Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.
Nik’s Return Nears: Nik Antropov should return to the Maple Leafs’ line-up in time for their game with Edmonton on the 22nd … apparently, an assessment will be made after one or two NHL starts in order to decide whether or not the Khazakh prodigy would benefit from a short conditioning stint on the “Rock” … the 6-foot-6 centerman (who had 30 points in 66 games last season) has been practising full contact with his team mates for a couple of weeks now … the Leafs have an open spot on the 23-man roster and an extra pivot in Alyn McCauley and so have felt no need to rush Antropov’s recovery … whenever he begins playing again, it will inevitably launch another round of trade rumours (likely involving McCauley, Yanic Perreault, Dimitri Khristich and Igor Korolev) as the local media attempts to help Coach/GM Quinn keep his roster neat and tidy … in any case, a serious analysis of Toronto’s potential to succeed this season cannot be made until big Nik returns to form – he is just that essential to this club …
Leafs’ Legends Back in Town: A team of graying and slightly rounder Maple Leafs’ veterans put on the blades once more last week and recorded a 7-4 win over a group of Hockey Hall of Famers before about 9,000 patrons at the Air Canada Centre … old linemates Paul Henderson and Ron Ellis teamed up once more (altho Read more »
The Grand Rapids Griffins are on top of the IHL standings with an impressive
11-1-1 record. The Griffins have the best record in the top three pro
leagues despite having some of their top players like forward John Emmons
and goalie Mathieu Chouinard in the NHL with the parent Ottawa Senators.
The Griffins have been using a balanced scoring attack led by center Todd
White (5 G 8 A 13 Pts.) to overcome their opponents. 17 different Griffins
have scored at least one goal, and four more have at least 5 goals through
the season’s first 13 games. The defense has also been jumping into the
scoring, led by Mike Crowley with 2 goals and 9 points.
The Griffins have been getting strong goaltending from Mike Fountain,
Chouinard and Chad Alban. Alban was on loan to the Griffins from the Utah
Grizzlies and posted a 2-1 record with the Griffins. He has since been
returned to Utah.
The Griffins have also been playing solid team defense. The 29 goals that
they have allowed are the fewest in the IHL, and their 19 goals for and
against differential is also the best in the league.
Buffalo sports fans can attest to the agony of having one of their teams’ make it to the championship round in consecutive years, only to end up the loser, as the Buffalo Bills did in the early 90’s. Rochester has experienced this feeling the last two years, as they watched their Rochester Americans lose twice in the Calder Cup finals. The hope was that the 2000-01 edition of the Amerks could at last finish the job, but early returns suggest that this team may not be up to the task.
It is probably no surprise that the Amerks have struggled this season, as they are missing the likes of J.P. Dumont, Maxim Afinogenov, Dimitri Kalinin and Denis Hamel, all players currently with the Buffalo Sabres who were involved in last year’s run to the AHL finals. In addition, offensive star Domenic Pittis has moved on to the Edmonton organization, which has further depleted Rochester’s firepower. In addition to the loss of some highly skilled players, the Amerks 99-00 MVP, goaltender Mika Noronen, has been just average so far this year.
The talent drain shows in Rochester’s current team statistics, as they are currently 3rd in the AHL’s Mid-Atlantic division, and 12th overall. The Amerks power play is ranked 13th (out of 20 teams), while their penalty killing unit is 14th in the AHL. Offensively, Rochester is tied for 12th overall in goals scored, which is a further indication of the erosion of talent.
The main focus of this article will be to update the play of some of Buffalo’s leg Read more »
PLAYER OF THE WEEK….. Finally Alexei Kovalev may be reaching his
full potential. Despite enormous talent, Kovalev has never had a 40 goal
season. This year he appears to be on the verge of doing that with 10 goals
in 18 games. The difference from previous seasons is that the pass happy
Kovalev is finally shooting the puck. He ranks third in the NHL with 74
shots on goal and is tied for third in power-play points with 12.
BANGED UP….. The Pittsburgh Penguins are off to good start this year
but the injury bug has bit them and bit them hard. Defenseman Bob Boughner
broke his wrist and is out 6 to 8 weeks. Janne Laukkanen sprained his left
knee and may be out a month. Ian Moran had surgery to repair a broken
knuckle and will be out 3 weeks. The Pen’s D will get some help from
journeyman defenseman Jeff Norton who was signed this week.
CARELESS WITH THE STICK….. The 20 game suspensio Read more »
Europeans know exactly what to say when they´re talking to the North
American press. Well, maybe Vaclav Prospal should sometimes choose his words
more carefully, but most europeans offer the clichés that are expected from
them. Read the press in their home country and it´s a different story.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward Jonas Rönnqvist´s comments in the Swedish press
after being dispatched to the minors was anything but clichés as he
criticized the team.
He was quoted in the Aftonbladet as saying ”I´ve been forced to play with a
knee injury. It´s sick, I can´t play up to my capacity.” Rönnqvist was also
quoted in the article as saying that the team should have brought up someone
from the farm team to replace him while he nursed his injury, but that it
was a question of the team not wanting to spend any extra money.
Now, compare Rönnqvist´s comments with Eric Lindros´ infamous comments about
the Flyers´ medical staff. There´s not that much difference, right ? Of
course, one has to take the difference in stature between the two players
into consideration. Lindros was a superstar captain and Rönnqvist is a depth
player, so it´s not front page news, but Anaheim General Manager Pierre
Gauthier will nevertheless be less than amused to read such comments about
the organization. If he ever gets to read them that is.
The former Luleå star isn´t the first Swede to come out criticizing their
NHL club in the Swedish press. This can to a large extent be attributed to
the difference in the Read more »
Some teams can score goals. A few here and there, some timely ones will
help. Oh, and then there’s Western Michigan. The Broncos make up in offense
what they might lack everywhere else – a bevy of scorers who can get the
In exact contrast to the Northern Michigan Wildcats, the Broncos have
plenty of offensive punch and need some help on defense. If they had
Northern Michigan’s defense (or conversely if Northern Michigan had
their offense) somebody would be pretty hard to stop.
But, consider what Western Michigan has in the way of returnees and
you’ll be astounded.
For starters, four of their five leading scorers from last year’s squad
are back and all of them were in the top 50 in the league in overall
scoring. Out of that, WMU returns 17 letterwinners. Not too shabby.
The top scorer coming back into the league this season is senior forward
David Gove (18 goals, 28 assists, 46 points in 1999-2000 season). By
virtue of the top two scorers in the league last year leaving (Shawn
Horcoff, MSU and Mike Comrie, U-M) Gove is the key man and a big part of
the Broncos offensive machine.
Head coach Jim Culhane knows the Broncos firepower will continue into
“We got some timely goals last year no question and for that to continue
this year we need to improve upon our goals against and goals for this
year,” said Culhane, in his 3rd season at WMU.
Gove says the power play will be enhanced because of the offensive
“Our power play was very good last year and there’s no reason we can’t
im Read more »
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
Wes Jarvis Charlotte ECHL 12 0 0 0 81 -1
Last Game: 11/14 Charlotte vs. Dayton; 0 G, 0 A, 0 P
Has been playing tough, mean hockey like he always has. Doesn’t put up the offensive numbers but is one mean SOB.
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
Patrick Leahy Miami-Ohio CCHA 9 1 4 5 N/A N/A
Last Game: 11/11 Miami vs. Bemidji State; 0 G, 0 A, 0 P
Hasn’t been putting up the offensive numbers like he has in the past. Is in his senior and next year he will be challenging for a spot on the Rangers roster so keep an eye open.
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
David Inman Notre Dame CCHA 10 4 2 6 N/A N/A
Last Game: 11/10 Notre Dame vs. Boston College; 0 G, 0 A, 0 P
Has struggled this year but is still putting up some offensive numbers. The Rangers are still very high on him and hope he can become a great player in the future.
Player Team League GP GAA SO SVS%
Johan Asplund Brynas SEL 13 2.10 2 .916
Last Game: N/A
Read more »
The East Coast Hockey League has provided some definite surprises and
plenty of action so far this season. The most improved team thus far
would definitely be the Arkansas RiverBlades as they have registered 8
wins in only 11 games and are solid between the pipes as Jeff Salajko
leads the league in save percentage. However, the Southwest Division is
led, as usual by the Louisiana IceGators, sans John Spoltore. They have
10 wins in their first 14 games and are led on offence by Jay Murphy and
Bruce Richardson. Mobile and Pensacola have also vaulted themselves
near the top of the division with strong showings as of late. The Ice
Pilots had a 7 game winning streak snapped on Friday and the Mysticks
tallied 7 points last week alone.
The Southeast Division, however is a tighter race for first with South
Carolina at the top after ringing off a 6 game winning streak that was
snapped last Friday against Charlotte. Greenville also has a solid
squad but have struggled slightly out of the gate, recording 7 wins and
6 losses. Augusta sits at 5 wins and 5 losses and is led by the red-hot
Scott Morrow, who has 11 points in his last 5 games. Tallahassee has
struggled and sit at the bottom of the division. They are led, however
by Brent Cullaton, who is tied for the league lead with 22 points.
Dayton and Peoria have jumped ahead of the pack in the Northwest
Division with 19 and 17 points, respectively. The Bombers have received
solid backstopping from Alex Westlund, who leads the league with a 1.69
GAA. The defending Kelly Cup Read more »
Espen Knutsen`s site www.espenknutsen.net is up and running. Created by Tom Mehlum I believe related to the Norwegian Ice Hockey League. Knutsen`s site features game articles etc… but the real question is …. will he last long enough in the NHL to stay online for some time? and will he pave the way for young Norwegian gunners Tore Vikingstad(ST.Louis/Leksand), Patrick Thoresen(Storhamar) and tough defender Anders Myrvold (Springfield-AHL) to follow his footsteps!
It has been said that youth brings enthusiasm to a hockey team. While
this is true, youth cannot make up for experience. That’s something the
Northern Michigan University Wildcats lost a lot of after last season.
In fact, three of its five leading scorers from the 1999-2000
campaign-Roger Trudeau (17 goals, 8 assists, 25 points), Bryan Phillips
(6-14-20) and J.P. Vigier (9-11-20)-are no longer there.
Can the team be just as solid with the players they have coming back?
Head coach Rick Comley, one of the most honest coaches in college hockey
or any sport for that matter, is not sure experience equals solidity.
“I’m not so sure those two things go together,” says coach Comley, in
his 25th season with NMU and the only coach in their history. “There’s
no question with a senior goaltender and six returning defensemen that
we can be solid. The question is will we be?”
Indeed a very good question. Suppose one of those players goes down?
Suppose one of them isn’t performing up to their potential? What then?
That’s where, if your Northern Michigan, you hope that the experience
you gain from each game and each practice adds to the players
repertoires…in a hurry.
“It’s something we work on in practice, trying to give all of the
freshman and sophomores more opportunities, chances and ways to get
experience,” says NMU team captain and senior defenseman Mike Sandbeck.
“We have to keep everyone involved, because everyone has good days and
bad days. We have to keep everyone focused.”
Focus will be no problem in goal, with Marquette nat Read more »