Kings: Muscle in the System

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The Los Angeles Kings are playing their best hockey in years, but one glaring weakness is their lack of a true enforcer. With Matt Johnson being swiped by Atlanta in the expansion draft and Steve McKenna being rendered useless with a bad eye, the Kings need to find someone who can protect their new superstars. After seeing teams like Washington, Boston and San Jose take runs at the Robitaille, Stumpel, Palffy line, the Kings will likely find a stopgap until the nest “Matt Johnson” comes around.

While Matt Johnson is not the best enforcer in the league, he was liked by his teammates and did a great job patrolling the ice. He was just 20 years old when he broke in and seemed poised to protect the Kings for years to come, but as many publications pointed out, he was the slowest player in the NHL. He made tremendous strides, but the next Kings’ enforcer will need the now necessary blend of size, skill and muscle. Here are the two most likely contenders to be the Kings’ enforcer of the future:
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OHL news and notes

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What is going on in Kingston? A municipal strike has caused the postponement of 4 games this season. The union allowed the Frontenacs to play four games in the month of October as a concession in contract talks with the union. On Friday night, the fourth of those games, the Memorial Center received a bomb threat during the second intermission of the game that saw the visiting Erie Otters in town. The police cleared out the building and conducted a search for the bomb. The search lasted 45 minutes and then they allowed play to continue and allowed the fans to re-enter the building. The Otters, however, decided not to take the chance and forfeited the game after a discussion with the league office. My only question is why would the visiting team have to forfeit? Returning risked the well being of the players. The league should be looking into the problem with the Frontenacs much more closely.

Surprise, surprise. Who would have thought that after a dozen games and one month into the season that Windsor and Brampton would be leading their respective divisions? Props go out to both teams for providing the OHL with a little bit of added excitement. It just goes to show that junior hockey is “predictably unpredictable.” The Battalion are being lead by the outstanding play of goalie David Chant. He currently leads the league with a miniscule 1.79 goals against average. Windsor is being lead offensively by their three outstanding rookies, Steve Ott(17points), player of the week in week three Shawn Mather(15 points), and Craig Kennedy (11 points).
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Canadiens’ Junior Prospects Weekly Update

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Stand Outs
-Michael Ryder had a good week with 5 points in 3 games.
-Marc-Andre Thinel had a good week with 4 points in 2 games.
-Eric Chouinard had a decent week with 3 goals in 3 games.

Awards -Michael Ryder was named the QMJHL’s offensive player of the month for September.

Hab You Heard?
-Andrei Markov, the Habs’ sixth round pick during the 98 Entry Draft is leading all Russian League defensemen in points. He has 5 goals and 6 assists in 14 games for Moscow Dynamo.
-Vadim Tarasov, the Habs’ seventh round pick during the 99 Entry Draft is having a strong season with Metalburg (HK) of the Russian League. In 13 games played he is 9-3-1, with a 2.20 goals against average, and a .904 save percentage.

-Evan Lindsay, the Habs’ fourth round pick during the 99 Entry Draft was temporarily promoted to the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Quebec. Lindsay’s call-up was the result of Garon’s call-up, which was due to Hackett’s injury. Lindsay should be returned to Talahasee of the ECHL in the next few days. Lindsay has yet to play a regular season game for any team, in any league this season.

POS HT/WT AGE DRAFTED
Eric Chouinard (c) 6’4″/192 Lbs. 18 D-Mtl98(1/16)

GP G A PTS +- PIM PPG SHG
1999-00 Quebec 13 14 6 20 +3 20 3 1
#1 Strength- Scoring ability
#1 Weakness- Doesn’t use size Read more»

St. John’s Maple Leafs Report

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This is the first of a monthly report on the baby Leafs for Hockey’s Future. The chief focus of this report will be on the top prospects within the Leafs’ system who are currently playing with St. John’s.

To say that the St. John’s Maple Leafs, the AHL affiliate of the Toronto club, is off to a slow start is a bit of an understatement. As Chris Schwartz, St. John’s media director states, “We have lost 4 of our top 5 scorers from last year’s team and it will take a while for some of the current players to pick up the slack.” St. John’s is currently last in the Atlantic Division with 6 pts. with a 2-5-2 record.

Despite the slow start, there have definitely been some bright spots, starting with Ukrainian second year pro, Konstantin Kalmikov. The left-winger scored just 3 goals and 4 assists last season in 52 games and has already surpassed that total with 4 goals and 4 assists in his first 9 games. “It’s a night and day difference with Kalmikov this season. He has always had the skills, now he has the confidence,” states Schwartz. “He has clearly been our best forward,” he adds. Kalmikov has gone from only 2 or 3 shifts per game last season to a regular spot on the top scoring line this year. He has also seen a good amount of powerplay time as well.
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Djurgarden prospects

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Djurgarden is using a new system this season, using only one defenseman and four attackers on
each line. Basically, the defenseman’s (called sweeper) job is too take defensive
responsibility. Instead of using two defenseman, Djurgarden has two centers and two forwards
called torpedos. In each formation there is one offensive center and one defensive center,
however both centers participate a lot in the play when the team has the puck. Both the
torpedos have only offensive tasks and quoting the coach Mats Waltin: “We do not want too see
the torpedos in our own zone”. Djurgarden has a very offensive approach and both torpedos on each formation forecheck extremely hard.

Of course, playing with this system also means defensive problems. Teams who specialize in
counter-attacks have so far had great success against Djurgarden and the team often has to
face 1 on 2 or 1 on 3 situations.

An example of a game where such a scenario happend is the
game between Djurgarden and Leksand on Oct.3. Djurgarden outshot Leksand 21-6 in the two first
periods, but were still down 1-3. The final score was 2-5 inspite of Djurgarden having 32
shots on goal and Leksand only 13. One of the keys to success for Djurgarden is that goalie
Tommy Soderstrom (formerly with the Flyers and Islanders) is at his best and ready to face
many odd-man attacks.

So far after 13 games, the result has been satisfying. Djurgarden has scored a league-leading Read more»