The Positive Effect of Home Town Rooting

Will The Coliseum give the Isles a boost? The questions not asked of Kyle Dubas. Awards after the playoffs? Vegas defeated by Avs again. Canes facing an uphill climb tonight.

When the Islanders host the Bruins tonight at Nassau Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, the decibel count likely will reach an all-time high.

As well it should. 

The Old Barn will retire sometime this spring, having served the hockey club -- as well as the County -- well. 

It won't hurt that the home club returns with its series tied at one apiece and the fans hoping that their collective chorus can make a difference in favor of the Nassaumen.

Coach Barry Trotz and his spear carriers often have said that the crowd has a positive tonic effect on the stickhandlers.  

Ditto for the defending champion Lightning who have been challenged by a determined Carolina sextet but managed to go two-up in the series. Except, that, in this case, the home crowd could not produce a W.

Hard as they tried, the noisemakers at Raleigh's PNC Arena failed to discourage Tampa Bay from doing what Champs do best; find a way to win. 

That "way" was the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevskly; not to mention clutch scoring from foot soldiers Anthony Cirelli and Alex Kilorn.

Time and again, the playoffs produce unsung heroes who suddenly come and sing for their supper. Fourth-liner Casey Cizikas did just that with the OT winner for the Islanders in Boston.


Stan’s Java Jive

HEADLINE: AN APPLESAUCE AWARD FOR LEAFS

THE JIVE: When my Dad felt that someone was giving him a song-and-dance, his reply invariably would be "You're full of applesauce."  With Dad Ben in mind I've just created a brand-new Applesauce Award for all those  who've incorrectly dissected the Maple Leafs demise with approximately 4,245 alibis. 

In so doing the media Alibi Ikes have exonerated the following fellows; Brendan Shanahan; Kyle Dubas, Shelly Keefe and everybody else connected with the Toronto Maple Losers except for the stickboy's second cousin.

Key finger-pointing must be directed at Dubby Dubas who gives the impression that he not only thinks he invented hockey, but that he's the reincarnation Lord Stanley of Preston. Key thoughts:

1. The Maple Losers defeat also proves that all of King Kyle's analytics produced minus-the-radical-50 in the playoffs: Ergo: Zero.

2. As one of my prescient colleagues put it: "He did what most Leaf general managers do -- panic. Listen to the media. Trade. Give up the future."

3. Questions not asked that should be: "How come Nick (Foolish Fight-Picker) Foligno was worth a Number One pick? What analytic inspired Dubby to bring in the Ancients -- Jason Spezza and Joe (The Ridiculous Beard) Thornton? And a few others starting with Alex (Bad-Passer) Galchenyuk?

4. My Chief Petty Insight Officer adds: "Dubas' Applesauce skills are A-Plus. That's what got him the job."

5. I like this bullseye fan comment: "Hall of Famers Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello were let go so a Rotisserie League guru could be g.m. And a players' best friend could coach the stars into country club complacency."


HEADLINE: HERE'S THE TORONTO WRITER WHO GOT IT RIGHT

THE JIVE: Michael Traikos of the Toronto Sun doesn't mess around. It starts with his headline: WHAT IF THE LEAFS HAD PUSHED DUBAS -- AND NOT LOU LAMORIELLO -- OUT THE DOOR?

Traikos' column is filled with worthwhile substance with a simple bottom line. Lou knows. (Or, Lou knew.) And the g.m. impersonator ain't what his analytic bank is worthless. Listen up to Traikos:

"Lamoriello has achieved far more with far less during his time on Long Island...It's the playoffs where the teams differ....The Islanders have won four playoff rounds in the past three years. The Leafs have won zero."

Here's another Traikos gem: "It wasn't that the Leafs didn't have the best or most expensive players. It was that they didn't have the right players. They chose creativity over character. Ultimately they chose regular season success over playoff success."

Flash back to the decisive Game Seven and -- by this time -- you'll know what really was missing. Take it away one more time, Maestro Traikos:

"They lacked heart. And passion. And that team-first mentality Lamoriello has preached long and hard over his career, about how the logo on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back."

I'll add one postscript: This imitation g.m. opened the season without a dependable, hardened playoff goalie and closed the campaign without one!

Dubas should have learned that bit of elementary stuff in Kindergarten Hockey 101 with a teacher named Torts in front of the blackboard!


HEADLINE: KNIGHTS WAKE UP BUT IS IT TOO LATE?

THE JIVE: Give Vegas credit; the Golden Knights revived after a disgraceful first game loss to Colorado.

They forced overtime last night. Marc-Andre Fleury was a marked improvement over Robin Lehner but this time it was an overtime "Close But No Cigar" story. What's clear is that the Avs are strong at every position and that all Vegas can hope for home ice and Fleury stealing a game or two. Right now; Avs rule!


HEADLINE: AWARDS SHOULD WAIT FOR END OF THE PLAYOFFS

THE JIVE: Since just about everyone -- except Toronto's high command -- agrees that the playoffs are the most important part of any season, shouldn't all awards be voted on after The Cup is presented?

Of course. 

That's why it's tough to stifle a guffaw now that the players' union has announced its Ted Lindsay (Outstanding Player Award) trio. Sidney Crosby: OUT! Auston Matthews: OUT! Connor McDavid: OUT! 

In baseball, that's three strikes and you're out!


HEADLINE: LETTER FROM RALEIGH

THE JIVE: Carolina vs. Tampa Bay, tonight. Our man in Raleigh, Joel Cohen, writes."This is a showdown; almost a checkmate of two powerhouse teams trying to shut down each other. Is fatigue a factor working against the Canes? Could be. Coming off three OT games against Nashville, the Canes have lost a step in speed and energy. They're losing battles on the boards and neutral zone turnovers."

Injuries to Nino Niederreiter and Vince Trocheck won't help either. Frankly, a loss tonight to the Champs figures to be the sayonara signal -- or is it S.O.S. -- for Brind'Amour, Inc.

"The Canes need a jolt of emotional and physical energy," Cohen concludes. "Look for Petr Mrazek to start in goal. Also, Ryan Suzuki or Morgan Geekie could provide the needed fresh legs and energy," (A Canes win would be more than impressive; I actually could see it as a major series-changer. That said, The Champs will want to put on a huge show before the Bay Believers!)


HEADLINE: WHAT THE 'CH' ON THE HABS JERSEY REALLY MEANS

THE JIVE: Not content with one major miracle this spring, g.m. Marc Bergevin's Canadiens marched into Winnipeg. And guess what? The well-rested Jets were rusty Jets. Scoring early and often, the Habs romped 5-3.

Which reminds me, folks often ask what the "CH" means on the Montreal uniform. The answer Club de Hockey Canadien. After what they did to Toronto -- and now to Peg -- I have my own, new definition. The "C" stands for courage and chemistry. The "H" for heroic, yet -- unlike T.O. -- humble!


TRIVIA CORNER: Why was goalie Gary Smith nicknamed "Suitcase?" (Answer below.)


CLASSIC COMMENTS FROM YESTERYEAR: "If you looked inside Freddie's brain, you'd find a miniature hockey rink."

-- Mariette Shero, coach Fred Shero's wife.


TRIVIA ANSWER: Goalie Gary Smith got the nickname "Suitcase" because he played for a dozen teams in five years. "

Winnipeg was the best I ever played for," Smitty once said.