Playoff Predictions

April 8, 2012

Well, another year gone by, and another year without Maple Leafs hockey in the post-season.  I can’t say I’m terribly surprised, although I did expect this year would finally be the year that they would end the curse and crack the top eight in the Eastern Conference.  Of course, it took a monumental collapse – the largest in the history of the franchise – to take them out of contention for that final spot, but as sure as the sky is blue and the sun will shine, the Leafs found a way to pull it off.  Read the rest of this entry »


Maurice Fired, Problems Remain

December 7, 2011

Time For A Change...?

Paul Maurice getting fired got pushed to the backburner during the coaching-firing-spree that took place last week.  With the higher profile Bruce Boudreau getting axed as well, Maurice was a bit of an after thought.  In truth, neither firing was truly shocking.  Both teams were struggling, and both coaches had been identified as potential hot seat candidates.  However, because the expectations on Boudreau were greater, and his relationship with league superstar Alexander Ovechkin was growing increasingly strained, his was the more interesting story.

A coaching change might light a fire under ‘The Great 8’.  He might reverse his subpar season and start lighting the lamp like crazy again under the tutelage of Dale Hunter.  No one is going to think George McPhee is a genious if the situation unfolds that way.  It hasn’t to date, but it may yet.  At the end of the day though, Hunter is working with top notch talent.  His job is to come in and be a new voice.  All he has to do is make great players play well.  While the final results expected are extraordinary – nothing less than the Stanley Cup -the immediate task at hand is not a difficult one. Read the rest of this entry »

Miscues in Montreal: Part One

October 25, 2011

Montreal is off to one of their worst starts in many years and the fans are growing impatient to say the least.  Failure is not tolerated for long in Montreal.  To be honest, I am mildly surprised that St.Catherine’s didn’t burn after Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs.  It was an overtime heartbreaker with the death blow delivered by the stick of former Hab, Mikhail Grabovski.  The losses are piling up now, and nearly every facet of the team is struggling to find success.

The problem for the Canadiens starts at the top of the chain.  One need only examine the past few years of managerial decisions to figure out how things suddenly got so bad.  Nearly every traded player has helped the opposing team, while the acquired player or draft pick has amounted to nothing in a Habs jersey, or been allowed to walk for nothing.  The problems date all the way back to Bob Gainey.  Allow me to take you through the last few seasons of mishaps with this Top Ten list: Read the rest of this entry »

Miscues in Montreal: Part Two

October 25, 2011

In Part One of this blog series we looked at some of the errors in the Bob Gainey administration, and how those mishaps trickled into the thought process of Pierre Gauthier’s group upon gaining control of the team in 2009.  Despite the glaring mistakes and obviously bad trades, the situation in Montreal has not looked troubling until now. In fact, due in large part to the positive media vibe surrounding the team, the Habs have managed to stave off any serious criticism for their poor judgment over the years.

Now that Carey Price is having a hard time holding the team together all on his own, those poor decisions are coming to light. It was not a single bad move, or even a couple that has put the Canadiens in a precarious situation to start this 2011/12 season. There has been a long history of bad moves that have made a terrible mess only to be swept under the proverbial rug by the lustrous play of a star goalie – first Halak, and most recently Price.  Now that the cat is out of the bag though, and these deficiencies have been exposed, it’s time to explore some of the past moves that have crippled the current Habs. Read the rest of this entry »

Prediction Time: North East, Pt.1

October 6, 2011

The Bruins Will Look to Defend Their Championship

The North East is probably the most covered and media scrutinized division in all of hockey.  With three Original Six teams, the rivalries here go deep.  The Habs and Bruins are currently the most important of them, since they have met in the playoffs several times of late, and their encounters have been nothing short of epic.  Chara, with his dominating size, towers over the diminuitive Canadiens – but (and it pains me to say this as a Leaf fan) the Habs have played their part in the classic David vs. Goliath rivalry well, and made their fans proud.  This year, the Maple Leafs look to jump back into the rivalry conversation.  They hope to continue their 4-0 streak against the Bruins, and make their battles with the Canadiens something to remember once again.  They think they have the horses to make a go of it now, at last.  Meanwhile, under the noses of the Original Six trio, a new power has emerged in the division, as Ryan Miller and the Sabres look to challenge for an Eastern Conference title, and maybe more. Read the rest of this entry »

Prediction Time: North East, Pt, 2

October 6, 2011

Turning Over A New Leaf?

At one point, this was the greatest rivalry in hockey; nay, sport.  Since the cap era though, the Leafs have been an outright mess, and the Habs have found success even when seemingly outmatched.  While one team waxed, the other waned, and the contests between the two, while still heated and always close, have become much less important.    This year though, a playoff berth could very much be on the line every single time the two clash.  The Habs crumbled towards the end of last season and lost some key pieces of their defense over the summer.  The Leafs surged in the second half of last season, posting home ice advantage numbers, and then added several quality NHL’ers to their roster over the summer.  For the first time in a long time, this rivalry could mean something again in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

The Top Twenty

October 4, 2011

The Cream of the Crop

Many websites are doing their lists of the top players heading into this season.  Of course, there are few surprizes at the kinds of teams and players that get ignored by these media outlets.  According to The Hockey News, Devin Setoguchi, who scored just 22 goals and 41 points last season, is a better right winger than Phil Kessel, who scored 32 goals and 64 points.  Setoguchi did this playing in a top six that boasted Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Dany Heatley and Ryane Clowe.  Kessel achieved his numbers spending most of the season next to Joey Crabb (24 career points) and rookie Tyler Bozak.  Setoguchi also tops Nikolai Kulemin who scored 30 goals and 57 points.  So apparently logic and statistics aren’t relevant when determining player ability. Read the rest of this entry »