DG's Quick Hits- December 8, 2003

This edition, I’m covering everything from the last time I did this (November 8). Coincidentally, it’s my 22nd today too…not that it means anything.

To the mudslinging!-You know, I can’t exactly quite understand what’s everyone’s problems with the on-ice product right now. Maybe it’s just naivete on my part, but the games I’ve seen have been quite entertaining and have definitely improved since 1999. Granted, it’s not 1993 levels, but I don’t think the game isn’t at least watchable.

-There goes the Toronto media again, with another “reality check”: this time, Dave Perkins, the Toronto Star’s sports editor, wrote a piece reminding Toronto Maple Leaf fans about the 7-1 shellacking at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this month. I know it’s early in the season and this streak may just be a blip, but c’mon guys. Write something positive about your team. Trying to sound “hard to impress” is rather boring.

-Ever since the Edmonton Oilers lost the “Heritage Classic”, they have never won. Until the Pittsburgh Penguins played a visit- then the Oilers couldn’t do what they normally do (run up a million shots yet fail to score) because the Penguins will always give you every last chance to get it right. The way Edmonton’s season is going now, maybe they should play Pittsburgh in every game. Hmmnnn….

-Speaking of which, the Penguins are brutal. This is a club whose defence has a lax policy with regards to allowing shots to go through. They’re under the impression that they’ve got the talent to counter the 50 or so shots they’ll give up. Memo to Mario Lemiuex: Dick Tarnstrom ISN’T going to pick up any offensive slack any time soon so please, don’t expect him to do anything. Of course, in all fairness, the Penguins are cash-strapped, so that just may be why they can’t mount an offence. However, defence can come cheap, so the Penguins have some serious explaining to do in those regards.

-Time now to state the obvious: Mike Milbury must go- the “Old Boys Club” thing is the last straw. That, and the fact his New York Islanders recently lost six in a row to blow a pretty good start. This team is spiralling out of control and fast- they need a fix.

-In other news, the Dallas Stars are LAST in the Pacific Division. Yes, LAST. With a sub-.500 record too. Maybe it’s not time for an overhaul, but something’s not right, especially considering that players like Mike Modano has all of 16 points in 28 games and Pierre Turgeon has all of 8 points in 23 games. More is definitely expected.

-Speaking of teams in a bit of trouble, the Vancouver Canucks are showing how much they need Markus Naslund. A loss to the Calgary Flames and a tie with the Minnesota Wild have put the Canucks back into a tie for first place in the Northwest Division, and almost certainly will be in second place after the Colorado Avalanche take on the Washington Capitals. Yes, it’s still early in the season, but the Canucks learned the hard way last year that you can’t take any games lightly- otherwise, they’ll wind up losing the division. Again.

-Of course, Vancouver gets Pittsburgh next. So maybe it’s not ALL lost.

-Looks like the Tampa Bay Lighting WERE for real last year, and that the Atlanta Thrashers ARE for real this year. Both teams are still doing great this far into the season, with Atlanta having 32 points to Tampa’s 31. Key to the Thrashers’ rise is Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads- that’s right, LEADS- the National Hockey League in scoring. Riding high on emotion or not, Atlanta looks like they actually do have talent. Key to the Lightning’s rise is Martin St. Louis, like he always is- the guy may be 28, but he plays as if he isn’t a day over 21. What sparkplug this guy is.

-Finally, what would a DG’s Quick Hits be without something on the New York Rangers? Well, the team’s in a bit of a slump, with one win in their last four, that coming against the hapless Islanders. So the playoff celebrations have been put on hold…unless the Rangers actually decide to buy tickets for their players. May be a cliche, but it’s obvious the Rangers are lacking the one thing money can’t buy- smarts.