Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Leafs' all-time moments

Since this is the off season, I thought I would be sentimental. Today, I would like to blog my favourite moments in Maple Leafs history. Since I am extremely old, I will not be offended that most of you will think I am an old coot.

January 2, 1992 - The Day Dougie Arrived


Or as I call it, the day that Doug Risebrough lost his brain.  The moment that Doug arrived in Toronto, it saved the Leafs' season. Many people call the trade the most lopsided trade in history.  Doug Gilmour, Rick Wamsley, Rick Nattress, Jamie Macoun, Kent Manderville went to the Leafs. Going to the Flames, Greg Berube, Alexander Godynyuk, Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, and goaltender Jeff Reese. To this day, many people feel it cost Risebrough his tenure in Calgary as the GM.

Leafs vs. Isles 1978 Playoffs


Lanny Macdonald's goal in game seven vs. the Isles was awesome.  The series itself was billed as David vs. Goliath. But it turned into a classic, each team taking momentum back and forth. What made it so awesome for me was the fact that I gave the Leafs no chance to win it. What made it sweeter for Lanny was that he struggled most of the season. Coming up with the winning goal was an emotional moment.

1967 - Leafs vs. Habs for the Cup


The series was the perfect Cinderella story. Everyone was making fun of the old farts. The Leafs had the oldest team in the League, led by their goaltending tandem of Bower and Sawchuk. Terry Sawchuck was 38 years old. Johnny Bower was 42.  Red Kelly being changed from a defenceman into a centre was bad enough, but he was also in his forties. Watching these underdogs defeat the untouchables was priceless. Dave Keon was in his prime leading the Leafs in scoring in the regular season, and he was the leader of the Leafs in the playoffs. Dave Keon was the MVP and recipient of the Conn Smyth trophy.

Dougie Gilmour Playoff Goal vs. Blues


A fantastic game played between two equally-matched teams. The highlight was a goaltender battle between Curtis Joesph and Felix Potvin. Curtis Joseph was not human that game, facing 60 shots in the double overtime loss of 2-1. Gilmour made dipsy-doodle from behind the net and Joesph could not recover in time for the winning goal.

I have plenty more, but those are my best moments as a Leaf fan.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Flames Then and Now

Originally blogged at Flames Scratch Pad

I dare say the Flames'  defense has never been so highly vaunted since 1989. Most people are putting the Flames defense in the top four in the League. Some say as high as second in the League just behind the Preds blue line.  How good is this defense? I think excellent, but only time will tell how good they are.

So, I thought I would compare the 1989 team with this year's defensive corps. Which defense is better? This is obviously subjective, but let's have a look:

1989 Flames Defence

Al MacInnis

Maybe the best dman on the Flames ever.  Al had three 20-goal seasons as a defenceman.  Although this was in a different era of hockey, twenty goals is comparable to fifty goals as a forward.  Al was a consistent all-star while with the Flames.

Gary Suter    

A terrific playmaking defencemen who would have been number one on most teams. But because Al, Gary never got any of the limelight. That suited Gary just fine.

Jamie Macoun

A steady stay home defencemen who you could always rely on. Jamie knew his limitations and rarely got caught out of place. Jamie was the player who blocked the shot when needed.  He was a stable influence on the defense to calm things down.

Brad McCrimmon

Brad was a solid defenceman with some offensive punch. Mostly on the ice to cover up mistakes.  An excellent penalty killer with a no nonsense mentality.

Rob Ramage   

His best years were with the Blues. By the time he got traded to the Flames, he was a service defenceman.  He was mostly there to fill a hole on the defense.  And he did. A solid dman who could be relied on in the defensive zone.

Dana Murzyn

A number six defencemen who played limited minutes.  Nothing more nothing less. He did what was expected of him. The only thing was, there not much expected of him.

Flames 2017

Mark Giordano 

The leader, the heart, and soul of the team.  Mark has been so steady for so long. When the Flames needed a hit, goal, or play, Mark is their man. He does everything well on the powerplay and penalty kill.  Most offensive dmen lack the defensive play. Mark does not.

TJ Brodie

TJ is a gifted young defenceman who can distribute the puck with accuracy. He is a solid, playmaking defenseman who can cover up his mistakes with his speed.  He could be as high as a number two on most teams. In Calgary, he is a three or four guy.

Dougie Hamilton

Dougie can do it all for the Flames.  An excellent, all around defencemen.  Dougie is involved in all aspects of the game, his slapshot highly underrated. He is used as the number one powerplay unit with Gio.  He is a slick, playmaking defensemen who can pass with the best of them.

Travis Hamonic

The highly-touted ex- New York Islander will fit right in.  The key point is Travis does not have the pressure of being the man.  He is a second pairing defenseman. He will flourish in his role. No pressure, and all the glory in the lineup this season.

Michael Stone 

In ninety percent of the League, Michael would be the second pairing defencemen. Unfortunately for him, he is on the Flames, which puts him as a number five defencemen.  Michael is not a flashy player, but he is consistently playing with in his strength. Rarely does he play out of his game, which is the main reason the Flames re-signed him.

Matt Bartkowski/Rasmus Andersson 

Whichever one gets the job will have Stone as a teacher. Matt is the most stable.  Meaning more experienced and more predictable.  Andersson is the more talented but maybe makes more mistakes. Either way, you get what you get in sixth defensemen.

Conclusion

There you have it. I feel the "now" defense is very close to any team in the League.  The only reason I would be leaning toward the "then" team is Al Macinnis.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Leafs — Decision Time

Everyone but the kitchen sink knows the Leafs will be shipping Bozak or JVR.  The most obvious choice is Pit for Bozak. The Penns have plenty of young prospects on the defense for the Leafs to chose from.

The name we keep hearing from the Penns in the Bozar rumors is Olli Maatta. Olli is a young dman who has tons of potential. Olli is a solid defenceman who can help with the defensive leak.

What leak? Let me show you my thinking. The Leafs are in dire straights for defencemen. Especially all around one, who chips in with the odd goal. The Leafs lost too many close games down the stretch. The Maple Leafs have to address the defensive breakdowns. There are too many scoring chances in the defensive zone.

They need a veteran dman who can settle things down. The Leafs' lack of leadership in the defense lead to much panicking; i.e. running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

I would go far as picking up two defencemen; one defensive stay-home, and one puck-mover. Their main obstacle is 50 contracts, which are the maximum number of contracts allowed. Then there is the simple issue of cap relief.  

So there is some work to be done. Lots of maneuvering of moving bodies to make the cap work and the number of contracts. Expect the Leafs to be making some moves. That is vital for them to take the next step to becoming a contender.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Book review: Endless Change

Endless Change, by P.D. Workman

How far would a teenager go to keep a girl?  How much would he do to impress a girl?  Parker is a shy, typically awkward guy who has never attracted a girl. He is just in his own little world; he does not dare to leave his own little circle.

Enter Dakota, a secretive bad girl. Every teenage boy's dream-come-true. In a choice between a forbidden fruit or a boring fruit, a teenage boy will reach the forbidden fruit every time. The more Parker asks, the more Dakota hides.  The more Dakota resists, the more she strings him in for the kill.

Dakota is a girl who refuses to give away anything about herself. Nothing in life is free, right? But how expensive will it get for Parker? How much is he willing to pay? No matter what barriers Parker's mother puts up, he continues to find ways around them.  What is a mother to do? Can anyone save Parker from himself?  Parker is not thinking with his head. He becomes very valuable to Dakota. She is willing to entice, and Parker is more than willing to partake.

P.D. Workman draws you in to see how easy it is to brainwash a young man who has never had any attention before. How far will a teenage boy go? When comes to matters of the heart, there is no barrier.

Hop over to pdworkman.com to check it out!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Maple Leafs Draft

Who will the Leafs pick in the draft? The Maple Leafs' priority has to be a puck-moving defencemen.  We must fill up the cupboard.

With the first round pick, I predict the Toronto Maple Leafs select:

Nicolas Hague

A big defender, who is very mobile and moves quickly from side to side.  Hague is a very responsible defencemen who very good in the defensive end.  Nicolas has tons of strength. He will take out the trash when there is a need. Love this kid's guts. He will play with an edge. I am really excited about this defencemen.

With the second round pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs select:

Aleksi Heponiemi

I was told to watch out for Aleksi, a small, talented who can skate with the best of them. He is a pinpoint passer, who has eyes in the back of his head. Aleksi might be the most skilled forward in the draft, simply because of his hockey IQ.  He is like the Energizer Bunny. Everyone wants to hit him, but nobody can. He makes people miss and intimidates defensemen with his ability and speed.   Defense tends to back up when he rushes into the offensive zone.

The Leafs may very well be looking to grab a dman to help this year.  They realize that their weakness this season is the defense. They will attempt to shore up the defense with this draft. They are also looking to trade from strength to a weakness.  Meaning trading one of their skilled forwards for a top three defenceman.

On to the next picks:

Fourth round, Jack Rathbone defense.

Fifth  round, Dylan Ferguson Goalie

Sixth round, Kirill Maksimov RW

Seventh round, Josh Patterson C

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Calgary Flames and the Expansion Draft

Reblogged from Flames Scratch Pad

Are you excited about the Vegas team?

The only thing that excites me is losing Bouma. The Flames will either lose one of their young defenders or a third line forward. I desperately don't want to lose Alex Chiasson. His offensive contributions come in handy.  I hope it will be Lance Bouma; he is an easy replaceable fourth line forward. But unfortunately, the only way that happens is if the Flames arrange a deal for that to happen. Who do you think the Flames are going to lose in the expansion?

Next, who are my picks? There are many options. I feel it is down to four players. I am sure the experts will give you more options, but they are wrong!  That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

My picks, or who I think the Golden Knights will consider:

Matt Stajan

The Golden Knights may choose Matt for his experience.  He is an excellent penalty killer, who gets the job done.  Matt is a solid fourth line Centre. In fact,  he might be the third line Centre.  He will be a great example for the younger kids.

Alex Chiasson 

Alex was a pleasant surprise in my eyes. I was not expecting his twelve goals.  His size will help the Golden Knights on the powerplay, and he will not let the smaller players get pushed around.  His best quality is the garbage goals he can get in there with the best of them.  He could be a second line winger on the expansion team.

Brett Kulak

A solid chance in the NHL. I honestly believe that Brett will be in the NHL on a regular stint. He is a solid defender who has some spunk.  With the Flames, he is probably a fifth to seventh defencemen.   He could pitch in with some offense skill.  There is lots of time for Brett to develop the perfect fit for expansion team who can be patient with him.

Tyler Wotherspoon

Wotherspoon never truly developed into the offensive defencemen people thought he would. But if you do not make Tyler into something he isn't, you still have a young defenseman with some defensive smarts.  If the Knights are looking for a young, stay-home defenseman, Tyler is their man.

The Flames will be making some changes in the off-season.  So I thought I would pick Dearen's brain to see what some of the solutions could be:

Q: Who will be the Flames starting goaltender next season? 

A: I want to answer this question with two answers. No one will be the Flames legitimate starting goaltender next season and Mike Smith. I would love to say a young goalie like Grubauer or Raanta, but those two goalies are not proven goalies and may not even be available. Treliving and Brian Burke appear to like veteran goalies, and for that reason, I believe Mike Smith will be the Flames next attempt at a #1 goaltender. Smith is 35 years old and has a cap hit of $5,666,667 for the next two seasons. Mike Smith has had some injury woes, and that is why the Flames will bring back Chad Johnson as the backup. You don't like my answer? I don't like my answer either. However, the acquisition cost likely makes more sense than an M.A. Fleury, who may not accept a trade to Calgary. Another name that I will mention is Jaroslav Halak (he showed well in the World Cup). I know he was waived last year and I know the majority of people will tell you he is not a #1 goalie. And they are right. I hope you realize that I am telling you that the Flames will not acquire a #1 goaltender. The Flames will either have to make a trade and take a risk on a goalie like Grubauer, Raanta, or Condon, or acquire/sign a guy like Mike Smith, Steve Mason, Jonathan Bernier or Ryan Miller and hope they find their past success. I predict that Treliving goes with familiarity and acquires Mike Smith and signs Chad Johnson to back him up.

Q: Who will fill the void at Right Wing next season for the Flames?

A: Brouwer!! Oh, wait that was last year when Brad Treliving overpaid a third line winger and expected him to fill in our top 6 roles. I love Ferland, but he does not belong on our top two lines.

If we look at Free Agency, we see names like Radulov, TJ Oshie and after that, it drops to names like Vrbata, Justin Williams, and Patrick Eaves. Radulov and Oshie are both 30 years old and are going to want term and money. I am not convinced Calgary has a realistic chance to land either guy. Radulov will end up back in Montreal while rumors suggest Oshie goes back to Washington. Eaves had a crazy good year and is going to wait for that one team that will overpay him on a 3-4 year deal. I hope Calgary is not that team. I just don't see a legit top two line right winger that can help the Flames in free agency.

The Flames may need to get creative and look outside of the NHL. How about Valerie Nichushkin? I am not entirely sure if he can opt out of his final year with CSKA Moscow, but perhaps you can speak to his agent and work out a deal with Dallas. Nischushkin made it clear he was not happy with Dallas and returned home. Maybe a new coach in Dallas changes that? Nischushkin shoots left but plays the right wing. The 22-year-old has the size and the skill. Other names that I will throw out there are Nikita Gusev and Evgeny Dadonov. The Flames will have to get creative and take a risk, and perhaps they look in Europe to find a crafty winger to play with Gaudreau and Monahan.

Q: Should the Flames consider signing Jarome Iginla?

A: No. I love Jarome just like any other Flames fan. Jarome Iginla will be 40 years old and although he had a little success in LA, his best days are far behind him. The Flames want to play an up-tempo puck possession style game, and Iginla does not fit that style.

As much as we can use a right winger and need a goaltender, I am curious to see what the Flames do on defense. Brad Treliving and Brian Burke have recently been quoted saying that you need to have six very capable defensemen to be successful. Right now the Flames have three legitimate NHL defensemen under contract in Giordano: Hamilton and Brodie. A lot of work needs to be done on the back end.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review part 3, Proxy, by P.D. Workman

Proxy, Medical Kidnap Files #3

Meet Seth Wilcox, a typical fourteen-year-old boy who wants to get better. Nothing more or less; Seth has spent most of his days in the hospital.

Seth wants to be happy, but how can he be happy, when he is constantly feeling ill? Seth lands in hospital once again, and Social Services becomes suspicious of the situation. When a child is consistently in the hospital, it raises a red flag.

Gabriel knows what it is like to be an underdog.  All Gabriel wants is for kids to be safe.  A happy Seth would make a happy Gabriel. But what does that entail?  Why is Seth so sick?

As Gabriel and his soulmate Renata sift through the red tape, they find there is more to it than meets the eye. When Gabriel and Renata get involved in the mess,  chances are, they have bitten off more they can chew. Every step they take seems to further endanger Seth's life.

As you get involved in this thriller, you won't be able to put it down.  Watch as Gabriel and Renata go through this maze of intrigue. Can they get it right and get Seth to safety? His life depends on the answer.

Read a sample or jump to buy links.