NHL Canadian Corner – February 1, 2013.

Recaps of last night’s Washington-Toronto, San Jose-Edmonton, Winnipeg-Florida  and Colorado-Calgary games, plus updates on Jason Spezza, Roberto Luongo and P.K. Subban.

James van Riemsdyk scored his fourth of the season in Leafs win over Capitals.

James van Riemsdyk scored his fourth of the season in Leafs win over Capitals.

TORONTO STAR/WASHINGTON POST: The Toronto Maple Leafs overcame a 2-1 deficit by scoring two unanswered third period goals to down the struggling Washington Capitals 3-2. James van Riemsdyk scored his fourth goal of the season for the Maple Leafs, and Alexander Ovechkin got his second of the season for the Capitals. Still, all the talk post-game was over Toronto forward Phil Kessel remaining goalless seven games into this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not for lack of effort on Kessel’s part, as he also has four assists on the season. Of greater interest to me is the ongoing decline of the once-dominant Ovechkin and the Capitals. While there’s still plenty of time for the Capitals to rally back, they look nothing like the powerhouse they used to be.

MERCURYNEWS.COM/EDMONTON JOURNAL: The San Jose Sharks remain the NHL’s only unbeaten team, stretching their season-opening winning streak to 7 games with a 3-2 shoot-out win over the Edmonton Oilers.  The Oilers rallied from a 2-0 deficit on goals by Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall to force overtime and the shootout.

SUNSENTINEL.COM/WINNIPEG SUN: The Florida Panthers snapped a five-game losing skid with a 6-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets.  The Jets blew two one-goal leads and the Panthers put the game away with four straight goals in the second half of a wild third period. Tomas Fleischmann collected three assists for the Panthers, while Grant Clitsome, Olli Jokinen and Tobias Enstrom tallied for the Jets.

DENVER POST/CALGARY HERALD: The Colorado Avalanche scored three unanswered third period goals to down the Calgary Flames 6-3. Paul Stastny, P.A. Parenteau and John Mitchell each scored twice for the Avs, while Jiri Hudler scored two goals in a losing cause for the Flames.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators star Jason Spezza has been sidelined indefinitely by back surgery. The Senators hope to have him back in time for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will represent a big challenge for the Senators, who are off to a good start to this season. Spezza was key to their offensive attack, and that’ll put pressure upon young Kyle Turris to step up and fill the void.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Cory Schneider isn’t troubled by Roberto Luongo getting more starts in recent games.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Headlines, meanwhile, will scream “Goaltending Controversy”. There isn’t, of course, as Schneider and Luongo have a good working relationship and neither will rock the boat over this situation.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Newly re-signed Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban will have to quickly learn the defensive system of new Habs coach Michel Therrien.


  1. LEAFS

    The only reason Kessel has had so many chances is because everyone is feeding him the puck , its not from him playing a great game to battle for the puck to create his own chances ….If I remember correctly there is a certain player ….# 43 ….on the Leafs that was continuously sent to the minors to work on his all around game because he was a liability and a terrible all around player in the dirty areas in the NHL ….I guess Kessel gets a pass for some reason. The terrible thing about this whole scenario is that in the end most likely the guys like Kadri & Frattin are going to be the ones who get traded because the GOLDEN boy has scored 30 goals before …this would be a disaster ….have to find a way to keep these young guys and build around a certain core …..I am still of the belief that the time is ripe to trade Bozak , Kessel and Gardiner as this will get you a better return for what you really need to insert into the line up and surround the NEW players with …Leafs have leverage with those two players and can really make a difference via the trade scenario with them bringing back something of high quality in other areas they are truly lacking !!

    NONIS ……you need a find a CENTER to play between JVR and Lupul
    second line should be Frattin- Kadri – Grabo , get Phaneuf off the power play ….does’t Carlyle see since Phaneuf was brought in to do the power play …it has gone to the crapper ..because he can’t hit the net gives no scoring chances no rebounds …1 FOR 8 AGAIN last night….this is the reason they are loosing games ….
    ITS THE POWER PLAY & not capitalizing on the man advantage !!

    Spezza – Turris

    I think Turris is at a point right now where he will be able to fill this role splendidly …not a Spezza but a Spezza 5 years ago….they shouldn’t have issue just some growing pains …its going to be a position Turris will be in any way in the Future for Ottawa it just happened quicker than it should …..but I think the fact that he was kept in the minors so long in Pheonix could benefit him in this situation !!


    Nothing will happen until the off season…. IMO as the club may want to go in a new direction with a number of players at the same time…make a run this year !!
    If Luongo stays hot …Gillis would be stupid to trade in his division just for a sake of a trade !!


    …what are you doing ????
    Blow it up !!!

    Every night I watch Hockey ..and the Caps are playing and I flip through the other games that are on …the Caps game is the worst to watch …actually looks like high quality mens League hockey …not even minor league hockey …lets face it Ovechkin wants to play in Russia and that’s where his head is at !!!

    • I agree with you, get Phaneuf off the pp even the announcers were on him about missing the net all night. Franson did not look good defensively last night for the most part but in his defense he hasn’t played a regular shift with a regular partner since being traded to the Leafs.

      As for the power play, yes, Phaneuf is brutel but WHY is Bozak on the number one pp unit? Are you telling me he is more skilled then Grabovski? Aren’t the 5 guys on the number one unit supposed to be the best and most skilled 5 guys the Leafs can ice? Also, if you are going to mostly rely on blasting from the point (as they have been doing so far) then why is Kessel out there considering he won’t go to or stand in front of the net? Shouldn’t they put someone out that will? The whole pp system is screwed up but Carlyle sticks with it and keeps putting out the same guys time and again..

      I would not trade Gardiner. His stock is low right now and he still has tons of room to grow.

      Sticking Hamilton on the 4th line for a grand total of 7 minutes was a waste of time. Why they would do this to him is beyond me. I’m starting to dislike Carlyle, between sticking Hamilton on the 4th line, sticking Phaneuf on the power play and playing him 28 to 30 min per game with his horrible defensive miscues it makes me wonder if he knows what he is doing. The Leafs were running around in their own end a lot and looked totally disorganized getting out of their zone all last night, the only reason they won and carried the play some of the time was because they were playing the worst team in the league. I am worried about Carlyle’s system going forward after seeing the first 7 games. I still wonder if Eakins should have been given a shot after what he has done with the Marlies. Carlyle better get things under control quickly.

      You can pretty much bank on Saturday nights game with Boston as a sample of whether or not this team plays significantly better defensively and plays tougher under Carlyle. I can’t wait to see the result.

  2. @ Beer goggles

    When the Leafs play the Bruins …if they play like they did last night Reimer will have to stop 45 of 45 shots to win!!

    They will get blown away 5 or 6 maybe even 7 nothing from what I can see of these two teams playing each other right now!! Sorry ..but if the Leafs played any other team than the Caps last night they don’t win …they looked gosh aweful last night …. IMO not sure if either team completed a pass or hit the net with a shot last night ..gross hockey …if you want to see how Hockey should be played ..watch the Wild , Blues or Sharks games right now …they are like bees around the net and make crisp clean passes , take the body and EVERYONE is in on the play ..no turning away from any play ….!! They could have an emty net most nights and still win the way they are playing!

    • Ok good to know it wasn’t just me who thought they looked aweful last night. It was fustrating to watch them try and move the puck out of their own end unsuccessfully all night long and run around like chickens with their heads cut off in their own end when Washington put any pressure on them. It reminded me of when they were coached by Mike Murphy back in 1997.

  3. If anyone wonders what’s wrong with the Capitals just replay the final minute of last night’s game. With the Washington net empty Ovechkin got the puck and circled the net…twice, and with other players open tried an unwise, low percentage, cross ice pass that was tipped out of the zone negating amy opportunity of them tying the game. His poor play choices defined his entire night and despite scoring he was hardly a factor for most of the game.

    Was there anyone in the entire building, especially the Capital players, who didn’t know that every Leaf would be feeding Kessel on every shift he played? Even Phaneuf, who probably would have missed the net anyway opted not to shoot and tried passing to Kessel when the shot was there. Capital players were cheating toward Kessel during the power play and intercepted a number of passes. With that being said Kessel still had great scoring chances with Washington’s horrible checking and if not for bad luck might have had a hat trick.

  4. The leafs need bigger more aggressive players on the # 1 line and need to play dump and chase….. go to the net…… wear the other team down type of hockey ….not this crap where they skate to the blue line and drop pass on the rush and keep going off side or loose the puck and then have to scury back to cover a man on man situation !! There is something to be said for dump and check forec hecking grind it out hockey !

    • Speaking of bigger and more aggressive players the trade for JvR looks to be paying off in spades for the Leafs and if he keeps going the way he has been his line may end up being the number one line.
      If that were to happen then Kessel would not have to face the other teams top checkers and could get even more opportunities to score…if that is even possible.

  5. Oilers looked scary good last night. They should have won the game but Neimi kept the sharks in it