Stan’s Java Jive: 1/27/21

Stan’s futures; Bill Zito proving himself in Florida; looking back at an old blockbuster deal

HEADLINE:  LEADING CUP FAVORITES -- BOLTS, BRUINS, VEGAS, HABS, PLUS SLEEPERS

THE JIVE: Don't discount early games as un-meaningful. This is the "Four Point Season" so I'll take you through some indicators as to potential Cup-winning clubs. EAST: Bruins because they're the most complete with Washington right behind. CENTRAL: Lightning. Can't bet against the Champs led by revived Stamkos. But watch out for the undefeated Panthers; WEST: Vegas; Pacioretti, Stone, plus. Bill Guerin's Wild is my sleeper. NORTH: Habs have most energy and Price. Everyone else loves the Leafs but they'll do what they always do; slip somewhere down the line. Kudos to my insightful pal, Noam Kogen who adds a cautionary note re the Champs: "If Andre Vasilevskly gets hurt, how strong in goal will they be? Ditto for Vic Hedman who's irreplaceable." (Good points; but speaking of Points, they do have Braden, don't they?)


HEADLINE: TIPPETT SWEARS BY -- NOT AT -- KOSKINEN

THE JIVE: Ex-Oilers g.m. Peter Chiarelli blundered when he signed goalie Mikko Koskinen to a three-year,$13.5 million contract back in 2019. Edmonton fans have been weeping ever since. At the time mediocre Mikko had played only 27 NHL games when the deal was consummated. Now Koskinen is coach Dave Tippett's challenge. Up to last night's loss, the Not-So-Fabulous Finn had started each of Edmonton's seven games. "He's our guy," says Oilers coach Dauntless Dave Tippett. "He's got the ball to run with it." (My Comment: Better a puck than ball.) Not surprisingly, Mikko got mauled last night, giving up five in  the 6-4 loss to Winnipeg.


HEADLINE: GIROUX PASSES CLARKE AS 'LONGEST CAPTAIN'

THE JIVE. It's dangerous to compare any Flyers forward -- or captain, for that matter -- to the inimitable Bobby Clarke. That said, you have to love Claude Giroux who last night passed Clarke's record of 610 games played 

by a Philly captain. That's a 39-year mark and just to show how key the flying Frenchman is, he helped his mates to a 5-3 win over Jersey with a pair of assists. In his 611th game Claude played like a captain; leading by example. Let's not forget Clarke (1973-84) still holds the title of "Greatest Flyer" although Giroux (2013-21) is inching toward runner-up. 


HEADLINE: PANTHERS REMAIN UNDEFEATED. 

THE JIVE: Yeah, I know it's only three games but it's also clear that rookie general manager Bill Zito knows his onions and pucks. One of his -- and the league's -- best under-the-radar moves was Bashin's Bill decision to trade for veteran forward Patric Hornqvist. Zito was mocked for the move on the grounds that the former Predator and Penguin had gone from express to local. Wrong! Not only has this gritty guy added toughness to the formerly soft Cats but has four goals and five points in the three wins.

In case you missed it, he tied the game-saver last night against Columbus with three seconds left in regulation and then scored the Shootout winner. Our man in Florida, Alan Greenberg, adds, "Hornqvist takes punishment in front of the net and gets dirty goals. Funny thing is that it was the first Shootout goal of his career."


HEADLINE: FORGET DUBOIS, REMEMBER EHLERS

THE JIVE: Hey, all the fuss and fanfare about the Pierre-Luc Dubois move to Manitoba is totally deserved. That said, the Jets man-of-the-month happens to be Nikolaj Ehlers who continues to shine. With a goal and three assists, last night, the Doughty Dane took the limelight away from McDavid, Ltd. as the Jets poured linseed oil on the Oilers, 6-4. Nik brings speed, savvy and a solid shot to his game. Teammate Mark Scheifele notes: "Nik pushes himself every day." Coach Paul Maurice has a smile on his face when he adds, "Ehlers now -- in his fifth season -- has added a level of consistency to his fine game."


HEADLINE: ERIC DUBOIS SQUEEZES INTO HIS SON'S ACT

THE JIVE: Pierre-Luc's papa is in an interesting -- possibly dangerous -- situation as assistant coach of the Jets farm club, the Manitoba Moose. Eric Dubois must not in any way interfere with his son's play with the big club. None of this "Why isn't he getting more ice time?" stuff. To that issue, the elder Dubois insists, "I'm there for him, but there'll be little interaction." (Paul Maurice will be delighted to hear that.)


HEADLINE: FORGOTTEN NOTE ABOUT THE DUBOIS-LAINE DEAL

THE JIVE: Our man in Toronto Rob (Reliable) Del Mundo points out that the Winnipeg-Columbus blockbuster is reminiscent of famous past deal. That was in 1995. "It was the last time two of the top three Draft picks from the same Draft were traded for each other," recalls DelMundo. "Bryan Berard was Number One and Wade Redden was Number Two. Redden originally was drafted by the Islanders but never played for them. In a three-team deal involving Ottawa and Toronto, the Islanders got the rights to Berard while Redden became a Senator."


HEADLINE: SENATORS COACH RIPS HIS CLUB

THE JIVE: You would too if your Ottawa club lost 7-1 to the then slumping Canucks in Vancouver. "Some guys on this club," roars D. (for Disgusted) J. Smith, "take for granted their positions." His Sens get two more cracks at the Canucks, starting tonight. (Oh, yeah, one more thought about D.J. Smith: What was the point of leaving Matt Murray in goal for the unlucky-seven goals? Double M is the main man in the Ottawa crease. It would have been wiser to give him a respite when the game got out of hand.)


YAYS AND BOOS:

YAY TO THE BAKERSFIELD CONDORS. The Oilers AHL affiliate will be honoring the late Colby Cave with a #26 logo on the red line. Cave passed away last April of a brain bleed. A "hockey player's hockey player," Colby played 67 career NHL games, combined, for the Oilers and Flyers. He was a stickhandler everyone loved.

BOO TO ANY LOSING TEAM THAT COMES UP WITH THE LAME POST-GAME LINE, 'WE DIDN'T SHOW UP." Do these losers realize that every game in this compacted season is a four-pointer? Do they need a Sherpa guide to lead them to a rink; and then remind them that there's a game on tonight? Give us all a break; especially the fans!


GOOD NEW BOOKS DEPARTMENT: 'BURKE'S LAW -- A LIFE IN HOCKEY. (VIKING). This is Brian Burke's autobiography and it's as honest, tough -- occasionally profane -- and readable as the man himself. I got a kick out of his experience as an agent and the goalie who dropped him as a client. Here goes Burke: "(Goalie) Bob Froese got pissed with me because I couldn't go to the awards ceremony after he won the Jennings Trophy. He went back to (rival agent) Bill Watters."


GREAT QUOTES FROM THE PAST: 

GOALIE LES BINKLEY ON FACING A BOBBY HULL SLAPSHOT: "It starts off looking like a small pea, and then it disappears altogether!"


OVER AND OUT:

* BOSTON OVER PITTSBURGH, 3-2. Craig Smith gets the OT winner.

* BUFFALO OVER RANGERS, 3-2. Jack Eichel's first red light of season.

* PHILADELPHIA OVER NEW JERSEY, 5-3. Flyers bleeding stopped.

* WASHINGTON OVER ISLANDERS, 3-2. Without Ovie + pals, no less!

* FLORIDA OVER COLUMBUS, 4-3. Panthers are the Cat's meow in S.O.

* NASHVILLE OVER CHICAGO, 3-2. Roman Josi a beaut in overtime.

* WINNIPEG OVER EDMONTON, 6-4. This despite McDavid's heroics.

* LOS ANGELES OVER MINNESOTA, 2-1. Beware the competent Kings.

* DALLAS OVER DETROIT, 2-1. Shining Stars bear watching.

* ST.LOUIS OVER VEGAS, 5-4. Pietrangelo's old pals got even.

* TORONTO OVER CALGARY, 4-3. Leafs serious; Flames flickering out.

* COLORADO OVER SAN JOSE, 7-3. Avs could be West's best. Could.

* ANAHEIM OVER ARIZONA, 1-0. Ducks have the last quack.