Tag:Toronto Maple Leafs
Posted on: November 16, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: November 16, 2011 1:26 pm
 

U.S. investment group interested in buying Leafs

By Brian Stubits

The Toronto Maple Leafs already have an American GM and their best player hails from the States, so why not make it the ownership, too?

A report from the Canadian Press has it that the Rhode Island-based investment firm Providence Equity Partners is interested in buying the 80 percent stake owned in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. The OTPP has said it is looking to sell its share in MLSE.

There isn't a whole lot of information out about the money, or if a bid has even been made, but the asking price for that 80 percent has been reported at $1.5 billion. Compare that to the $170 million True North spent to buy the Thrashers and you can see Toronto is sort of a good hockey market ... in case you didn't already know that. In other news you might now know, the Earth orbits the sun.

Of course, the $1.5 billion goes toward more than just the Maple Leafs. The MLSE also owns and operates the Leafs' AHL partner the Toronto Marlies, the NBA's Raptors and Major League Soccer's Toronto FC as well as the Air Canada Centre. But unlike any other market where both the NBA and NHL are in town, the hockey team is the big acquisition in MLSE.

It's worth nothing that Rogers Communications has also shown interest in buying the 80 percent stake.

But don't panic yet, Toronto. A conflicting report from the Globe and Mail says not to put too much stock into the Providence talk, saying it is unlikely to happen.

In the wake of a published report that Providence Equity Partners LLC, based in Providence, R.I., took a look at buying the 80-per-cent share of MLSE held by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, one investment banker who regularly handles deals with NHL teams said “it makes no sense to me” that Providence would actually make an offer.

The irony just can't escape me of the hockey capital not only of Canada but probably the world is so tied with the USA, in particular if Providence buys MLSE. Canada's top team in Canada's sport in which they are so proud of their excellence and is a source of patriotism having an American feel is just funny. GM Brian Burke already has the image of trying to Americanize the Leafs. But as long as they are all like Phil Kessel, I suppose nobody would care much.

In the end, I'm inclined to go with the Globe and Mail report on the matter. It would just be too odd for the Leafs to be in American control, among many other reasons.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 14, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 10:05 pm
 

No suspension for Milan Lucic



By: Adam Gretz


Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic had a meeting with Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's vice president of player safety, on Monday afternoon to discuss the play that took place on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres when Lucic hit goaltender Ryan Miller after he came out of the crease to play a loose puck.

Following Shanahan's review, as well as his discussion with Lucic, it was determined that the Bruins forward will not face any supplemental discipline.

Despite the calls from fans to allow goalies to be hit when the leave their crease, goalies are not "fair game" when they exit the blue paint. The NHL rule book states that incidental contact may be permitted at the referee's discretion when the goalie is playing the puck outside of his crease, as long the skater makes a reasonable effort to avoid the contact.
More on Bruins-Sabres


Said Shanahan, via the league's official web site, "I had the hearing because I did make an initial assessment of the play as I do with all plays, but I did have some questions for Milan and I wanted to hear directly from him. They were regarding his intent; at what point did he know there was going to be a collision; and whether or not he felt he had the time to avoid the collision. I was satisfied with his answers."

Lucic received a two-minute minor for charging, while it was later revealed that Miller suffered a concussion and will not be in the crease when the Sabres visit the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

Miller was livid following the game and was brutally honest when it came his post-game comments, saying "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is."

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli released a statement relaying his pleasure not only with the NHL's decision, but Lucic not responding to Miller's postgame remarks.

"We are satisfied with the NHL's announcement that there will be no suspension or fine for Milan, and we respect the process that the League took to reach this decision.

"I am also proud that Milan took the high road, and chose not to engage in an exchange of words after the unfortunate comments that were made about him following the game."

The "statement" from Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was decidedly different.

“It just means that teams will be to able do exactly what Lucic did,” Ruff told reporters before Buffalo's game in Montreal. “Your goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over, we can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty.

“That is essentially what that means -- You can concuss the other team's goalkeeper ... it means it's fair game on goaltenders again."

Shanahan wasn't on board with the idea that the decision opened pandora's box on goalies across the league, instead condeming Ruff and the Sabres.

"I think Buffalo's comments are irresponsible to suggest that it's open season," Shanahan said at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "I will have this warning for players: `It's not. If you run a goalie you're going to find yourself in the same situation that Lucic was today, you're going to have to explain yourself and you don't explain it sufficiently, and if I don't buy it, you're going to be suspended."'

The Sabres and Bruins meet again on Nov. 23.

The play has been a hot topic of discussion around the league, and on Monday Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, who coached Miller at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, wondered if the NHL should be doing more to protect goalies. Here's what he had to say from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail:

"It'll be interesting to see the direction the league's going to go. There's no white papers out there to describe that kind of an injury or hit with regards to goaltenders. If it was a defenceman, you'd say that it was a clean hit.

"However, a goaltender's more or less defenceless in some of those situations. They're not wearing the same type of equipment, they're not built to absorb a 250-pound freight train running you over. Whereas a defenceman may. That's the debate that's going to go on in the next couple of days. Should we be protecting goaltenders?"

Wilson's team has been without its starting goalie, James Reimer, for nearly a month after he took a hit to the head while standing in his crease in a game against the Montreal Canadiens back in October. The NHL general managers meetings are scheduled to start on Tuesday, and while this isn't a subject that was planned on being discussed, it wouldn't be a shock if it makes its way into the conversation at some point.

Click Here For More NHL Discipline News

Brian Stubits contributed to this story

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:25 pm
 

Ed Belfour's wardrobe steals the show

Belfour1

By: Adam Gretz

The Hall of Fame class of 2011 was gathered in Toronto on Saturday as Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe were all honored in anticipation of Monday's induction ceremony. They were all on the ice at the Air Canada Centre before the Maple Leafs-Senators game, and the biggest talking point to come out of the evening seems to be Belfour's wardrobe, which certainly made him stand out from the rest of the group.

Belfour, of course, is the second one from the right in the above picture, rocking the leather bomber jacket and blue jeans looking like he's ready to head on out to Bob's Country Bunker after the game.

Jokes have been made regarding his selection, mainly on Twitter, but hey, you are who you are. We're curious to see if he upgrades for the actual ceremony on Monday.

You can click here for the footage of Saturday's pregame festivities.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 10, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Reimer's mom concerned about son's health

Remimer1By Brian Stubits

One thing is becoming increasingly clear with each passing game in Toronto: the Maple Leafs miss James Reimer in net. What's becoming increasly unclear is when he will return and what he's even suffering from.

You know it's bad when his own mom isn't sure what exactly is going on. How do we know? Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star asked her.

“We’re beginning to be a little more concerned than we were at first,” Reimer's mother told Feschuk. “At first, when (the Maple Leafs) said it was just going to be a day-to-day whiplash kind of thing, you just wait it out. But definitely our concerns are getting a little stronger as time that passes. We’re definitely hoping there are going to be some answers coming out of the team shortly, what they’re doing or what they’re planning to do.”

And more...

“That’s the frustrating part for us -- not knowing what it is, and why they’re not calling it a concussion when they say ‘concussion-like symptoms,’” Marlene Reimer said. “Like, how is that not a concussion? ... The initial test showed him to be clear of a concussion. But as it goes on, it’s kind of mystifying. He’s okay some days. And some days he’s definitely not okay.”

Read the full story for more.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or Toronto), Leafs coach Ron Wilson shared his displeasure with a member of the media calling Reimer's mom. But with how quiet they have been about the injury, the hungry Toronto media would find a way to get some answers.

On the ice, the fans are growing more and more anxious about Reimer's return. That's because Jonas Gustavsson has been ... not very good. He was booed mercilessly before being pulled in Toronto's 5-1 loss to Florida on Tuesday. There has been a lot of discussion about the Leafs trying to get a third goalie on the roster.

The belief is that GM Brian Burke, especially if Reimer continues to sit out, will look for another goalie. Either way, Reimer playing or not, it would be wise for Toronto to get a quality backup. Gustavsson has about worn out his welcome and Ben Scrivens hasn't inspired a lot of confidence either.

Among the names you are most likely to hear for possibilities in that backup spot are Marty Turco and the one I will continue to mention, Scott Clemmensen in Florida.

In the meantime, Mama Reimer will continue to wonder how exactly her son is doing.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 7, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 3:26 pm
 

Tim Connolly could miss 10-14 days

tc1By: Adam Gretz

Who knows what Tim Connolly's career would look like at this point had it not been for a never-ending run of injuries that seems to impact just about every season the 30-year-old forward plays in the NHL. And so far in Toronto it's been more of the same.

After having already missed the Maple Leafs' first eight games of the regular season, the veteran center returned to the lineup for six games, recording a goal and three assists, before having to be sidelined once again with what is being described as an "upper body injury."

It's expected that he could miss anywhere between 10 and 14 days. According to head coach Ron Wilson, this injury is not related to the shoulder injury that kept him out of the lineup at the start of the season.

Obviously, injury problems are nothing new for Connolly, originally a first-round draft pick (No. 5 overall) by the New York Islanders back in 1999. Over the past seven seasons Connolly has managed to appear in just 302 of a possible 506 regular season games.

After spending eight injury filled seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, where he put up very respectable numbers offensively when he was on the ice after being acquired in the trade that sent Mike Peca to the Islanders prior to the 2001-02 season, Connolly signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract with Toronto this summer to be one of their top centers. Given his injury problems, that have ranged from concussions to hip and back injuries, it was a rather large gamble on a player that, while a gifted passer and puckhandler, is obviously prone to significant injuries.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: November 6, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2011 6:06 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Sabres goalies; Jackets bottom out

By Brian Stubits

If you happened to have a family vacation or weekend-long wedding to attend -- anything to cause you to miss the weekend in the NHL -- here is what you missed.

The Columbus Blue Jackets seem on the verge of upheaval. There might be a goalie controversy in Buffalo. Georges Laraque is talking steroid use and, well, at least John Tortorella was the same as usual, so that's comforting.

Yes, just a ho-hum weekend.

Let's start in Buffalo, shall we?

The Sabres had a double dip over the weekend, playing Friday at home against Calgary then Saturday in Ottawa. It wasn't a surprise that coach Lindy Ruff went with Jhonas Enroth over Ryan Miller in Friday's game. Enroth has played well of late while Miller hasn't. It was surprising, however, when Enroth got the nod again on Saturday. Usually back-to-backers are split among goalies, especially when there is a quality backup in play.

At first glance, you think little of it. Miller is struggling and Ruff is just going with the better option at this point. Especially in early November, that's nothing to write home about. That's until you see things like this, from Sabres beat writer John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

"One of the Sabres admitted to me after last night's game: The team has just been playing harder in front of Enroth than they have for Miller."

That doesn't sound good. It could mean that Miller has been so good in the past that the team has become somewhat complacent when he is in the game. Not exactly what you would want to hear. You want your team to play hard all the time for any goalie. But it beats the alternative explanation of the team not playing for Miller for the other reasons. The reasons that bring about the use of words like Schism.

The Sabres are high on Enroth. That's no secret. If nothing else, he has earned himself more playing time with his 4-0-0 start this season. His GAA is 1.41 and he has a save percentage of .952. He hasn't surrendered more than two goals in a game this season.

But it's not as if Miller suddenly became bad. He has hit a rut. Every goalie does. He was solid to start the season when he was 4-1 with a 1.61 GAA. Since then he's 0-4 and has a GAA at 3.91. It happens.

I don't think many believe Miller will continue to struggle and Enroth will get the lion's share of the work. No, Miller is not likely to repeat his 2009-10 Vezina-winning season. There's a reason why seasons like that are called career years, but he's still only 31 and has been considered one of the game's best netminders for the past few years. That's why it's kind of a big deal when there appears to be a controversy.

But the good news for Buffalo out of all of this is that we know there are two good keepers in town.

Just when you think they can't get any lower ...

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in a world of hurt. They were obliterated by the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday 9-2. Perhaps making matters worse, they had to see Jakub Voracek have his best game as a Flyer since being acquired from the Blue Jackets and the draft pick Philly also picked up in the trade, Sean Couturier, abused them.

In all, it was the 12th straight road loss for the Blue Jackets. From the Other Unbelievable Stats Department, it was the 10th time in 13 games that Columbus goalie Steve Mason has given up a goal on one of the first four shots he faced. To see even more on how rough it has been for Mason this season, check out Eye On Hockey's Adam Gretz's post on Mason. Bru-tal!

“We’ve hit a lot of bottoms this year,” Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said, “and this is another big one.”

Rumors were circling last week that the end was nigh for Arniel and maybe GM Scott Howson. They each made it through the week. But this? This might be too tough for them to survive.

Last week the word was that Ken Hitchcock and Craig Button were the names being mentioned to replace Arniel and Howson in the case of a dismissal. Now the name being tossed out, at least for the GM role, is Kings executive Ron Hextall. Kings GM Dean Lombardi said he hasn't been contacted by anybody about Hextall's availability.

Here is the problem I see in Columbus. I feel bad for Arniel, he just doesn't have a team that can compete. While most feel that it's a roster that could stand to be blown up and a fresh start be undertaken, that won't be easy. There are a lot of big contracts on the roster. It still amazes me, but the Blue Jackets are pushing the salary cap.

Obviously things need to be fixed, but I'm not sure there is a quick fix to be found. Maybe the best thing that could happen to them at this point is to get the top pick in the draft and get a potential superstar in Nail Yakupov, the consensus top prospect right now.

Talk about Staaled

Eric Staal is off to one tough start.

The Hurricanes captain still hasn't scored even strength this season. All three of his goals came with the man up. At least he had two assists in Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Stars, but his league-worst minus-14 dropped even further to minus-16.

Is it the absence of Erik Cole on his line? The captain clearly hasn't been the same this season without Cole, who signed with the Canadiens in the offseason.

We're at the point where slow starts are no longer categorized as just slow starts. They are starting to be cause for concern. Staal is supposed to be the big gun. He has led the 'Canes in scoring three out of the last four seasons. But right now he just looks off. Against the Stars, he drew a two-minute minor that seemed to be out of frustration.

At the same time, his Hurricanes also ran into the red-hot Stars, who became the first team to 10 wins this season. If anybody doesn’t believe in Dallas yet, I suggest you watch them for a game or two. Loui Eriksson is for real and he and Jamie Benn make one heck of a duo.

Torts at it again

John Tortorella actually has the Rangers rolling along at the moment. His team has won three in a row, Saturday's 5-3 win over Montreal giving him the 100th victory of his career. So you would think that might make the often salty coach a little happier and forthcoming these days?

Come on. This is Tortorella we're talking about.

His pregame media availability lasted 43 seconds before the Habs game. All questions were met with either a nope, a shake of the head or just "no idea." That brought about a softball question to soften the mood. "What's your mom's birthday?" At least it yielded a smile, but it was another "I have no idea."

Oh Torts, don't ever change. Especially before the 24/7 series is done.

As for things on the ice, Torts seems to have found a nice little recipe by putting Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards on separate lines. It has keyed the Rangers' recent streak and has them looking more like the team a lot of people expected after this summer's moves.

Visor vision

Saturday night the Kings and Penguins played a doozie on the West Coast. Pittsburgh eventually won a great game that was decided in a shootout (collective groan now).

But during the game, the mandatory visor crowd got some more ammunition when Drew Doughty took a puck to the face.

Video courtesy of The Score.

It didn't save Doughty from being cut above the eye, but it might have saved his eye. It was a scary moment, but it's even scarier to think about what would have happened if he didn't wear the shield.

Of course, as you'd expect from any hockey player, Doughty wasn't removed from the game and helped the Kings pick up one point on the night.

Welcome back Bruins

Is this what wakes up the defending champs?

How good must it have felt for Boston to go into Toronto and rout the division-leading Maple Leafs 7-0? Really good I imagine.

Tyler Seguin recorded his first career hat trick. With the way he has been playing this season, that only seemed like a matter of time. He has clearly been their best player in the early going this year.

Sometimes it can be games like this that flip the switch. It was getting close to desperation time for Boston, it couldn't afford to fall any further behind. Now we wait and see if it rubs off and they show the form that made them so good a season ago.

Caps stop playing

At least that's what Alex Ovechkin thinks.

The Capitals ran into the stone-cold Islanders, losers of six in a row before Saturday, and fell 5-3. Despite the loss, it might have been Ovechkin's best game of the season. He only had a goal on the night, but it was a solid performance.

He couldn't say the same about his team, however.

“I think we have pretty good start. We score two goals. After that, we just stopped playing and give them opportunities to score goals,” Ovechkin said. “They’re young, they’re fresh and they want to win. After first period, we just stopped playing.”

Maybe they were still stunned from that ceremonial faceoff. (We just wanted to show off this photo of an Air National Guardsman dropping the ceremonial puck. Awesome.)

Quote of the weekend

Arniel when asked about his job security after the 5-2 loss:

"Nice question, all right. Nice question. I’m not in charge of that. I’m worried about what I have to do tomorrow with this hockey team."

Photos: Getty Images/Deadspin

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:07 pm
 

Leafs' Reimer to miss 7th game; not practicing

By Brian Stubits

The Toronto Maple Leafs weren't expected to be without starting goaltender James Reimer for long. His absence is up to six games now and counting.

On Friday Reimer did not take part in the practice, the training staff still wanting Reimer working out off the ice.

"He kind of hit a plateau in his recovery so the trainers decided not to ask him to go on the ice," coach Ron Wilson said. "With the other two goalies playing well, if he's not going to face a lot of shots [in practice] it's better for him to just workout off the ice.

"I'm just coaching the next game. I'm not concerned about that. I'm not a doctor or a trainer. We've got healthy guys and they're doing the job so we'll give James plenty of time to recover. There's no rush to get him back."

Here's where we play the game of Guess What's Really Going On.

Wilson would only call Reimer's injury as an "upper-body injury." Ever since Reimer took a blow to the head against the Canadiens in a game on Oct. 22, the team has maintained that Reimer didn't suffer a concussion, just that he has some "concussion-like symptoms."

The team can insist all it wants that there isn't a concussion at play here, but it won't stop the speculating, especially when you hear things such as the recovery hitting a plateau.

In the meantime, the Leafs have been relying on Jonas Gustavsson to take the lion's share of the minutes. We wondered if it was cause for concern, and the answer is yes, it was. But the Leafs haven't slowed down with the Monster in the cage, sitting tied for the NHL lead in points.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 4, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 3:22 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Streaks, stats on the line

By Brian Stubits

It's amazing how quickly things can go from being so hot to being so cold. I mean 72 days for a marriage? That's a quick flameout.

Oh, and there are also those Red Wings from Detroit. Just two weeks ago, the NHL eyes were locked on a battle of the unbeatens; 5-0 Detroit at 6-0 Washington. Fast-forward to Friday and the Red wings have picked up one single point since, sitting now at 5-5-1.

In this six-game losing streak it hasn't been what we figured would be the team's Achilles' heel -- defense - that has let them down. I mean it could be much better -- it could ALWAYS bet better -- but it's sufficed, even if Jimmy Howard has slumped a little, too.

Instead, it's been the offense, the unit that carried the team a season ago. During the six-game losing streak, the Wings are averaging exactly one goal per game. Once they scored two, once they were shutout, the other four games they scored once. That means Detroit has the second-fewest goals in the NHL -- incidentally still six clear of the last-place Islanders, who have scored just 18 goals in 10 games.

At that kind of scoring clip, the Red Wings were lucky to even pick up one point.

"We've got to believe in ourselves, stay positive," Henrik Zetterberg told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. "Here we go again -- same quotes, but there's nothing else we can do."

We can chalk some of that up to bad luck, though. Detroit is carrying a shooting percentage of 6.2 percent right now. As Jesse Spector of the Sporting News points out for comparison's sake, the Devils were at 7.3 percent last season for the worst in the league.

Statisticians will tell you shooting percentage is more a byproduct of luck than anything else. The Wings are too talented to shoot at that low of a level for the season. These things do even out. If you believe they will continue to shoot that low of a percentage this season, I have some beach-front property in Nebraska to sell you. Real cheap, too.

Maybe Ken Holland crossed a black cat's path sometime just before Halloween or something. Seven games of bad luck, perhaps?

If the streak stretches to seven, it will have to come at the expense of the similarly struggling Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. The Ducks themselves enter on a nasty little losing streak, having lost four in a row, the last two in overtime.

As they say, something's gotta give.

Lucky Seven

The opposite of the Red Wings and their six-game losing streak? Try the Edmonton Oilers and their six-game WINNING streak. (Boy, the NHL standings look awfully wacky right now ... can it last?) The last time the Oilers won six in a row? You have to go back to 2002.

They will have a chance to run that streak to seven on Saturday when they visit the Coyotes.

It's a homecoming of sorts for Nikolai Khabibulin, who is back to being the Bulin Wall. He spent a couple weeks in jail back in Arizona for a DUI offense. Who knows what kind of impact that might have had on Khabibulin, but he's been spectacular.

He was deservedly named one of the NHL's three Stars for the month of October. He has been maybe the biggest surprise of the season from an individual standpoint. He is still averaging less than a goal per game (0.98) in GAA and has a spectacular .963 save percentage.

Just like Detroit's shooting percentage, you don't need a genius to tell you that's not going to last. Still, for a guy that people felt was going to be as useful as an empty Twinkie wrapper, this qualifies as outstanding.

He will have a chance to keep his stats low for another night, though. Considering the Oilers and Coyotes are two of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, a 2-1 battle or so is probably in store. Of course, now that we mention it, the game will more likely be a 7-5 breakout.

Speaking of bad shooting percentages ...

Remember that start the Colorado Avalanche had? The one where they were 5-1-0 and the early talk of the NHL? Yes, life on the road was nice.

Well home has not provided very friendly confines. At all.

The Avs are 1-4-1 at home while still 6-1-0 on the road. Since you are clever readers, I'm sure you know where this is going ...

Colorado is at home for the weekend capper on Sunday evening when it hosts the Calgary Flames. The key to getting on the right track at home? Again, we return to the that luck theme.

In their home games, the Avalanche have a 3.8 -- 3.8!!! -- shooting percentage. Either they continue to shoot directly into the opposing goalie's chest, or things just aren't going their way.

More starting trends

One more shooting percentage trend and then that's it, we promise.

Here are two reasons not to go all in on the Toronto Maple Leafs quite yet. First, their shooting percentage is unusually high at 12.9 percent as a team. Secondly, Toronto is actually being outshot by an average of five shots per game. They are in first place in the Northeast.

On the other hand, the Bruins are plus-five in shots per game and they are in last place in the Northeast.

The means exist for a reason. Teams usually regress toward the mean over the course of a season. Of course, in the meantime these trends are still being bucked.

Now the table is set for their showdown on Saturday in Toronto. By the way, Phil Kessel is still on pace for that monster season with 10 goals and 11 assists through 13 games.

Net issue

Very quietly there is the rumblings of a goaltending controversy in Buffalo. Like we said, very quietly.

Backup Jhonas Enroth has been very solid in his backup work of Ryan Miller, including the relief appearance earlier this week against the Flyers. In that game, Enroth held the Flyers scoreless for the majority of the game after Miller was pulled early in the first period with three quick goals.

It comes as little shock then that Lindy Ruff is going to start Enroth on Friday night with the Calgary Flames in town. Ruff is electing to start the hot goalie and likely trying to flip Buffalo's fortunes at home.

Like the Avs, the Sabres aren't finding home so nice in the early going. They are 2-4-0 at the First Niagara Center or whatever they call the arena these days.

The champs are here!

That would be baseball's champions, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Friday night in St. Louis will be a chance for the Blues to honor their winning neighbors.

Chris Carpenter, the Cards' ace pitcher, practiced with the team this week. In case you missed it, it was brought up countless times during the playoffs that Carpenter played hockey growing up.

Also, now ex-Cardinals manager (retirement) Tony La Russa will drop the ceremonial puck before the Blues face the Canucks. The Blues would love it if some of that winning magic can rub off on them as the Blues enter having dropped their last two games and are a quiet 5-6-0.

Photo: US Presswire

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
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