Friday, March 25, 2011

Breaking Down the Hart Trophy Race

sedins canucks hart trophy
During the first half of the NHL season the Hart Trophy race for most valuable player was essentially locked up. Sidney Crosby was demoralizing the league on a nightly basis and was on pace for 64 goals and an obscene 132 points. This would have been the highest point total since 1995-1996 when Mario Lemieux scored 161 points and Jaromir Jagr scored 149. Crosby still leads all Penguins’ scorers in points by nearly 20 and has the 11th most goals in the league, despite last playing nearly three months ago.

Unfortunately, David Steckel robbed us of a truly historic season. Considering the current state of the NHL (read: goalies are actually willing to block shots, unlike the 80s) Crosby's scoring rate was truly remarkable. I’m not going to say it was more impressive than some of the crazy seasons Gretzky and Lemieux put up, but it was the best hockey from an individual in more than a decade.

Due to Crosby’s injury the title of league’s most valuable player is up for grabs. A strong case can be made for many players. It seems like there is a flavour of the week for the media who they begin hyping relentlessly, then it's on to the next player after team x wins a few in a row. With the tight playoff races in both conferences (especially the West), it may come down to which teams make the playoffs.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Questions in Goal Remain

jonas gustavsson leafs goal
The Maple Leafs goaltending situation heading into next season has become much clearer ever since James Reimer grabbed hold of the number one job in early January. Reimer has been a revelation in goal and shows no signs of relinquishing the starter’s role. Ron Wilson will certainly play Reimer for the remainder of the Leafs’ games as they continue their unlikely charge to the post-season.

But apart from Reimer there is an uncertainty surrounding the Leafs’ crease. J.S. Giguere will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st and Jonas Gustavsson hasn’t played an NHL game since allowing six goals in an ugly 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers on January 19th.

I’m pretty high on Reimer, but I’m pretty sure he won’t play 82 consecutive games (plus playoffs!) next season, so what will the Leafs do to support their young netminder?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Arguing on the Internet: In Defense of Nazem

nazem kadri leafs marlies
The Toronto Maple Leafs recalled Nazem Kadri from the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday, giving him his second stint with the big club in his rookie season. His first stint was necessitated by a nasty death spell that befell the Leafs where they were looking for anything to pull them out. It wasn't the ideal situation for Kadri. "Here, kid. It's no big deal. Just score a shit ton of goals, pull Kessel out of his slump, don't mess around in your own end, and, just for good measure, tell Komisarek to figure it out. Oh, and no pressure, but the weight of Leafs Nation rides on you."

Kadri didn't play very well and was mercifully sent back to the Marlies where he belongs at this stage of his career. But many people - including some misguided Leaf fans - think that because at this specific juncture in his career he belongs in the AHL it means that he will always belong in the AHL. These people have determined in less than 20 games that Nazem Kadri will amount to nothing.

I casually perused the message board accompanying the news story and was baffled by the ignorance. This is like shooting fish in a barrel, but it's better than another head-shots article.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jets to Fly Again?

teemu forever jets winnipeg
Stop me if you've heard this before: the Phoenix Coyotes are having trouble drawing fans. This isn't news considering the team has incurred losses totalling several hundred million dollars since their move from Winnipeg, causing the team to file for bankruptcy in 2009. Currently, the league owns to the Coyotes, which is unlikely to change anytime soon. Every time a potential new owner is seemingly set to give the franchise a sense of stability there's a snag that keeps the Coyotes' status in the desert in jeopardy. Currently, it's a battle between the city of Glendale and the Goldwater Institute that leaves Matthew Hulsizer's bid as owner tenuous.

There's also trouble in Atlanta with dwindling attendance, which has led some in the Canadian media to descend on the situation as they usually do when a Southern market struggles to support a team. The Thrashers are certainly in less immediate danger of relocation than the Coyotes, but if the team continues to draw attendance numbers that hover around 10,000 the same question will be asked: is it time to bring a team back to Canada?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Do People Hate Pierre McGuire?

Click to see that even NHLers find Pierre annoying.
I watched the Caps-Oilers on TSN because it was Wednesday night and there wasn’t anything on. Modern Family was a re-run, so I was stuck watching two teams I don’t really care about. But it’s hockey, so it’s still amazing. Plus, it’s always nice to see a team other than the Leafs get a good beat-down. For some reason I enjoy other teams’ misery. A lot.

The one problem is that this was on TSN. Whenever a game is on TSN there is a good chance that Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire are commenting. I don’t really have a problem with Gord Miller. He isn’t my favourite play-by-play guy, but he’s decent. Now Pierre McGuire is a different story.

There’s something about Pierre McGuire that people just find grating. This is unfortunate because he clearly knows a lot about hockey and has plenty of insight into the game. But when people are hoping that errant pucks go flying into your general area, it’s a pretty clear sign you aren’t well-liked.

What is it about Pierre McGuire that causes this reaction?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Recap: Playoffs? Playoffs!

So, February was a crazy month here in Leafs Nation, right? Who would have thought that this team would be making a charge for the final playoff spot after suffering through multiple death spirals throughout the season. The Leafs went a brutal 8-15-3 in November and December and made everyone hate their lives before giving a slight glimmer of hope in January with an outstanding 6-6-1 record. And then everything turned around. The classic Leafs move of turning it on when everyone has counted you out and the pressure is non-existent is in full effect. And like some idiot who never learns from the past I love every minute of it!

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