a loss to the Rangers will kick the “Fire Carlyle” chorus into full song.
It’s very early in the season, but, if the Leafs losing ways continue, I think Brendan Shanahan will be presented with a very tempting opportunity to go into tank mode.
If you watched Don Cherry’s ranting last night on HNIC about the Leafs losing because they don’t draft OHL players you might be tempted to fire a shoe through your television screen but you might also can imagine that Leaf’s fans might be okay with the Leafs doing a rebuild based on the possibility of drafting Toronto area phenom Connor McDavid. What would Phil Kessel fetch on the trade market anyway?

Speaking of McDavid, he and line mate Dylan Strome have come blasting out of the gate in the OHL this season. McDavid has 6GP 7G 18P while Strome has matched that point total with 3G and 15A.
McDavid is on a 3PPG pace, pace that would see him threaten the OHL scoring record of 182 points held by Wayne Gretzky.
Strome is another Toronto boy whose draft stock is soaring playing alongside McDavid.
There is a good read on the Stromes and another Toronto area hockey family here

In yesterday’s post we took a close look at the potential for the Sedin twins to bounce back this season and score more than 70 points.
Many of the questions about the Sedins and their new line mate, Radim Vrbata remain since, so far, they’ve only played games against their NW Division Pacific Division rivals from Alberta. But the early indicators are certainly positive.
Henrik has 2G 2P, Daniel has 4A and Vrbata has chipped in with 2G 1A. The line was toying with the Oilers top line in the last night’s game, holding Hopkins/Hall/Eberle off the scoresheet while cycling against them pretty much at will.
The bad news about the Canucks is that they don’t play a playoff quality team for another week. The good news is that their next game is against the Edmonton Oilers.

And, speaking of the Edmonton Oilers, the gnashing of teeth over the comical roster moves of the Lowe/MacT/Eakins troika is become comical in and of itself.
The Boys on the Bus went out and acquired Andrew Ference (aging 3rd pairing D in Boston) Nikitin Nikitin (marginal 3rd pairing D in Columbus) Brad Hunt (an average AHL D) and Mark Fayne (a 2nd paring D at best) and then have tried to assemble a legit NHL defensive corp which includes Justin Schulz (who cannot play D AT ALL) and Jeff Petry (who would be a 4-5D on a good team. What could go wrong?

Some guys who I think are pretty smart, believe that calling up Martin Marincin from OKC is the answer but I have to say if Marincin is the answer, you’re asking the wrong question.
Marincin has played pretty well at times for the Oilers but expecting him to stabilize a rag tag band of has beens and never was D is beyond the pale. MacT said in the offseason that he wasn’t interested in acquiring any mid level defensemen and then promptly went out and acquired 3 who might not even meet that low bar.

 The Oilers, as I’ve been saying for 3-4 years, need:

1) A big, veteran, skilled #1 or #2 C

2) Two legit top pairing D

3) An above average goaltender.

They have NONE of those things and nothing much will change unless those needs are addressed.

The Minnesota Wild are/is the real deal folks. Zach Parise has been nothing but spectacular early on with 2G and 2A in 2GP and has fired a staggering 19  SOG on the opposition net.

Before the season began, there was some concern about the Wild goaltending but, so far, Darcy Kuemper has answered those concerns in a big way. The opposition has fired 46 shots on him and he has allowed zero goals. The huge (6’5″) 24 year old has appeared in 34 NHL games over 3 seasons and is developing a nice resume with a career save percentage of .919.

The Wild signed 21 year old defenseman Jonas Brodin to a 6 year contract extension this morning. Brodin has established himself as a bonafide top pairing D in the NHL after being drafted 10th overall in the 2011 draft.

The Wild roster also includes several young players who were drafted by the Wild in Matt Dumba (2012), Mikael Granlund, (2010), Jason Zucker (2010) Darcy Kuemper (2009) and Erik Haula (2009). Nice work.

The Florida Panthers have been awful early but the real story is what happened last night at the Panthers home opener.

The announced attendance of 11,419 was the smallest for a home opener in franchise history.

The previous low was 12,087 at Miami Arena for the 1995-96 debut famously remembered as the “Rat Trick” game.

You have to wonder how long before The Panthers organization, Broward County, which is being asked to further subsidize the Panthers, and the NHL realize that no one cares?
With an arena almost completed in Quebec City, the smart move for the team, the league and the NHLPA is to relocate the team for the 205/26 season.
The Panthers would have Quebec native Roberto Luongo and francophone Jonathan Huberdeau to lead the charge in Quebec and I would imagine the natives of Quebec City would welcome the team with open arms.



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