Archive for March, 2009

NHL NOTES . . .

March 31st, 2009

RANGERS 3 NEW JERSEY 0

Last night’s mismatch at New York’s Madison Square Gardens was for the Rangers a coming out party so to speak grabbing a massive two points in the Eastern Conference in the process.

John Tortorella was on fire on the bench last night as every move he made including line match ups seemed to stymie the Devils. Torts who if you call a spade a spade got the Rangers job from GM Glen Sather because of his past years history with the Rangers and the fact that he is a known coach that pushes the players extremely hard.

Sather let go Tom Renney because the players coach approach didn’t seem to be working anymore on the Rangers roster. In comes Torts with rep in tow of being a knowledgeable son of a bitch coach that is just beside himself miserable when the team loses. Not to mention every player no matter what the talent level gets called out on the carpet over play.

Torts is still that demanding coach that holds players accountable and wants the game played to a tee his way or the highway and his approach with Tampa Bay worked for a while but then he hit a wall and ran out his tenure for being in the players faces.

Pat Burns, Mike Keenan and Torts have that rep that you can only take so much of them as coaches then they have to move on because it’s just too much after whatever amount of years especially if you don’t have success.

Torts got a few more years out of Tampa because he won a Stanley Cup pushing and pushing his players to the max that season.

Last summer after Torts was fired he figured he wouldn’t be out of coaching work long with so many openings in the NHL. But he never figured that his hard ass reputation and the fact that the players got sick of him really wanting him out when it finally came to it last season with Tampa.

He couldn’t get a job it really is as simple as that in the NHL with all those job openings and closing last summer he settled on working in television in Canada for TSN to at least stay in the face of hockey management.

Well, it worked when the Rangers started to play poorly Sather came calling for the tough but smart Torts. Now in New York the moral of this story is I have seen a difference in Torts coaching style.

Yes, he still is very clear that his team will play his way or else and that the team will follow his team concept every shift of every game. But Torts who has not softened since he was hired to come in and change the culture of stroking players that would have been a mistake.

But Torts is far far more encouraging than he ever has been in the past at least 4 different times Torts came down the bench to pat the players on the back. Sean Avery was among those players who was really involved skating extremely well last night creating things for the Rangers.

After doing what Avery does stirring the pot with aggressive forecheck and play Torts came over to Avery on the bench and gave him the old that’s the way to do it Sean. Maybe just maybe Avery and Torts are a match made in hockey heaven.

But Torts cannot really be happy with what Avery did late in the game with Jersey tough guy Dave Clarkson basically pretending to start a fight dropping a glove and then pulling the shoot getting thrown around by Clarkson.

The game was over, the extra penalty Clarkson got meant nothing to the game so Avery would have been better off win or lose standing up with honor and fighting Clarky. This was pure bullshit and typical Avery, the Avery that makes you want to rip his head off if you are playing against him.

BURKE BRINGS “SLAP SHOT” HANSON TO TORONTO

Leafs GM Brian Burke has really made his team “tough rule” with Toronto a reality with this move as GM. Burke if nothing else knows how to grab headlines in Toronto.

Christian Hanson has signed a three-year entry level contract with Toronto.

The son of Dave Hanson of the famed Hanson brothers from the move “Slap Shot”, Hanson plays forward with the NCAA’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

At 6′4″ and 225 pounds, Hanson is considered to be a sturdy two-way centre who scored 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points in 37 games for the Fighting Irish this season.

PANTHERS BATTLE FOR PLAYOFFS

Florida Panthers play Ottawa Senators to begin the first of the three in a row at home tonight. The team in the sunshine has six games left in the NHL regular season.

Pete DeBoer who has done an outstanding job in his first year as Head coach in the NHL said “There’s no doubt winning and losing streaks are about confidence. From your goaltender, to your power play, to everything. When you’re on a losing streak your not getting a big save, your power play not cashing in”.

The Panthers are now about to battle it looks like with only the Montreal Canadians as the Rangers seem poised to set themselves apart from the pack.

DeBoer will have to continue to push all the right buttons for the wet behind the ears Panthers who have for the first time in a long ass time been involved in meaningful games at this time of the season.

DeBoer’s ballsy move of throwing Craig Anderson in the net in place of number 1 G Tomas Vokoun worked in Philadelphia and Dallas and they’re back to within one point of eighth place Montreal in the Eastern Conference.

For Hockey God I’m Dave Frost

www.joneslimousine.com

Monday’s Games and Picks

March 30th, 2009

Tonight’s Picks

NJD @ NYR: Take RANGERS

SJS @ CGY: Take FLAMES

DAL @ PHX: Take STARS

RANGERS-DEVILS BATTLE

March 30th, 2009

AVERY MEETS NEW JERSEY

Sean Avery shoves it up New Jersey goalie Marty Brodeur’s ass when he screens the tender during the Rangers power play and then the play comes back and Avery scores the goal on Jersey. Watch it on the video above . . .

Tonight the Rangers meet the Devils in New York for a match up that we possibly could see repeated in the playoffs and without question is MUST WATCH TV.

The game is on Versus in the United States and  carried by TSN in Canada at 7pm. Rangers are in a battle for playoff contention still just ahead of the the Habs who have 86 and sit in the 8th and final playoff position one point away from the Rangers. Then you have the Panthers who have 85 points in 9th battling to get one of the final two spots up for grabs.

This is a must game for the Rangers with no room for error or time for antics as the Rangers are in a playoff fight for their lives. Coach John Tortorella was brought in by General Manager Glen Sather just for this type of pressure. Torts is a high strung coach that does well under the limelight and pressure that playing in Broadway provides.

Sather also made several good moves at the deadline bringing in Avery along with some offensive injection not the least of which has been former Maple Leafs forward Nik Antropov.

Some of the story lines for tonight’s Eastern Conference battle in the New York area will be:

Avery’s crease crashing antics that brought in the Avery Rule in the NHL.

Avery vs Brodeur after the elimination game Avery called Marty ” Fatso” in a post game interview.

Avery vs Dave Clarkson battle that has gone on every game that they have played against each other.

Avery playing for the first time against his Ranger mentor Brendan Shanahan who now skates for the crosstown Devils.

Scott Gomez former long time Devil fighting to get his game back to where it was when a Devil has to show up and have a great game against his old mates to help his new teammates secure a playoff spot.

BIG GAME

It’s to bad that the game doesn’t mean more to the Devils in the standings.

But if you know General Manager Lou Lamoriello like I do you will know that any game against the hated Rangers who have over the years stolen players like Gomez and Bobby Holik away from the Swamp only to drive Lou nuts MEANS EVERYTHING.

Lou would love the Devils to lead to the Rangers losing out on a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Lou’s reasoning is simple he believes whole heartily that they ( The Devils) do things in hockey the right way building through draft picks and not over paying players.

Lou goes after character players and believes in loyalty to the organization which made it odd that he brought back Holik years after Bobby bolted to New York for the cash when he was a free agent.

The Rangers under Sather have opted to spend & spend when that’s not enough spend some more. Sather under the cap system has been restricted but still throws money around to certain players as free agents case in point last summer bad deal for defenceman Wade Redden.

This game has playoff implications and so many great side stories it will be a must watch for any real hockey fan.

For Hockey God I’m Dave Frost

NHL GAMES & PICKS

March 29th, 2009

For in depth look into the NHL teams records and preview of tonight’s games please go back to the “Home Pageon Hockey God, at the bottom lower left hand side:

Click on “Scoreboardand review every game by clicking in the individual games being played on Sunday.

Tonight’s Picks

NSH @ DET: Take RED WINGS

STL @ CLB: Take BLUE JACKETS

OTT @ TBL: Take SENATORS

VAN @ CHI: Take BLACKHAWKS

BOS @ PHI: Take FLYERS

COL @ ANA: Take DUCKS

MIN @ EDM: Take OILERS

HOCKEY HITS FOR SUNDAY

March 29th, 2009

ABOVE FIGHT BETWEEN TOOTOO VS. STAUBITZ

It couldn’t have happened to a guy in hockey that deserves it more that plays a certain role since coming into the league he continuously cheap shots opposing players.

Yes, the fight that saw Nashville’s Jordon Tootoo get pummeled by the Sharks Brad Staubitz could only say one thing about it in hockey …. It’s about time!

Tootoo runs guys from behind, throws punches after the linesman come into the altercation and at times head hunts with his hits. He plays a game that I respect because he backs up his actions on the ice and doesn’t turn away from fights, but he has always gone overboard with the other stuff.

GM David Poile shockingly reportedly called the league office after this fight because he felt that Staubitz used tools learned by ultimate fighting and he felt that was improper. Doug Wilson Sharks GM was irate that Poile would call the league and not himself to discuss the incident further between them first.

Tootoo had it coming that much is known around hockey among the tougher players and there is definitely elbows thrown in the fight that you can clearly see when the video slows down above. The NHL reportedly has said a fight is a fight and they can do nothing about the odd elbow landing with punches.

REFS TARGET AVERY?

It seems that every time Sean Avery is on the ice in the games that I myself have watched with the Rangers the refs are watching him very closely almost at times way overboard. Most refs won’t always call it but some are and that is wrong and John Tortorella wants the league to know.

According to the New York papers the players are noticing this trend as well and think it’s not fair.

“I’m the first one to say that Sean makes his own bed with some of the things that happened, but I think he’s done his penance here,” Tortorella said. “All I want is, I hope he’s given a fair shake. He does something stupid on the ice, give him a penalty. If it warrants him getting kicked out the game, kick him out. The way he’s trying to concentrate on the game, and the way he’s trying to play, I hope he gets treated fairly.”

Referring to Avery,  Henrik Lundqvist said, “It comes to a point where we’ll probably have to have a discussion with some guys about this. He gets hit from behind , he gets slashed, there’s no calls. I expected it the first couple of games, but . . . ”

The low-key captian Chris Drury was outspoken as well. “I do think that Sean is a marked guy,” Drury said. “He’s played extremely hard and clean since he’s been back.”

Typical of the league to over play this and shame on any ref that allows anything from the outside creep into the game itself and this is from me I hate the kid. Let the game dictate the calls not the boardroom or bias people have for Avery.

PANTHERS HAVE DALLAS SEEING STARS

Saturday’s huge playoff implication game between the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers put the final knock out punch to the cocky stars.

Even the Stars own announcers while I was watching the game sounded cocky only to have them eat their own words when the Panthers stormed back for the critical win.

The Stars loss a 6-3 beat down at the hands of the Panthers pretty much ends any playoff hopes for the Stars. As for the Panthers they are still in the mix in the East with the victory giving them 85 points one point out of  8th and the final playoff spot.

So that leaves a log jam in the 7th-8th and 9th spots that currently belong to the Rangers, Habs and the Panthers. Both the Panthers & Rangers have 6 games left and the Habs 7 there by bringing this right down to the wire. I know as a Canadian I should want the  Canadian team to get in but I have a soft spot for what coach Pete DeBoer has done with the young Panthers roster.

TWO DEFENCE AWARDS

The NHL needs to bring in a second award for defenceman to go with the Norris Trophy winner.

This season has made it more prevalent than other years but this is a trophy that must be tweaked for the end of the season awards that moves to Las Vegas this year.

A trophy for the best defenceman as is the Norris and then another for the best offensive defenceman. I don’t care what you call it but it needs to change to reward both good solid defensive play and then the offensive D that still keeps his defensive responsibilities in tact.

This season the offensive defenceman would go to Washington’s Mike Green who is well on his way to a 30 goal 70 point season to lead the NHL.

Defensive award would go to Zdeno Chara who not only takes great care of his own end for the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins but he himself has 16 goals and is good for 43 points.

TORONTO CALL UP FIGHTING HIS WAY

Defenceman Phil Oreskovic has been listening to General Manager Brian Burke talk the last few months about how he wants his Leafs players to play the game.

For whatever the former OHLer lacks in terms of the defensive zone he makes up for in toughness. Oreskovis fought Calgary tough guy Andre Roy a few weeks back but then last night taking on and starting the fight with the Bruins tough youngster Milan Lucic.

Burke has said that there are at least a half dozen NCAA players that could be ready for NHL action next season. Matt Gilroy is a kid that Burke has watched very closely this season and is among the teams interested in landing the college kid.

KOHO TO RETIRE

Long time NHL referee Don Koharski is set to retire from the NHL April 9th.

Koharski is a solid ref that has a rep for letting the players play and is among one of the refs that players respect in the game.

Best known to the public years ago for the ” have another donut” incident/remark with then Devils coach Jim Shoenfeld causing the refs to walk out on the job in support of Koharski.

For Hockey God I’m Dave Frost