In today’s collection of notable Canadian NHL team news: Confusion mounts for Canadiens…Concern over Leafs goaltending…Khabibulin leads league in GAA…How the Booth trade could affect Canucks forward Cody Hodgson…Jets send Scheifele back to Junior…Flames stats not looking good…Finding optimism with the Senators.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Dave Stubbs reports on the myriad of problems facing the struggling Habs early in the season, including injuries to key players (Andrei Markov), head coach Jacques Martin’s constant line-shuffling, their woeful power-play, and Erik Cole’s declining ice time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Add it all up, and it’s no wonder speculation is growing Martin could take the fall if the Habs fail to snap out of their funk soon.
TORONTO SUN: A recent injury to Maple Leafs starting goalie James Reimer is leading to concern over Jonas Gustavsson’s ability to handle the backup role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be Gustavsson’s last chance to prove himself capable of stepping up and seizing the opportunity. His stock has plummeted over the past couple of years, and if he plays poorly while Reimer’s sidelined, it’ll lead to calls for Leafs management to bring in a more experienced backup.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Much-maligned Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin currently has the best goals-against average in the league.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Khabibulin’s age and injury history, it remains to be seen how long he can continue to play as well as he has to start the season, but if the Oilers hope to show significant improvement this season, they’ll need him to regain the form that once ranked him among the game’s top goalies.
VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks recent acqusition of winger David Booth could result in Cody Hodgson moved back to center, likely on the third line, where he belongs.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets have sent young center Mark Scheifele back to the Barrie Colts of the OHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was based on performance, not on dollars. Scheifele showed tremendous promise in preseason but struggled to adjust to the regular season pace. Another year in Junior will do him a world of good, and help him better prepare to make the Jets full time next season.
CALGARY SUN: Steve MacFarlane examines the performance of the Flames so far, and finds them both low on the stats sheet and near the bottom of the standings. They’re struggling offensively, still adjusting to the absence of Robyn Regehr on their blueline, and their power-play has been ineffective.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Little wonder GM Jay Feaster is listening to trade offers from his rivals. If the Flames don’t show real improvement over the next couple of weeks, roster changes will be coming.
OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan looks at the Senators performance over the past week and finds reasons for hope as the season progresses, noting only three teams have scored more goals thus far than the Senators, their penalty kill appears to be improving, while their PP is the third best in the league.