Sunday, October 30, 2011

Leafs Continue To Roll As They Beat League Leading Penguins


Pittsburgh Penguins (8-3-2) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (7-2-1)

The Penguins dominated from the beginning of the game as they outshot the Leafs 11-6 during the first period. Scoring was started on the power play as the Leafs were given energy when Mikhail Grabovski redirected a Phaneuf point shot.

Halfway into the second Matt Cooke finished off front in front beating Gustavsson to make it a 1-1 game. Connolly, in his second game back from injury, got his first as a Leaf with a right time right place clean up goal to regain the lead for the Leafs. This was the second powerplay goal with Malkin in the box as the Leafs seem to have an answer for the number one penalty killing unit in the league. Kunitz tied the game on the power play as he buried a rebound given as a gift by a Gustavsson pad save.

MacArthur added his second of the year pushing the Leafs ahead once again. Less than five minutes later Malkin tied the game on a five on three powerplay as he let a laser go from the point beating Gustavsson five hole as he had no chance due to a Komisarek screen. Right before the goal Gustavsson made multiple outstanding saves on the 2 man disadvantage.  The action was not over as we saw lead leaguing 10th goal of the year by Phil Kessel set up from a nice pass by Connolly as there appears to be some chemistry forming between the two Leafs. The Leafs battled intense fore checking from the Pens in the final minutes but were able to hold on which is becoming a positive early season trend for the Buds. 

Clearly an improved team from last season but this pace will be hard to keep up.  Reimer is expected to be back next game but overall Gustavsson has done well filling in.  This will be Reimers team regardless that is until he starts playing like a Vesa Toskala.

By: Liam Niven

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Our Magic Eight Ball Bats a Thousand in Last Night's Games


We took a hard look at some of the key matchups last night in the NHL with our magic eight ball and it looks like we batted a thousand with our picks.

The best game of the night was without a doubt the showdown between the Islanders and the Rangers.  John Tavares netted three goals as the Isles beat up on the Rangers.  Tavares leads a young team which is showing signs of promise.  The possibilities with the Islanders are enticing for the Long Island faithful. Mark Streit is going to be a key veteran influence for the Isles as the season progresses.  We see a turnaround in the making for these guys and we will be watching closely.

Montreal fell to Colorado as predicted. Carey Price was just terrible once again.  The Canadiens can easily spin out of control once the looses pile up.  The problem for the Habs right now is the injury bug and the only solution for Montreal is stellar play from Price.  We don't see that happening anytime soon.  Things will get worse for the Habs before they get better.

Toronto was also a winner last night in their battle with Calgary.  There is no love lost between these two teams.  The Leafs came out with a 3-2 victory and they looked poised to keep marching on to rack more points.  This early season success looks sustainable to us and we think a new hockey culture might be starting to take hold in the Queen City.  The Leafs have stars like Kessel, Phaneuf and Reimer now and we expect this new edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs could finally be the one to end Toronto's post season drought.

The Capitals and Sabres were also winners in their respective games last night.  Buffalo has a solid squad this year and they seem to be up to the challenge of competing for the Cup.  As for the Capitals, we expect Ovechkin and company to be the last team standing and win the whole shooting match by the end of the year. 
   

Isles paint the town Orange and Blue with 4-2 victory over Rangers


While one teams stock is rising, the other has their fans very nervous as the New York Islanders and Rangers are on very different paths so far. It had seemed as if in the pre-season it was going to be the Blueshirts that’d dominate regular season play, but thus far the season has proved otherwise.

Yes, it is only three games for the Rangers, but there is definite trouble for the fans of the Red, White and Blue as the team hasn’t really reached its full potential as of yet.

As for the Islanders, right now their stock is on the rise-and it happens to be a good time to buy into the team. Why buy into the Islanders…John Tavares, as the forward continues to develop and grow into one of the elite players in the NHL.

The forward recorded his third career hat trick to lead the Islanders (3-1-0) to a 4-2 victory over the Blueshirts in hockey action on Saturday night. Both teams were also skating for a cause, as you can see several players and coaches wearing pick for the Hockey Fights Cancer Campaign.

There was also bragging rights, as the youthful Islanders team now sits as the top team in New York City with this victory. In what was an instant classic at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, both teams battled until Tavares took over the game in the third period of play.

John, who has really worked on his skating skills, and has also bulked up in the off-season, was set up on a pretty pass by Mark Streit (3) and P.A. Parenteau (5), to push the team ahead at the 3:30 mark.

As for the Rangers, they were able to score twice on keeper Evgeni Nabokov, who made 29 saves in the cage. The Blueshirts found goals from Marian Gaborik (2) at the 6:23 mark of the second period, as ‘Gabby’ was set up by Brad Richards (2) and Derek Stepan (1).

Brandon Prust recorded his first goal of the season, on a nice pass from Ruslan Fedotenko (2), which had tied the game up at 2-2 to tie things up before the end of the second period of play. Tavares took over in the third, to lead the Islanders to their third straight victory.

Michael Del Zotto and Tim Erixon were both plus two’s on the ice for the Rangers, while cager Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves in the cage.

The Islanders will look to keep this positive momentum going, but will have four days off until their next game, as they will face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

As for the Rangers, they will have a lot of questions to answer before this road trip continues with a tour of Canada coming up next for the Blueshirts. First stop for the guys will be a trip to Vancouver for a 10:00 p.m. game against the Canucks.

Stacy Podelski
http://www.smacksportvideos.com/

OH GOD !!! ANOTHER HABS IMPLOSION !!! SOMETHING IS UP IN MONTREAL


Montreal fans suffered through another Habs implosion on the ice on Saturday night.  This loss threatens to become an issue for the team. The Canadiens have started this new season in troubling fashion.  The pre season play of the Habs should have foretold that bad play would rear its head in regular season play.  Mediocre offensive production in the pre season and sloppy goaltending gave the Habs a losing record before the start of the 2011-2112 race to the Cup.

So far in regular season play things have not been much better for Montreal. The Habs have lost some important games against the Leafs, Flames and the Avalanche.  Yes it is still early but Montreal is very streaky if history is any indication.  The problem here is that Montreal usually gets off to a strong start and softens in mid year.  A losing streak at the start of the year is deadly.  Ask the Leafs.  They usually loose big at the start of the year.  Once you lose big at the start of the year, you are playing catch up for the rest of the season.  That always ends up badly.  If Montreal has a losing streak out of the gate and softens mid season, it could be a very long year for Price and his teamates.
Yes the injury bug is all over the Habs roster but these guys need to pick up their game.  Carey Price is running on the success fumes from his break out season last year.  This year is dramatically different, and Carey needs to start recognizing the change.  Against the Leafs, Price let in easy  goals despite the fact Toronto's poor play. The story was the same against the Flames.  Price got bombed and it looked like he had taken the day off.  He was there in body against Calgary but mentally he was somewhere else.    His latest fiasco against Colorado is more evidence that Price's magic is MIA.  The shootout loss was unacceptable against a very young Avalanche team.

We don't like the 1+1 in this situation.  Injuries + poor play from Price could see the Habs get off to the poorest start in years.  Time will tell but all true Habs fans should be concerned.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The one constant in this year's Stanley Cup race is that great goaltending will carry the day. Having less than perfect goaltending has proven to be a disaster. Ryan Miller was a question mark for the Sabres and that turned out bad. Fleury succumbed to pressure again for the Pens and now they are playing golf. Of course, all our readers know about the goaltending problem in Philly. Their net minding mess when from damaging to crisis level against the Bruins. Philadelphia goaltending imploded and the Flyers looked like a Pee Wee team in their series against the Bruins.

A great goalie makes an average team look even better. This was the case with Montreal. Carey Price did everything but stand on his head for the Habs and it still wasn't good enough. Montreal did pick up their game 100% because of Price but unfortunately for them, Tim Thomas was at the other end of the rink for Boston. The Bees have a skilled team and the guys are looking like superstars in front of Thomas. The Bruins are rolling into a series with the Lightning and Tim Thomas should be the difference one more time. The guy is a work horse and a high pressure performer. Boston is on a roll and we like them more and more to become champions. Momentum is a big part of the sport and being good is one thing but good and lucky can make you a champion.
The goaltending issue has been a key driver in the success of the Canucks. These guys were almost embarrassed by the Black Hawks. The Black Hawk comeback was solely on the back of Roberto Luongo. His collapse could have buried Vancouver but he managed to turn it around and sew up the series for the Canucks in a hard fought game seven. Against Nashville, Luongo has been key in holding off the Predators. His game two performance allowed Vancouver to stay in the series. The Predators could have buried Vancouver and put them up on the ropes. The 2-1 victory by Nashville was not a blow out and Vancouver was able to rally for a game three victory in the Predators home building. Again the series' outcome is in Roberto Luongo's hands. We expect him to stay the course and take the Canucks forward.

Good goalies are the difference between Cup contenders and winners. Thomas and Luongo look good for their squads. Stay tune and time will tell us which one of these warriors gets to put their name on Lord Stanley's cup.

Friday, May 6, 2011

BRUINS, FLYERS, SHARKS AND RED WINGS - ONE MORE PREDICTABLE NIGHT

he one thing we could count on in the first round of the playoffs was how unpredictable things were.  That held true as multiple games went to OT and double OT.  The unpredictable theme sailed into the next round with a new twist. Parity was now out the window and it was time for some ass kicking.  The Bruins which had fought so hard with the Habs were now crushing the Flyers.  The Sharks which had gone back and forth with LA were now walloping the Red Wings.  We think that the demolition of Philadelphia and Detroit was unexpected but as we said the new norm seems to be to expect the unexpected. 



It seems to us that this should continue into tonight.  The Bruins smell the blood in the water and the Flyers seem unable r unwilling to put up a decent fight.  The Bruins play Flyer hockey better than the Flyers and the Philadelphia team can't even seem to play catch up.  The forwards for Boston are right in Boucher's face and the result has been demoralizing for the entire team.  We think Bergeron and company will play hard in front of Thomas and put this one away.  A good team is made better by momentum and the momo is behind Boston right now.


The Sharks are in the same mind space as Boston right now.  They have the ability to bury Detroit and it will be hard for the Red Wings to put up any credible fight this evening.  The Europeans for Detroit have the world on their shoulders and the heroics will be slow in coming.  We think it will be tough for Hockey Town but this year , the Sharks have their number.  It is time to step aside and start rebuilding.  The Sharks want to dispatch the Wings and that desire will have Detroit pinned firmly against the wall.
The Stanley Cup is the center of the hockey universe. Players from St-Petersburg to Sault St-Marie grow up dreaming of winning the Stanley Cup. It is what they do when they get that chance that separates the heroes from the footnotes in hockey history.

This year has been no different. Some very good performances are making fans go nuts while supposed superstars are dropping the ball. Guys like Ovechkin, the Sedins and Scott Gomez have been big disappointments. Their 2011 Stanley Cup highlight reels will be tucked away for no one to see. However there are players on all remaining teams which deserve a shout out for stand up play.
Ryan Kesler has been a standout for the Vancouver Canucks. His relentless energy has led to many crucial goals in both series that the Canucks have played. The guy is a role model for all him teammates. Another unlikely Stanley Cup hero for the Canucks is Chris Higgins. Chris Higgins who is a cast off of the Montreal Canadiens has come back to life and showed a lot of character during the games against Chicago and Nashville. His play in the corners and in front of the has set the bar for his team mates to follow.

Martin St-Louis and Sean Bergenheim are carrying the day for the Bolts. These two have been lighting the lamp for Tampa Bay at a furious pace. Their heroics help put away Pittsburgh and Washington which in theory should have buried the Lightning. The win against Washington was especially important given that they pounded them out of the rink in four straight. Boston should be next to face the TB LIghtning shooting gallery. Tim Thomas is going to have to shine like never before if Boston hopes to compete.

Speaking of Tim Thomas he is the #1 reason the Bruins are still devouring the competition in this year's Stanley Cup race. This guy had to outlast Carey Price and just the other night he faced a barrage of 50+ shots and still took down the Flyers. This could be the year of Tim Thomas if Boston finds itself lone wolf standing at the end of this playoff race. Tim Thomas is the epitome of hardnosed hockey. he is a strong competitor who wants this for the fans and his teammates. Time will tell how things turn out but his 2011 Stanley Cup performances will last in fans memories forever.

OH , CANADA !!!! TAKES OUT WASHINGTON

The big bad Russian express has left the Washington Capitals sitting on the sidelines as they lick their wounds from the ass kicking they received from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Ovechkin led pack of European hotshots were unable to come to life at any point during the series. They were man handled by the Canadian connection of Lecavalier, St-Louis, and Stamkos. The heart of the Bolts team completely dominated the hapless Capitals and it looks like they will be a handful for their next opponent.



Tim Thomas and the Bruins seem headed for an eventual showdown with the Bolts. This will be a harder team to pull apart for Tampa. The Bruins are "old style" hockey and they won't shy away from Tampa's Canadian superstars. Hitting with be more intense against Boston and Tampa may be afraid to stand in front of the net when required.

Europeans have longed been tagged as "chokers" during the playoffs. Don Cherry has been riding Europeans for years and Overchkin and his buddies made Cherry look like a genius with their performance against Tampa. We like Boston to finish off the Flyers but we think the Bolts are up for a real fight against the Bruins with no clear winner in sight, right now. Assuming the Bruins stay healthy and don't tire out; we think they could put an end to the Bolts "Cinderella" run.

2011 is a warm up for Tampa Bay. They are building a dynasty. Unfortunately for hockey fans in the sunny south , we think it will be a wait till next year scenario once the next series is over.