Stan's Java Jive: 2/9/21
Dubois set for debut; Tortorella vs. Laine, Round 1; Williams, Drury gain new roles
HEADLINE: TORTORELLA VS. LAINE; IT'S STARTED ALREADY
THE JIVE: When newly-acquired Patrik Laine arrived in Columbus, Boss Torts made it clear there'd be no kid gloves treatment for the alleged star.
John came through by benching Pat last night while the Jackets won, 3-2 over Carolina. Asked for a reason behind the benching, the coach said,
"It stays in the room." But then added: "It wasn't because of a missed assignment...We're disjointed in other areas -- on and off the ice. It's part of (his) learning the team concept; how we do things here. The discipline of being a pro. It's about understanding the culture." Score one for the coach. Now we'll see whether Laine "gets it" or not. (Cam Atkinson immediately backed Torts. The question: Is Laine opening another can or worms in another city? Stay tuned!)
HEADLINE: DUBOIS DEBUT READY IN WINNIPEG
THE JIVE: Pierre-Luc should be skating in tonight's bout with Calgary. That means that the Jets will present their best center ice depth in years. Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny will add to the pivotal strength. Dubois will center for Kyle Connor and Trevor Lewis. Nice! (Even nicer; Pierre-Luc calls Connor one of the NHL's "most underrated" players. We'll soon see what Connor thinks of Dubois.)
HEADLINE: THE 'BUTTERFLY' MUST BE SWATTED
THE JIVE: I love watching any Calgary-Edmonton game including last Saturday's Flames 6-4 victory. What I didn't like was what I saw in the respective creases; a pair of goalies diminishing their chances of success by flagrant over-use of "The Butterfly" technique. The Oilers' overworked Mikko Koskinen was as guilty as Calgary's Jacob Markstrom. At each end, the respective stoppers dropped to the "Butterfly" while the puck sailed over them and into the net. Granted, knee-dropping can be useful but only at the proper time. Check the highlights of last Saturday's game and you'll see too many goals scored that could have been prevented with a stand-up technique. (I just wonder if there's a goalie coach out there who can change the 'way over-utilized Butterfly madness?)
HEADLINE: ONE MAN'S 'FAVORITE GOAL OF THE SEASON
THE JIVE: My tv replay expert, Gus Vic, nips at the analysts who underplayed Montreal's winning goal last week vs. Ottawa.
Vic calls it "My Favorite Goal Of The Season." So far. Here's why, step by step: 1. Joel Edmundson makes the initial pass to Jeff Petry who delivers a perfect shoot-in and carom off the boards; 2. Then all three forwards line up like planes landing at O'Hare Airport; 3. Jon Drouin beats all Sens defenders to negate an icing and gets the first shot; 4. Nick Suzuki comes right behind for the rebound and....5. While three Sens are occupied down low, Josh Anderson provides final layer of offensive support, beating the last two forwards to the slot to score the 2-1 winner. (All five forwards were involved!)
HEADLINE: SIX TOP 'HOCKEY PEOPLE OF POWER' ARE NAMED
THE JIVE: The Hockey News annually names The Game's leading bossmen. Here are the latest: The top six start with NHL Commissioner Bettman followed by his very able sidekick, Deputy Commissioner Daly. Third is Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs who doubles as Chairman Of The NHL Board of Governors; The only player listed is Connor McDavid in fourth spot with Wild owner Craig Leipold right behind. To my surprise -- I kid you not -- Players' Association head, Donald Fehr, came in sixth. (I had him pegged for fourth.)
HEADLINE: HURRICANES NAME JUSTIN WILLIAMS AS 'ADVISOR
THE JIVE: Why not? This dude is about as hockey smart as anyone. Justin's working title is "Special Advisor To G.M. Don Waddell." Fair enough. "Justin is a major part of the culture change with our hockey club," Don explains. Just for the Justin record, The Man played 1,264 career games and was on three Stanley Cup winners. (Williams could "advise" me anytime!)
HEADLINE: CHRIS DRURY NAMED RANGERS ASSOCIATE GENERAL MANAGER:
THE JIVE: Very nice. Drury is a sharp cookie. Other NHL clubs would have loved to have him on staff; Pittsburgh Penguins for one. Smart move by Top Banana John Davidson keeping him in the Blueshirts realm. (Not that it matters here but I remember Chris as a Rangers-killer when Drury ruled the Sabres.)
HEADLINE: RALPH BACKSTROM PASSES AWAY AT 83
THE JIVE: An outstanding player for the Canadiens, Ralph was a friend whose career spanned 1,032 NHL games. He skated for six Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Habs and was a Calder Trophy winner in 1959. I remember Ralph as a speedy, hard-shooting center who played behind Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard; two of the all-time greats; yet Ralph excelled as well. He later played for other NHL clubs before moving on to the WHA. After landing in Colorado, where he coached and helped form a pro team, Backstrom designed and sold one of the first inline roller skates. He also was a founder of Roller Hockey International. (I also think fondly of Ralph as a superior, honest, clean player and a wonderful guy. R.I.P.)
HEADLINE; BARRY HITS MILESTONE; NEXT IS LOU
THE JIVE: When his Islanders topped the Rangers, 2-0, last night, it marked the 850th NHL win for Sir Trotz, putting him one ahead of Ken Hitchcock. Meanwhile, Boss Lamoriello is but one W shy of reaching the 1,300 win level as general manager. Lou is third behind David Poile (1,420), the leader and Glen Sather with 1,319. Barry, being Barry, treated his feat with customary aplomb and humor. How does he feel about the accomplishment? Trotz: "It means I've been around a long time." (The Man is a jewel -- and a winner.)
HEADLINE: CAN A CANADIAN DIVISION BECOME A PERMANENT THING?THE JIVE: The Athletic's Pierre Le Brun -- always a ferret on the spoor of a good story -- put the question to Gary Bettman. The Commissioner had a compelling response: "There's been a great deal of interest and excitement (over the North Division). We'll evaluate and try to determine what we might apply going forward." Le Brun says a pure Canadian Division "is not likely." But there could be more Canadian match-ups when the league gets back to normalcy. (Makes sense.)
* WHO'S GETTING TONY DEANGELO? Good question. Either Darren Dreger or Elliotte Friedman should have the answer.
* TYLER SEGUIN BACK BEFORE PLAYOFFS: Good news. Stars need him in the homestretch.
* DO HABS HAVE BEST ONE-TWO GOALIE COMBO? Put it this way; at worst, Carey Price and Jake Allen are -- at the very least -- among the best.
* RED WINGS SHOWING SOME IMPROVEMENT: Coach Jeff Blashill has one explanation: "We're clogging the neutral zone better."
* BOLTS MAY ADMIT FANS SOON: That's the word from owner Jeff Vinik; and it may be in a week or two.
* NO FOURTH LINE ON ISLES; Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck-Matt Martin combined on both goals last night. As they go, so go the Islanders. Which is why coach Trotz renamed them "The Identity Line." Or, as Barry adds: "They use the same brain on the same page."
ISLANDERS AT RANGERS: 2-0 for Isles. Varly blanks the Blueshirts again.
HURRICANES AT BLUE JACKETS: 3-2 for Torts, Inc. And a lesson for Laine. Meanwhile, Columbus native, Jack Roslovic, scored a BJ beauty.
OILERS AT SENATORS: 3-1, Edmonton. Too much streaking Leon Drysaitl for gritty Ottawa. Plus, Mike Smith returns to Oil goal. And well.
CANUCKS AT MAPLE LEAFS: 3-1, Toronto, as Matthews does it again; eight straight games with a goal.
LIGHTNING AT PREDATORS: 3-1.That hidden gem, Anthony Cirelli, comes through with a sharp-angled red light.
COYOTES AT BLUES: 4-3, Arizona in a Shootout. Looks like Yotes may be moving upward.
YAY TO THE WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE for its decision to resume play next month. Opening date is March 10. Also to NHL First Stars of the week: David Pastrnak and another Boston ace, Amy Ginter, a respirator therapist at Beantown's BIDMC, for her work during the Covic crisis.
BOO TO THE ANNOUNCERS, who, after a weak goal is scored, inevitably say, "He'd like that one back." It's a cliche gone wild. Does it mean he "wants it back" so it can go in again? Nah. Then, again, maybe they're lobbying for a "Goalie Challenge." I want that goal back because I played it wrong. (Why not just say, "So and So blew it!" and leave it at that?)
HISTORIC QUOTE FROM YESTERYEAR: ED GIACOMIN ON HAVING GREY HAIR SINCE AGE 19:"My decision to make goalkeeping a career might have something to do with it."