Friday Night Hockey
Nice to see the Belleville Bulls back on the National stage. With two potential first-round picks (Brendan Gaunce and Malcolm Subban) and most likely a second-rounder in Daniil Zharkov, the Bulls deserved a little TV love.
It was interesting in that the most of the Bulls took the morning skate with no pads.
I met with Bulls head coach George Burnett for a good half hour afterwards and he was as candid as I can ever remember.
I also got the chance to chat with Malcolm Subban. A message to Bulls goalie coach Sebastien Farrese and Subban’s summer coach Piero Greico: Don’t ever take away the kid’s athleticism, it’s his greatest asset, and too many goalies today favour technique over athlete.
Jordan Subban has the same mannerisms and fiery attitude as P.K.
Chris Byrne was wound tight in our pre-game meeting, but after the win he was back to his dry-witted self.
It was surprising that Dalton Smith didn’t get any supplemental discipline for his hit on Zharkov, though I think some of the responsibility must fall on the puck carrier. But Zharkov learned his lesson and kept his head up the rest of the game and avoided 3 more potentially dangerous blows.
Secondly, we must instill in our kids to have some respect each other, especially when someone is vulnerable. For most players this starts at a young age, where body-checking is called, "hitting," and where there’s more intent on "sending a message" with a big hit than to utilize body-checking for what it was intended; and that is to remove player from puck. As kids move into their teens, it becomes harder for them to police themselves in that area and that’s where the league must step in. Smith might have been able to lighten up on the hit.
Next, if Smith avoids all contact and the Bulls score on that play, not only would his entire team question his compete level, but NHL people would wonder why Smith was ever drafted. Lastly, hockey is a fast-moving, physical, dangerous game. There are no rule changes or deterrents that will remove every single dangerous action from the game.
I’ve yet to see Cody Ceci make a mistake. He’s making a serious bid to make it into the top 10 of the 2012 NHL Entry draft.
Tyler Toffoli may not be the most physical player, but he angles his body well and has a quick stick that lessens the need to lay the body.
Since I usually start in the East and move West, for this edition we’ll start in the West.
I’m well overdue, but how about some props for the Kamloops Blazers? Maybe it’s because I have only watched them play on the internet, or maybe it’s because they’ve been out of the WHL conscience since basically the mid-90’s, but at any rate, I haven’t given the Blazers their just due.
It really starts from the top. Yes, there are NHLers that have a piece of the team, but the man behind it all is Tom Gagliardi. For those of you that don’t know, that’s the same guy who owns the Dallas Stars and for that matter, Northland Properties whose portfolio includes Sandman Hotels, Moxie’s restaurants, Denny’s restaurants, etc. With the sale of the Stars and running a mega-million dollar company, Gagliardi never lost sight of bringing the Blazers back to prominence.
Give Gagliardi credit for his best hockey hire in GM Craig Bonner. Like his brother Scott (GM of the Vancouver Giants), Craig has carved out his own niche as one of the best executives in the WHL and that’s why there are always whispers that one or both will end up with the Stars at some point.
It was a major coups and unexpected surprise when Bonner went out and found Guy Charron. Many had questioned the decision when he was brought in to replace Barry Smith on November 23, 2009. We happened to be in Kamloops for a Subway Super Series game at that time and Guy looked a little shell-shocked that the position was his. Well tenured as a player and coach in the NHL, it took a little bit of time before Charron could take charge of his hockey club, but it has become a beautiful marriage between organization, coach and team.
Next, Bonner’s fingerprints were all over the hiring of Dave Hunchak. The former head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, lead his team to a 40-win season in 2010-11 before getting let-go. He’s a good-man, a tireless worker and brings with him some Team Canada experience.
In an attempt to keep his team chemistry intact, Bonner made just one mid-season acquisition, getting Brandon Herrod from Prince Albert on New Year’s eve. Herrod averaged more than a point per game and went from a minus-14 in 40 games in Prince Albert to a plus-8 in 28 games with the Blazers.
And by the way, strap yourself in for what should be an exciting second-round war against the Portland Winterhawks.
Emerson Etem should take a bow for his first round performance in which he was in on 12 of Medicine Hat’s 18 goals in the sweep over Saskatoon.
You too Ty Rattie, 10 goals in one round of playoff hockey? C’mon.
All but three players on Edmonton’s roster collected at least a point in their first-round sweep of Kootenay. Two of those players; Cody Corbett and Martin Gernat won’t be held pointless in round two.
Thanks to Tieja MacLaughlin, our Friday Night Hockey social media specialist, check out this tweet from Griffin Reinhart
@GriffinReinhart: Best comment on the ice goes to my little bro Sam saying “If you touch me I’m telling mom” when we were in a scrum
Isn’t it interesting that the two teams most WHL teams were afraid of in the playoffs faced each other in round one, and it was Brandon in the upset over Calgary.
Congrats to Don Nachbaur and his Spokane Chiefs for overcoming a two-game deficit to win four straight and win the series over Vancouver. Surely it wasn’t easy to remove Mac Engel from the nets and turn it over to Eric Williams. But with a .920%, it was definitely the right decision. It also helped that Mike Aviani tripled his point per game production from the regular season.
Nice rant by Acadie-Bathurst owner Leo-Guy Morrissette, he likely should take a good, long hard look in the mirror. If I were him, I wouldn’t want to draw any more attention to myself.
Although the 1-16, 2-15, etc. match-ups do give favourable advantage to teams finishing higher in the standings, it can make for some very one-sided first-round hockey.
The Quebec-Halifax series should be just awesome. Scouts will be drooling not just at Martin Frk and Mikhail Grigorenko for the 2012 draft, but a nice sneak preview of the 2013 draft. Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Zachary Fucale for Halfiax against Anthony Duclair and Adam Erne of Quebec. Safe to say three, four, or all five of these guys will go in the first round next year.
Blainville-Boisbriand will be a fun team to watch in round two.
Keep a close eye on Christopher Gibson in the next round. He’ll need to be near perfect in order for the Sags to have any chance against Shawinigan.
Having faced very little adversity for most of the season, it became difficult for Victoriaville to deal with it once they were down 2-0 to Baie Comeau.
Aaron Ekblad is going to be a special player before it’s all said and done.
Congrats to James Boyd, Kelly Harper and Brad May for a job well done with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.
About 3,500 people showed up to the Hershey Centre Monday night to see game six. Absolutely no reason why the Majors shouldn’t average that many people for EVERY home game.
Unbelievable game in Guelph Sunday. The Storm worked their tails off and the future is bright for Scott Walker’s club but will need to add some size.
Goaltending in that game was spectacular. Scott Wedgewood versus Garrett Sparks was simply awesome.
Stefan Noesen’s backtrack on the game winner in overtime was the work of a pro.
Beau Schmitz is badly missed in that Plymouth lineup.
One scout told me that Oshawa deserved a win in game six, but Mark Visentin made four or five grade-A saves.
The Kitchener Rangers had their eye on the Guelph/Plymouth game.
Due to injuries and trades, the Sarnia Sting just couldn’t get it all together in time to make a deep playoff run.
Under Greg Gilbert, the Saginaw Spirit are now the contenders they should’ve been the last couple of years.
Somewhat under the radar, the London Knights have sat back quietly in anticipation for their match-up with the Spirit.
There were a total of 154 penalty shots taken in the CHL this season. The success rate was 29.2% or 45 goals.
Here’s the breakdown
WHL 18/63= 28.6 per cent
OHL 20/59= 33.9 per cent
QMJHL 7/32= 21.9 per cent
Join us for Friday Night Hockey this week from the nation’s capital when the Barrie Colts take on the Ottawa 67’s in game one of round two of the OHL playoffs.
For more on the CHL, check-out Patrick King right here at sportsnet.ca