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»
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»
Here’s a look at the progress of twelve prospects in the Philadelphia Flyers system through the first quarter of the season. A full system report with more in-depth reviews will be forthcoming at the midpoint of the season.
Bruno St. Jacques : The rookie is making a strong case for a full-time job in the NHL. After an eye-opening training camp with the Flyers and a solid beginning to the American Hockey League season, Bruno has gotten a pair of callups to the big team. He has made the most of his time with the Flyers. St. Jacques’ combination of poise, physical play, and mobility has translated well to the NHL game. With Luke Richardson out for an extended period of time with a broken foot, St. Jacques will have time to further solidify his NHL roster spot.
Colin Shields : If the Scottish winger was adversely affected by being disqualified from playing last season by the NCAA, he hasn’t shown it. The Maine forward has emerged as one of the top snipers in Hockey East. In 12 games to date, he has 11 goals. He also has a 3 assist game to his credit this season.
Antero Niittymäki : The 1999-2000 Finnish league rookie of the year has put his uneven sophomore season behind him and re-established himself as one of the top young goaltenders in Europe. Ranking at or near the top of several key SM-Liiga goaltending categories, Niittymäki has a dazzling .952 save percentage and a 1.49 goals against average in 11 games. Of late, veteran TPS goalie Fredrik Norrena has been hot and has gotten four 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»
Marek Svatos, Center, Kootenay (WHL)
Kurt Sauer, Defenseman, Spokane (WHL)
Blake Ward, Goaltender, Lethbridge (WHL)
Charlie Stephens, Center, Guelph/London (OHL)
Danny Bois, Right Wing, London (OHL)
Aaron Molnar, Goaltender, London (OHL)
Agris Saviels, Defenseman, Owen Sound (OHL)
Colt King, Left Wing, Guelph/North Bay (OHL)
Cody McCormick, Right Wing, Belleville (OHL)
Darryl Bootland, Right Wing, Toronto (OHL)
Peter Budaj, Goaltender, Toronto (OHL)
Pierre-Luc Emond, Center, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Sergei Klyazmin, Left Wing, Halifax (QMJHL)
Brian Fahey, Defenseman, Wisconsin (WCHA) Read more»
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