The First 10 Games Review
Greetings hockey fans. It has been a while, but hockey season is back on track and so far so good. The topic today is about the performance of the teams that have reached 10 games into the season, nearly equalling 1/8 completition of the 82-game schedule.
Toronto, Florida, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Phoenix are today’s teams. Just a note before I begin. I have an article waiting to be posted on here. Why is it on hold? We are waiting for an item to be sent to us so we can release our latest news of HockeyTradeRumors.com. It’s cool news, included in an article of mine. So, once it is posted, it may sound a bit outdated, but it’s worth a read to all members and guests.
Toronto Maple Leafs
So far the Leafs have shown some positives, and some negatives. Not bad for a team that is destined, as stated by media “experts”, to miss the playoffs. The record is above .500 (4-3-3), and the team has its moment of looking dominant. So far, they hold 4th place in the Eastern Conference, which means absolutely nothing since the standings will change constantly until teams start to settle in.
Toronto’s offense is not too shabby, recording 32 goals in 10 games. They are on the right track for offense if the manage to keep it up. Twelve of those goals were scored in two games. The 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators, and the 6-6 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils. Overall, in five games the Maple Leafs scored more than three goals. Could this mean inconsistency? The high scoring games came against teams that have been struggling. Can they pull it off againt teams playing well defensively? Time will tell, but I believe the Leafs don’t have such a strong offense and the lack of scoring touch will eventually become a problem.
Andrew Raycroft has been good in net so far despite the defense in front of him, which has been mediocre at best. Here is something interesting for you readers to know. As I was searching the goals against of the Leafs, I noticed that NHL.com and TSN.ca have different numbers. TSN shows that the Leafs have 36 goals against. That’s not true. Toronto has 33 goals against (NHL.com), which still stinks as they are slightly allowing more goals rather than scoring them. So, Raycroft has not been so bad after all, having a GAA of 2.81 and a SV% that is decent at .903. The goalie is still young and has the tools to become a solid starter.
Darcy Tucker has started the season well, scoring 7 goals. How far can he go, though? I don’t see the guy scoring more than 30-35 tops. Mats Sundin has 5 goals, 5 assists. So, he is off to a very good start and could possible continue a point a game. Kyle Wellwood has been a big surprise with his very good passing skills. The guy is tiny and frail though. As the season matures, he could be well checked by opponents. Jeff O’Neill is not doing so badly either as some people may have thought. Don’t be so harsh on the guy, Paul Maurice. He may go for a very useful 20 goal season. Biggest disappointment on the team has been Alexander Steen, just one goal.
On defense the team faces struggles. It is mediocre in its own end, and to simply put…it quite sucks offensively. How many goals scored by the defense? Just one goal. ONE? Bryan McCabe is the lone goal scorer from the blueline, but at least he also has 6 points in total. Where is Tomas Kaberle in all of this? This guy better step up his play. Was he not upset that the Leafs may have thought about trading him for Chris Pronger? If Toronto had a deal that would have worked, sending Kaberle to Edmonton, then this guy should be benched. Toronto stuck with him and his loyalty instead of landing one of the best defensemen in the league. The price thus far? Two assists and a -2 rating. Kaberle better start revving his engine soon.
Paul Maurice is off to a pretty good start. When the players pay attention to the details he wants them to follow, the team looks great. So, he has a plan, has a good system, it’s just that the players have to build chemistry and fully buy the system. Of course, whatever moves GM John Ferguson Jr. can make to improve the team, it could really help Maurice.
Up until last night’s disastrous loss, the Panthers have not been such a bad team. In fact, they started out as an excellent home team and a bad road team. The Cats recorded their first home loss in regulation last night as they handed too many power plays to the Hotlanta Thrashers. If not, they would have had another home win as they were in control of the game with a 2-0 lead. The problem with this team is lack of consistency, and perhaps an energy player with an aggressive edge. Injuries have not helped either, but it does not mean the Panthers lack talent. They have enough to win even when Todd Bertuzzi is missing, as well as Joe Nieuwendyk.
Alex Auld has had moments of brilliance, which is a great sign. Eddie Belfour a slow start, yet strong the past couple of games. Both the offense and defense show their solid and controlling moments, but the moment they make mistakes, the goal light turns on behind them.
Lack of consistency. It’s not such a major problem as time and more games played can fix it, but if it’s not fixed, then the Panthers won’t even come close to making the playoffs. It is early in the season and the team has new faces and is forced to step up without Roberto Luongo. An off-shift is not an option now. Olli Jokinen has been great, though, and Stephen Weiss has finally stepped up his game. Josef Stumpel is solid, but Nathan Horton needs to show more consistency as well. Three goals in 10 games does not cut it. He tries hard, as he bluntly stated after Martin’s minor criticism at Horton’s zero shots the past couple of games, but numbers show the final result. He has to start becoming an impact player, not just a depth guy scoring nearly 30 goals in a season. But, this is when Martin has to realize that he has to play the role of a coach and not a GM. I doubt he is working more as a GM now than a coach, but Horton needs a teacher, and Sunshine Jacques has been known to develop young talent. Well, he’s got young talent and it’s time to develop it.
The Luongo trade has worked out okay for now. Auld has had bad games, but superb games as well, especially the one against the Maple Leafs. Bryan Allen has also been good, despite a -4 rating. I have seen the guy play effectively, though, as his size makes a difference around his zone. Todd Bertuzzi is unfortunately hurt, and he has never been 100% ever since pre-season. Cannot blame him much for just one goal, but he has a point a game. Regardless, I have watch all of his 7 games and he makes a difference on the ice. The way he creates space and he passes the puck pushes Florida’s offense to a higher level. Once he gets back healthy and starts rolling, Panthers offense will catch up and start becoming a factor.
This was a trade that had to be made by Florida and the turn out is not so bad, but it’s inconsistent, just like the rest of the team. It is early in the season and the Panthers have time to improve. I still believe that if they fix consistency, they will make the playoffs. But, it has to happen now. Now is when the good teams are still struggling and that is when you take adavntage and steal points.
They are one of five teams having played the most games so far, and yet the offense ranks 17th in the league. The defense? Thanks to Roberto Luongo, it ranks 13th. Regardless, it’s working for them so far. The team is 5-4-1, and the Sedin Twins are rocking. Both have twin numbers, 11 points for Henrik, and 11 points for Daniel. The only difference between the two is that one has 5 goals and 6 assists (Daniel), and the other has zero goals and 11 assists. Marcus Naslund is still playing well, even without Bertuzzi, and Taylor Pyatt has recently been playing very well with the Sedin Twins, possibly mimicking Anson Carter from last season? Pyatt is only 25 years old and still has time to become a late bloomer. He wasn’t picked in the first round for just playing as a checking line forward, as he was used by Lindy Ruff in Buffalo. Let the guy play with talent and he may show he is worthy of a top six forward. Brendan Morrisson has not been as effective, but 5 points in ten games is not bad. Yet, I still believe the guy should be traded. The team will need offensive help, or else it will not last too long.
Ryan Kesler has been disappointing along with Mattias Ohlund, and Jan Bulis.
Alain Veigneault is doing a pretty good job, however. Could he be last year’s Tom Renney? Possible, but offense needs to be fixed by GM Nonis. I have stated in a hockey message board that if the Vancouver Canucks were to make the playoffs, all credit would go to Veigneault. He is a good coach and it was Nonis’s best move ever since taking over the reigns.
How is the Luongo trade working out for this team? Very well! Roberto Luongo is putting up his usual numbers and being the great goaltender that he is. Some people may say how stupid Florida was to trade him, but they need to be reminded that the team had no choice since Luongo and his agent took all efforts to reject anything that Florida offered, despite lying to the public saying they wanted to stay in Florida. Still, so far Vancouver is doing well and that’s what matters most. Will the team continue to stay above .500? The defense will help, but the offense has got to show up and win games decisively. Four of the five wins were one goal decisions, and the other was a two goal decision. Not good enough from the offense. That’s the defense winning games and the defense is very good, but not stellar enough to guarantee a playoff spot.
Los Angeles Kings
I never understood why some journalists said this team would be good and tough to beat, and good enough to maybe make the playoffs. They are not a bad team, but give me a break! And no, not from a Kit Kat bar (ha ha ha, British humor of the day). Anyway, the Kings will only get close 8th seed if the young players produce. So far Anze Kopitar is leading the way, but how long will that last? Not bad 11 points in 10 games for a rookie from Slovenia. Pat O’Sullivan? Send him back down, he is not working out with just 2 points in 9 games. He is great talent, he has to develop it getting top minutes, which he’d get in the minor league, not in the NHL. Mike Cammalleri, two thumbs up. Alex Frolov, doing alright. Not thrilling, but not too bad either. The offense scored only 22 goals in 10 games, allowing 28 against. That is not so bad either, but this team definitely does not spell out playoffs come April. Matthieu Garon has been excellent, though, being under 2 GAA and a superb SV% of .946 in five games. Dany Cloutier? Maybe he should go back to his older style mask.
Tell Wayne Gretzky to resign.
Thanks for reading,