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Stan's Java Jive: 1/20/21
Crosby Pots OT Winner; Red Wings Win Again; Jack Hughes Breaks Out; Bruins 5-on-5 Woes Continue
HEADLINE: MALKIN AWAKENS WHILE CROSBY SINGS IN OT
THE JIVE: Sooner or later, Evy Malkin had to get over his Rip Van Winkle sleeping imitation. His first red light of the season -- the game-tier -- blinded the Capitals last night; which was about time. But it was The Captain who played like one. Sid Crosby's OT-tally cemented Pitt's second win of the season, 5-4 over Team Ovechkin. The sub-story -- maybe the main one -- is Casey DeSmith pushing Tristan Jarry out of the No. 1 goalie spot. It's not that Casey only required 22 saves. What matters is that Casey-At-The-Net is better than Jittery Jarry!
HEADLINE: IS THIS A MIRAGE? RED WINGS TAKING OFF!
THE JIVE: The engines are revved up in Motor City. As our roving reporter, Gus Vic, notes: "The Wings are playing a structured game, smartly moving the puck out of their own end. They're able to foil forechecks." The 3-2 win over Columbus last night was spurred by the bountiful Bobby Ryan's two goals giving him four so far. Most surprising is the improved defense. As I predicted pre-season, Marc Staal is a solid blue line add and Jon (I'm Not Washed Up) Merrill is proving he's better than my original Oy Vay scouting report when I watched him in New Jersey.
HEADLINE HUGHES TOPS LAFRENIERE -- DEVILS TOP RANGERS
THE JIVE: As our eminent New Jersey seer, George Falkowski, asserts "What a difference 10 months makes!" He's talking about sophomore Jack Hughes whose two goals subdued the Blueshirts 4-3. That's six points in three games for Jumpin' Jack, tying a team record. Hughes overshadowed NY's highly-touted Alex Lafreniere who still hasn't scored. "Hughes," adds Falkowski, "has gone from a skinny, talented teen to the big man on campus." Yeah, but there was nobody bigger than Mackenzie Blackwood who stopped 47 shots. Rangers Alex Georgiev got hooked after the second period having allowed all four goals on 20 shots. "We're a better team than many expected," says Devs coach Lindy Ruff. Well, they've got five points in three games and that's not too bad.
HEADLINE: THE JETS UNSUNG HERO -- A GUY NAMED EHLERS
THE JIVE: Nik Ehlers out of Ahlborg, Denmark is a left wing you won't hear about if you don't live in Winnipeg. Trust me, he's a Jets winner and proved it last night putting away Ottawa, 4-3 at 2:20 of OT. "Nik is so dangerous and dynamic," says coach Paul Maurice. "He has the speed to get into a hole." The Senators have gotten themselves into a bit of a hole. Why did they slip? "We're making young mistakes," says coach D.J. Smith. "The kids are trying to score and not defend." (The defense rests!)
HEADLINE: MIKE BABCOCK MAKING HEADLINES
THE JIVE: Among other things, Mister Broadcaster might be the top candidate as head coach of Team Canada for the 2022 Olympics. Then again there's always talk that he'll be the first coach hired when the first coach is fired. "I'm not sure I want to coach again," Babcock insists. "It's got to be the right fit." (Fair enough. It says here he'll be coaching in the NHL before the season's over.)
HEADLINE: IS SOMETHING BREWIN', BRUIN?
THE JIVE: G.M. Don Sweeney's Beantowners obviously disdain 5-On-5 hockey. Otherwise they'd pot a puck in once in a while just for the fun of seeing the red light flash for one of those even-strength-ers. So far no dice. No 5-On-5 goals. Of course the usual alibis are available. David (The Champ Czech) Pastrnak still is convalescing. Ditto, Ondrej Kase. And, boy, do they ever miss The Big Z and The Not-So-Big Krug-man. Coach Bruce Cassidy has Philly tomorrow (Thursday). If the B's don't score 5-On-5 against the Flyers, Sweeney will be swooning for a winger with wheels.
GOOD, BOBBY: Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the Panthers net last night and they beat Chicago, 5-4 in OT. Our man in Sunrise, Alan Greenberg, says, "Bobby was a bit rusty." (OK, but he stopped Patrick Kane's penalty shot.)
GOOD GOALIE BULLPEN: Carter Hart got yanked the other night during Philly's 6-1 loss. So Alain Vigneault came back with Brian Elliott last night. B.E. blanked Buffalo, 3-0.
YAYS AND BOOS:
YAY TO JOE THORNTON for not tripping over his beard. (But it's getting close, Joey boy. My advice: find a good barber.)
BOO TO THE BROADCASTER who started a new nomenclature trend whereby the crease is now "The Paint" and the boards have become The Wall. (Sorry, bud, the crease is the crease and the boards are the boards. You want paint, go to Sherwin-Williams. You want boards, go to the Boardwalk.)
* HOME ICE DIS-ADVATAGE: Islanders coach Barry Trotz insists that "Home Ice Advantage" has gone the way of the Dodo Bird. "There's no advantage in any rink now," says Trotz. "Fans do have an effect".
* READING LESSONS: I asked my Toronto pal to name his favorite hockey writers. He reeled off Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun, Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun and the Globe and Mail's Cathai Kelly. (My fave is Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun.)
* DELL-LIGHTFUL: Meticulously rebuilding the Devils, g.m. Tom Fitzgerald snared Aaron Dell on waivers from San Jose. As the maxim goes, "You can't have too many goaltenders."
* A FUNNY (NO GRATITUDE) FIGHT: The other night Zach Werenski of Columbus was laughing while fighting Detroit's Dylan Larkin. Zach later explained, "He left tickets for my family, my parents and friends!"
* STOPPERS I LIKE: I'm a big fan of Anaheim's goalie -- a Pittsburgh product -- John Gibson. He has the goods. Ditto for Semyon Varlamov, out of Samara, Russia, who now calls Long Island his home.
TWO BROADCASTING EXPRESSIONS TO DELETE:
1."HE PUT THE PUCK IN THE BACK OF THE NET."" (So, what happens if it's just an inch over the goal line: "He put the puck in the front of the net?")
2. "HE PUT THE PUCK IN THE TOY DEPARTMENT." Sorry, fella, but the Toy Department is the sports section of any daily newspaper.
GREAT QUOTE FROM THE PAST; THIS FROM HERB BROOKS:
"Coaching is like being king. It prepares you for nothing!"
PHOTO FOLLIES: When I interviewed Capitals defenseman Al Iafrate, pre-game, one day at Nassau Coliseum, he showed me his new tattoo.
But to do so he asked me to hold his can of Coke and cigarette. That's what this pix is all about.