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Stan's Java Jive: 2/26/21
Ducharme, Habs lose; Stars wearing down?; Parise nets 800th point; What goalie had to lose ten pounds to keep his starting job?
HEADLINE: HABS PAY THE PRICE -- TOO BAD DUCHARME CAN'T PLAY GOAL!
THE JIVE: Now the new Canadiens "interim" coach Dom Ducharme knows how his predecessor, Claude Julien, felt. Ducharme's Habs led Winnipeg, 3-1, half way through the game last night and then Carey Price opened the floodgates on himself. The Jets said "Thank you very much" with five unanswered goals. Too bad Dom can't play goal because this Price ain't right. He's clearly slipping and -- if this new coach is as smart as g.m. Marc Bergevin thinks he is -- Price will get the bench and the redoubtable Jake Allen will straighten things out. I've been a Price fan and admired his post-season 1.78 goals against average and .936 save percentage but now he needs a rest. He's playing under .900 goal, giving up uncharacteristic five-hole scores and just is not the right Price for Ducharme. (Okay, okay, it's only one game and Peg has a slew of shooters. So, I'll wait a bit for Dom's next move. Ditto for Bergevin.)
HEADLINE: WHERE DOES CLAUDE JULIEN GO FROM HERE?
THE JIVE: The answer to that question is a duplicate of the reply to this query: Where does Mike Babcock go from here? Both are proven coaches but with an *asterisk attached to their resumes. In Babs case, too tough. In Claude's case, too soft. Babcock may have hissed off too many people who count but, then again, so has John Tortorella and he never stops getting good-paying gigs. I don't know anyone who gets hissed off at Julien and that should give him the inside track. Could be that Seattle would be a good re-starting point for the likeable, insightful French-Canadian. (If I was Ron Francis and running the Kraken, I'd hire Julien in a Seattle minute!)
HEADLINE: STARS ARE SEEING STARS -- HAVE 43 GAMES IN 76 NIGHTS
THE JIVE: These are migraine times for Dallas coach Rick Bowness. With a mere six minutes left last night and his Stars nursing a 2-0 lead over Florida, Rick had visions of two straight wins. Whoops! The Panthers squeezed three goals in 3:11 against Jake Ottenger, the Stars' back-up who gave Anton Khudobin a night off. Not only that but Dallas now will be confronted with ten sets of back-to-back games. Bowness will face the challenge of his career and he knows it. "The league has done the best it can to help us through this grind," Rick allows. "But when you lose nine days and lose eight games in an already tight schedule; that's tough." Can't argue with that, but he had a good argument with his club's collapse against the Cats. "Our veterans let us down -- again!" Rick moaned. (If there's a salvation for the Stars the key will be goalie Anton Khudobin staying healthy.)
HEADLINE: KEN CAMPBELL: ‘KANE FOR HART; DO YOU WANT TO FIGHT ME?’
THE JIVE: The Hockey News' columnist is one of the most insightful on this continent. In this case, Kenny also happens to be the most combative. What kind of fight is he looking for; certainly not with fists? Kidding aside, Campbell is right on about Patrick Kane and his legitimacy as a Hart Trophy candidate. Yeah, you can make a case for Auston Matthews but that's only if you live in the Greater Toronto area. And there are several other worthies around such as The Magnificent McDavid. But no individual player has done more for the success of his Blackhawks team than Buffalo's gift to the NHL. Last night Patty showed why Kenny is right. Kane broke a 0-0 tie at 8:43 of the third period, leading Chi to a 2-0 win at Columbus. With Jonathan Toews out indefinitely, Patrick is leading like a captain although there's only an "A" on his jersey. So, I say, Ken Campbell won't have to worry about me punching back against him over Kane as MVP. YAY, KEN CAMPBELL. YAY, PATRICK KANE. (Only one issue here; the season isn't half over! But, in this case it doesn't matter, 'cause we're talking about now!)
HEADLINE: MID-SEASON COACHING CHANGES; GOOD OR BAD?
THE JIVE: Actually neither, 'cause it all depends on the team and the individual who's imported to change things for the better. What could be a more positive answer than Craig Berube. The man revived the Blues and turned them into Champs. Or, to go back in history, the Rangers in the late 1940s brought in Lynn Patrick who led his team to the seventh game of the 1950 Final round with Detroit before the Blueshirts lost in double overtime. Then again, you can cite as many examples where the so-called Disaster-Busters only brought on another calamity. (Bottom Line: Two words -- it depends!)
HEADLINE: SABRES BENCH JEFF SKINNER FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT GAME
THE JIVE: The highest-paid-least-productive NHL skater has left Buffalo's high command up the creek without a paddle. Just about the only way to handle the multi-millionaire with one assist to his name was to sideline him as coach Ralph Krueger again did last night in New Jersey. The Sabres lost 4-3 in OT and, who knows, maybe a dressed Skinner could have scored the winner instead of Jersey's Pavel Zacha. (The best bet for Buff is to put Skinner back in the lineup. Maybe this sabbatical is just what he needed. Hey wake-up calls do work!)
HEADLINE: LEAFS ARE OVERRATED, SOME BELIEVE
THE JIVE: It's tough to argue against a club that has dominated the North Division virtually from opening night. Doubly tough when you examine the accomplishments of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, among others. But keen hockey observers such as my buddy, Sandy MacDonald point out that Toronto's success has come within what appears to be the NHL's weakest division, by far; Connor McDavid's heroics notwithstanding. How, for example, would the Leafs fare against the defending champion Lightning? Who can tell unless it happens. (We'll just have to wait 'til playoff time for an answer.)
HEADLINE: ZACH PARISE GETS 800TH NHL POINT
THE JIVE: I vividly remember when the Devils hosted Pittsburgh to open the 2005-06 season. A pair of rookies were the headliners. The Penguins featured a guy named Sidney Crosby and New Jersey had J.P. Parise's kid. On that night it was tough to choose who was the better player but we know all about Sid's accomplishments. Zach hasn't done too badly either and has made many friends along the way; me included. Parise deserves a rousing ovation for his landmark point and let's hope he leads Billy Guerin's Wild into a playoff berth. (J.P., may he rest in peace, would be proud.)
HEADLINE: BARRY TROTZ DOES A MIKE EMRICK
THE JIVE: My younger son, Simon, has been a lifelong admirer of Michael (Doc) Emrick's play-by-play and creative use of verbiage. Last night, Simon noticed that Doc's influence has happily affected the Islanders coach. In the post-game presser -- after his Isles stunning 7-2 win over Boston -- Barry was discussing Jean-Gabriel Pageau's superior performance. The coach said that J-G is extremely useful and "played with bite and snarl." Hearing the "bite and snarl," Simon, yelled across the room, "Hey, dad, Trotz just used a Doc-ism!" (So he did. And good for Barry and good for our old pal, the one-and-only Doc!)
ONE-LINERS:* Auston Matthews has a wrist injury but insists on playing. If this was baseball, he'd be out for a month. Minimum.
* T.J. Oshie helped the Caps beat Pitt, 5-2,last night with a belly-whopping-poke-checking goal that may have given him a stomach ache but it was worth it.
* Give the Wings' Sam Gagner credit. The other day he predicted that he'd be bearing down and would score more goals. True to his word, Sammy got his third career hat trick while Detroit beat Nashville, 5-2.
* Don't look now but the Senators have found their form. The 6-1 beating Ottawa laid on Calgary last night is telling -- for the Losers as well. G.m. Brad Treliving must know that his flickering Flames are signalling S.O.S.
TRIVIA CORNER: Name the Hall of Fame goalie who had to shed ten pounds in a week if he was to remain a starter? (Answer below.)
FUNNY QUOTES FROM YESTERYEAR: "SHOOT THE PUCK, BARRY, SHOOT THE PUCK!"
For years Rangers radio and tv analyst Bill Chadwick -- a former Hall of Fame referee -- would get upset when Beck, Blueshirts defenseman, would pass the puck rather than fire it on goal. After all, hulking Beck had a dynamite drive."The Big Whistle," as Chadwick was known, repeated his "Shoot the puck, Barry" call so many times it became part of Rangers fans lore.
TRIVIA ANSWER: During the 1949-50 season, Toronto Maple Leafs boss Conn Smythe charged that his goalie Turk Broda had gotten "fat."
Smythe gave his netminder a week to lose ten pounds, "or else." Broda not only beat the challenge by a pound but then went out and beat the Rangers that night at Maple Leaf Gardens.