The early portion of the 2001-02 schedule has seen the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and their AHL farm team, the Rochester Americans, leading parallel lives. Both teams have been flirting with the .500 level all season, seemingly stuck in an endless "win one, lose one" loop.
The reasons both teams are struggling are similar, as well, with both Buffalo and Rochester faring from mediocre to poor on special teams and in goal. The Sabres and Amerks, in fact, may well have the worst power play organization-wide, as both teams are at or near the bottom their of respective league rankings in that category. The end result is that both teams are currently wallowing in last place in their respective divisions, with tough road schedules looming just around the corner.
Focusing on the Amerks, a quick look at the team statistics tells this tale of mediocrity. Rochester currently sits in last place in the Central Division of the AHL’s Western Conference. Their record is currently 6-8-4-1, with their record over the past 10 games being 4-5-1- truly consistently inconsistent. The Amerks have netted 47 goals, while giving up 58 markers. They have a losing record both at home and on the road, with the aforementioned league-worst power play being a major factor in Rochester’s struggles. The penalty-killing unit has struggled, as well, hovering around the middle of the pack, with their current AHL ranking being 19th overall.
Rochester’s struggles are not a complete surprise, as coach Randy Cunneyworth has had to use many 1stRead more »
What ever happened to ice hockey being a full-contact sport? Whether in the NHL or elsewhere, physical play is down from its hey-day in the 1970s. Fundamental ‘Canadian hockey’ skills like playing the man and finishing the checks have been replaced with the stick sweep, angling the man to the boards (but not ‘into’ them), and finesse play – which is often accompanied with a general apprehension to be the first player into the corner to retrieve the puck.
Since I have been covering the Vancouver Giants — and these comments are not exclusive to the Giants but address hockey in the WHL — clearly there is void of skill and basic knowledge within our junior ranks about playing physical hockey, aka ‘Canadian hockey’.
It seems to have started with the historic Summit Series in September 1972. On one side, a gang of out-of-shape NHL All Stars was thrown together late in the summer to defend Canada’s honour and supremacy in the game of ice hockey. On the other side, a tight-knit group of superbly conditioned Russian athletes with exemplary skating and puck handling skills was assembled behind a hard-nosed coaching regime. Aside from the hockey tournament itself, the Summit Series was enveloped in political controversy from the get-go. It stood for the struggle between two distinctly different ways-of-life, with the winner bringing home the bragging rights.
But the Summit Series provided more than political bragging rights — it rocked international hockey to its core. It gave both sides a rude awakening about how the game could be played so differ Read more »
After a long time without a Penguins ticket and no article, I’m finally back with a new report. The Penguins have now lost 2 in a row and their record is 8-9-3-2. The Black-And-Gold lost against Vancouver last Wednesday and got beat 5-0 by the Nashville Predators yesterday. The Pens definitely need to shake the team up and score some goals. The powerplay simply has no success, with all the offensive players in Pittsburgh an 8.2 PP% for the last place in the NHL is such a dissapointment. Let’s see what’s happen game by game:
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Vancouver Canucks VS Pittsburgh Penguins:
A known face was in goal for this game, Peter Skudra who just signed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks played 3 years in the Steel city. Skudra won two games against his old team last year and was searching to repeat his success. At the opposite end, Johan Hedberg was between the pipes.
Led by the good work of Ed Jovanovski, the Canucks played a really good defensive game and made only a few mistakes in this game. That’s the key of the game, they shut down most of the opportunities and their captain led the team for the offense. This captain is an ex-Pen, Marcus Naslund (one of the only bad trade by Craig Patrick). Instead of the 2 goals by Naslund we have to notice the two-points game for Justin Kurtz and the 3 assists for Trevor Linden who is a new player for the British Colombia team. Vancouver 4 – Pittsburgh 1
Friday, November 23, 2001 Read more »
There has been a lot of action in the hockey world as of late. The trades are starting to happen in the NHL, certain OHL teams such as Sudbury have been trading like mad and the preliminary rankings for the 2002 NHL draft are out from NHL Central Scouting. With the hockey world usually looking elsewhere, the Belleville Bulls manage to keep a low profile amongst the hockey action.
The Bulls have had a very active season so far, starting with trading OHL star defenseman Michael Jacobsen to the Sudbury Wolves at the start of the season for Adam Sturgeon. Many Bulls fans were upset at this deal, but it was a necessary one in order to keep the 2 superstar forwards Mike Renzi and Nate Robinson and the much-improved Matt Coughlin who was selected as the Bulls captain this year; all of those players were overagers so one had to go. This looked to be a good deal as Sturgeon was a highly touted d-man that just didn’t get along with the Wolves management and Jacobsen is a wuss who doesn’t like to hit or get hit, but unfortunately none of the Bulls defensemen have stepped up to fill the offensive role Jacobsen had. Also going to Sudbury were defenseman Rob Dmytruk and forward Brad Efthimiou who have both been released. Jacobsen was subsequently traded to Owen Sound.
The Bulls started off the season well debuting at #4 on the CHL’s first set of weekly rankings. But it has been up and down since then. With a record of 15-12-0-0 the Bulls are not the tying type. It’s all or nothing, with most of the nothing co 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 »
Saskatchewan Hockey Association and Manitoba Hockey announced the roster for Team Western which will compete in the Under 17 World Hockey Challenge in Selkirk and Stonewall, Manitoba from December 29, 2001 to January 4, 2002. The roster includes 20 players that are either currently playing in the Western Hockey League or are on a WHL Club’s 50 Player List. The roster includes 11 players from Saskatchewan and 11 players from Manitoba.
Team Western departs for Winnipeg on December 26th. Team Western will see its first action in an exhibition game against Russia on Friday, December 28th. Tournament play begins Saturday, December 29th versus Germany.
Rejean Beauchemin, Winnipeg Warriors AAA midget, Listed by Prince Albert Raiders
Josh Lepp, Kelowna Rockets – WHL
Paul Albers, Calgary Hitmen – WHL
Braydon Coburn, Portland Winter Hawks – WHL
Dustin DeGagne, Winnipeg South Blues,MJHL.
Josh Pokol, Kamloops Blazers – WHL
Derek Poplawski, St. James Canadiens – MJHL, Listed by Swift Current Broncos
Stewart Thiessen, Pembina Valley AAA midget, Listed by Lethbridge Hurricanes
Kyle Annesley, Calgary Hitmen – WHL
Mitch Carefoot, Dauphin Kings – MJHL, Listed by Brandon Wheat Kings
Nigel Dawes, Kootenay Ice – WHL
Eric Fehr, Brandon Wheat Kings – WHL
Jesse Fischer, Saskatoon Contacts AAA midget, Listed by Spokane Chiefs
Josh Froese, Pembina Valley Hawks AAA midget Read more »
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 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 »