Playoffs Around the Block, Big Apple Blossoms, Trade Deadline Effects, Leafs Hoc

A decade of games left; playoffs are rght around the corner.

The Big Apple will soon blossom as playoffs and record breakers are bound.

Trade Deadline Effects, how did they perform thus far?

It’s Leafs Hockey Talk

…..annnnnd, why your submitted article does not get posted. Check to see why.Playoffs are coming to theaters near you! Except if you are a fan whose team is not in the playoffs.

But what about the teams that are storming towards the playoff tree and are trying to make their way in? Though their playoff chances still remain slim, the Florida Panthers are the hottest team in the East with a record of 9-1-0 in their last 10 games. Eye-poppoing? It sure is to me. The Thrashers are very inconsistent and with the way the play, it’s very unconvincing if they have a real shot. They have the points, but Atlanta is easily capable of losing three straight games with sloppy play.

The Devils have been slipping as well with a 3-5-2 record in the last 10. Marty Brodeur hasn’t been the same either. Atlanta and Florida are really catching up quickly and the Devils are not the only ones in jeopardy. The Tampa Bay Lightning still struggle as well. The Canadiens are also barely clinging on, but they are capable of winning well above .500 in their last 11 games.

What will happen? Who knows! These teams have been playing too funky and there’s no way of telling. Florida is hot, but 6 points behind. They also have three key games left against the Tampa Bay Lightning. One against the mighty Senators and one against the Hurricanes. Two against Pittsburgh, two against Atlanta, and one against Washington.

Not a tough schedule left for the Panthers as they could gain at least 16 points in that stretch. Imagine that, had this team played about .500 hockey in the month of November, they’d be in the playoffs, or very close to at least.

Let’s not forget the Western Conference though. That’s the real Amazing Race. I have the San Jose Sharks as a sure lock for the playoffs, which means that either the Oilers, Canucks, or Avalanche will fall. Anaheim Mighty Ducks have gotten stronger after the trade deadline as they are the hottest team in the West (Brian Burke will make them a winner). Avalanche….I don’t know. I think the Oilers will do well, the Canucks have been slipping way too much in the month of March. It’s a tough call, but one team has to go, unless the Sharks just fall behind by a point or two in the last game of the season.

In my opinion, I see the Avs slipping out. In my realistic view, however, the Canucks miss the playoffs.

This is really pre-playoffs hockey. I think the Canucks need to make changes from behind the bench, and on the bench. Say bye to Bertuzzi, hire a new coach, find a goalie, and find a defenseman. The Avs management isn’t really looking much into this year’s playoffs. But they also need major changes, even after getting Theodore. The Oilers have a great group, unconvincing goaltending, but they should keep this core and get Samsonov to stay. They have the character, but I was disappointed at their acquisition of Dwayne Roloson; could have gotten a better one.

I think this is one of the most exciting playoff races I have ever seen in recent years, and it’s making this post lockout season look great.

The Big Apple Blossoms as the Blueshirts are ready to head back into playoff hockey. But, it’s more than just playoffs for the Rangers. Jaromir Jagr is just one goal away from breaking Adam Graves’ record of most goals scored in a season. He is a couple of points from breaking Mark Messier’s record of points in a season. Henrik Lundqvist is one win away from breaking the most wins by a Ranger rookie goaltender. And, Petr Prucha is a goal away from breaking the most PP goals record in a season.

Surely, this team is all about Jagr and Lundqvist in the media, but there is so much more to it. Kasparaitis deserves credit for sticking with the team. The guy could have received a contract buy-out (being paid 2/3 of his contract), and then could have signed with a team. More money for him, but he chose to be a Ranger. Credit to Straka and Nylander who are also carrying a good amount of offense. Credit to Marek Malik (who Larry Brooks called the worst UFA signing of the year, back in 2005) and Michal Rozsival for being one of the best defensive pairs in the league.

But most importantly, credit to the coaching and managing staff; from Slats to Renney. This team spelled out chemistry the moment it hit the ice. Chemistry on the offense with the Czechs, the one Swede, and the Canadian (Rucchin). Chemistry on defense. And chemistry with the grinders where Ortmeyer, Moore, Hollweg, and Betts all played in the minor league team.

And next season? Rangers are set with more young players to use if needed and if ready, such as Nigel Dawes and Jaarko Immonen.

The Apple is blossoming in New York. And It’s about friggin time!

How have the active teams at the trade deadline done so far?

Vancouver has been the most disappointing. Revamping the defense with a new goalie did not work. About ten games, or so, after the trades occured the new players should already adapt.

Anaheim slashed more salary yet gained more points. Two thumbs up for Brian Burke. He is leading the team in the right direction.

Sandis Ozolinsh has been the offensive weapon the Rangers wanted, even if his defensive errors are quite noticeable. Then again, he wasn’t brought in for defensive help, but for powerplay help which has been very hot.

The Oilers are still in doubts. I definitely expected a good winning streak and for the Oilers to be a lock in the playoffs, but it did not happen. Somewhat disappointing, but there is still time.

The Devils helped out their defense, which did not need help, and therefore are struggling to clinch their playoff position. Scotty Gomez was almost out indefinitely with an eye injury, but recovered. If the Devils lose Gomez or Elias, talk about a big OUCH! Trades at the deadline show to be useless.

Canadiens have benefitted from the trade deadline. If Huet goes down, or gets cold, Aebischer can easily step in and do the job. Simpson? Seems like an okay addition.

The Leafs failed miserably as Richardson hasn’t been a difference maker (nooooooo, really?).

Two thumbs up for the Islanders. Though still inconsistent, they look like a better team with younger faces. Yashin is their main worry, still. Maybe they can try to unload him this year as the years of his contract are less. If you were the Caps, would you not be interested in a Zubrus-Yashin-Ovechkin line?

Carolina, just hasn’t been the same ever since the Doug Weight trade and still not the same with the Recchi trade. A .500 record in the past 10 games. Questionable, but the playoffs is what decides the outcome of their trade deadline acquisition.

The Bruins made a joke out of themselves. While Thornton is leading the Sharks from rock bottom to playoffs hockey, the Bruins made things worse by trading Samsonov for…….some dudes. In the end, the Kyle McLaren trade worked out best for the Bruins with Brad Boyes. No need to grade the Bruins since Mike O’Connell got fired, and rightfully so.

The Kings……… major dissapointment. The streets talk about Dave Taylor getting fired if the team misses the playoffs, which is likely to happen. Parrish is a good player, Sopel is…..well….he’s Sopel, but if Parrish does not re-sign with the Kings then jeezy creezy….. the Isle’s sure ripped them off, and that’s a first!

Leafs Hockey

Why do I care writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs? Well, I keep seeing all these submitted articles on the Maple Leafs with all these interesting ideas, some are quite bizarre, and full of grammar and spelling errors (I’ll get to that later). And, they are all Leafs fans writing the same thing. So I figured, why not let the HTR audience get and outside view.

Now, I’ve said this a while back during the week where all 30 NHL teams were supposed to buyout contracts of players they could not fit under the cap. The two players I mentioned that should have been cut loose? Bryan McCabe and Eddie Belfour.

I am not going to say I was right, because certain events occurred, which hindered the Leafs season; events such as injuries. But, my idea back then was to start a rebuilding process. This is what the Leafs must do.

I know, I hear that ownership won’t allow JFJ, and blah blah blah blah. Whatever. It worked in New York City, it would work in Toronto. Rangers GM Glen Sather did exactly what owner James Dolan wanted. The marquee names, the big money. Sather did a horrible job at it, but he still managed to build one of the better farm systems in the league. When the CBA concluded with the salary cap, Glen Sather said in a Vancouver radio station that he will get to do things his way now. This New York Rangers team is a typical Glen Sather type of team. The media player, and the nobody players that get the wins. He got the right coach, the right staff, and the right players.

JFJ has to find the guts to do things his way because ownership will give up at some point. The owners are horrible as hockey managers, and they end up finding out (Dolan, Jacobs, Wirz) that it’s best to let the general manager do what he wants to do. If JFJ is smart enough, he’ll go against ownership rules and fire Pat Quinn (although I think that’s bound to happen anyway). He’ll let Bryan McCabe and his race for the highest bidder walk away. Luckily Belfour is injured, so no worries about cutting him off. Everyone wants that to happen.

But, if the Maple Leafs started a rebuild last off-season, they would not be making the playoffs. Will they now? Most likely, no. They could be in a position to get a very nice overall pick instead of being in that gray zone during the draft.

The Leafs need to change and build around their main core of Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Steen, Stajan, Ponikarovski, Wellwood, Kaberle, and Colaiacovo. Maybe McCabe will be worth keeping, but the guy wants a high salalry. He doesn’t want to play for the Leafs. He wants to play for the highest bidder. At a rebuilding stage, that is not what the Leafs need.

But before any moves are made, JFJ needs to hire a new coach. Paul Maurice could be a solid choice, but the candidates are plenty out there. The list of unrestricted free agents is quite large this season, so there are players to sign. But, that talk should be reserved before July 1, 2006.

It’s time to rebuild in Toronto and it is possible. Make it similar to how the Rangers did it and good things can happen. REBUILD!!!

And for those of you who spend a good amount of time submitting interesting articles, you have to take notice of this. I can understand if some spelling errors happen, or some grammatical. I do them as well. But, when the errors are too many I am not going to make all the corrections. I’ll gladly help you write an article if you personally send me an article and tell me what changes could be made. I just deleted a bunch of articles in a row because they all started so horribly. It’s not to be offensive to any of you. If you spend a good 20 minutes on an article, that’s precious time you put into for HTR and for the hundreds of hockey fans that would read that article. Reward that precious time by correcting the mistakes on your article. Capitalize the first letter of words at the beginning of a sentence. I am not asking for perfection. I am asking for quality, and it’s for your own good as well.

Thanks for reading as always,

Micki Peroni

Vice Administrator