(Editor's note) Okay, we're a bit late this morning. Call it casual Friday. Couldn't decide between the Hawaiian shirt and the old-school Rick Vaive sweater.
(actually, it's technical problems. and we're not talking about the coffee machine)
Over to you Chris.
Leafs win 4-3, everybody's happy except maybe the guy who had the most to do with it. Ken Campbell's excellent job on Kyle Wellwood's night against the visiting Habs includes the observation that the kid did it while toiling on the fourth line. Not bad. (And for a rant on all that, try out this morning's JABS opening post.)
Augmenting Ken's work, we add a few little notes of our own for you to digest:
Alex Steen. One of the other young 'uns had a quieter game than Wellwood on the scoresheet, if not on the ice. He tracked back quicker than Chad Kilger to check a Montrealer who had nothing but an open net in front of him, and would've had the assist of the night if Kilger hadn't have been stopped on Steen's clever feed from behind the net. That's one goal saved, and another almost scored.
Other good stuff was Steve Thomas's goal, Stumpy starting the play with a nice pass to Ian White then cannily following into the slot to stuff in the rebound of White's slapper; Antropov getting up off the ice not once but twice after crashing heavily - and creating the Leafs' first goal with a nice screen job in front of the net; JF Racine's second good half-game of the preseason in goal, including a nifty glove snare that was his cue to exit; they got more physical as the game went on, the forechecking getting a little more pointed and the area just outside the Habs' crease growing congested.
Not so good: the Leafs looked slow in the first period, especially during three early power-plays when Montreal's penalty-killing box showed off their superior team speed. Tellqvist's flopping style cost him on Montreal's second goal. And the Habs' first goal was a breakdown of a Leafs clearance, just about everybody on the ice out of position.
On to Spencer with the links du jour.
Regulars to this space will recall Chris’s fine work at trainng camp last week – today we’re thinking he’s glad we’re not covering the Rangers. According to Newsday:
On Wednesday night, led by Army Rangers, groups of players and club staffers rappelled down a mountain with M-16s strapped over their shoulders. They pulled or pushed a Humvee up a steep hill. They rescued a 'downed airman,' carrying a stretcher through an obstacle course. They crawled through a swamp. … And yesterday morning, they were stunned by a staged hostage situation at a nearby building that included shots fired (that were blanks).
Those of us who know Chris, would agree he could actually handle that kind of stuff. Jaromir Jagr, we’re not so sure.
Yesterday we discussed Harry Sinden’s rant on the "flow" of the game. The penalty parade continues: after 28 calls in a Philly 2-1 win over the Islanders this week. "The only real flow was the steady stream of players getting in and out of the box." Worried? Flyers say relax.
First call in Carolina last night: 49 seconds in. What took so long?
"What they (have done) is what they told us they would do," Lightning coach John Tortorella tells the St. Pete Times. "The league is serious about this."
So the players will adjust. Good line from Bolts D-man Dan Boyle.
"It’s like a shock treatment right now."
Says Vinny Lecavalier: "I love it. There’s no clutching or grabbing, you have more ice and you don’t get as tired having to fight through," he said said after Tuesday’s game in Montreal. "It was a very fast game Tuesday. It was good hockey to play."
That's what's it's really about, isn't it? Keep the skilled players happy, give them the freedom to show their skills, get the coaches coaching offence.
Coupla weeks back we predicted Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo would have a big year, playing for his cushy contract. Last night he stopped 23 of 24 shots in the first period and 31 of 32 before sitting down half way through the second. The Panthers gave up 54 shots in a 4-3 win (!). This rate, Luongo’s going to be done long before the Olympic break, which he won’t get, playing for Team Canada (hopefully facing a lot fewer shots).
Out west, they’re talking up a Oilers-Canucks rivalry. (Though the Flames will have a say in how the west was on). This was the NHL’s plan all along with their new ‘unbalanced’ schedule. Which is why we won’t see the Red Wings this year. But Ottawa eight times.
"I think it will happen quickly because I was looking at our schedule, and there comes a time where we play Tampa three times in 10 days," says Bobby Holik. "And believe me, hockey is a very emotional game and things happen."
Last word to Mike Keenan, sharing regrets in leaving the Rangers after ending a 54-year Cup curse.
"We had a young team based on today’s standards, but we had a lot of experience. Just look at Mark [Messier]. He was in his early thirties and played 10 more years. We had a chance to do it again."
We just want the Leafs to do it once.