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Stan's Java Jive: 1/26/21
Canucks back on track in a big way; Tyler Toffoli paying off in Montreal; Lightning still to be feared, and some thoughts from off the top of my head.
HEADLINE: PRESSURE AND PRACTICES WIN GAMES
THE JIVE: Before last night's Senators-Canucks game in Vancouver, the B.C Boys were in trouble. They'd lost four out of their last five games and the media was mad. Writing in the Vancouver Province, Ben Kuzma declared, "Forget about winning two of three. This club needs a sweep!"
What coach Travis Green did was give his Canucks a grueling training camp practice. "We start with better breakouts," Green insisted. "Gotta get back to 'In Your Face' hockey." The result was the start of a "Sweep."
Between the Kuzma pressure and the pressurized Green practice, the B.C. Boys whipped the crew from The Capital, 7-1. You had to figure a Sutter would help turn the trick. Brandon did that -- a hat trick!
HEADLINE: NHL GOES HEROIC ROUTE WITH WEEK'S STARS
THE JIVE: The league's traditional Stars Of The Week announcements are taking a different twist this year. Exhibit A is Tyler Toffoli. The Habs sharpshooter is a key reason for Montreal's early success. Rightfully, he was given the first star. Exhibit B is Virginie Hebert, an ace Montreal health care worker. Point is that each week Bettman, Inc also will give a star to folks who "make remarkable efforts off the ice." Mademoiselle Hebert has done just that at the University of Montreal Health Centre working as a respirator therapist. (Nice going, Virginie. Nice going, NHL!)
HEADLINE: KUDOS FOR MARC BERGEVIN
THE JIVE: Hard to believe as it is, those super-critical Habtown writers who've spent a seeming lifetime ripping Monsieur Bergevin suddenly are lauding him. And well they should. The Canadiens still have no losses in regulation and remain the surprise of the East. The Gazette's tough-tough Jack Todd notes that Bergie did a nifty thing in the deal with St.Louis. He sent the Blues a third and seventh rounder for Jake Allen. Now, for a change, Carey Price has a dependable back-up in the crease.
HEADLINE: BOLTS STILL TO BE FEARED
THE JIVE: Forget the odd Tampa Bay loss, the Bolts remain the Champs-to-beat. My man at the Bay, Larry Hirsch, points out that as long as Vic Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev are on defense, all will be well. "They're the two most dangerous D-men in the league," Hirsch insists. "And terrific when it comes to an overview of the ice. Few can match their 'Blue Dart' slappers and especially accurate one-timers." P.S. Keep an eye on new Bolts -- Mitch Stevens, Matt Joseph and Alex Volkov.
OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD -- AND OTHERS
* HONEST ANTHONY: It isn't often that a player allows that he's playing just plain lousy, so credit to Detroit's Anthony Mantha. Tony says that he's played "only one good game" out of six. "I want to get better," he reports. (Guess what? So does Jeff Blashill.)
* IT TOOK A WHILE: Blackhawks rookie Pius Suter's hat trick marked the absolute first three-goal game for a Windy City freshman in 90 years.
* TORTS WINS: My own public opinion poll reveals that Blue Jackets fans enthusiastically hail John Tortorella's handling of the Jean-Luc Dubois mish-mash, by an 80-20 margin. One fan's opinion. "Torts is a pip!"
* TORTS LOSES: We don't tell The Great Tortorella how to run his team. Therefore he should NOT tell us journalists how to do our jobs.One of our jobs is to carefully observe lineup changes -- who is and isn't scratched. John says we overdue it. "You guys really dissect the benchings and sittings. But I have to make the decisions." (Yeah, John, but we have to make a living; get it? When you benched Dubois last week it was one heckuva story.
* MCDAVID VS. DRAISAITL: Who's better? Answer: Both are superstars but Leon is a better all-round player. Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy and that tops anything in this argument. End of answer; end of story!
* THE GREATNESS OF GEORGE ARMSTRONG: When Punch Imlach led his Maple Leafs to four Cups, his martinet approach drove superstar Frank Mahovlich to a nervous breakdown and forced ace D-man Carl Brewer to quit Toronto. Through the whole, ugly Imlach mess, one player -- the recently deceased captain George (Chief) Armstrong -- managed to inspire his mates to play their best in spite of Imlach and they followed George's lead. It was one of the most overlooked aspects of Chief's greatness.
* NATIONAL WOMEN'S HOCKEY LEAGUE UP AND RUNNING: The good news is that the gals finally are getting significant coverage including a deal with NBC. What remains to be seen is how they move upward after this very compact, two-week season now underway. Boston Pride, paced by captain Jillian Dempsey, is favored to win the Isobel Cup. All games are at the classic Olympic Rink in Lake Placid.
* QUESTION OF THE DAY: Should the Blackhawks get what they can for valuable vintage pieces? Dare they trade a Patrick Kane? My answer: NO WAY! Patrick is a leader and the fans' favorite. Chi can't get value back for a future Hall of Famer.
* ANDY GREENE, A HEARTWARMING SURVIVOR; : The Islanders vet defender is a neat "Second Comeback Story." He was a total unknown at Miami of Ohio; went undrafted yet Lou Lamoriello gambled on signing him. "Lou made a decision," laughs Greene, "and I made a great decision to go with Lou." That was many moons ago. Lou's still around and Andy is still with Lou, now playing D for the Isles. What is it that's keeps him going at age 38? "My drive to improve has been an inner thing," Andy explains.."I always wanted to be best and worked as hard as I could to be the best. That's the work ethic I got from my parents. Obviously it's paid off."
YAYS AND BOOS:
YAY TO LINDY RUFF: The naysayers said Larrupin' Lindy's coaching career was roughly equivalent to burnt toast. So, when Tommy Fitzgerald handed Ruff the Devils head coaching gig, guess what? New Jersey's record is a healthy 3-1-1. Not to mention the fact that Lindy's helping shape up Jumpin' Jack Hughes into a superstar-before-his time.
BOO TO 'MIRROR-LOOKING': So the Flyers lose 6-1 to Boston and the Philly guys say, "Were gonna spend the off-day lookin' in the mirror." Enough with that beat-up cliche. You want to look in the mirror go see "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs." Then say, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" (Not six-sieve Carter Hart, that's for sure.)
BEST TWO WORDS TO DESCRIBE THE FAILURE OF PATRIK LAINE IN PEG: "Imperfect fit."
BEST SEVEN WORDS TO DESCRIBE WHY MINNESOTA'S KIRILL KAPRIZOV IS A CALDER FAVORITE: "He practices as hard as he plays."
FUNNY LINE FROM THE PAST: This is from Punch Imlach when he coached the 1960's Leafs and his zany forward, Eddie (Clear The Track) Shack, was all over the place. "Shackie can play all three forward positions. But his trouble is that he tries to do it all at the same time!"