NHL Canadian Corner – March 13, 2012.

New Canucks dealing with expectations…Dustin Byfuglien a fan favorite in Winnipeg…Senators possible Cup contenders?…Flames rookie Sven Baertschi living the dream…Five reasons the Maple Leafs imploded…Canadiens gain a point in loss to Sabres…Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry continues to improve.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: As the Canucks currently struggle, new Canucks Zach Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani cope with heightened expectations.

Byfuglien a hit with Jets fans.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien may be camera-shy with the media, but he’s become a fan favourite in Winnipeg.

OTTAWA SUN: Could the Senators become Cup contenders this spring?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoa! One step at a time. Barring a  late collapse, the Senators should clinch a playoff berth, perhaps one in the top four in the Eastern Conference, and appear capable of perhaps winning a round or two, but let’s not start talking about Cup contention right now. Make the playoffs and see who the first round opponents will be, then take it from there.

CALGARY SUN: Rookie Sven Baertschi is living day by day in his call-up with the Flames but is clearly enjoying the ride so far.

TORONTO SUN: Five reasons the Maple Leafs imploded this season. “Because they suck!” is not on the list, Leafs haters.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens earned a point in their 3-2 OT loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

EDMONTON SUN: Defenseman Jeff Petry has been among the few bright spots for the Oilers, showing improvement in nearly every game.


  1. The Senators have something right now that they’ve never had in the past, solid goaltending. The team has a good balance of vet’s and younger players plus coach Maclean has them all drinking from the same punch bowl. Outside of the slow start to the season and the slump around the All-Star break they’ve been playing very good hockey. At some point people are likely going to have to give this team their due respect.

  2. As we have seen in the past, anyone who gets into the playoffs is capable of beating whomever they play.

  3. Both Kassian and Gragnani have fit in well with the Canucks. Kassian has contributed in a big way with great plays, big hits and a spirited fight with one of Montreal’s tougher players. Gragnani, who I believe is the sleeper of the Hodgson-Sulzer / Kassian-Gragnani trade has also contributed in a big way. His passes are crisp and right on the tape, he has a good shot from the point and he is not afraid to jump up in the play and head to the net while having the needed speed to get back to his defensive position before trouble develops.

    Dustin Bufuglien has been a favorite of mine ever since he single handedly overpowered the Canucks in the playoffs a few years ago, and I am a Canucks fan. I am not so fanatical that I can’t recognize talent when I see it and the big man has everything needed to be a star in this league for years to come.

    The Senators are without a doubt Cup contenders. Not only do they have above average goaltending but to go along with Alfredoson Ottawa has Spezza leading the team in scoring and sensational defenseman Erik Karlssona close second.

    Even though I am not a Leafs fan I do not think that they actually imploded. I think it all started with the way the team was run. I don’t mean Burke but rather Wilson and his coaching staff. Starting from the net and working out, I believe the goalies are both good but netminders are a different breed and you can’t be throwing them under the bus every time they let in a bad one or they will lose their confidence, and I believe that is what we saw with both Toronto goalies. The defense is slow and that has been shown to be true time and time again, especially their captain. He has been made to look like a pylon so many times he is starting to get an orange neon glow (neon Dion, I like that). When you are slow you have to cheat a bit and when you are cheating toward the center of the ice players go around you, cheat towards the boards they make an inside break and voila, the red light is on. Forwards need to backcheck (note to Phil Kessel) and the Leafs do not have enough of that happening.
    Ron Wilson was in charge of all aspects of coaching and his assistants failed him and he got angry at the players and they ended up tuning him out.
    Just watch what Carlyle and his coaching style (and his assistants) does for the Leafs next season.

    Calgary will make the playoffs and with their goalie could do some real damage.

    Not only did Montreal get a point last night but more importantly Buffalo got two and are making a real run at the eighth spot.

    If Edmonton get the first overall pick in next years draft they could possibly put together a new version of the old championship Oilers, in an era when the salary cap prohibits most other teams from doing just that. They could have a cast of rookies, second and third year players who excel and even more importantly, be affordable for years to come.

  4. @ Captain Ahab the oilers could have done it better if they didn’t put all their top picks in the NHL right away burning up their entry level contracts. None so far will command huge huge money, but enough, especially of they continue to progress.

  5. The Oilers need to invest their next pick into a defenseman, that is all I have to say.

  6. Forget about a rookie defenseman, if the Oilers don’t get a good crop of NHL calibre defenseman, they will be at the bottom of the standings again and people will be asking, “what ever happened to the rebuild?” The rest of us will start to call them Long Island West.

  7. I’m becoming worried the Habs will do well over the last stretch and improved their ranking…thereby, again, cheating us of a real top end pick. Grigorenko reads as the big centre Montreal has been missing forever….