The St. John’s Maple Leafs are a quarter through their season and despite high expectations, especially with the additions of Nikolai Antropov and Bob Wren from Toronto, the Leafs are struggling two games below .500.
The Leafs haven’t been fully comfortable in their new home of Mile One Stadium, unable to sweep any team at home this season, including the struggling Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Manchester Monarchs. The Leafs ended their homestand with a gutsy 4-2 win over Saint John, after a horrid previous game that had fans booing the team off the ice but when they played their first game of the roadtrip, it ended up another loss, a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Hartford Wolfpack.
So the question has to be asked, What’s the problem here? Here is my thoughts on the Leafs’ recent struggles.
1) Goaltending has been inconsistent. A preseason strength has become mediocre with inconsistent play from both Mike Minard and Mikael Tellqvist. Tellqvist is prone to give up a soft goal early in the game and Minard hasn’t shown the form that won him team MVP honours last year. And they haven’t been helped by shoddy defensive play.
2) Defence has been a problem. Nathan Dempsey has continued to do what he does best, create offense, leading the AHL in assists and is second in team scoring with 21 points and was nominated by the Leafs for AHL player of the Week. Rearguards Karel Pilar, DJ Smith, Petr Svoboda and Allan Rourke are all minuses in the plus/minus department and some media are wondering why the Leafs let go defensive stalwart Tyler Harlton. Mar Read more »
Marek Svatos, Center, Kootenay (WHL)
Stats: 22 GP, 22 G, 15 A, 37 P, 22 PIM, -1
Kurt Sauer, Defenseman, Spokane (WHL)
Stats: 24 GP, 0 G, 8 A, 8 P, 30 PIM, +15
Blake Ward, Goaltender, Lethbridge (WHL)
Stats: 11 GP, 4-5-2, 3.33 GAA. .879 SV%
Charlie Stephens, Center, Guelph/London (OHL)
Stats: 18 GP, 5 G, 10 A, 15 P, 31 PIM, -17
Danny Bois, Right Wing, London (OHL)
Stats: 25 GP, 5 G, 7 A, 12 P, 78 PIM, -8
Aaron Molnar, Goaltender, London (OHL)
Stats: 12 GP, 4-6-2, 3.89 GAA, .875 SV%
Agris Saviels, Defenseman, Owen Sound (OHL)
Stats: 23 GP 1 G, 18 A, 19 P, 13 PIM, -8
Colt King, Left Wing, Guelph/North Bay (OHL)
Stats: 20 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 9 P, 49 PIM, -7
Cody McCormick, Right Wing, Belleville (OHL)
Stats: 25 GP, 5 G, 6 A, 11 P, 47 PIM, +2
Darryl Bootland, Right Wing, Toronto (OHL)
Stats: 19 GP, 11 G, 16 A, 27 P, 44 PIM, +11
Peter Budaj, Goaltender, Toronto (OHL)
Stats: 17 GP, 9-5-3, 2.56 GAA, .917 SV%
Pierre-Luc Emond, Center, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Stats: 28 GP, 7 G, 7 A, 14 P, 21 PIM, +5
Sergei Klyazmin, Left Wing, Halifax (QMJHL)
Stats: 22 GP, 12 G, 20 A, 32 P, 16 PIM, +6
Brian Fahey, Defenseman, Wisconsin (WCHA) Read more »
The Under-16 team is the youngest junior national team in international junior competition.
Every year players who after some years turn into NHL players – some into stars, some into
solid players, some into role players, begin there their international career. The season
in which they play for the 9th grade teams or some even for the midget teams, is highly
important for them. During this season the players who are eligible to play for the
youngest junior nats are under the watchful eye from the coaches of the future Under-16
team. The 9th grade teams stats, good words from their respective coaches and of course
showings at the selection tournaments decide about who will wear the jersey of his native
country the following season. The top players from 8 regions in the Czech Republic build
those regional teams and the teams meet each other at the selection tournaments. Either
in March or in April then there is the most important tournament, the coaches have already
a vision of the future of the Under-16 in head but there is the right place to make an impact
and be selected to the bunch of 45 lucky players who then build the preliminary Under-16 team roster.
In June the players meet again to practice together for the first time and to build the
correct team mix. Underage players also participate, the top players eligible to play for
the 8th grade have a chance to make a team, too, if they prove that they’re better than the
one year older player. Usually two or three underagers appear on the Under-16 team. Let’s
have a look who are the core players of thi Read more »
The ride for Radim Vrbata has been a long one, but he certainly seems to be headed down the right path. After being selected in the first round (18th Overall) of the 1998 CHL Import Draft by the Hull Olympiques of the QMJHL, Vrbata enjoyed a successful first season in North America during 1998-99. The 6’0 175 pound native of Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic recorded 22 goals, 60 points and 16 penalty minutes in 54 games that season. His rookie point total doesn’t rank anywhere close to the league’s rookie record, but it was a good season for him in the eyes of many. He learned how to adapt to the smaller sized North America rinks, as well as the more physical brand of hockey that is played on this side of the Atlantic. Vrbata was ranked 48th overall among North American skaters by Central Scouting for the 1999 Draft, but the speedy Czech winger found himself waiting until the 7th round to hear his name as the Colorado Avalanche took a flyer on the kid at 212th overall. The reason for dropping to the bottom of the 7th round is clear. This was yet another case of scouts overlooking a high-scoring player from the QMJHL who lacked NHL-caliber size.The following season, in 1999-00, Radim was back in the QMJHL with the Olympiques and improved on his rookie season totals by 14 points. In 58 games, he scored 29 goals and added 45 assists for 74 points. Vrbata had 12 points during 15 playoff games that same year, but Hull wasn’t able to go all the way during the playoffs. That summer, the Olympiques dealt him to the Shawinigan Cataractes, a move that definitely turned out Read more »
Pat’s G.M. bucking the trends
After the Regina Pats came away the victors after last Sunday’s tilt against the Kootenay ICE by a 3-1 margin, the first thought that occurred to me was that the club that sold its future in order to compete as hosts of the Memorial Cup last season had pulled a fast one. If this club sold the farm in order to be competitive, it appears that Pats might just have more than one farm lying around.
The Regina Pats supposedly sold their future and this year they were supposed to be ‘rebuilding’, which in hockey terms is a nice word for terrible. Apparently somebody forgot to relay that message to G.M. Brent Parker and his Pats. “Yeah,” laughed Parker. “I’m hearing that more and more lately. I mean, I can understand why people thought what was going to happen, would happen. But we had a lot of faith in our people and they’re proving a lot of people wrong.”
When the city of Regina was awarded the right to host the 2001 Memorial Cup some seventeen months before it was played, most agreed that the location chosen would be more than up to the task. As for the hockey club playing as the host entry however, that’s where concerns of the franchises’ competitiveness emerged. Coming off two consecutive sub-500 seasons but heading in the right direction, the question was would the Pats have developed enough to produce a club that would be more than a lame duck host.
By Christmas of 2000 that answer was becoming increasingly clear. The Pats were hovering around the .500 mark and struggling just to stay there. Most everyone new what was c Read more »
The Calder Corner
Heatley: 2 Goals (5, 6), 3 Assists
Kovalchuk: 1 Goal (8), 2 Assists
Pothier: 1 Assist
Tapper: 1 Assist
Tjarnqvist: 1 Assist
Kotalik: 1 Assist
Klesla: 1 Assist
Datsyuk: 2 Assists
Hagman: 1 Assist
Huselius: 1 Goal (10), 1 Assist
Ference: 1 Assist
Dupuis: 1 Goal (2)
Classen: 1 Goal (2), 1 Assist
Kolnik: 1 Goal (1)
1 Game Read more »
By Mike Buskus
Progress glacial, but discernible
The cynical fan or writer would have “written off” the Albany River Rats a while ago. But the loyal follower has not given up on the Rats, as one-fifth of the regular season (17 games on the 80-game schedule) has gone by with the affiliate of the New Jersey Devils having won just once.
One wag quipped that players must wonder whether it was still Halloween. Otherwise, why were so many fans dressed up like empty seats? Announced home attendance, reported at an average of 4,050, counts season ticket sales even if the holders of those tickets do not show up. Lately, more and more season ticket holders have skipped games, possibly to get an early start on their holiday shopping.
How, then, is progress evident? Not in results, because the team has not played a great 60-minutes all in one evening for a while.
Improvements are seen here and there, but not enough linked together to get a win. On Tuesday, on the last leg of a road trip, the Rats visited Quebec City, one of the top teams in the league. Even with the help of Scott Clemmensen, down from New Jersey on a conditioning stint, the Rats only came close. The Boston College netminder, who anchored an NCAA championship this past spring, stopped 34 of 36 shots, but his teammates were only to get one goal (Christian Berglund, a power play goal from Steve Guolla and Joel Bouchard) past Luc Belanger of the Citadelles.
Fans who hoped for a win at home on Saturday (against fellow cellar-dweller, the Springfield Falcons) Read more »
With the December 22nd deadline for finalized Olympic rosters fast
approaching, there has been much speculation regarding what players will be
named to each countries teams. The Los Angeles Kings are a team with only
one player named to a team as of yet, but have a number of players from all
over the world, who may be chosen to represent their countries come Feburary
9th, the opening day of the men’s preliminary round.
Kings defencemen Mattias Norstrom has already been selected along with
the Wings Nicklas Lidstrom and Vancouver’s Mattias Ohlund to man the
blueline for Team Sweden. Norstrom has not been exceptional so far this
season, but has continued to be solid defensively and should play a fairly
significant role on the Swedish team.
Jere Karalahti has also struggled a little bit this season, but may have
the opportunity to be selected to play for Team Finland. The Finnish team
has already named Janne Niinimaa, Teppo Numminen and Kimmo Timonen to the
team, but Karalahti has to be considered a frontrunner for a remaining spot
along with Calgary’s Toni Lydman and Dallas’ Jyrki Lumme due to a lack of
quality Finnish defencemen.
The US team’s scouts must have watched a nmuber of Kings’ games this year
because there are 4 players who could potentially play in the Olympics for
Herb Brooks. Before Mathieu Schneider was forced on to injure reserve by a
hernia, he was playing exceptionally well. He taken over the Kings’
powerplay from departed Rob Blake and remains 13th in defencemen scoring in
the League, behi Read more »
A strong 3rd period for the Giants resulted in a refreshing 6-3 win over the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday night. Bucking a recent trend, the Giants play actually improved as the game progressed, and they never trailed in the contest.
Several Vancouver players had strong, productive games, and Donald Choukalos was rock solid between the pipes making 32 saves. To echo coach Milan Dragicevic’s thoughts, between Choukalos and Brett Jaeger, there is no goaltending weakness with this team.
The last game between these two teams on October 28th saw the Americans notch 5 goals in the first period and cruise to an 8-2 win. There would be no such blow-out for the visitors on this night …
The Giants should have led 2-1 going into the first intermission, but Tri-City centerman Tyler Dyck slid the puck between Choukalos’ skate and the post just as the buzzer sounded. A late goal like that could have been demoralizing for the expansion Giants. However, to their credit Vancouver came out and played stronger in the 2nd frame than the first, and got the go-ahead short-handed goal in the 6th minute. Darren Lynch was fore checking in the Americans’ end, stole the puck from the Tri-City defenseman, moved out in front of the net and put it past Americans’ netminder Tyler Weiman.
At 4:25 of the third period, the Americans tied the game on a lucky goal. Jason Beeman took the shot, it pinballed off a couple skates and surprised the goalie, then dribbled in across the line.
The turning point of the game came just a minute later, with the Lynch – Nick Mara Read more »
Team: Avangard (Russia)
One of the few things Svitov needs, besides out of the Russian Military, is what he is not getting…ice time. He has received limited time,
mostly on the fourth line, in the few games he was able to play with Avangard.
Caught in a loveless triangle involving the Russian Military, the Tampa Bay
Lightning and Avangard’s President, Anatoliy Bardin, Svitov is merely a pawn in
the political war and is getting the short end of the deal.
Team: Springfield (AHL)
Grade: C Read more »