Archive for the ‘Atlantic Division’ Category

February 21, 2003.

In front of 11,866 fans, which makes up 63.5% of HSBC Arena’s offered seating, the Buffalo Sabres are embarrassed by the Los Angeles Kings, losing 4-1.

Zigmund Palffy opens the scoring and puts the nail in the coffin with a third period shorthanded marker, the 11th such goal the Sabres have allowed already. As the center of recent trade suggestions, the Slovakian silences the discussions with his performance and gives the Kings further incentive to hold on to him.

But there is no quieting the anguish that exists for the Buffalo Sabres. Wins are scant, empty seats are visible in their home arena, Dominik Hasek’s withdrawal to Detroit remains a lingering problem, Martin Biron is overwhelmed by the increase in his goaltending workload and the allegations that team owner John Rigas committed fraud with his two sons casts a dark shadow over the club.

Bankruptcy declarations are uttered as a possibility while the National Hockey League controls the team. Everything is spiraling out of control in every way imaginable and the season cannot finish fast enough. (more…)

Certain players could not care less that yet another lock-out is plaguing the National Hockey League. Why is that? They already took the liberty of joining various leagues across Europe before the issue became inevitable and forthcoming.

There have been some incredible talents to come and abruptly go in the NHL, as money, playing time and a lack of consistency persuaded them to continue their careers elsewhere.

Tax-free terms on a contract, which the Kontinental Hockey League offers, are something most of us can only dream about. You can’t blame a guy for trying flying to those stipulations. (more…)

If Teemu Selanne is the ‘Finnish Flash‘, Ville Leino is coming dangerously close to being recognized as the Finnish flash in the pan.

Undrafted, but an accomplished player in Europe, Leino’s first North American contract was with the Detroit Red Wings. Those days in ‘Hockeytown’ didn’t last long and he has since received a look from two other organizations, showcasing mixed results.

Hardly a model of consistency, this puck-mover has played with the emotions of clubs that seen him as a suitor and for the most part, hasn’t warranted a place in their line-ups. While the Philadelphia Flyers saw Leino at his best, at least so far in his career, Detroit and Buffalo cannot share the same opinion.

Obviously, Leino’s status as a controversial and confusing figure aren’t without reasoning, which is why we shall dissect the curves in his National Hockey League dossier.

How does one exactly summarize a career that is merely 220 games old?

Honestly, it’s like one of the rides available at a fair or carnival being held in a mall parking lot: you get excitement, uncomfortable feelings and the occasional vomiting. (more…)

The 2003 NHL Entry Draft, perceived as one of the best in league history, churned out a bundle of cornerstone players in the first round–a few were also snagged in round two. And to think, such a coveted collection of players was forced to be put on hold for one year due to the lock-out. That distinction should have went to the class of 1999.

Going No.1 overall, Marc-Andre Fleury was chosen to fill the void in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net. Ask, and you shall receive. The 27-year-old has decently done what he’s supposed to–the Philadelphia Flyers beg to differ– after a rookie season that saw much trial-and-error experimenting within the club.

As the second player to have his name called, Eric Staal went straight to work with the Carolina Hurricanes by amassing 100 points as a sophomore and sparking the group towards a Stanley Cup. Florida picked up Nathan Horton and while he wasn’t exactly a leader, he wasn’t a bust either. Nikolai Zherdev, as talented as they come offensively, didn’t solidify his selection with the Columbus Blue Jackets. (more…)

Zero.

As of this moment, that is how many suspensions Matt Cooke and Steve Downie have served together this season. No, it is not a typo and there should not be a one added to it. Suggesting, prior to the regular season, that neither player would be forcefully withdrawn from a game or involved in a serious incident from October to April would be classified as a pipe dream.

Lo and behold, it is now a reality. Cooke and Downie, both of whom got their Ontario Hockey League start-up with the Windsor Spitfires, toned down their physicality and adjusted their playing styles. In contrast to some of their previous on-ice choices, they couldn’t have timed this one any better. (more…)

Good things take time; that’s just the way it is. As much as it might pains them to do it, coaches of the National Hockey League have to resist the urge of sending in boys to do the work of men–this is a reference to experience and readiness, not their manhood. Rushing prospects into a club is risky because it throws instant pressure on them and there is the very real possibility that they are not properly prepared. While the process might be a little slow, development is the top priority to keep the interests of these players at heart. After all, the image of a highly tuned star in three to four years beats seeing someone become damaged goods because he was utilized prematurely.

With Claude Giroux, the Philadelphia Flyers chose the patient approach. Selected in the 2006 Entry Draft, his progression was as follows: two more years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with a two-game NHL stint squeezed in there, a rookie season in which he kept his composure adamantly and a sophomore year that can hardly be constituted as a slump, but he was nowhere close to his potential. While he wasn’t quite spectacular in the regular season, his magical play really shone through in the playoffs. (more…)

Vancouver did not realize what he was capable of. Ditto for the Florida Panthers, as he failed to pass the test in training camp and quite honestly, the 23-year-old was unsure himself. Under his own admission, Michael Grabner deserved to be cut from a club that has gone one decade without a postseason berth and aims its advertising on their opponents – among other things that do not include the team itself. Whereas the dismissal from Vancouver was purely business because of their depth, being axed from Florida was almost insulting. Long Island didn’t seem to mind; they ran into problems on the injury front in September. So, against all odds, they made the 14th overall pick of the 2006 Entry Draft their property via the waiver wire.

“It’s another chance for me,” Grabner said. “I’m glad (the Islanders) took a chance on me. Hopefully I can pick up my game and help them out here.” (more…)