Canadian Corner – December 11, 2011.

The Flames down the Oilers again…Canucks defeat Senators…Kaberle stars in his debut with Canadiens…Jets thumped by Red Wings…Leafs brutal penalty kill.

CALGARY HERALD/EDMONTON SUN: The Flames won yet another game in the “Battle of Alberta”, blanking the Oilers 3-0. The Flames have beaten the Oilers in 17 of their last 19 meetings.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators lost a scrappy affair to the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 4-1.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Tony Gallagher suggests Canucks fans should enjoy how well the team is playing at this current point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t that long ago when the Canucks were in the midst of rebuilding after missing the playoffs in two of the first three seasons following the lockout. They’re now among the dominant clubs in the NHL, and remain a serious Cup contender. Enjoy the ride, Canucks fans, you never know how long it’ll last, or when it could end.

Kaberle stars in first game with Habs.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Tomas Kaberle had a solid debut with the Canadiens, setting up both goals as the Habs edged the New Jersey Devils 2-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect that same output in every game, but if Kaberle can contribute positively in most of the Habs games this season, his acquisition could turn out to be a good thing in the long run. For now, consensus remains Habs GM Pierre Gauthier panicked, so Kaberle will have to play well consistently throughout the rest of this season to change that opinion.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets four-game winning streak came to a rude end in Detroit, as they were thumped 7-1 by the Red Wings.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs have the second-worst penalty kill in the league, a contributing factor in their dropping four of their last five games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For all the talk of the Leafs looking for a second line center, perhaps there’s a greater need for a good penalty-killing center?


  1. Regarding the Leafs PK. There are generally 4 guys out there on the penalty kill so I think it’s more a sign that the coach’s system is failing then trying to put the blame on one specific guy. The Leafs seem to put no pressure on the point men during the pk and the other teams always seem to get the big shot off. Wilson seems to be at a loss for ideas on how to defend against a powerplay but then again with the 3rd worst goals against in the league he doesn’t seem to have many answers on how to defend during a 5 on 5 either. Time for a change.

  2. @FireWilson: You’ve been wanking about Wilson for some time now. I think your correct in your assessment of things especially when you consider that these players have been in penalty kill situations most of their careers both in junior and pro and should already know what to do and where to be.

    During Wilson’s tenure, the players have completely turned over and yet the PK still stinks by and large resulting in a goals against average that is not indicative of a team destined for the playoffs.

  3. We are stuck with Wilson for the rest of the year.
    At this point maybe one of the assistant coach’s can convince him that getting in front of point shots is not a PK system when so many get through.
    maybe he will even notice that Gunnarson sucks bad on the PK never winning a puck battle or moving anyone out from in front.
    Gunnarson is really reminding me of Kaberle,too soft,lots of giveaways,shys away from being hit, except he is lousy on the PP.
    Pk was looking better for a few games when Aulie was playing.
    Once Komi comes back i can see Gunnar being dealt.

  4. @Joey
    I think Burke has assembled some pretty decent talent in his short tenure. Yes, I would have preferred we took the Edmonton (finish last, pick first) route but you can’t look back at what could have been, so I give Burke two thumbs up for what he has accomplished considering what he had to start with. With the current roster I think we could be playing much better and have a better shot in the playoffs (if we make it) with a defensive minded system like Detroit and NJ have played for the last 15 years. I just can’t see the current run and gun system working when the going gets tough as it usually does down the stretch and in the playoffs. It generally allows all the forwards to have banner years under this system but usually makes all the defensemen look like useless bums (defensively). This reminds me of the Pat Quinn years and although we were able to knock out Ottawa every year we didn’t have much other success with the “go for broke” style he imposed. I know the defence first approach is boring at times but unless you are able to ice a team with major superstars in the height of their career (which the Leafs don’t really have) you won’t have much success. Wilson has been given 3 years and a decent roster to implement his systems and we are still one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Yes, Wilson has a winning record during his long career but so does Quinn and I don’t think anyone wants him coaching their team. All this doesn’t matter because Burke has made it known Wilson isn’t going anywhere in the near term so another short winning streak will just hide the glaring issues and prolong the inevitable.

  5. Firewilson – the leafs did do the horrible finish/pick high route. It’s just that those two years picks went to the B’s. There’s still lots of time and I’m personally hoping both the Canadiens and Leafs make the playoffs this year. More national pride then and less spiteful hatred. Lol. I gotta say though, Kaberle on the PP is AWESOME. The guy can read the play and pass great. Definitely a element the Habs have lacked this year. Hopefully he keeps it up.

  6. I hope Kab’s can keep it up in Montreal. He is an awesome guy who gave the Leafs everything he had. He’s a real class act…

  7. One person I don’t understand why leafs have still is dupuis . He is completely useless, he doesn’t score, they use him for the penalty kill all the time and look where that gets them. I don’t know why they don’t bring up Boyce or zigomannis they block shots and provide a little more offense. At least give them a try. I am hoping that now with Armstrong back he will be used more on the pk again and hopefully that helps. Try something, anything!

  8. The habs don’t play until Tuesday, thatn will give Kaberle at least one practice in before the game vs the Islanders,to bring him ip to speed at what is expected of him and work on certain things and get him a logical partner on defense.

  9. @FireWilson..Just to clarify..In general, I’m quite pleased at the work Burke has done to bring depth, youth and talent to the Leafs which of course was sorely lacking in previous regimes. As is, they are looking good as a young team of the future but Wilson is not the man to have coaching this lot. While his record is good and no doubt he does seem to know how to handle the media circus that is Toronto, in my mind, he is not the right coach for this bunch..Nope..give me Dallas Eakins..i think he has got the right mix of skill and latitude and remember latitude for today’s NHL’er is critical.

    Also specialty teams matter very much and to me, ours is not up to snuff ;and if Wilson really did have a clue about that, ours would at least fall within the top 10 for both skill sets. Playoff bound teams ensure that they do fall within this group and as we know, the Leafs have issues.

    That said, should the trade deadline come and go and the Leafs are still looking upward hoping for a playoff spot, expect a tap on Burke’s shoulder from upper management asking what about Wilson and if the answer doesn’t measure up, maybe a change will come.

  10. Not sure if replacing Wilson with Eakins is going to do much. Eakins is coaching the Marlies with the LEAFS/Wilson system so that when players are brought up they can adapt to the NHL game speed that much easier because they already know the system.

  11. @Goalie art: Ya I hear what you’re saying about Eakins but there are many out there who also believe Eakins is NHL ready as a coach that just needs the chance. That said, if Eakins does stays put with the Marlies, maybe Burke’s old coach Randy Carlyle will be interviewed for the job. I just think no matter what, if the Leafs miss the playoffs again, Wilson will have to go