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.
Off-season Improvements Finally Kick In: The off-season repairs applied
to the Toronto roster were clearly evident as the Leafs beat the Devils
5 – 3 in a stirring comeback on November 2nd … the added muscle
(represented mainly by off-season additions Gary Roberts, Shayne Corson
and Dave Manson) were a huge factor in the victory … the Maple Leafs
competed physically with New Jersey all over the ice, all evening long …
a big hit by Roberts on playoff nemesis Scott Stevens was symbolic of
the club’s overall competitiveness – the type of hit that no one on the
club could (or would) deliver last spring … even frequent passengers
such as Khistich and Hoglund (and dare I say, Mats Sundin) displayed
some grit and fire in this one … miraculously, when the entire club puts
forward that sort of total effort, the missing offense suddenly returned
as well … a very satisfying game indeed and hopefully a portent of good
things to come …
Tucker Extended: Darcy Tucker, another standout against the Devils, was
given a contract extension by the team this week … this was likely done
for two main reasons … certainly the Leafs see Darcy as an important and
popular member of their club and wanted to lock him up for several
seasons … additionally, for the past three years, the Leafs have been
selling their players on a team bonus Read more»
As was the case last Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rangers’ rookie
goaltender Johan Holmqvist was forced to start another NHL game. The doctors
have stated that starting goalie Mike Richter can’t play in consecutive
games, so the choice for last night’s game against the Ottawa Senators would
have been Kirk McLean, leaving Holmqvist as the backup. However, McLean was
still feeling the effects of back spasms and couldn’t play in the game. So
Holmqvist got the emergency call last night as the starter.
Holmqvist was impressive at times, but also looked shaky as the Senators came
back to win 6-5, as they scored three goals in the third period to erase a
4-3 Rangers’ lead. Holmqvist finished with 32 saves on 38 shots, and now has
lost both NHL games he has played in. Let’s take a look back at some of the
ups and downs of Holmqvist last night.
Right away Johan got off on the wrong foot as Martin Havlat, the 19 year old
rookie sensation of the Ottawa Senators, got the puck in the neutral zone off
a turnover and used his blazing speed to go right by Rangers rookie
defenseman Mike Mottau and snapped a shot through Holmqvist’s legs, at 2:42
of the 1st period. It was a soft goal that Johan let up and one he should
have had. He was caught going down to soon and the puck slid through his legs
just as he went down. I find it very ironic that before the game started they
showed footage of Holmqvist working with the Rangers goalie coach on trying
to stay on his feet more, and then he gets beat in the game on the same th Read more»
Different surroundings, different teammates and a fresh start were the orders of the day as the two newest members of the Kootenay ICE made
their debuts in practice Thursday in anticipation of playing their first games for their new club in a two game set against Saskatoon and Tri-Cities
over the weekend. Bret DeCecco and Brennan Evans made their way into Cranbrook and the Rec/Plex Thursday in the wake of the deal that sent
them to the Key City from Seattle for overage players Brad Tutschek and Dion Lassu.
DeCecco, who, up until this point, had spent his whole junior career in the Emerald city figured that the transition from one of the biggest WHL
centers to one of the smallest would be no trouble at all. “I think it’s good because the guys are a lot closer together and everyone’s about five
minutes away whereas in Seattle guys would be thirty or forty minutes away,” said DeCecco. “I like the city. From what I hear, it’s a great
hockey town, the fans are great, the new rink and everything, I’m really excited.”
Coming from the Thunderbirds, DeCecco and teammate in the trade, Brennan Evans had gotten used to being part of just one of many major
sports teams. In Cranbrook however the view is a little more focused with the ICE being the only game in town. “Probably, I mean there’s like
five major sports teams in Seattle and here the big thing here is the Kootenay ICE. I like that though, I like being in the spotlight and the people
have been great. I drove into to town and needed directions to the rink and the people were ‘Oh, you
Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) Report:
The Phantoms are off to a tough start (just 4 wins in 11 games) in the early going of the 2000-2001 season. The team, riddled with injuries and further depleted by callups to the Flyers, has had a tough time scoring goals. The powerplay has been absolutely anemic. Veteran minor league stars such as Michel Picard , Mark Freer, and Mark Greig receive the most ice time from new Phantoms coach John Stevens but have struggled to provide the needed offense. A veteran trying to earn his way back to the NHL, Derek Plante, has been a major disappointment. Rookie Vaclav Pletka has yet to make the offensive impact he was expected to deliver.
The Phantoms, thus far, have been an undisciplined team. They take a lot of untimely penalties and too many players have been prone to mental mistakes. Stevens typically dresses at least 3 (and often 4) players who are primarily enforcers. While this has provided some entertainment for the fisticuff enthusiasts in the crowd, it has not helped the team overcome its offensive woes.
Things have been a bit better on the blueline. Stevens and assistant coaches Kjell Samuelsson and Don Nachbaur are trying to incorporate three rookie defensemen into the lineup; always a dicey proposition. For the most part, the rookies played as well as can be expected.
The Phantoms goaltending situation is now settled, with Roman Cechmanek joining the Flyers. The Flyers top prospect, Maxime Ouellet, played briefly with the Phan Read more»
The Canadian Hockey League, which consists of the Ontario, Western and Quebec leagues, is still the predominate supplier of
talent to the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres have in recent seasons taken full advantage of the talent supply available in the CHL by
drafting players such as Curtis Brown, Jay McKee, Brian Campbell and Martin Biron, to name a few.
While some of Buffalo’s best junior talent has graduated to the pros, it does not mean that the talent pool has gone dry. The
Sabres, in fact, have a handful of average-to-above-average prospects currently playing in the three leagues, with the WHL
housing some of the more promising youngsters.
With the CHL now in full swing, this article represents the first of periodic (“periodic” being defined as when I feel like writing
them) articles updating the play of Buffalo’s junior contingent. I’ll highlight the hot Buffalo prospect in each league, as well as
point out the player(s) not living up to expectations, however low those expectations might be. In addition, I’ll make brief
mentions of some of the other junior prospects whose performances fall in between the “hot” and “not” categories.
Western Hockey League
HOT! Barrett Heisten of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who is so far succeeding in his quest to land a fat free agent contract. Heisten
has picked up 15 points (3G, 12A) in just 8 games, a pace that, were he to keep it up throughout the season, would put him
amongst the top scorers in t Read more»