Northeast Division (News/Notes)

Ok, so most of you have probably never heard of me before. I have been reading articles and comments on HTR for almost two years now and other than a few odd coments here and there, I have been pretty much invisible. I am just returning from a 28 day trip offshore Newfoundland and now I’ll be home for 28 days and will find myself pretty bored at times. So you may see more of my artcles posted in the near future. Today I’ll just post some simple news and notes coming from the Northeast division. Anyway, here goes; take it for what its worth:

“The Leafs finally win!!”

As Hab fan and Leaf hater, I’m actually happy to see them finally pull one off. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, I was actually starting to feel bad for some of these guys. I’ve encountered Wellwood and Stajan on a number of ocassions here in St. Johns when the Baby Leafs were here. They are really great people and I was a big fan of the St. John’s Leafs. Man did I ever love watching Wellwood play. So sad to see the team move to Toronto. Anyway, I think this comeback victory against Tampa will give the Leafs confidence again, and as Maurice said, they’re going to win a few games now. However, I still only see them being an average team that should play slightly better than 500 hockey. Toronto should be in a dog-fight for the last two or three playoff seeds with a number of teams. Dont be fooled by this team that loss 7 straight games, nor by the team who was 4th after 25 Games played. Consistency is the key and so far, the Leafs haven’t had it. Its been a battle of the extremes, one minute they’re nearly unstoppable and the next minute they can’t pull off a win. Could make for a scary playoff team dont cha think? Thats of course, if they’re able to squeeze in.

“Raycroft or Aubin”

Sticking on the Leaf topic, I found it very interesting that Maurice opted to start Aubin last night at home. It turned out to be a poor decision with Aubin allowing 3 goals on 9 shots. However, Maurice was able to rally the troops and complete a comeback victory. The decision to start J.S Aubin
started to put doubt in the minds of some fans. Who really is the #1 goaltender. A strong performance by J.S last night could have really caused a controversy but right now, It’s Raycroft. This guy started the season on a positive note but tappered off a little recently. That being said, I don’t think any of the Leafs’ 7 losses can be put directly on his shouders. Its a team effort. Raycroft was brought in to be the #1 goaltender and it will remain that way for a while unless he blows it. Toronto gave up a high qualitiy prospect for this guy in Tuuka Rask. Even though Raycroft is a very good goaltender I don’t agree with this move at all. First, you trade away one of the leagues top Goaltender prospect, then you trade him to a division rival where he can possibly haunt you for years. I’d say the Leafs should have tried to somehow pull one of Gigure/Bryzgalov or Toskala/Nabokov from their respective teams. With the possibility of loosing Tucker in the offseason, they could have packaged him with a high pick or prospect to Anaheim or San Jose for a goaltender. Tucker could have been a great addition to one of those teams making a Stanley Cup run.But we know this won’t happen now because the Leafs have both Raycroft and Aubin.

“The Beasts from the East?”

Well its all but certain that the Sabres will win the East this year. 7 points separate them from 2nd (Atlanta). This gap doesn’t seem too far but were talking about the Buffalo Sabres here. The team is young, fast, skilled, you name it. When they get their complete roster back they should be even scarier. Baring some collapse or an incredible run by another team, the Sabres should finish #1 this year. I don’t think too many would disagree with me there. By the way, do any of you realize how tight this eastern conference is? only eleven points separate 2nd-13th in this conference. This is pretty amazing although were only 30 games into the season. Only four points separate 6th-13th. There are still many sweet, juicy playoof seeds up for grabs. Any takers?

“Ray Emery shuts the door”

Wow, did you see that game against Detroit last night? I only saw the highlights because I was watching the habs game, but Ray Emery looked amazing. He stopped 43 shots in a 3-2 win as he stoned the Wings all night long. Is there any question who the #1 goalie is now in Ottawa?

Emery: 11-6 0.925 Sv% 2.34 GAA
Gerber: 5-9 0.891 Sv% 3.35 GAA

I feel bad for Gerber after such a great season last year in Carolina. I think this guy actually folds under pressure. He bombed the first two games of the playoffs last year and is still struggling this year while playing for Ottawa. The pressure of playing well in a Canadian city is much higher than playing in Carolina. Maybe Gerber should have signed somewhere where hockey isn’t so popular.

“Can I see an ID Please?”

The referees must have asked this question to Samsonov last night after his two goal performance and a 4-3 win over the Bruins. It wasn’t just the two goals, but this guy was all over the ice last night. Everytime he hit the ice he would create scoring chances. Imagine if we got this kind of performance from him every night? Samsonov’s problem over the years has been his inconsistency. Once in a while he would play like an allstar, and then be invisible for the next two weeks. But man, did he ever impress me last night.

“Guillium Lat-en-Dresse”

For the first 15 games this guy had me pulling the hair outta my head. He could hit people but that was about it. After moving Latendresse on the top line with Koivu and Ryder, he has 7 Goals in 17 Games. If he had played on the first line since Day 1 and produced at the same rate, that would pace him for 34 goals in a complete 82 game schedule. He’s no Crosby, Ovechkin, or Malkin, but that aint too Shabby for a rookie. The guy looks more confident and stronger as time goes by. If nothing else, he’s proved that he belongs in the NHL and he’s an asset to his team. Anyone see how he out-muscled Chara for the game winner last night? It was a flukey goal, but it still came from hard work.

What will be done when Higgins comes back? Before throwing him back on the 1st line where he deserves to be, why don’t we first try him centering the Samsonov and Kovalev line? If this doesn’t work out, then put him back on the 1st line and demote Guy or Ryder to the 2nd. Personally, I would like to see:

Latendresse/Koivu/Kovalev
Samsonov/Higgins/Ryder

But im not the coach so I’ll trust whatever Carboneau decides to do. Its been working so far. How about those Special teams eh?

“Gainey and Kessel”

I’d like to say my thoughts and prayers go out to both guys and their families. Tough break for both, but im sure they will recover and be back soon enough. Get will soon Phil!… And Bob, I’m still praying for that miracle!….

Thats it for me fellas, have great day!
-HabsRus


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