For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

31 March 2007

Ahhh...Montréal and those damned Leafs...and Islanders, and Senators, and Rangers, ahh...

The Montreal Canadiens lost yesterday, I felt it in the air before the puck even dropped, it's inevitable, the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge colours just don't go well with the Scotiabank Place ice and with the evident home team, the Ottawa Senators.

Heading into last night's game, the Canadiens shakily held onto a spot in the Eastern Conference's top 8 teams, to be more precise, tied for 7th with the Tampa Bay Lightning who faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes, a team who's just come off a puzzling and embarrassing 5-1 loss to the lowly Philadelphia Flyers.
And yet, the Canadiens do not have a smooth surface to skate upon in the upcoming days, after a seemingly effortless 5-2 loss to the Scotiabank Place's team (come on, you know who...), a Tampa Bay 4-2 victory over the failing 'Canes and their inconsistent stoppers, who haven't stopped much lately, Le Canadien find themselves in a dogfight for the 8th and final playoff spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference and a difficult schedule to deal with.

Montreal's upcoming crucial games include stops in Madison Square Garden, a home decision in a few days against the eliminated Bruins, a final game showdown against versus the Leafs at the ACC that may decide who gets in and who doesn't and tonight at the Bell Centre, the Buffalo Sabres, who really want to play the Canadiens in the 1st round since they started Ty Conklin in goal... (!?)

On a good news side, the Islanders lost 6-4 to the Sabres Friday night, backup goalie Mike Dunham isn't getting the job done for the Islanders, who have lost Rick DiPietro indefinitely, as he allowed 5 straight goals in the first period alone.

The Leafs are playing the Penguins tonight on Hockey Night in Canada (what's new?), they sit one point behind the Canadiens...TONIGHT, I hope the Sens win against the Islanders, and hey, with the duo of Mike Dunham and Wade Dubielewicz, you can kiss Long Island's team out of a playoff spot; with any miracle, the Flyers will pull of another upset and beat the Rangers...

Updates to be posted later on's 1-0 Buffalo now, 2-1 Rangers over the Flyers, 1-0 Penguins, and it's scoreless at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa with the Sens taking on the Islanders...

30 March 2007

Salo to remain in Vancouver...

The Canucks signed Salo to a four-year contract extension Thursday that will pay the 32-year-old Finn US$3.5 million a season. "He has great presence out there," assistant general manager Steve Tambellini said from Los Angeles prior to the Canucks' game against the Kings. "He's so confident in his play, whether it's the most important game of the season or the way he prepares himself for training camp.

Very good signing by Dave Nonis; if he had been let go, Salo would have attracted much interest in the free-agent market by defenceman-hungry GM's.

The Finnish-born defenceman is a very good scoring defenceman and has been a leader of this Canucks team for a while now.

Dave Nonis and co. must be relieved that he's staying, if he had hit the free-agent market, Salo would've been a hotly anticipated commodity if last year's frantic defenceman signings mean anything this year.

"You want to win," said Salo, who sat out the game against the Kings with a groin injury. "I felt that team we have in Vancouver right now, and in the future, we have a really good chance of going far in the playoffs.

Salo has 13 goals and 21 assists with a great +19 rating and 6 gawe-winning goals, the triple of what he had in each of the past two seasons.

That last stat is also reassuring for the Canucks, if they expect to go far in the playoffs, they'll have Sami Salo's shot right behind them.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

29 March 2007

Paille and Kotalik Lift Sabres in Return

Returning from long term injuries Ales Kotalik and Dan Paille both scored in buffalo's 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils Wednesday night. Paille scored on the rebound of an Adam Mair shot to put Buffalo ahead 2-1. Kotalik scored what proved to be the winning goal with a wicked one timer on a feed from Danius Zubrus. Paille was teamed with Adam Mair and Andrew Peters while Kotlaik was teamed with Chris Drury and Zubrus.

The Sabres started out a bit roughly turning over the puck numerous times early. Fortunately, they settled down and played their best game in a few weeks showing a solid work ethic and penalty killing work. Ryan Miller outplayed Martin Broduer to secure the victory. It was especially important as it was Miller's first game since blasting the team for it's poor effort in the local paper. Buffalo's next game is against the New York Islanders on Friday.

Injury Update:

Toni Lydman - His upper body injury is progressing and he should play this weekend. It seems likely that Nathan Paetsch will either move to the press box or right wing when Lydman returns.

Tim Connolly - He is skating with the team and it appears he could play in the last few games of the season against Washington and Philadelphia.

Maxim Afinigenov - He is scheduled for an x-ray on his wrist. If all is clear it is hopeful he can start using a stick again. It seems likely he will not be ready until at least the middle of the first round of the playoffs.

Habs great Savard speaks out on fighting

''It's 2007, and when I hear (NHL commissioner Gary) Bettman say fighting is part of the game, that's the way people were thinking 30 years ago,'' Savard said. ''I like Bettman, but I'm disappointed to hear that. I didn't expect a comment like that after all those rule changes.
''(The league is) going backward. With the new rules, I really thought we were going forward.'' Savard never accepted the philosophy that hockey has as much to do with intimidation and violence as it does speed and skill.
''I've always been against violence (in the game), against fighting,'' he said. ''Bettman comes out this week and says fighting is part of the game. Well, that depends (on what you want to do with your game. We're the only sport that allows it.'' -TSN

This is what started it all.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

28 March 2007

Goalie makeover complete for Flyers with Biron signing...

On Trade Deadline Day 2007, Sabres goalie Martin Biron did not participate in his team's morning skate, which led to wild speculation of him being dealt.
Those rumours persisted for about an entire season and began once Ryan Miller took over Martin Biron as the Sabres number one man.

A Biron trade wasn't too unexpected but this was sure unexpected.

The Philadelphia Flyers, the worst team in the National Hockey League acquire Biron at the twilight of the season for a 2nd round draft choice.
It did shock me as I thought Biron would've been moved to a team seeking a starting man heading into the playoffs...nevertheless, the move made perfectly sense on Paul Holmgren's part.
The Flyers, having a dreadful year, weren't getting much from their goalies, young Antero Niittymaki sports a very un-cool 3.41 GAA and horrific 9-28-9 record, and the monster that is Robert Esche, whose injuries and inconsistency have merited him a 5-9-1 record and a 4.32 GAA.
I bet you Esche would be an elite the AHL.

Esche, a UFA on July 1st, will not be coming back to the Flyers, and with Martin Biron signed on for two more seasons and Antero Niittymaki being favoured over him, there's only room in the pressbox for him.

Martin Biron happily arrived in Philadelphia and was enthusiastic about getting the once fierce Eastern Conference franchise back on its feet, and the notion of the Flyers being 100 times worse than the Sabres doesn't bother him, and it shouldn't, as he's now the undisputed clear number one guy.

And they showed him he's their number one guy by signing him to a 2-year contract extension worth $7 million, or, $3.5 million annually.
The move keeps Biron in Philadelphia until 2009 and possibly beyond.

Biron, a former Sabres first round draft choice, is 16-9-2 with a 3.01 GAA in 29 games this season and is 4-5-1 with a 2.96 GAA and .913 save percentage in 10 games with the Flyers.

The .913 stat right there is a 20 point improvement over the other two guys, whose futures in the city of Brotherly Love is now pointed to uncertain.

Esche is a goner, but Antero Niittymaki could be also, with his contract expriring at the end of the season, he's eligible for RFA status.
Niittymaki's agent has stated that his client would consider playing in Europe next season.
This scenario would be great for Antero Niittymaki, not only would he be a starter, but he won't have to permenantly back-up Biron.
However, the Finnish netminder said that it would be hard to go to Europe, as there aren't many jobs available.

"They want to give me a qualifying offer. I don't know. It's not that easy just to go to Europe. Not too many jobs available. If I sign the qualifying offer, I have to work hard to get some games next year."

"I don't think you can ever discount solid goaltending," Holmgren said. "At the end of the day, you have to have it, no matter how many goals you score. You have to have the guy who can make the timely saves and that your team has confidence in."

Biron, as I stated earlier, is excited about this challenge.

"Personally, this is very big for me," Biron said. "It was big that they came in and got me at the trade deadline, to be able to know more about me and introduce me to this organization and move forward. I want to move forward, too. That was a big part of my decision."

Biron is key for the Flyers if they expect to rebound next season and they will depend on him heavily, which raises the question if the Flyers should bring back Antero Niittymaki next season, just so he can rot on the bench, or should they just bring a minor-league scrub up like Martin Houle to back him up? Kind of like Dany Sabourin backing up Roberto Luongo in Vancouver.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

27 March 2007

Ovechkin, meet your new linemate: Nicklas Bäckström

No, not the guy who's taken over as the number one guy in the Wild's's Nicklas Bäckström, the first 4th overall pick taken in the new NHL era by the Washington Capitals.

"Washington selects...Nicklas Bäckström"

Those were the words Caps owner Ted Leonsis's good boy and ever-famous, Alexander Ovechkin said with a big grin accross his face as he was anointed to announce the Capitals 4th overall pick, just a year after they gained him 1st overall.

And now, he's coming to the NHL according to multiple Swedish publications.

First of all, to end all speculation, Bäckström is Swedish and the other Backstrom is Finnish, bitter hockey rivals. (you've never seen Saku Koivu and Mats Sundin gets some words in, huh?)
And to avoid confusion in this post: Nicklas Bäckström is the Swedish forward and Niklas Backstrom is the Finn netminder.

Now...Bäckström proudly walked up to that podium, shook big boss Ted Leonsis's hand, boss George McPhee's hand and their boss Alexander Ovechkin's hand.

His draft position, 4th, is also his position in the top chosen Swedish players in an NHL Entry Draft.
He sits in 4th place behind Mats Sundin (1), Daniel (2) and Henrik Sedin (3), who were taken 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall respectively.

Bäckström nearly made it to the NHL this season, the Washington Capitals offered him a contract in the summer of 2006 and he officially turned it down in July to remain in another elite Swedish league, Elitserin, with Brynäs IF.

His statistics haven't been amazing with Brynäs IF, and despite being named Rookie of the Year in 2006 and Junior Hockey Player of 2006, he only put up 40 points in 45 games, 12 of those being goals, in his current season.
Those are respectable numbers, but not the kind the Capitals would like to see transition over to North America...

It’s always difficult to take European scoring stats and compare them with what would happen in North America, he has always excelled in international play anyway...19 points in 24 games.

Nevertheless, scouts rave about Bäckström's talent:

An extremely talented two-way center born 1987. Bäckström stands out with his tremendous hockey sense and soft hands. His technical skills are very good and one of his trademarks is the way he moves the puck into the offensive zone. He stickhandles really well through traffic. Offensively his passing skills are superb. His flip passes are perhaps a bit risky, His shot is decent, although it can and should be improved, and although he is still more of a playmaker than a scorer, he has a pretty good scoring touch.

Defensively Bäckström takes care of his responsibilities and is a rather good penalty killer. He could use some work on his conditioning and skating. Not slow by any means, but there is some room for improvement. Bäckström is not an overly physical player, but he is pretty strong and tough to knock the puck off. Has the tools to become a high-quality NHLer in the future.

"More of a playmaker than a scorer" is probably why George McPhee is hot about this kid, he's going to set up Ovechkin for, who knows how long?
5 years, 10 years , 15 years?

Dainius Zubrus was decent this year in giving Ovechkin his chances, but Nicklas Bäckström is prepped to be even better.

Wanna meet him?

YouTube has a nice intro video on him.

With the Capitals in need of some sort of lofty miracle, Nicklas Bäckström is most likely the next stone to help turn around a miserable Washington Capitals hockey team.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

26 March 2007

Presenting: Jack Johnson

The moment came on Sunday. Kings fans have been waiting for this day since August. Jack Johnson is coming.

The other day Jack Johnson signed a contract with the Los Angeles Kings. He has left Michigan after his sophomore season ended with an 8-5 loss to North Dakota on Saturday. His first game with the Kings will be in San Jose.

Some will tell you JMFJ actually regressed this season because he is so much better than everyone else on the ice. The Kings will welcome his up tempo game. Along with Lubomir Visnovsky and Rob Blake, possibly Richard Petoit, and potentially a free agent as well, the Kings might have a scary good defense next season.

So Kings fans have something to be excited for in these final few weeks. A bright future lies ahead another trying season. The difference from years past is that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

25 March 2007

Brett Hull says some nice words on "young" Carbonneau

Guy is a "young coach" tho especially in the terms of experience; he has certainly had some growing pains after a rosy debut, but I think he's bounced back pretty well the past couple of weeks. Hopefully it's not too late to salvage the season.
-Brett Hull, after a Rangers 2-1 overtime win against the Islanders on Sunday.

Brett Hull, if you've forgotten is on NBC once a week, this is his recent comment about the Canadiens' head coach Guy Carbonneau.

Yeah I know, I'm bored.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

24 March 2007

A blast from the past nets four points for the Flames

Before Tuesday, things looked fairly bleak for the Calgary Flames. After all, the Colorado Avalanche - whose playoff aspirations looked dead in the water only two weeks previous - had caught fire, and only trailed the Flames by four points in the standings. Worse still was the on-ice "performance" that the boys from Calgary had been turning in, which only served to remind their more loyal fans of the early-1990s versions of the club; indeed, it seemed like this "sure-fire Stanley Cup contender" would soon be on the outside looking in, as far as the playoffs were concerned.

However, something happened on the way to the crapper. GM Darryl Sutter, sensing the impending disaster, gave his team what was referred to in media circles as a "pep talk" prior to Tuesday night's tilt with the Red Wings. There's no way to be sure what, exactly, was said during that conversation (although it's safe to assume that a lot of it probably couldn't be repeated in a family setting); all that one can be sure of right now is that Sutter's tactic seems to be working. The Flames would come out flying against Detroit, beating the Wings to loose pucks and hitting just like the days of old; this, coupled with powerplay goals by Daymond Langkow and Kristian Huselius (as well as one big fat dive by Dominik Hasek that ended up costing his team a goal), resulted in a 2-1 win over the President's Trophy contenders, in a game that fans thought was one of their best of the season.

The win against the Red Wings was all well and good, but Flames fans remained wary of celebrating much, as Thursday night's task looked even more daunting; Calgary would clash with the Nashville Predators - the same Predators who had defeated the Flames in each of their last eight meetings - at the Pengrowth Saddledome. While the previous game was cause for optimism, Nashville had acted as a major momentum-killer for the Flames in recent times (including the 6-3 thrashing in Nashville that stopped the Flames' five-game winning streak a few weeks back), and many fans expected more of the same on Thursday. However, these Flames seemed determined to shed the proverbial gorilla from their backs; trailing 2-1 late in the third period in a game where they likely deserved better, Calgary's favourite sons would spring into action, largely dominating the Preds throughout the contest without catching a break. The hockey gods finally chose to smile upon them late in the third, however, as a wrister by Jarome Iginla would pinball off of several Nashville defensemen and wind up on the stick of Craig Conroy, who had an open net at which to shoot and who made no mistake in tying the game. This energized both the Flames and their fans, who sensed that good things were coming in the extra period; those sensations would prove prophetic, as Rhett Warrener – the much-maligned defensive defenseman – would tip a pretty pass from Alex Tanguay past Predators backstop Chris Mason for the overtime win. Of course, none of this could’ve happened if it weren’t for the acrobatics of Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who kept his team in the game with several outstanding stops; chief among these was a groin-tearingly amazing kick save late in the second period that robbed Nashville rookie Rich Peverley of what would’ve been a highlight-reel assist.

The catalyst for the Flames’ good fortunes recently seems to be their return to the defensively-minded, high-energy style that had been their trademark in seasons past. Without question, this year’s incarnation can boast of much more God-given talent and scoring ability than Flames teams of the recent past have had; however, the offense-first style that the team has employed so far this year has not lent itself well to many of the players on the team. The defense in particular has been hurt considerably by it, as their simple tactic of chipping the puck along the boards in their zone to the forwards doesn’t work when these forwards, who are up-ice and waiting for a breakout pass, aren’t there to clear the zone; in addition to this, Kipper’s foresight and ability to read the play as it happens – so useful to him in his Vezina season last year – hasn’t been the help that it was, since the constant turnovers and miscues by the players in front of him make it such that one can never tell what’s going to happen next out there. By reverting to the tried and true, the Flames are now playing to their strengths, and this strategy makes for better performances on the ice.

The most important aspect of this is that the defensive mentality lends itself to games on the road a lot better than the run-and-gun style that the Flames were using; whereas the offensive game plan can be easily shut down by line-matching and the last change, defense and energy can only be fought with the same type of play, and there aren’t many teams who can match up with Calgary defensively when they’re playing the shutdown game. This is crucial because, out of the Flames’ eight remaining contests, six of them – including Sunday afternoon’s tilt with the Chicago Blackhawks – will take place away from the Saddledome; in addition to deciding the playoff race, this stretch could be used by the Flames to exorcise the road demons that have plagued them all season long. Can the Flames continue their hot play, tighten their grip on the final playoff spot and enter the postseason with momentum on their side? We’ll find out soon enough.

Until then, GO FLAMES GO!

Leafs play great game...for first 43:52 minutes

Here's where Colaiacovo prepares to "back-up" Raycroft...

Nothing to do last night, so I decided to watch the Leafs-Sabres game to see Toronto get a crushing (hey, I am a Habs fan!).

Tomas Kaberle's return to the lineup was greeted by a weak "let-go" and loss.

Ok, not "crushing", but I expected the Sabres to once again win.

For the first 43:52 the Leafs played outstanding hockey.
I was impressed.

The forecheck was on "automatic", the offense was creative and the passes were accurate and the defence was quick to retalitate would there be a turnover or giveaway.

And the shot total for the first period, proved it too: 21-9 Leafs.

It's not every day you hold the highest scoring team in the NHL to 9 shots and limited scoring chances.
However, Ryan Miller was being Ryan Miller with 20 saves which kept the game tied at 1 thanks to a Buffalo Tomas Vanek goal and a Bryan McCabe 5-3 advantage tally late in the first.

"Wow", the Leafs really wanted to win, they were determined to do so and that run continued in the second when Matt Stajan FINALLY scored on his 4th scoring chance of the night on a pretty tip-in from the slot thanks to Alex Steen.

The second was ALL-LEAFS except for occasional bursts of pressure from the frantic Sabres, who looked like their season was on the line, every time they went down and heck, that's why they're tops in the East!
Andrew Raycroft made some huge saves and Carlo Colaiacovo put his goalie instincts to work as he backed-up Raycroft in his net by moving post-to-post like a real goalie!

The Leafs had just shut-out the highest scoring second period team in the NHL.

As the 3rd began, I was confident the Sabres would show their true colours and come back. Those hopes sunk once Boyd Deveraux completed a Matt Stajan pass on a open net vacated by Ryan Miller to put Toronto up 3-1.
Those hopes nearly dissapeared when Boyd Deveraux tallied his second of the game at 3:59 of the same period off a funny bounce of the endboards and the referee and to the front of the net were Deveraux was.

4-1 Leafs.

I couldn't believe it, the Sabres losing to a current non-playoff team by 3 goals!

Anyway, after Deveraux scored, it was the last I saw of the hard-fighting, playoff-driven Leafs in the game.

Penalties destroyed Toronto.

Pavel Kubina sits for 2 for tripping, Tomas Vanek scores his 37th of the season and second of the game on a rush along the boards, just a perfect shot, beating Raycroft low stick side.


Ian White goes off for hooking and the Sabres apply tremendous pressure and you can feel the HSBC crowd never wrote off their team, and they were right.

Daniel Briere bangs at a puck in front of Raycroft several times and gets it by the Leafs netminder and his backup, Carlo Colaiacovo, just as White's penalty expires.


Jason Pominville picks up a great long pass from Daniel Briere and snaps it by Raycroft low-glove side to tie the game!

It is the second time this season I've seen the Sabres come back from 4-1 deficits in the 3rd period and beat opposing teams 5-4.

This first I was in Boston and the TD Banknorth Garden where the Bruins led 4-1 in the third period with just 8 minutes remaining.
The Sabres potted 3 quickies and beat Boston in a shootout.

Nearly same scenario here as Drew Stafford completes a pass from hero Tomas Vanek to make Paul Maurice's blood pressure rise, and the Leafs lose out on gaining ground on an idle Eastern Conference.

And tonight they face the Sabres again...

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

23 March 2007

Why Grahame is no longer on my Christmas List

The Carolina Hurricanes are still in the hunt to extend their season thanks to the 3rd period save by Cam Ward.

That's right, Johnny Grahame maybe a great guy in the locker room but letting in 3 goals on 6 shots is not going to win games.
Overshadowing the great defensive play of the Hurricanes who out shot the Caps 39 to 10 last night was the not so great defensive play of Grahame. Now I understand he is a backup goaltender and I understand that he has had some pretty good games for us but letting in 3 goals on 6 shots is bad. Really, really bad. He did have one amazing save, which miraculously enough was the only decent shot the Caps had on net. It was the "he should have stopped those" that went in.

Eric Staal ended a scoring drought with a goal, Mike Commodore had a beauty of a SHG and Ladd continued his dominance of the Caps with a goal. Not only was the defense clicking last night - the power play finally produced with Erik Cole scoring at the end of the 2nd period.

Having won 4 of the last 6 games, the Canes are clearing in the hunt to keep playing come mid April. I've already started cleaning the dust off the grill and stocking up on beer, BBQ and chips for some good ole' Canes Tailgating in light of the Canes recent play. They are really starting to look like the players we grew to love last season. Now we just need the beards to start coming in.

Heard from the Rafters

News and Notes:

- Lindy Ruff was quoted yesterday on WGR 550 saying that when Max Afinigenov, Ales Kotalik and Tim Connolly return they will not automatically supplant anyone from the team's top three lines. He stated that he will not break up the Briere or Roy lines and that Danius Zubrus and Chris Drury had developed a nice chemistry he was loathe to mess with. He then stated that the three could likely form a 4th line.

- The Sabres, in the midst of a 5-game unbeaten streak, face the Leafs in back-to-back games this weekend. They maintain a 5 point lead on Ottawa for first in the conference with two games in hand on the Senators. If the Sabres sweep the weekend set it appears likely they will all but seal up 1st overall in the Eastern Conference.

- On a side note, Leafs defenseman Thomas Kaberle is expected to play tonight for the Leafs. It will be his first game since being hit from the blindside in New Jersey.

- Ryan Miller has appeared noticeably sharper in the last two games. It is expected he will play both games this weekend.

- Danny Briere scored his 30th goal of the season Wednesday night against the Capitals. He marked the 4th Sabre to reach the 30 goal plateau. The others are Chris Drury, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.

On the Injury Front:

Dan Paille - Lindy Ruff is quoted as saying Paille needs to get a few conditioning practices in prior to his return. It is expected he will be available by midweek.

Toni Lydman - Skated with the team Thursday. He appears to be about a week away from returning his upper body injury which many believe was a concussion.

Ales Kotalik - He is also skating with the team and could be a week away.

Max Afinigenov - No definitive timetable has been announced but appears he could return for the last few games of the regular season.

Tim Connolly - Has begun skating with the team. Lindy Ruff appears hopeful for a return about the same time as Afinigenov but has been unwilling to set a time frame.

22 March 2007

Only 3 months to Go...

This is my draft board right now. I had it completely written up with actual coherent thought, but somehow I got an error when I published this the first time. I'm looking forward to some feedback. I never get to see anything, I only read and hear it.

1- Pat Kane, London, OHL
2- Alexei Cherapanov, Omsk, RSL
3- San Gagner, London, OHL
4- Karl Alzner, Calgary, WHL
5- James Van Riemsdyk, USNDTP, (UNH this fall)
6- Kyle Turris, Burnaby, BCHL, (Wisconsin this fall)
7- Jakub Voracek, Halifax, QMJHL
8- Keaton Ellerby, Kamloops, WHL
9 - Logan Couture, Ottawa, OHL
10- Brandon Sutter, Red Deer, WHL
11- Nick Petrecki, Omaha, USHL, (Boston College this fall)
12- John Blum, Vancouver, WHL
13- Mikael Backlund, Vasteras, Swedish Elitesiren
14- Mark Katic, Sarnia, OHL

Kovalev and Yashin la creme de la creme of the NHL's 4th liners...

Alexei Yashin (left) and Alex Kovalev (right) are the best 4th line players in the NHL

Alexei Yashin was demoted to the fourth line in Tuesday's game at Tampa Bay, as coach Ted Nolan was steamed that he did not cover Vincent Lecavalier in the second period, leading to a goal. "Whether it's our captain or not, you have to perform. At this time of the year, there's no excuses."

Alexei Yashin is now the most expensive 4th liner in the National Hockey League, beating out the Canadiens' Alex Kovalev by a $5 million margin.
Kovalev is making $4.5 million in Bleu, Blanc et Rouge this season whereas Yashin's always-famous 10 year/$90 million contract is still glaring brightly in Long Island.

Ironically, both players are underachieving and they're getting paid a lot of money to do so. But, both still remain top-notch players with Kovalev getting the slight edge, despite his inconsistency.

Yashin was well on his way to his best season since signing the second biggest deal in Islanders history (recently beaten out by Rick DiPietro's 15-year contract) until a knee injury put him out of action for a good period of time.
Since his return to the lineup, Yashin has only 2 points in 6 games, and is hardly the player he was in the first part of the season, as he formed a great duo with impending UFA Jason Blake, who's still going strong.

Kovalev was benched in a game against the Ottawa Senators a few weeks ago as the Canadiens dropped back-to-back games against the latter and falling lower in the playoff race, when he gave the puck away at his own blue-line, costing his team the game.

New York Newsday cites that he was benched for a nearly identical reason, as he did not cover Vincent Lecavaler who added to his league leading goal total and helped his team go 2-0 over the Islanders. The Islanders fought back with 3 consecutive goals from Richard Zednik, Richard Park and Miroslav Satan to take the lead but the Lightning still ended up winning in overtime.
The loss was costly as the Islanders fell to 11th place in the Eastern Conference, 1 point behind the 8th spot which is up for grabs by three teams (Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes)

Yashin has been an underachiever since he came to New York, fresh off outstanding season with the then-depleted Ottawa Senators, he was expected to produce big-time and put up all-star numbers, season-by-season.
He has not done that and up until today, he has been an average (for his salary) 60-70 point player for the Islanders and has not helped them advance past the first round of the playoffs.

The Russian-born player still remains however, a good tennis parter of owner Charles Wang...and the Russian-born Kovalev is excelling on the 4th line with Quebecois rookies Maxim Lapierre and Guillaume Latendresse, some even say it's been his best showing in a long time.

The move to the 4th line is likely temporary in Yashin's case, since excluding certain teams, as the Canadiens, Sabres and Stars, the 4th line doesn't get much ice time.

Alex Kovalev has 14 goals and 28 assists for a total of 42 points in 65 games this season, a considerable drop-off of the 65 he ammassed in 69 games last season.
Captain Yashin has 14 goals and 26 assists for a toal of 40 points in 48 contests.
Yashin has the slight advantage of a better entourage than Kovalev, who had to suffer with Sergei Samsonov and the used-to-be mediocre Tomas Plekanec on his side.

I don't think Samsonov is exactly Blake, but, nonetheless, both are underachieving, highly-skilled players.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

India to host 2010 World Cup...for Field Hockey

"The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has allotted the 2010 World Cup(men) to India. The decision has been officially communicated by FIH, after careful consideration of the meticulously prepared bid document of the IHF," IHF Secretary K Jothikumaran said in a press release here today...

This is from a Hindu-based website.

It will go along nicely with the Commonwealth Games they'll be hosting, although, I have no interest in either, but maybe you do, that's why I'm posting this...
Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

Thursday NHL Morning Roundup...

NHL Scores Wrapup for Wednesday March 21st, 2007
Washington 2 at Buffalo 5
Philadelphia 0 at NY Rangers 5
San Jose 4 at Chicago 1
Colorado 5 at Edmonton 1
Nashville 0 at Vancouver 2
Dallas 4 at Los Angeles 2

Eastern Conference Standings

-Wow, this looks like it'll go down to the wire! A week ago, I thought the Islanders were all but out, but lookie now, they're sitting in 11th place! Ryan Smyth isn't the force he was in Edmonton and Alexei Yashin's now the line 4 centre...Ted Nolan better get his team's act together, this is not time for a team to go into a slump.

-There are some easy matchups for some East teams tonight...the Habs are in Boston to play the sulking Bruins, the 'Canes are playing the Caps, who lost to the Sabres on TSN yesterday and the Sens are facing the Panthers, although Jacques Martin's squad just refuses to lose!

-Some not in favour are the Isles-Penguins matchup, hopefully the Pens will beat them so the Habs can move up...the Penguins are really a true comeback story, I could only laugh when I heard their name be mentioned a few months ago, but not anymore, they are now legitimate contenders, and in the same position my Habs were 2 and a half months ago...the Thrashers are on the verge of clinching their first ever playoff berth and they have a tough task in front of them as they face the always tough Sharks...

-The Leafs are idle tonight and they still have a game in hand over the Habs, but all I can say is "good luck" as they face the East-leading Sabres tomorrow...

Western Conference

-The Avalanche are red-hot right now, but that doesn't come into account for this game as they still beat the now turned pityful Oilers 5-1...the Oilers have dropped 12 in a row and it looks like Ryan Smyth really had a huge impact on this club, more than I thought...Edmonton sets a franchise record for consecutive losses, beating out the 1993 Oilers who lost 11 in a row...the Avs still sit 4 points behind the Flames, who beat the always powerful Red Wings 2-1 a few days ago...

-Denis Savard is a good coach, but he can't stop the Blackhawks from floundering...this teams needs a major shake-up and a wake up call: "Hello! You are an NHL TEAM! Get into the playoffs already!
Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

21 March 2007

Four teams vying for final playoff spot in East...

Here's a table showing you the teams in the race for the final playoff spot of the Eastern Conference with the games remaining and their last game result. Below, you can see abbreviated summaries of the games mentioned above.

  • The Canadiens beat the Bruins 1-0 yesterday with the help of rookies: getting 30 saves from rookie Jaroslav Halak and a goal from rookie Guillaume Latendresse, his 16th of the campaign to help top the Bruins, who now seem like they've completely given up on making the playoffs, having not scored a goal in a little more than 138 minutes...Tim Thomas was sensational, making 31 saves in another losing Bruins cause, but not a losing cause for him as he kept the Bruins in the game till the very end, but, when a team doesn't score a goal, it's kinda hard to win a game...

  • The Leafs held off the Devils 2-1, the Devils attempted to pry their way back with a goal from rookie sensation Travis Zajac late in the 3rd period, but it was in vain as the Leafs win a crucial matchup against a powerhouse with help from Kyle Wellwood, and his 11th goal of the season, and Nik Antropov with his 16th to seal the deal. Andrew Raycroft was just a little better than the Devils' star netminder Martin Brodeur, making 24 saves with his counterpart making one less for 23...The Leafs are tied with the Canadiens and Hurricanes for the final playoff spot and the Eastern Conference, and along with Carolina, -have 1 game in hand over Montreal...

  • The Islanders lost again, this time to the Lightining, in overtime 4-3. The loss puts the Islanders at a mediocre 3-4-3 record in their past ten games. Just as you thought they were a lock, they started losing. Tampa Bay came back in fine fashion after an embarrassing loss to Washington on Sunday (a 7-1 crumbling) despite blowing the lead and going down before tying the game and winning it in overtime. Eric Perrin notched his 12th goal of the season, Vincent Lecavalier scored his league-leading 49th, Jason Ward tied the game with his 5th and Filip Kuba won it in overtime for the Lightning...The Isles got goals from Richard Zednik, his 7th, Richard Park with his 6th and Miro Satan tallied his 25th in a losing cause. With this loss the Islanders fall out of the 8th spot and into the 11 spot in the Eastern Conference, they do hold however, games in hand over the other competing teams...

  • The Hurricanes were idle but are coming off a 7-2 thrashing over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and prepare to play Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

Leafs fans showing no love for Raycroft...

When the Leafs acquired Andrew Raycroft on 2006 Draft Day for young but highly touted goaltending prospect Tuuka Rask, they thought they were getting the goalie that would carry them into the playoffs and finally bring the team out of its mediocrity.

That was something Eddie Belfour, J.S. Aubin, Mikael Tellqvist and Trevor Kidd did not do during their recent Leafs tenure.

Andrew Raycroft has done that, he's given his team a chance to win games season with his flashy style. He has, however, suffered from occasional brain-cramps and common soft goals that have brought down his reputation in Toronto.

After a rocky first half which saw the American-born netminder amass 20 wins and 16 losses with 4 overtime losses to go with memories of the goaltenders named above with a 3.10 GAA and a save-percentage at only .892.

Raycroft was heavily criticized for his inconsistent play and fans began to regret trading away a top goalie prospect for a washed-up goaltender, who had lost his starting job the previous season with Boston.

Many even suggested the Bruins won out on this trade and you can be sure Boston fans were happy to see the Leafs did not get the better of the deal.

At least, that's what they thought.

Raycroft likely realized that his career needs to get back on track after winning the Calder trophy back in 2003-2004, narrowly beating out Canadiens forward Michael Ryder.

He started off the second half with a bang, posting a GAA around 2.00 and a save percentage near .920 for the first few weeks as the Leafs gained ground in their attempt to hold down a playoff spot just a season after missing them.

His stats have not remained that high however, he now sports a cool 13-6-4 record since the All-Star break with a respectable 2.64 GAA and a decent .902 save percentage. But what has surprised me most is his durability, he has appeared in 63 of the team's 73 games this season.

He is also on a current 30+ games started consecutively streak and is approaching a franchise record for wins. That wasn't too unexpected since he has started nearly all of Toronto's games this season, it was obvious he'd pick up nearly all their wins too.

Despite all this, Raycroft still has issues with his fans, an interesting article from the Canadian Press claims this:

The chants of "Cujo, Cujo," and "Eddie, Eddie," haven't yet been followed by "Razor, Razor."

Raycroft: Hopefully we get into the playoffs and win more games and they'll warm up a little bit more. But I do understand it to a point as well, there were two Hall of Famers before me. Everyone's been pretty spoiled the last 10 years.

Raycroft is currently 33-22-8 with a 2.92 GAA and a .896 SPCT%, respectable numbers, but still not enough for Raycroft to merit any serious praise...

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

Death at Blues game...

A 72-year-old man, whose name was not released, died of an apparent heart attack in the upper bowl of the Scottrade Center toward the end of the game. Details weren't immediately available... (AP)

Wow, that is sad indeed...makes me wonder how badly he felt about the Blues having another crappy season...oh well, rest in peace...

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

20 March 2007

Avs giving Flames plenty of problems...

The Colorado Avalanche are hot.
Period, no fancy-schmancy adjectives to be employed here, simply, red hot.

That is something the Calgary Flames have not been in the last few weeks.

They have won only 3 games in the month of March and have seen their seemingly huge lead in the Northwest Division and Western Conference diminish.
On their heels now, they have lost their last 3 games in a row.

The losses have fueled more speculation on the Flames' coaching staff part, that GM Darryl Sutter would dismiss head coach Jim Playfair and take over himself the head coaching duties.
Sutter was quick to downplay these rumours.

Despite his team's struggles, the Flames still remain in a playoff position but if their current trend continues, they can find themselves playing golf early this year, something many didn't, couldn't even imagine back in January and February, as the Flames were riding Mile-high, posting 8-3-2 and 7-4-3 records respectively, that's in total 15-7-5.

Well, maybe I did exaggerate when I said nobody couldn't "imagine" them not making it, but anyway, we were all under the impression this was the way they'd finish the season, on that kind of note.

The hockey world has seen the Flames fall mightily down the Western Conference, I meant "PLUMMET" as they have gone from "top team" to "crap team".

The Calgary Flames also got another bullet in their heart, as the Colorado Avalanche have won 8 of their last 10 games and have only lost one in regulation in that process.
Helped by Paul Stastny's 20-game point streak (now over, was pointless in Colorado's 4-3 win over the Canucks 2 days ago), Joe Sakic's "still going strong" season and Milan Hejduk's recent rejuvenation have put the Avalanche only 4 points behind the extinguished Flames.

With Peter Budaj regaining his confidence and Jose Theodore becoming the best bench-warmer in the NHL, the Avalanche could be in posession of a playoff spot by the end of the week.

The Flames are not alone in the "fallen down in the standings" category, many other teams include the Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild and New York Islanders.

Things have gotten so bad in Calgary, that Miikka Kiprusoff has to get his girls to pump up the slumped Dion Phaneuf, who's lost that magic he showed in his rookie season.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

Crucial Week for Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens play three games against two teams below them in the standings. This kind of situation portrays the illusion that winning is going to be easy, but as most realize, the opposite proves true more times as not.

The Habs will play a home-and-home with the Boston Bruins starting Tuesday night at the Bell Centre and then Thursday night in Boston. The Canadiens then close out the week with a home game versus the Washington Capitals.

The Bruins hold a 3-2-0 edge over the Habs in five games this season, while Montreal has out-gunned the Caps on route to a 2-1-0 record. However, the Canadiens will need to do better than the combined 4-4-0 record against the two teams this week. In order to guarantee that they remain competitive for a playoff spot, the Habs will surely need to take at least five of six points this week.

While Washington is solely looking to pull off some upsets in attempt to hamper any opponents chances of a playoff spot, the Boston Bruins are still mathematically able to reach the post season and will surely see this week's two games against Montreal as a chance to bring themselves even.

One thing on the Bruins' side is that they have played fewer games than most of the teams they are trying to catch. If Boston were to win the two games they have in hand of the eighth place Carolina Hurricanes, they would only be three points back from the 'Canes with nine games remaining.

The Washington Capitals turned some heads Sunday afternoon when they smoked the playoff bound Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1. The Caps got a great showing from 23-year-old Alexander Semin and 22-year-old Tomas Fleischmann. Semin scored a natural hat-trick for his 35th, 36th, and 37th goals while Fleischmann picked up two goals and two assists. Meanwhile, goaltender Olaf Kolzig started his third straight after missing 13 games with a knee injury. The win was the 36-year-old's 21st of the season.

Boston, on the other hand, faced a similar fate to that of the Lightning when they dropped a 7-0 match to the Rangers in New York. It was a great watch for Rangers' fans, but Bruin's Coach Dave Lewis was absolutely applaud by what he witnessed. The fact that Boston is coming off such a lop-sided loss makes them a dangerous team to play right now since they'll surely be looking to redeem themselves against the Habs.

Montreal will have a familiar face back in the line-up this week. Center Radek Bonk makes his return after missing three games with the flu, the same bug that has been plaguing the Habs since Christmas. It is doubtful that Bonk will be 100 percent, but simply having his big-body presence back on the ice will surely be welcomed.

Rookie netminder is scheduled to make his ninth NHL start, and if Coach Guy Carbonneau's words are any indication, Halak will be the go-to goalie unless he fumbles the opportunity. David Aebischer will unhappily ride the pine for the time being as the Swiss goaltender hasn't played consistent hockey for most of the season.

If you're wondering when Cristobal Huet may make his return to the Habs' net, simply read Bleu, Blanc et Rouge's post below. Huet has been practicing with the team for about a week now and rumor has it that the France native could be back as early as next week.

They key for Montreal is to take it one game at a time. They should keep it in their minds that there are few games left to make up ground on the final playoff spots, but they have to respect each game as equally important as the next. The Habs can't afford to take a minute off or it could very well cost them important points.

Thus, The Canadiens need to approach each game, each period, and each minute as sudden death overtime. If they can do that, there will be no stopping them.

Enjoy the playoffs folks; they've been on for Montreal for quite some time now.

Habs to get Huet back soon?

Goalie Cristobal Huet, still recovering from hamstring surgery, practised for about 40 minutes with goaltending coach Roland Melanson and strength and conditioning co-ordinator Scott Livingston, and took shots from both Tomas Plekanec and Steve Bégin. He then was on the ice for about 15 minutes with the entire team, which very pleasantly surprised head coach Guy Carbonneau.

Great news for Habs fans!

I expect him to be back next week, when the Habs will need him most...

Matthew has more about the Canadiens above...

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

McKenzie: NHLPA strike cancels IIHF meeting

Sources tell TSN that a meeting in Zurich to work on a new transfer agreement between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation that was scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled because the NHLPA cannot send a representative.

The effect on the hockey world of the NHLPA's old problems, have been more important than most thought.

Just a week after getting rid of Bob Goodenow's successor, Ted Saskin, the NHLPA's strike has affected International Hockey as well as the NHL.

Bob McKenzie states on his blog that the NHLPA could not send a representative to a scheduled meeting in Zurich with the IIHF.

The meeting was supposed to be an attempt to salvage the failing player transfer relations with European countries and the NHL.

To give you a relevant example: Evegeni Malkin's little tiff with his former Russian team raised eyebrows, especially when Malkin fled Russia ajust a while after he signed a new contract that would keep him with Dynamo for the 2006-2007 season.

His Russian team attempted to take the matter into court, but the Supreme Court declined the inquiry.

Unless people want to see lawsuits and hockey international relationships vanish, I suggest that the NHLPA finds a way to re-schedule this meeting, and fast.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

19 March 2007

Tootoo gone for 5 games; Simon not to face charges

TORONTO (CP) - The NHL has suspended Nashville Predators winger Jordin Tootoo five games for his punch to the face of Dallas Stars defenceman Stephane Robidas.

Seems fair enough, Tootoo has gone from "energetic and dynamic" to "on crack" on my "bonehead" chart.

"After completing a thorough review of the on-ice incident, my office has declined to criminally charge New York Islander Chris Simon," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.

I agree with this one, Simon deserved the suspension he got but he didn't terminally hurt Hollweg, although he came close to, to deserve a criminal sentence.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

Yet another "Playfair to be dismissed" rumour ridiculed by Sutter...

For two days, the local airwaves have been buzzing about the possibility of a Calgary Flames coaching change — and that Jim Playfair's job was in jeopardy. General manager Darryl Sutter put an end to the speculation Monday morning, saying it simply wasn't going to happen.

"Just put it to bed nationally," said Sutter, in an interview. "Somebody put it to bed. Every time we lose two games, they say it's the coach. It's not a coaching thing. It's a collective team thing. You get to this point of the season, it's a team thing. Don't somebody try to isolate it on one player or the coach.
-Erik Duhatschek, Globe Sports

I've also had enough of these "Sutter to dismiss Playfair for playoffs" rumours.
Ok, the team gets in a funk for a few games then gets Flame hot again and people forget about these sayings, which have grown way out of proportion.

Playfair has done a good job, his Flames are slightly worse than last year and if they continue to play good hockey, like they have for most of the second half, they'll be a shoo-in for the playoffs.
Besides, it's not as if the Flames are "choking" with him behind the bench, he (well the team) did pull them out of their slump back in October-November when his head coaching career got off to a bad start.

Nevertheless, he's the man, and Sutter stands by his words.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

The new "AK" in town...

No it is not Alex Kovalev, the Canadiens have a new young stud in town and his name is Andrei Kostitsyn... (and please not that ridiculous spelling Kastitsyn, I know in Russian the "o" for us is pronounced like an "a"...Ovechkin in Russian is pronounced Aiviechkin, Kastitsyn, Kostitsyn, whatever...)

Kostitsyn, a former 10th overall Canadiens pick back in '03, is finally blossoming into the young superstar the club wants him to be.

He has 1 goal and 6 assists in 13 games so far with the Canadiens and has received ludicrous time on the powerplay and scoring lines.
In fact, he's been so good, Alex Kovalev is now the league's most expensive 4th liner...

When the Canadiens ever-famous second line made it clear it was not working and that Sergei Samsonov was not the force the club signed him to be, Bob Gainey recalled Andrei Kostitsyn from his minor-league affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The fans here in Montreal have been high on him ever since he was touted with the 10th overall pick, however things started to get questionable with the young Belarusian as he failed to impress with his callup and duty on the 2nd line with Alex Kovalev at centre and Alexander Perezhogin on the right wing.
He showed limited offensive instinct and was invisible without the puck.
He did however give those fans some hope with his speed and slick puckhandling skills.

That was not enough to keep him in Montreal and on the 2nd line.

After 2 games he was returned to the Hamilton Bulldogs and impatience grew with Kostitsyn.
In his first 14 NHL games he failed to show why he was a 1st-round pick by amassing 2 goals and 1 assist in his first 14 games while going -1.

It seemed as if he had been destined to become yet another Pavel Brendl.
Brendl was also highly touted and was selected in 1999, 4th overall, behind the Sedin twins and "he missed it!" Patrick Stefan.

In 4 days when he turns 26, Brendl is set to become one of the many European bust the great game of hockey has seen come and go. If you're interested, he's currently playing in the Swedish Elite League and is having the kind of season the Flyers, Rangers, Hurricanes and most recently, the Coyotes wanted out of him.
He's putting up the kind of numbers these teams wanted out of him, namely 57 points in 54 games with 34 goals.
He did not come close to that production in the NHL, accumulating just 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 78 career games...

Kostitsyn was labeled "Pavel Brendl" by many a few months ago but not anymore.
He's tearing it up and his numbers how it, very un-Brendl like; he scored his first goal against the Leafs on Saturday in a 3-2 shootout Habs win and even added the shootout winner in extras and still managed to be picked as a star by the RDS hockey crew...

He's finally flashing the speed and scoring he's showed in the minors with the Bulldogs...the way he's going, there's no telling what can stop him.

All we can do now is wait and see into the excellent player he'll surely become.

Up next for the Canadiens "to-fully-develop list" is Mikhail Grabovski, who's a potential "team-maker" for next season.

Ah, the enigma of European players: they're either (insert name here) or Pavel Brendl.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

Patrick Kane: Seeing is believing

I took the opportunity to go see young phenom Patrick Kane play in Erie against the Otters Saturday night. I came away very impressed. He ended the game with 1 goal and 3 assists in limited time due to the nature of the game (It got out of hand early in the 3rd and never got better so Mark Hunter kept him on the bench). For the weekend Kane amassed 5 goals and 6 assists in a pair of London victories.

He has few negatives that I could see. His size was a non-factor either way. He has tremendous vision and is almost impossible to knock off the puck. He is also a tremendous skater. His style reminded me of Danny Briere in many ways. He wasn't totally responsible defensively in this game, but he brought his A-game when Erie made it close for a bit.

All in all, the kid appears to be the real deal. All you Philadelphia Flyer fans listen up: this kid is the guy you should be picking #1 next season.

The Kings are Coming Around

The Kings have picked up 11 points in their last 7 games, topped off with a come from behind win yesterday against the Anaheim Ducks. The most impressive thing is that the team has done this in the midst of a post-deadline sell-off, and a sidelined Anze Kopitar.

Taking this opportunity to step up has been Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri now has 31 goals with the two he had last night against Anaheim. He also proclaimed to Kings beat writers this:

"I've said ever since we began rebuilding, or whatever people are calling it, this is not going to take as long as some people think," Cammalleri told Kings beat writers after the Kings defeated Edmonton on Monday night but were eliminated from the playoffs. "You can see the young talent we have here."

Patrick O'Sullivan, who was acquired on draft day from Minnesota, had a career-high 3 points, including the game-winning goal. As the season winds down, the Kings will be looking for O'Sullivan to continue to develop his game which may be followed up by joining the Manchester Monarchs for an AHL playoff run.

The Kings have also gotten contributions from role players such as John Zeiler and Noah Clarke, both of whom are call ups from Manchester, and Raitis Ivanans, who was re-signed yesterday for a one-year extension. Ivanans is the only one who may figure into next year's Kings team, but it is encouraging to see players who don't get much ice time getting chances and being contributors.

The Kings have some cap space this summer, and will use it. Plus, there is another intriguing name who may or may not join the Kings before the end of the season. Kings fans fondly know him as JMFJ.

Chelios does it "for the young players"

"I'd be lying if I said there weren't bad days," Chelios said yesterday. "I lost sleep and was stonewalled. It hasn't been easy. . . . But being the oldest guy in the league, I was there for Alan Eagleson, for Bob Goodenow and Ted Saskin. I've got nothing to gain from this, aside from doing something good for the young players coming up and because I care about the game. " -Globe Sports

I've also been wondering why it's taken this long for him to say something like this.
It's obvious Chelios isn't happy with this mess, heck, I like that he's thinking about the future more than himself.

Good going Chris, and I can't imagine what you've had to endure under Eagleson, Goodnow and now Saskin. Simple three boneheads...

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

18 March 2007

Leafs to get Kaberle back soon?

The Maple Leafs are targeting Friday's contest against Buffalo for Tomas Kaberle's return to the lineup. There is a slight possibility he could return to action Tuesday against New Jersey, but it is a longshot at this point. Kaberle has been out of action since March 2nd with post concussion symptoms. - Toronto Sun

This is good news for the Leafs, however I agree with the report, it seems premature at this point. Anyhow, if he does indeed come back, it'll be interesting to see how the injury has affected his play.

I'm sure that the Leafs will also be more than happy he's back, especially since they're fighting for a playoff spot now.

Kaberle has been out for a little over 2 weeks after a vicious head-on hit by Devils enforcer Cam Janssen

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

Drumroll...Three-way tie...damn!

Andrei Kostitsyn, the new "AK" in town, scored this nifty one which proved to be the winner, in the shootot as the Canadiens beat the rival Leafs 3-2 last night at the Bell Centre...

The Canadiens and Maple Leafs both faced off yesterday at the Bell Centre in Montreal with the teams both needing points to advance in the ever-toughening Eastern Conference standings.
Before the game, the Canadiens sat in 11th place with 76 points, 2 behind the 8th spot Islanders and 1 behind the 9th spot Leafs.


Now they sit in a sticky three-way tie with the Islanders, who lost big in Florida yesterday, and the Leafs.

It was a fun-filled game for the most part.

Alex Kovalev came back into the lineup and played well partly on the 4th line and near the end of the game, on the 3rd.

Francis Bouillon dropped them...again, he did too against Atlanta a few games ago and got his *insert word here* kicked badly, against our favourite guy, come on, guess who?
He did alright against Darcy Tucker, landing him a few punches to the head and getting some back. The winner? Definitely Bouillon.
The two landed 5 minute majors to end the first period and returned in the second.

The 1st period was more or less end-to-end hockey, with both teams gaining momentum they forced each other on defence constantly, there was none of this "New Jersey Devils" crap.
The forecheck and body was on and there were shots on net.

Jaroslav Halak FINALLY gave the Canadiens some kind of goaltending, playing great, making key saves for the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge and keeping his head up all game long.
He also kept his head up when in the same period, Leafs captain Mats Sundin attempted a wraparound and the young Slovakian shut the door.
Sundin's reaction was one of the many let go by the referees last night, who did a pretty horrible job in this department.
He just lifted his stick under the chin of Halak and pushed his mask up, RIGHT NEXT TO THE DAMN OFFICIAL, Andrei Markov amazed of the no-call, yelled at the official during the play.
He made 37 saves including big ones on Kyle Wellwood and Darcy Tucker in the shootout.

"I thought he played really, really well, especially in the third period when Toronto came out strong," said coach Guy Carbonneau, who went with Halak after a bad outing by David Aebischer in a 6-3 loss in Pittsburgh on Friday night. "They got the puck to the net with traffic, so he had to make some big saves."

Andrei Kostitsyn, who's finally showing his potential the Canadiens drafted him to be, scored the first Canadiens goal of his abbreviated season, slipping it through the legs of Andrew Raycroft and a helpful screen Hal Gill on a left-wing rush from the Belarusian youngster.

"Let's settle down and don't push him," said Canadiens captain Saku Koivu of Kostitsyn who also had a goal in regulation and in the shootout. "He's a young, very talented player working his way up to the NHL."

Darcy Tucker had a bad night and must've taken on at least 7 hits.
He did not seem like the offensive force he should be and for some reason, was never in front of the net! Probably because he was afraid of getting hit by Mike Komisarek, who had a solid game as well and laid down a few nice body checks too.

I don't know, but I'll always be there if he wants to play physical," said Bouillon of Tucker "That's the kind of game I like to play in - so intense and physical, but with good hockey at the same time."

Saku Koivu had a good game and got his 60th point of the season by putting his 19th goal of the season behind Raycroft, backhand style, in the 2nd period of play.
This is Koivu's 3rd 60-point season and hopefully, he will continue to do the same each game.

Nik Antropov really surprised me.
I know of alll the criticism the kid takes for not being good enough but hey, he can hit and skate! He doesn't have much of a shot, but I was surprised at him putting the body on that often, it's even more surprising he's a European! (no pun intended)

Pavel Kubina is still not worth the money he's getting from John Ferguson Jr.
His goal was a lucky bounce off Chris Higgins in the 3rd to tie the game at 2 and send it to extra frames. He should be a superstar, but, he's not, and he's a HUGE waste of $5 million a season.
Despite his injuries, he should be doing a lot better.

Too many Leafs fans in the Bell Centre uhhh, it was paining to hear them scream go Leafs go along with pissed Habs fans go Habs go to give go Laffs go!

Yanic Perreault played a good game, however, he's better than a 4th line centre.

Sheldon Souray had a few braincramps last night...and imagine, he's like -20 and he has 23 goals this year, what if he didn't have all those goals? -33? -40?

Kyle Wellwood is a good player. I like him a lot and he's very dangerous, the most creative passer in the game today, he set up Kubina with a nice back pass to tie the game in the 3rd and scored himself the other Leafs goal to tie it up in the first, finishing a pretty passing play.

Andrew Raycroft played how the Leafs want him to play. Ok, he'll give up the occasional softie, but all-around, he kept his team in the game.

Mike Modano scored twice liked I predicted a few lost posts ago...he's now 1 goal away from becoming the all-time American-born top scorer and a pass to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Stephane Robidas was taken off on a stretcher after a cou-cou play by the seemingly over zealous Jordin Tootoo.

Eric Brewer pushed the Oilers' streak to 10 in a row, scoring 2:04 into overtime against his former team in a 3-2 Blues win. One more loss and the Edmonton Oilers will tie the franchise record of 11 losses in a row, set 13 years ago.

Mike Comrie honored his mother, who died of breat cancer when he was just 10 years old, and used a pink stick in honor of her in a 3-2 Senators win over the falling Flyers.

Martin Gerber got the start in net against Philadelphia and Dean McCammond and Wade Redden also helped out Comrie with pink sticks...

Brendan Morrison scored a shorthanded goal against the Wings to give them a 4-1 win in a crucial matchup in the West. Roberto Luongo made 32 saves.

Chad LaRose scored twice as he switched to center in a 7-2 mauling of the New Jersey Devils which put Carolina in the 7th spot and solidified its chances of an encore playoff run.

Dave Lewis was not pleased as the Bruins lost 7-0 in MSG, humiliating the coach and the players. Tim Thomas gave up 3 goals on 15 shots and Lewis put waiver claim Joey MacDonald in.

"Excuses are for losers," Lewis said. "We looked slow, weak, soft and

Updated standings
Playoff Push

Going to the Bulldogs-Cruch game at the Bell Centre today, boy, can't wait!

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

Another bar/strip club pic...

Joffrey Lupul (far centre) out with the flu.

...This time it's the "struggling Joffrey Lupul" in the spotlight.
Wow, 2 pictures in 2 days, yesterday it was Kipper and Phaneuf smoking in a strip club, today it's Joffrey Lupul making out in a club/bar.

I wonder how many beers he had?

He's apparently suffering from "the flu" and was scratched yesterday night and it looks like he may have infected this poor girl although the original poster does not know when it was taken.

I like the fact there's a finger right in the middle of the picture with Joffrey holding the gal with his right hand and the beer (Budweiser?) with his left.

Joffrey Lupul has been wasting ice time all year long and they finally scratched
him Saturday, allegedly with the flu. If he was truly sick, he shouldn’t have
been breathing on his teammates in the press box, lest they catch whatever it is
that has affected his play this season.

Let's wait for tomorrow when Mike Ribeiro gets caught with a man...

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