Major Hockey Talk

Hello hockey fans. I hope you are enjoying the season thus far even if it has been a bit whacky. A bunch of topics to talk about for the teams I have seen thus far.

I have not been able to watch much of the Western Conference teams, but here are the ones I can comment on.

Chicago Blackhawks
I am rooting for this team, BIG TIME. A respectable Original Six team that lost recogntion and respect over the years. Yes, my condolences go out to the Wirtz family and it is a shame to see the hockey world lose someone, regardless who the person is. But, this marks a new era for the Hawks. I must say, I love watching this team and its youth. If you can catch them on Center Ice, I recommend you watch them. This is a group of players that are playing to prove a point. They are growing together and I saw it all in last night’s OT win over the Dallas Stars. When Jonathan Towes took that wild slapshot, which hit Robert Lang’s back and in the net, the unit on the ice cheered and team hugged as if they won some sort of championship. These guys are bonding in a special way and I am almost sure that in three years or so, the Blackhawks will be a playoff contender once again. Patrick Kane is fun to watch. Towes has a lot of jump to his game. Brent Seabrook is back to his rookie campaign form. Duncan Keith has such smoot skating skills. I mean, you start liking these young players and you just cheer them on. So, I wish the very best for the Hawks, who are playing hard without star winger Martin Havlat. Very cool team to watch.

Speaking of the Dallas Stars, talk about a lame team to watch as sometimes they play these low scoring games that make you think you were back in the mid 1990’s. I say shame on Mike Modano and the rest of the vets for letting down rookie goalie, from Switzerland, Tobias Stephan. The guy played fantastic goaltending, was so flawless, seconds away from earning his first shutout in his first NHL start, and his teammates took lazy penalties that led to the tying goal with a six on three, and the power play carried over in OT which sealed the victory for the Hawks. Very shameful and these guys are veterans. They should know better.

Edmonton Oilers
I don’t care what the record will be by April 2008 for the Oilers, but this team rocks. Talk about exciting youth on the ice with Andy Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Robbie Schremp…and the rest of the young group. I watched some of the home-and-home series against the Vancouver Canucks and the Oilers play hard with full effort. The fans may get upset to not see the team win, but they should be loving what they see on the ice with this young Oilers team. Such a bright future and there is a lot to appreciate the hard work they put on the ice. They really skate and wow do they skate. Very exciting to watch and the Oilers won’t be out of the playoffs too long as in a couple of years or so, they will be a tough team to beat. But still, I do not like the new jerseys with the orange shoulder patches gone!

Nashville Predators
What a chaotic team! But, they are also battling hard. This team has had major off the ice issues and still do. Now that billionare Ballsillie may jump back into the picture, hoping he won’t screw around again, it will be more chaotic. I like how Jason Arnott is stepping up and trying to lead a team that did not improve, at all. And hey, why did anyone have so much confidence in Chris Mason? I like the guy, he is a good goalie, but just because he had 40 games last season does not mean he would have become the full time starting goalie. I am not going to say that trading Tomas Vokoun was a mistake, even if the locals may think so since he was dearly loved off the ice. But, GM David Poile should have at least secured the goaltending tandem with someone that could take over in case Mason flops. So, I speculate that if Mason does not play up to expectations, which I believe were wrong to have in the first place, then a great fit would be Robert Esche.

Atlanta Thrashers
Please fire Don Waddell. He is obviously uncapable of running a National Hockey League club. What else can I add to this? Ummm….fire Waddell. It’s just shameful to watch a team get better for the past seasons, and then the guy screws it up. Just fire him already, he is incompetent.

Florida Panthers
Finally starting to come together. Tomas Vokoun had a rough start, but for two straight games he has been excellent by shutting out the New Jersey Devils and making 40 saves to stop the Tampa Bay Lightning from tying up the game. The young players are adding offense with Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, and Rosti Olesz. Richard Zednik earned his first goal as a Panther last night, thumbs up, and Olli Jokinen is…well…Olli Jokinen. But if I had to pick the two most outstanding players so far for this team, I would pick Nathan Horton and Cory Murphy. Horton has been having monster performances. Yeah he scores goals with a whicked shot, but he has added more physical play to his game. He used Aaron Asham as a punching bag at the home opener. He has been passing the puck very smoothly. He is due for another improving season. Cory Murphy on the other hand is a real gem on the power play. Such a smart player, great on ice vision and he is the very definition of a TRUE power play QB. In recent seasons, there has been a mistake, I believe, in labeling certain defensemen as PP QBs. Someone like Bryan McCabe or Sheldon Souray. They don’t really create the plays, they just score with a great shot. That’s cool and what not, but that does not make them QBs. Murphy can score on the PP with a very good shot, but he makes plays happen. What an awesome find for the Panthers.

Toronto Maple Leafs
They are becoming the new soap opera show of the NHL. It is such a young season and judgements are made after each game. They win, they’ll make the playoffs. They lose, they won’t make the playoffs. Some Leafs fans are starting to sound like politicians that flip flop. Look, here is the bottom line. The season is young and there is a long road ahead for this team to get it right. Can they? Of course they can. It takes time. Paul Maruice is an excellent coach. The players ARE GOOD PLAYERS. I think the issue was, is, and will be John Ferguson Jr. I like him because he works hard. He tries to do his best with the best of intentions. I admire that and he is also quite a young guy to be a GM. At that age to be the GM of such a huge team? It’s tough. So much pressure comes from everywhere. I think for his own sake he’d benefit from getting fired and running a team that is much calmer, has a tighter budget, and a lot less pressure. He’d be ideal for a team like the Atlanta Thrashers. You just cannot build a defense that is what….around $15M worth, and see it play poorly allowing four goals a game, and nearly 35 shots a game. I rather have a no-name defense that allows two goals a game and fewer shots a game at this point. I think the players are good, but they are not fitting in. It will be a rough ride for Toronto, and I believe they will make the playoffs, even if I still have no confidence in Vesa Toskala yet, but if they miss the playoffs then it needs to be dismantled and pull a pre-lockout Rangers, and post-lockout Flyers house clean up. Let Sundin walk. It was tough to see Brian Leetch go for the Rangers, but it sets a new beginning and sometimes such a major change is what’s needed. Still, it is all just speculation for now and we will revisit this topic near the end of the season.

Ottawa Senators
Kudos to Martin Gerber for playing like he did in Carolina’s Cup year. He was stellar against the Rangers last night. Absolutely stellar. The Rangers were ready to score a flurry of goals, but Gerber shut the door. Ottawa is looking great, but I am not sold on them yet. Why? They are leading the league in total number of shots allowed on goal with an astonishing 234.
You really think they are that good now? Wait until the other teams get in sync, start scoring, and Ottawa will start suffering.

New York Rangers
Not such a bad start considering that I expected this new Rangers team to struggle and look lost for most of the first half. Chris Drury and Scott Gomez have yet to produce more, but it is nice to the two new overpayed free agents show a lot of work ethic. They are trying hard, and that is what I appreciate. Unlike the old days where free agent Rangers acquisition slacked off, these two really work. As a team, they are skating just fine. They were buzzing against the Senators last night, and did so as well against the Washington Capitals the game prior. Michal Rozsival and Marek Malik are a bit inconsistent, and let me say this about Malik. I stand by him and support him all the way. I was disgusted as a Rangers fan to see other Rangers fans attending the home opener booing Malik as he was intriduced on the ice. You have got to be kidding me. What kind of classless bums do that? Very unnecessary and a stupid way to put Malik in such a tough position. Fedor Tyutin and Dan Girardi have been a surprising pair as they are rock solid in their own end. Amazing how these two youngsters just found chemistry out of nowhere. Henrik Lundqvist has been good, but that’s it. Just good. He still has to pick up his game. Brendan Shanahan has no excuses. He has to bury his chances and while he is shooting like a mad man, he’s got to score goals. Other than that, I like this Rangers squad and they are on the right path. It’s a long season and they will find their place. This is a team made for the playoffs, and that’s when we will see what they will be capable of doing.

New York Islanders
Hitting a slump recently, so what? They are a solid team, and I still approve of GM Garth Snow. He put together a team that may not make the playoffs, but it competes and works hard. I like what I am seeing from Mike Comrie. He is really being responsible offensively. Now I see why Bill Guerin chose to come to Long Island, he actually appears to be a good leader. Isle’s fans have something to be happy about, that their team is finally in good hands and will compete.

New Jersey Devils
Yes, it is a new team and they too have to adjust, but this is not the Devils I have known for the past 15 years or so. Totally different attitude and feel. If they are solid defensively, their offense suffers. If they take a better offensive approach, their defense suffers. I like the new players, especially Danius Zubrus, but I really feel very unsure about this Devils squad. They just don’t seem to be that good. The only reason why they won against the Thrashers was because the Thrashers flat out stink. It’s still a long season, and I also find it tough on the Devils to play such a nine-game road trip at the start of the season. I can understand how it wears them down and I am sure they just want to go home and take a breather. So, I would not be too worried if I were a Devils fan right now, but I am very suspicious about this team. I guess it is a wait and see. By the way, I heard rumblings that it’s not guaranteed that Prudential’s stadium in Newark will be ready for the Devils home opener. It looks fantastic too. I think it will be ranked as one of the best stadiums in the league. It’s gorgeous.

And that’s that! I hope you enjoy the reading on a fine Sunday morning. Well, it’s quite cloudy down here in South Florida, but gorgeous temperature as it’s nice and windy, feels like mid 70’s, that’s about 25ish in Celcius for you Canadians up there. Enjoy the week, enjoy the games, and have a blessed rest of Sunday.

Thanks for reading,

Micki Peroni

21 Responses to Major Hockey Talk


    Did you take into consideration that ottawa has played the most games in the league when saying they have let the most shots? I don't think you are going to see the Sens getting beat n many nights this year.. They look like a team possessed, every line looks dangerous, they are playing responsibly defensively and the top line looks like thy can score at will..

    I love what you have to say about the hawks, I agree 100%, very exciting team with an exciting future.

    I caught the leafs pens game last night.. firstly the pens defense was terrible, especially down low, almost pathetic… But the leafs were equally bad, what is with McCabe and all the penalties?

    The Pens offense looks a little out of sync, they will be very dangerous when they get there act together… Crosby will start to rack up the points after getting the goal monkey off his back.. Did everyone see the relief on his face when he scored his 2nd goal? I don't think he counted the 1st one.

    I think the leafs need to sell everything and start over… the only player that is worth keeping is Kaberle, it will be sad to see Sundin leave the team but he needs to win a cup and that isn't happening in Toronto with the team they have…

  2. mikster says:

    I did take that into consideration and if you look at shots against per game then they areranked 27th, allowing 33.4. It’s not bad, and i am sure it will adjust, but i don’t think the Senators will be as good once the other teams start getting their games going.

    Definitely keep Kaberle and Poni, they are key components of a winner.

  3. gronk says:

    The pens defense being terrible is almost an understatement.  They need to find the solution.  Start with benching Sydor. Man that guy sucks.

  4. beckfan05 says:

    The reason why Malik gets booed is because hes been a liability in his own end way too much for a 1st pair defense man. And I think the fans have every right to show their emotions towards him if they are the paying customers. Hes a grown man making millions of dollars! I think youre a bit too sensitive.

    And I was at the game last night and he was booed loudly every time after he made that bonehead play at the blue line. Well deserved. Get over it.

    And I think Lundqvist has been better than good He has kept them respectable through the first five games as the offense sputters. Especially in the third period of the game against the Caps. He has a 2.02 GGA and a .943 SV%. Hes also made the third most saves in the league. Give the guy a little more credit than "good".

    And may I make a bit of a suggestion with the lines? I think Renney needs to move Straka to the middle of Jagr and Hossa, move Drury to the wing with Gomez and Shanahan, leave Dubinsy in thew middle of Prucha and Callahan and have Betts center Orr and Hollweg.

    Until Avery comes back that is.

    And does anyone know where Lindros is?

  5. turdfergusson says:

      I'm on the Hawk's bandwagon too Mik. This team has risen from the ashes from an era of ownership whose philosophy predated the  big 70's expantion. Don't like to walk on a man's grave but it was like Bill Wirtz was trying to run this franchise into the ground.

       It's really good to see that they're moving forward and have  established a bit of an identity. It looked like they had rebuilt a few years back with Bell, Calder and Ruutu but wango , Toews and company step in and have really made the future theirs with this organization. It would be nice to see them get that good young goalie.

       I mean c'mon this is an original six team. It would be great to see that Chicago Detroit thing re-heated. When the Hawks suck it's like the Bears (NFL) or Cubs sucking. It just doesn't seem right.

      As for the Isles , I think this team is going to surprise a few people . There are definatley more positives than negatives on this team. a young goalie who improves  every year reasonably solid leadership and coaching. O ya, and no Yashin. It's been said that he really wasn't that bad of a guy in the room but obviously this team is better-off without him.

      I couldn't agree with you more on the Leafs. Go all out and let JFJ complete the facelift. This way if he walks the plank he can take solace in the fact that it was his way because I don't think he has THE  final word … It's like there's a bunch of fat old men sitting around a big table in a darkened room somewhere in the bowels of Mapleleaf Gardens smoking cigars …


  6. Rico71 says:

    Who cares where Lindros is right now…

    He is finished. Too many injuries.

    Wasted talent.

  7. mikster says:

    He had a very good first game, he was solid against the Caps. He mostly does good things than bad things. It’s that when he does the bad things they are quite horrible. He did not deserve to get booed at the home opener when they introduced the team on the ice. It’s not being sensitive, it’s being respectful and sometimes Rangers fan are pathetic. Totally classless.

    Lundqvist has allowed some goals he should have had though, don’t forget about those.

    I agree with your idea of putting Straka in the middle with Jagr, but i still think they need more time to adjust for another five games or so.

    Lindros? Retired, unofficially i believe, but i think he is done and is working with the NHLPA.

  8. mikster says:

    I am glad you are on the Hawk’s bandwagon too. They still have Khabi so, that young goalie will have to come through drafting for now. If they won’t have one by the time Khabi’s contract is out, then there are some good young goalies out there that could be on the market. Al Montoya is one of them and it would make sense for the Hawks to bring an Illinois kid. They have the assets to trade for him too.

  9. jarcpitre says:

    Nice reading for a change, I really enjoyed it and agree on alot of your points. What team will show up in Buffalo tonight, I hope the one that beat the Islanders. I really expect another solid outing from Razor. GO LEAFS GO!!!!!!!!

  10. hatterson says:

    There *are* a bunch of fat old men sitting around a big table…they aren't in the bowels of the Gardens but they exist nonetheless.

    It's why, as hard as it is to say as a diehard Leafs fan, that Toronto will never be able to field cup contending teams year after year with the current ownership and management structure.  The board of MLSE has far too many egos on it for anything other than that to happen.

    Certain elements of it want the team to go one way (draft and development from the ground up) some want it to go another (be a big player in the FA market every year and land top name talent).  Some don't really know what they want but just want their guy in control.  It's why you had half the board saying JFJ has their full support and the other half trying to basically replace him (via Bowman or and one of the dozen other names floated around).

    The only reason the board gave up control of the Raps is because, lets face it, no one cares.  That isn't gonna happen with the most popular hockey team in the world (and possibly most popular sports team period).

    It also doesn't help that the 'owner' of the team (the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan) honestly doesn't care about winning a cup, they care about maintaining ridiculously high profits.  And that is something that the Leafs have done for many decades and with every game sold out as soon as tickets are available, that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

    The owners are happy, the upper management is quarrelsome, and you have people like JFJ in the middle who simply don't have the experience or hockey respect (nothing against the guy he's just too young) to stand up and take the reigns.

  11. CommonSense says:

    As a Blues fan, I am very happy that the Hawks are getting better through player development much in the same way as the Blues. It has been quite some time since a Blues-Hawks game has meant anything because one or both of the teams have been bad, and the game would have little meaning on the season standings. Now that they are on the upswing, much like the Blues, the rivalry can once again get mean and nasty! I look forward to some bloody battles for division supremacy… or at least a battle for 2nd place behind the "never gonna have a down year" Wings…

  12. wingerxxx says:

    Lindros really needs to walk away from the game.  He simply cannot handle an 82 game schedule anymore, and hasn't been able to for a long time.  His last 4 or 5 seasons in the league, in comparison to his early years, have been mediocre to just plain disappointing. 

    Interesting thought about Straka centering Jagr and Hossa, but I think he'd be overpowered in the middle against a lot of teams.  He is a very slight player.  Straka has been pretty injury-prone in the past when playing center, and I don't see any reason why that would change.  He's also not great on offensive-zone draws.  I like him much better at wing. 

  13. wingerxxx says:

    The Rangers record really doesn't reflect how hard they've been playing.  Sometimes chemistry just happens as a result of plain, hard work, and at least Drury and Gomez are showing that.  If they keep playing hard, we could see some good results soon.

    I kind of figured that Guerin would show up to play hard in Long Island.  This is his first shot at being a captain, and I just refused to believe that he would just coast through the season with the "C" on his sweater.  And it's nice to see Bryan Berard return there and score a goal in his first game back. 

    Why Don Waddell is still an NHL GM is beyond me.  I totally agree with that.  With the Tkachuk and Zhitnik trades, he's really set the franchise back.  He chose the wrong players to bank on, in the playoffs.  I wrote an article on this site in the spring calling him out, and I totally stand by it.  I can't imagine anyone rushing to defend this guy. 

    I cannot BELIEVE what some Leafs fans are putting their team through.  Blame Maurice!  Blame Ferguson!  I mean, good lord.  The season isn't evne 10 games old yet.  This coupled with the fact that a good number of Leafs fans expected Toskala to be the second coming.  Some realism needs to be injected into Toronto's media and fanbase.  I still think they can challenge for a playoff spot, but division crowns aren't won in the first month of a season.

  14. beckfan05 says:

    Thanks for the insight on Lindros everyone but all I asked was where he was. I know hes done as a player but all I was curious to know is if someone had signed him or not, thats all.

    As for Malik, the fans aren't classless because they booed him opening night. Classless is the fan behind me the other night yelling out, "Drive a Porsche Heatly!"

  15. beckfan05 says:

    The Rangers need to finish. How many goalmouth chances did they have the other night?

    And Shanahan leads the league in shots with no goals to show for and Jagr has 1 goal, a crappy tapper at the doorstep. Thats it.

    How good do Garardi and Tuytin look together on defense? I think they will be employed to teams top lines by the break.

  16. NjDEVSFN says:

    first off, nice article.

    second, the main arena is pretty much done. its definitely the surrounding area that wont be anywhere near done for a few years. remember, this place needs to be ready for 19000 Bon Jovi fans on the 25th.

    third, yes the Trashers stink, but i'm not sure you understand how much that win meant. it was the first Devils victory IN atlanta since March 04. they have terrorized us since the lockout ended (now 2-7). for the players around, the Trashers have been a major thorn in the side.

    lastly, right on about the 9-gamer. doesnt matter WHEN these extended road trips occur during a season. they could either make or break a season. at least the Devils have 73 games to make up for it. i'd be pleased with 4-5 or 8pts overall.

  17. wingerxxx says:

    I don't see any reason why Girardi and Tyutin shouldn't be matched up against top lines right now.  If you have something hot, you've got to take advantage of it.  If they can handle the job, then it takes pressure off of Malik and Roszival. 

  18. mojo19 says:

    I gotta say I'm surprised about Atlanta's 0-5-0 start. I wonder if they'll pick it up and play good hockey, or if they play mediocre all year and miss the playoffs?

    Also I just want to mention that my boy Nik Antropov has 4 goals and 3 assists for 7 pts in 6 games. He leads the league in +-

  19. Sens-or-Habs says:

    Well, your comment that the Sens have allowed a lot of shots on net, and that other teams will get better and then the Sens will have a harder time in the win columns.  It's also a strong possibility that the Sens defence will tighten up and allow fewer shots.  It's not like the defence of the Senators are players that don't know how to play, they've been able to shut teams down before. 

    I wouldn't count the Sens as a team that is headed towards a difficult year, just because they allow a lot of shots at this point in the season; they are a well rounded team.

  20. turdfergusson says:

    Thankfully as a fan of a smaller market franchise (Oilers) this will never be an issue because the emotional investment far outweighs the monetary investment by our group of owners. That being said , it's the reason why there's almost as much resentment toward the leafs as there is fanfare.

    One thing for sure though is that Leaf fans really love this hockey team and it's unfortunate things are the way they are. I think it would be great for someone like Mark Cuban to come along and light a fire under this team but how likely is that?

    You're right. Each sport has their flagship team and the Leafs, Yankees and Man Uniteds of the sporting world obviously operate on a different management model.

    Thx for shedding more light on this : )

  21. Archion113 says:

    Don't ever use the Florida Panthers in EA Sports '08.  Once the other team sets up in your zone, the entire team becomes statues.  Worse than any other team at this.  They all just freeze and do nothing, they won't even collapse infront of the net when you put it on protect net.

    I'm gonna write an article about the EA game.. see if we can get some peeps to talk about their expereiences with it…

    Sorry off topic…

    Good post Mick!

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