Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
finished 7th in league scoring with 54 points.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Exactly 45 years ago, Maple Leaf goaltender Johnny Bower was approached by a CBC producer to make a Christmas record. Although hesitant, he soon recorded Honky the Christmas Goose with the help of his nine year old son Johnny Jr. and some neighbourhood kids. The record sold 40,000 copies during Christmas 1965, the proceeds of which were donated to charity.
The Christmas break in the NHL is a good time look back on the year that was. The following are the top NHL scorers from last years Christmas break to now. (GP-G-A-PTS)
Sidney Crosby 80-58-65-123
Steven Stamkos 80-57-51-108
Henrik Sedin 78-21-87-108
Daniel Sedin 77-39-66-105
Alex Ovechkin 80-38-66-104
Martin St.Louis 80-36-62-98
Niklas Backstrom 82-29-64-93
Brad Richards 80-30-59-89
Alex Semin 79-44-43-87
Eric Staal 76-39-46-85
The 123 points would represent a career season for Crosby, and Ovechkin's 38 goals would be by far his lowest full-season total.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Selanne turned 40 this past July and has played 29 games for Anaheim this season. He has 32 points for 1.10 points per game. The first man to accomplish this was Gordie Howe in 1968/69 at 40 years even. He scored an amazing 103 points in 76 games for 1.36 Pts/GP. Howe would go on to score almost 700 more points in the NHL and WHA combined.
The second and last man to score at a point-per-game clip as a 40 year old was Johnny Bucyk of Boston in 1975/76 who was also exactly 40. The Chief scored 83 points in 77 games, at 1.08 Pts/GP just behind Selanne's rate. Bucyk almost repeated his productivity the following year with 43 points in 49 games before falling off the pace in his last year.
As for Selanne, who knows if he plays even next year. It's obvious he is still quite capable of playing at a high level.
Monday, December 20, 2010
5"8" Lynn Zimmerman from Fort Erie, Ontario began his professional career in 1966/67 with the Eastern League Charlotte Checkers and was a Second Team All-Star. He played most of the next eight years in the AHL, mainly with Rochester. By 1975/76 he was in the North American Hockey League with the Erie Blades. He had 30 wins in 54 games, and more impressively he also had 13 assists. He also spent three weeks filling in for the soon-to-fold Denver/Ottawa WHA team where he garnered another helper.
Apparently Zimmerman was so able and active with the puck, Erie coach Nick Polano devised a breakout plan around him. "This year Nick put in a system where I handle the puck instead of the defenseman. We work on it in practice everyday. When the other team comes in after the puck we just break out and trap them." says Zimmerman in the March 19, '76 issue of Hockey News. Imagine a goalie today making the first pass as a defenseman does. The issue also states that he once collected three assists in one AHL game. Jeff Reese, with Calgary in Feb, 1993. is the only other pro goalie to accomplish this.
The following year with Erie, he collected another 12 assists for a two season total of 26. He would finish up his career the following season in the WHA with the Houston Aeros.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Kessel certainly has dynamic hockey skills, great speed and a terrific shot. These are displayed far too infrequently however to have much of an impact on a game. His one move on a rush, the "outside/inside toe-drag" works far less than half the time. It worked once last night on Dan Hamhuis (0:24 mark on video below) but led to a weak back-handed attempt that Luongo turned aside easily. Kessel ended up with six shots on goal while playing 19:25. More importantly he finished with a minus 2 rating. His worst display was on the back-breaker 2-0 Vancouver goal which I saw unfold as it happened.
Kessel made a simply awful fly-by on a puck just inside the offensive zone (awful even for Rec beer league hockey) with the intimidating Jeff Tambellini closing in on him. (1:35 mark below, top of the screen) and leaves Luke Schenn hung out to dry. Tamby simply chips it past Schenn as Kessel falls on his own into the boards. Four seconds later it's in the back of the net. How he just allows this puck to be picked up unmolested is beyond my comprehension.
Kessel is the type of purely offinsive minded player that has little care for his own end but admittedly should be surrounded with players of slightly better quality. Bozak and Versteeg are not first-liners, sorry Burkie. This being the case, Kessel absolutely needs to produce when his chances present themselves...and any defensive consciousness would be welcomed.
On another note regarding last night's affair. It really is mind-boggling how Roberto Luongo received the First Star selection. He made perhaps 3 or 4 above average saves, and bobbled at least twice as many shots. The Grabovski goal over his glove hand simply should have been stopped. Oh well, another example of home town bias.
So, Toronto hasn't won in Vancouver since before the lockout, yet myself and many other Leafs still attend. It's getting to the point where we as Leaf fans are made to look like idiots for caring so much when it seems the teams' management and star player have minimal concern for the continuing ineptitude.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Back in 1988 there was some strange voting for the Goaltender All-Stars and the Vezina voting.
Grant Fuhr won the Vezina and was named First Team All-Star by collecting 297 voting points, Patrick Roy was voted to the Second Team with a distant 64 points. In the Vezina voting, for some reason, Roy didn't fare as well. Fuhr won again going away with 78 points over second place Tom Barrasso (22 points) and third place Kelly Hrudey (17 points). Roy somehow only garnered 2 second place and 2 third place votes for 8 points total to finish EIGHTH overall in Vezina voting. Also finishing ahead of him was Mike Vernon, John Vanbiesbrouck, Rejean Lemelin and Roy's teammate Brian Hayward. Puzzling.
The 1983/84 season proved to be one of the more difficult ever to choose the best goaltender.
Sure, Tom Barrasso was both the Vezina winner and First Team All-Star but what a tight vote it was. In a four man race, try choosing the best netminder out of these numbers;
Tom Barrasso 26-12-3, 2.84
Rejean Lemelin 21-12-9, 3.50
Pat Riggin, 21-14-2, 2.66
Al Jensen, 25-13-3, 2.91
This was the same order of Vezina Trophy voting, their vote totals were 42, 39, 37 and 37.
The All-Star voting had Riggin and Lemelin reversed and the four vote totals were 141, 131, 104 and 100.
Another incident of strange voting was for Norris Trophy in 1982/83 when Rod Langway won the first of his back-to-back. Although Langway won the Norris 180 votes to 155 over Mark Howe, he was well behind in the All-Star voting. Howe collected 262 All-Star points to Langway's 228.
Another neat thing to look at is players who almost were voted First or Second All-Stars, but never actually made it.
In 1980/81 Mike Bossy ran away with the Right Wing voting getting 299 points. Dave Taylor gained 85 points for Second Team just ahead of Wayne Babych's 71. This would be as close as Babych would ever get to being an All-Star.
Newly elected Hall-of-Famer Dino Ciccarelli came close twice to being a Second All-Star. In 1981/82 he was third in voting behind Mike Bossy and Rick Middleton. Even though Dino had 55 goals and 106 points to Middleton's 51 goals, 94 points it was Middleton who got two first place votes. Overall he had 102 voting points to Dino's 64.
Ciccarelli was slightly closer in 1986/87 when he finished third by 25 points, this time to Jari Kurri and Tim Kerr. That year, he finished sixth in the league in points with 103 but his 52 goals was 6 behind Kerr.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
The management of the team outwardly recruited in Russia, offering Russian youngsters a chance to develop their careers in Canada. Shelburne isn't the only team ignoring Hockey Canada's rules about Canadian content on their roster. Bobcaygeon has 11 Europeans on it's roster and the Jamestown (N.Y.) Jets have 23 Americans, 2 Russians and a Kazak on it's squad...zero Canadians. The Eliot Lake Bobcats have 7 Americans, 7 Slovaks and 2 players born in France and Bradford has only 3 Canadians to go with 18 Europeans.
The Shelburne experiment appears to be working fairly well too. In the thirteen team league Shelburne sits fourth overall with a 15-9-1 record. More impressively is the fact they sport the leagues top two point prodecers...by a ridiculous margin. 17 year olds Alexander Nikulnikov and Stanislav Dzakhov, both from Moscow have 84 and 83 points respectively in 25 games. The GMHL's third place scorer has 52 points. As well, Shelburne has scored a total of 129 goals on the season meaning these two have each garnered a point on almost two-thirds of the team's goals.
Understandably, the overall talent level in the GMHL may not be the greatest, but these two are impressive non-the-less. This past Friday Dzakhov did something that is impressive in ANY league. In a 13-8 win over the Algoma Avalanche he scored 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points. His pal Nikulnikov had a mere 9 points with 5 goals. Last month the Columbus Blue Jackets were inquiring about the 6' 1", 205 lb Dzakhov, perhaps there will be more interest soon in this "renegade" league.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
1. Brian Burke has a secret 40% ownership stake in the Boston Bruins.
2. Henrik Sedin and Tanner Glass have a personal bet on who scores more goals this season, loser has to wash Luongo's Trans-Am
3. Marc Savard has removed Colin Campbell from his Christmas card list.
4. Ilya Kovalchuk is being paid 6.6 million a year to acurately impersonate the scoring talents of long gone Lou Lamoriello favourite, Hector Marini.
5. The entire Maple Leafs roster has vowed to not score goals while Jonas Gustavsson is in net, all goals are purely accidental. They apparently don't think too much of Giggy either.
6. Mike Green is so intent on winning a Norris Trophy he has decided to score just like Rod Langway.
7. This past summer, Tim Thomas broke into the Hockey Hall of Fame and stole the goalie pads of George Hainsworth.
8. Dustin Byfuglien doesn't need to be in an opponent's crease to score goals.
9. Gary Bettman plans on moving the Coyotes to Brantford, Ont. where they will be coached by Keith Gretzky.
10. In true HBO fashion, the Pens and Caps will engage in an expletive laden, yet darkly comedic gunfight during the first intermission of the Winter Classic.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Below are a few more seasons that would be in the running for worst all-time.
Winnipeg Jets 1979/80
At 31 years old in 79/80, Drouin was near the end of the line and would indeed play only 7 more games the following season. Drouin had just three years prior tallied 24 goals, and the year before 62 points. He topped out with 27 goals and 73 points in 72/73.
Los Angeles & Philadelphia 1971/72
This would be Joyal's last year in the NHL after having seasons of 33 goals one year and 57 points another with the Kings. He jumped to the WHA in 72/73 and spent the last four years of his career with the Alberta/Edmonton Oilers.
The first overall pick a mere two years prior to this clunker of a season, Daigle was at this point well on his way to fashioning what very well may be one of the worst careers ever in NHL history.
games. Plus he had a -40 rating. This would be Merlin's last NHL season at the age of 24 as he went to Switzerland and played until he was 31. He even represented Canad in the 1988 Olympics.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Here's a look at a few numbers:
- over their last four losses their opponents collective Winning Pct. entering each game was .473, Leafs were outscored 15-4.
- their next five games are against teams with a collective Win Pct. of .667
- Leafs have only one more point after 24 games this season than last season, at this point last year they reeled off 6 wins in the next 9 games.
- they have been shutout 6 times in the last 16 games after being blanked only 4 times all last year.
- since starting this year with 4 wins, the Leafs have gone 4-12-4, they have scored 1.75 goals/game and allowed 3.05. If the last 20 games is a true indication of this team and they continue at this pace the Leafs will finish with 55 points this season. That would be the worst record since the heyday's of John Brophy in 1987/88
At least, after finishing that poorly in 1988 they were able to draft such re-building blocks as Scott Pearson, Tie Domi, Peter Ing and Ted...Crowley and Len...ummm...Esau...good lord, they truly have been a mess for my entire life.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Born in Quebec City in 1924 he played junior with the Verdun Terriers in 1943/44 scoring 18 points in 14 games. The next season was his only spent in the AHL with the Indianapolis Capitols. He scored 16 points in 56 games while playing in front of future Hall of Fame goalie Harry Lumley. His teammate calibre increased even more the next year with the Omaha Knights of the USHL. Fresh off the farm was a 17 year old Gordon Howe who tallied 48 points in 51 games on his way to becoming a legend.
After two more years in the USHL he joined the San Diego Skyhawks of the PCHL. In 1948/49 Poitras scored 30 goals, 52 points in 65 games and led the playoffs in goal scoring with 8 in 14 games as San Diego won the Patrick Cup championship. By 1950/51, Poitras was back home playing for the Quebec Aces of the QMHL. As a teammate he was witness to the very beginning of the professional career of Jean Beliveau. "Le Gros Bill" played one game with the Aces scoring two goals and an assist. Beliveau would lead the Citadelle du Quebec to the Memorial Cup that year, scoring 28 points in 10 games.
Beliveau returned for two more seasons with the Aces, leading the league in goals and points each year before moving to superstardom with the Habs. Poitras would play two more seasons of hockey in lower level pro leagues before retiring at age 29.
He is alive and well today, along with the two legends whose careers he witnessed starting.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
A teammate of Shand in Atlanta and in Prague, Pat Ribble also played all 10 games in the 1978 tourney going scoreless. He had scored 17 points for the Flames and was traded to Chicago the next year in a blockbuster that also involved Tom Lysiak, Ivan Boldirev and Darcy Rota.
Sykes was a college sniper at the University of North Dakota and signed with the Kings as a free agent in 1982. After two fairly productive AHL years in New Haven he finally cracked the Kings with a 17 goal rookie year in 1984/85. After scoring 20 the next season he represented Canada at the Worlds in Moscow. He played 9 games without a point as Canada won a Bronze medal.
Paul Woods, 1979
A third rounder by Montreal in 1975 after a 119 point season with the Soo Greyhounds, Woods spent the next two years with Nova Scotia in the AHL unable to crack teh greatest team of all-time. He was claimed on waivers by Detroit in 1977 and scored 19 goals, 42 points as a rookie. After the next season he played for team Canada going pointless in 8 games.
Ed Staniowski, 1979
A second round pick by St.Louis in 1975 Staniowski had really only one NHL season as a team's number one goaltender. In 1981/82 he would play 45 games for Winnipeg with a sub-4.00 GAA. He had played for Canada in 1979 after going 9-25-3 for the Blues with a 3.82 average. Combined with Jim Rutherford in net, Canada was demolished in the medal round losing 5 of 6 games against the Soviets, Czechs and Swedes. Staniowski ended up with a 7.13 GAA over 160 minutes of playing time while Rutherford didn't fare much better going 1-5 with a 4.50 GAA.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Since the Games (GP-G-A-Pts);
Alex Ovechkin 40-18-28-46
A full season pace of less than 40 goals, definitely not what we've come to expect from Ovie.
Evgeni Malkin 33-13-19-33
A point per game pace is far below what Malkin produced over his first few seasons.
Jarome Iginla 40-14-15-29
The streaky-one just may finally be coming out of a real cold stretch.
Ilya Kovalchuk 41-13-19-32
Safe to say, not quite what the Devils expected when they signed him long term.
Miikka Kiprusoff 16-19-2 2.77 GAA
His and Calgary's struggles started long before this season started.
Roberto Luongo (including 2010 playoffs) 24-21-4 3.08 GAA
A just over .500 record with a below average GAA is not going to take the Canucks to the promised land.
One other note, over his last 48 regular season games (since Feb 1, 2010) Henrik Sedin has scored a total of 6 goals. Mind you, he also has 52 assists over that time. A 10 goal full season pace which is however somewhat surprising since he started last season with 25 goals in 54 games.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Certainly he has a chance of some sort to accomplish this feat. Let's look at his last 50 total games including last season. In his final 31 games of last year he put up 24 goals and 19 assists for 43 points. Since Jan. 27, 2010 Stamkos has played exactly 50 games and his totals read 43 goals, 35 assists for 78 points. These are fantastic numbers for sure, but as good as they are he still falls seven goals short of 50 in his last 50. In each of their last 50 games played including this season Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have 31 and 30 goals respectively. In fact the next best is Alex Semin with 33 in his last 50.
Of Tampa's next 31 games, 17 are on the road and only 14 at home. This shouldn't be much of a hinderance for Stamkos as he has scored 14 goals in 12 road games so far.
Indeed Stamkos is on a pace all unto his own. Whether or not he can keep it up is the question.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The 20 year old Sawchuk came up to Detroit after two solid seasons in the AHL and 4-3 with a 2.29 average and a shutout. Then, for five seasons he was out of this world.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Knowing full well that the building is being renovated by Loblaws and Ryerson University I was still surprised by what I saw. The entire street level of the Gardens is boarded up like any other construction site, but I found my way to the only opening. Near the back corner of the building on Church and Wood St. there is a large truck bay that was fully open to view with a couple of security guys on guard. From here one can see clear through to the other walls of the building which had been stripped clear of any signs of seating from the ground to the ceiling.
Thanks to the website blogTO.com we can see that very view (I had forgotten my camera that day).
You can see the angled remnants of the upper grey seating at the far corner. The concrete and steel of the stands have been removed all the way back to the outer wall. The scoreboard has been covered and raised close to the roof to be used in the smaller third floor rink.
What follows is the process that got to the arena to it's current point. The first photo below is from Jan. 2010 and shows the crews beginning to pick away at the seating area. We can see clear into the concourse of the old arena, the very spot where I bought my hot dog and program some thirty years ago.
Below is from March 2010 and shows how the North and South end stands have been removed at this point.
The next photo is from Aug 2010 and nicely shows how the building has been stripped down to it's shell and is merely an indoor construction site. Around the back of the Gardens on Wood St, many of the iconic yellow bricks of the exterior have been removed and stacked in piles for re-use. These were kept behind fencing and away from the likes of souvenir hunters like myself. A brick from the Gardens sure would have looked good in my den. I did however manage to find a few small pieces of these bricks laying around nearby and they'll do just fine.
Below is what the rink will look like when opened by March of next year. The original roof will be impressively displayed closer to the new ice surface some three stories above the old floor.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Overall as a team, Toronto ranks the same ninth overall in GAA and an atrocious 29th overall in Goals Scored For/ Game. Since the Leafs won their first four games of this season, Giguere has a GAA of 2.48 while going 1-3-2. Over the nine total games the team has scored a grand total of 15 goals.
Over their own last nine games, Vancouver Canuck second liners manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres have combined for 10 goals on their own. This is the difference between good teams and not so good teams, contributions from secondary sources. Toronto's de-facto "first line" of Kessel, Versteeg and Bozak over those nine games have 6 combined goals. As much as Giguere can do, the thing he can't do is score goals.
Friday, November 5, 2010
In 1983/84 a 20 year old Tony Tanti had arguably the best start in Canuck history. He scored at least a point in his first eleven games scoring 13 goals and 23 points, this included a streak of scoring at least a goal in each of his first seven. As October, 1983 drew to a close Tanti was actually ahead of Wayne Gretzky in goals with 13 battling Rick Vaive's 14 for the goal scoring lead. The Great One was a mere three points up on Tanti for the point scoring lead.
At this point in the season, Gretzky had played 22 games tallying 27 goals, 39 assists and 66 points. Tanti now had a still impressive 20 goals and 33 points after 21 games. He would however come back down to earth soon thereafter with 8 goals and 18 points in his next 17 games.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Steven Stamkos from Markham, Ont, Patrick Sharp from Winnipeg, Chris Stewart of Toronto, Regina's Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton of London, Sidney Crosby of Cole Harbour N.S. and Brad Richards from Murray Harbour PEI are not very likely to all finish one through seven in scoring.
The last time that happened in the NHL was 1990/91 when the top eleven scorers were Canadian...sort of. Second overall Brett Hull was born in Belleville, Ontario but of course played for the US internationally.
So, because Hull should really be considered an American, the last actual time that Canadians thoroughly dominated the scoring leaders was 1979/80. The top twelve scorers from Marcel Dionne and Wayne Gretzky with 137 points to Blair MacDonald and Al McAdam with 94 and 93 were all born and raised in Canada. Only Kent Nilsson in 13th and Mark Howe in 24th kept the Canadians from sweeping the top 35 scorers in the league.
Friday, October 29, 2010
With a 0.60 goals against average and a .981 save percentage, Thomas has been nearly perfect. And one of his goals against he put a clearing pass on the stick of Washington's Jason Chimera to lose a shutout. Truly amazing start for the recently over-looked veteran, but exactly how good of a start?
The last Bruin to start a season with even four straight wins was Doug Keans in 1987/88 who went on to lose his fifth start. His 4-1 start included a 2.98 GAA, hardly stellar. The last Bruin to go 5-0 to start a season was Cecil "Tiny" Thompson in 1937/38. His GAA over the five games was 1.40 and he had only one shutout. He would win his sixth game as well, beating Chicago 2-1 and lowering his average to 1.33. For Tim Thomas to raise his GAA to 1.33 next game he would have to allow 5 goals.
A quick look at the first five games of some of the graetest goaltending seasons in NHL history;
George Hainsworth, 1928/29 started with a 2-2-1 record, 2 shutouts and a 1.80 average. His second half that year was simply incredible. In his final 22 games Hainsworth went 14-1-8 with 13 shutouts and GAA of 0.59, the same average Tim Thomas has this season after only five games.
In 1951/52 Terry Sawchuk started 4-1 with a 1.00 GAA and 2 shutouts on route to a 44-14-12 record and 1.90 Avg. In 1955/56 Jacques Plante began 4-0-1 with 2 shutouts and a 1.00 GAA. He would finish the year at 42-12-10 AND 1.86 Avg. Bernie Parent almost exactly duplicate Plante's start in 1951, going 4-1, 1.00 in 1973/74. He ended up 47-13-12, 1.89.
Tim Thomas is certainly in terrific company so far, but where he ends up no-one knows.