Stats and Stories

Some quick stories and observations as well as the continuing look at who’s performing and who’s not. There are more than a few underachievers this year, some who haven’t been pointed out yet.Two bad teams in similar situations: Anaheim and Florida. Both have a superstar who is struggling, both have decent goaltending, both have mentionable supporting players and yet, both teams suck.

Recently, Paul Kariya and Pavel Trnka got into a fight during a practice, a clear sign that Kariya’s patience is gone. His comments after their recent 6-0 loss to the hapless Panthers were further proof. “It’s embarrassing, three quarters of the team didn’t even show up to play. It’s a joke. I mean, you think guys in Colorado and Detroit have to babysit guys to get them ready to play? It’s just ridiculous.” The Ducks have now lost 6 of their last 7 games.

Pavel Bure isn’t playing anywhere near his level this season. His teammates are starting to criticize him for being too one dimensional, only concentrating on scoring. Not a good sign when the captain doesn’t have the respect of his team. Further more, the 6-0 victory over Anaheim was the first game the Cats played without Bure in the lineup following his injury against Toronto. The last time Florida scored more than 5 goals was in a game against Columbus last year. A 7-6 win, Pavel had only 1 assist.

The most recent issue of The Hockey News reports this gem of a story: “At the 1998 entry draft, ex-Flyer intimidator, now player agent, “Moose” Dupont grew exasperated when his client was continually passed over. Dupont finally approached the Flyer’s table and yelled “Pick Bruno St. Jacques!!!” Sure enough, the Flyers did select him 253rd overall. He made his NHL debut against New Jersey on Nov 17th, but lasted only 22 minutes after taking a puck in the face.”

I notice that three of the top four +/- leaders are from the Rangers’ “FLY” line. Fleury leads the league with a +20, Lindros next at +19 and York has +18.

On the subject of underachievers, it’s time for some of these guys to step it up this year and start fulfilling expectations. Patrik Stefan, if he can ever stay healthy, has done diddly for Atlanta since being drafted in the first round three years ago. Jozef Stumpl hasn’t done much since rejoining Boston. Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay. Mike Grier and Ethan Moreau, both playing hard but not producing any offence at all. Doug Gilmour, might be great off the ice but hasn’t done much on it. Scott Gomez continues to struggle in New Jersey. Radek Bonk isn’t scoring like he should be for Ottawa, neither is Shane Doan in Phoenix, or Patrick Marleau for the Sharks.

Tim Connolly of the Sabres became just the fifth player in league history to have two penalty shot chances before his 21st birthday. Connolly is the ONLY player to have scored both times.

The Calgary Flames are winless in their past six games. Coach Greg Gilbert sent a message to his team by benching his second best player for the third period against Dallas. Marc Savard didn’t see the ice in the final frame, and it didn’t sit well with him. Did it work? Dallas won 3-0.

With Calgary coming back down to reality and the Oilers continuing to win, even without Ryan Smyth, it should be clear sailing for Edmonton now right? Don’t get too excited Oiler fans, December gets A LOT harder. New Jersey (twice), Philly, Detroit, San Jose, Dallas (twice) and those same “Godless Cowgary Flames” twice too. If Edmonton has a .500 December, then maybe you can breathe a little easier.

Speaking of Ryan Smyth, one of the first people to call and give best wishes to him was “legendary nice guy” Bryan Marchment. Surprised? Me too. Who knew that “Mush” could be such a quality guy off the ice when he’s shown himself to be such a jerkoff on it?

Nice, but sad, to hear stories like this one. Garth Snow was given a 10-day-straight leave of absence by the Islanders to sit with his big brother who was suffering with leukemia. “I’ll never forget what the Islanders did for me and my family. It allowed me to say things to my brother that we never did growing up. You know, ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you’, I can’t thank the organization enough for that.” Glenn Snow died on October 26 at the young age of 36.

I don’t want to end on such a somber note so I’ll relay this story which could come straight out of the movie “SlapShot”. After Alexei Kovalev scored his hat trick goal against the Islanders recently, the fans littered the ice with hats, as per tradition. One fan threw a souvenir puck and beaned Dan LaCouture just below his right eye giving the winger a shiner. I can hear Reg Dunlop now, “Somebody threw a !*@%$! tire iron at him!” God that’s a good movie. (All you young fans who don’t know the movie I’m talking about should be ashamed and go find a copy to rent right now!)

Guy Flaming