NHL Canadian Corner – April 7, 2014

Oilers down the Ducks, Canadiens shooting for playoff home-ice advantage, Senators playing for pride, examining what went wrong for the Leafs, the Canucks woeful power play, plus the latest on Evander Kane and Sean Monahan.

Taylor Hall (right) had a three-point performance against the Ducks.

Taylor Hall (right) had a three-point performance against the Ducks.

EDMONTON SUN: Taylor Hall had a three-point performance and Viktor Fasth made 34 saves as the Oilers downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall has 77 points in 72 games this season, among the few positives in this miserable season for the Oilers.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens are shooting for home-ice advantage in the upcoming playoffs. Sitting second in the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens have opened a four-point lead over the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning.

OTTAWA SUN: Though making the playoffs is a long shot for the Senators, they’re playing for pride in their remaining games in this season.

THE GLOBE & MAIL: James Mirtle breaks down what’s gone wrong for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Among the factors: not adequately replacing puck-possession players like Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski last summer, a weak fourth line, and failing to do more to bolster the defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recommend all Leafs fans read Mirtle’s analysis on the Leafs woes this season. His assessment is spot-on. It’s up to Leafs management to address the problems this summer or expect more of the same next season. Puck possession rules in today’s NHL game and the Leafs simply aren’t a good possession team.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes the Canucks inept power play killed their season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a significant factor but not the main one. What killed the Canucks season was lack of quality scoring depth. When their best forwards were hampered or sidelined by injuries, their losses mounted.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Gary Lawless believes Jets coach Paul Maurice was sending a message to his team by making Evander Kane a healthy scratch for Saturday’s Jets-Maple Leafs game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That message will be lost if Maurice doesn’t return as coach next season.

CALGARY HERALD: Flames rookie Sean Monahan returns to New Jersey for the first time since he was drafted by the Flames last summer. The 2013 NHL Draft was held in Newark.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite injury and some adjustment to the NHL game, Monahan had a strong debut for the Flames, with 20 goals and 32 points in 71 games this season.


  1. A lot of good points made by Mirtle, but as history has shown us, Leafs’ management has shown a penchant for ignoring the obvious. From where I sit, the major culprit in the Leafs’ poor puck possession game lies in the fact that they are dreadful in the area of puck retrieval. Be it in their own end or the offensive zone, TO come out on the wrong end of puck battles time and time again. Does anyone track puck battle wins and losses as a viable stat? If not, they should institute it in Toronto.

  2. I am starting to move to the side of maybe it is time to fire Nonis too, not because of Phaneuf Kessel or Bozak, not even really for Clarkson (but that is a small part of it) more for a new perspective, Carlyle should have been fired already imo not getting rid of Franson before negoyiating his deal, putting Clarkson above a D man or a center (misjudged need more than the contract) now with Bolland who I dont believe holds any secret key to success. Talk of bringing in possibly Trotz if there is any truth to it… etc. It maybe finnally time (again) to start with a completely clean slate. Clean out all the front office move on from the Burke regime, let a new GM hire his own coach and people and go on from there. I havent had much of a problem with some of the contracts its more the direction that mngmt is taking

    • Well, Well someone has changed their tune.

      As I said many times Nonis is the man who is at the helm and should be the first one to get axed. He is in charge of Carlyle’s future, not Carlyle so you can’t blame the coach since he can’t fire himself. If the coach isn’t working then it’s the GM’s job to replace him, no one else. Oh and yes, Phaneuf’s immoveable contract will also come back to bite the next GM in the ass so you can blame Nonis for inking that deal at Christmas instead of waiting to see how Dion performed down the stretch when it matters most. Minus 10 in the last 6 games running around like a chicken with his head cut off would have certainly entered into contract negotiations with this 2nd line D man. I don’t blame Nonis as much for Clarkson’s contract as Phaneuf’s. Clarkson was a complete bust and he should improve next year where Phaneuf has no where to go but down as the seasons pile up. Both contracts suck and will be immovable and not worth buying out so get use to them for at least 5 more years.

      • Not really, as I said I dont really think this year is Nonis fault , or think he should be fired for your ridiculious reasons and rants of Bozak Kessel amnd Phaneuf. Yes Clarkson has a bad contract and I could live with that even. The main reason I have is perspective, I think a fresh set of eyes is needed to get this club going in a more forward direction. I think the issues are not things like compete level and aditude but skill level of supporting cast. Im not so sure they see it that way if the priority is to resign guys like Bolland McClemment Raymond keep Lupul and possibly move on from Gardiner Kadri Kulimen. Fire Randy and bring in the exact same type of coach (If Trotz is fired). I think its time to move on fromt that type of model. Again the Blackhawks Redwings play a game that has structure and defensively responsible that relys on speed and puck posession IMO this is more the type of game that would suit the team better than trying to make them in to something they are not.

        • All these points are well and good and some may address the here and now but I take a longer term view. I see Phaneuf as a decent 2nd line D man which would be great to have on a team that is paying him around $5M for 3 or 4 years. Where I see the problem is if you pay Dion $7M for 7 years where do you get the cash to pay a stud (if one comes available) who could have a contract north of $8M? Same goes with Kessel. If you have a guy like JVR who stands in front of the net and nets 30 goals and is paid $4.25M why go out and pay Kessel $8M for 37 goals when you are in desperate need of a top line center who will most likely demand $7M ++. Then there is the issue of over paying all these guys which leaves you very little money to ice a good 4th line and a 2nd and 3rd defensive pairing. I never said Phaneuf is terrible or the Kessel doesn’t have skill or that Bozak doesn’t possess a decent faceoff percentage and mesh with Kessel. My only point has ever been, that if you over pay Kessel by say $1M, Phaneuf by $2M, Bozak by $1M, Clarkson by $1.5M, Bolland by $1M, and the list goes on eventually it all adds up and ends up taking away from other parts of the line up. Then everyone is bitching that we don’t have a deep defense or a good 4th line or a number one center etc. Sure some of these positions may be hard to come by but if you don’t have the cash to pay a player capable of filling these voids in the first place then you really can’t go out looking. That’s where the Leafs will find themselves this summer once again.

          • Last time Kessel is worth his contract. If you look around the league for goal scorers guys who could potentially put up 40 you are going to pay 7-8 millon bucks there are not many of them and they are important ask the Kings who traded for Gaborik the Rangers who traded for Nash the Habs or Islanders who traded for Vanek the Sens who have tried with trading for Ryan and Hemsky just this year so far. When Stamkos does his first deal as a UFA he is going to get quite a bit more than Kessel as will Taveres Kane Towes etc, you dont just find guys like that and once you have them you dont let them walk away because “maybe” something else might come up Bozak has is pretty close to 20 goals and if he played a full season would probably be around 65 points for 4.2 mill…its a steal. Phaneuf is burnt by the middle of the year because he plays over half a game and is the only guy to play the best players in the world every shift mostly in his own end…I am not going to debate players you dont like so it must be that they are overpaid anymore just drop it.

  3. We have to trade lupul to get another dman and if we are stuck with dion he has to be sripped of the C asap. And i would in a heartbeat trade kessel for a #1 proven center. Just not out there tho. All those people who said kessel is a franchise player dont know what they are talking about. Leafs having had one since sundin. Kessel is the peice you add when u are one step away. Bring in a gm who will clear house and a coach who will build a system. Gardiner reilly kadri bernier clarkson jvr bozak kessel bodie. Bring back komorav and let young guys play. Damigo levio grandberg ashton macwilliam ect. Bring in a vet dman through free agency on a short term. With anothet top 4 dman you will get from lupul. And resign bolland 6 year 25.5 million not a cent more. Then name him captain. Be an under the cap team until u are one step away. I really beleive clarkson is a gd player on a team with structre and cant question his heart. But cant go wrong letting kids play. Worse case scenario you miss playoffs and have a gd draft pick in deep 2015 draft with alot of cap room.
    Players i want gone for sure
    Dion lupul gleason franson kulimen orr mclearen

    • Like Spezza, Sundin, Richards or Kopitar then complain that they dont score enough goals when they have no winger to play with? Why would you make a 3 rdline center a Captain? And why are you paying Bolland more than Bozak? This is a mess you have in order of pay scale the third line center (captain) making more than your top 2 centers and the second highest scorer on your team and he only played around 20 games for your team and never scored 20 in his career and misses generally between a third and a half a season every year accept 1 in his career. No thanks, Bolland is worth no more than 4 mill (if that) on a short term deal.

  4. Who we got? Clarkson and bolland are the only ones one the team capable of weari g the C. Phaneuf is a joke captain. And bozak isnt a #1. A solid #2 on any other team. Bolland would be worth every penny of the 4.25 million. Espically if your naming him captain. You stuck up for dion way to long. He is isnt a captain. If you could trade sundin at age 26 for Sundin at 26 would you? Sundin was so much more then kessel. Wingers arent as hard to find as true #1 centerman that are the face of a franchise. Im not saying trade kessel im just saying hhe isnt a franchise player. Well maybe he is but not on a cup contending team. What if oppurtunity presented itself kessel for tavares because tavares didnt want to sign in long island? Would u do that? Of course. Not gonna happen tho. A franchise centerman dies way more then what a kessel brings.

  5. Trade kessel * for a 26 year old sundin

    • Really? name all the 26 year old wingers who can put up around 40 goals in the nhl today,and you dont make 3rd line checker who play around 12-15 mins a captain…especially a guy like Clarkson, what is that saying to the rest of your team? We will make the guy who had a brutal seson sored scored 4 goals captain. Ya that should get them motivated, true leader. Its nuts

  6. You are not seeing my point. Kessel isnt a franchise player. How about naming 10 centerman then that i would rather build my team around that can hit backcheck and change momentum by raising his voice in the room. Kessel is an amazing goal scorer and i can only name a few wingers that are his age and put up his numbers. But he is one dimensional. The 1st line creates off the rush and spends no time cycling the puck down low. Atleast sundin and the twin towers would keep the play in offensive zone. And our goalies wouldnt get 36 shots against on average. And reason i would name bolland captain is because who else you got? Phaneuf isnt a captain. He is laughing stock of nhl. Voted most overrated player. Doesnt that tell you enough? Who would you name captain if dion left? Bolland has the resume no one else has. My point with clarkson is he sticks up for teamates at least and will drop gloves to try and change momentum. When does dion do that? When game is 5 to 2 with 1 minute left. Leafs have one of the worse team structures in leaugue. Clarkson has suffered from that. Coming from a team that had one of the best structures.Your best player doesnt have to be your captain. Also with our current roster and a healthy bolland he would be more of a #2 centerman. Who would you name captain, If phaneuf left or got stripped of it? Im just curious considering dion always sais there is plenty of leaderahip in the room. Lupul perhaps but i think he will be traded in off season. What would do in offseason? I think more has to be down then just a coaching change. I would fire coach strip dion of C. Get rid of lupul kuli franson dion if we could orr mclearen. Bring back komorav. And be a below the cap team until right trade or player comes along. Fill these roster spots up with young players from marlies. Maybe bring in a couple solid dman on short term.