Monday, 16 February 2015

Road Teams Thrive in Round One

The man controlled home side struggled against the visiting CPU in Round 1 as the visitors won 17 of 29 games. Despite this five of the eight teams with home-ice advantage advanced to the 2nd round - including division winners Boston, Winnipeg and the Islanders - who all lost a game at home before prevailing twice on the road to win their respective series's in four. The other division winner - and President's trophy winner - St. Louis however could not even muster a victory in their stunning defeat to the 4-7-1 Toronto Maple Leafs. The Blues only lost one game all season - including a perfect 6-0 mark on the road - but were swept by the  Leafs, only scoring 4 goals in the process. The other sweep was perpetrated by the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2-3 matchup in the Patrick. Here's the full results:

Adams Division
(1) Boston Bruins vs (4) Quebec Nordiques
Quebec 0 at Boston 5
Barry Pederson's Series Winning OT Goal
Silences the Colisee Crowd
Quebec 4 at Boston 2
Boston 7 at Quebec 4
Boston 5 at Quebec 4 (OT)
Boston Wins Best-of-Five 3-1
This series started off as expected with the Bruins dominating the opener - firing 20 shots at Clint Malarchuk - in a smothering 5-0 victory. The Nordiques bounced back in Game 2 as the Stastny brothers Anton and Marian proved too quick on the wing for the Bruins bruising defensive pair of Gord Kluzak and Mike Milbury. The Nordiques however - just like in the regular season when they lost 8-2 to Boston - could not handle the physical Bruins at home at the Colisee. Game 3 was never in doubt for the Bruins, and they'd narrowly escape having the Nords follow them back to Beantown with Barry Pederson's OT Winner in Game 4. 

(2) Buffalo Sabres vs (3) Montreal Canadiens
Montreal 3 at Buffalo 5 
Montreal 4 at Buffalo 3
Buffalo 2 at Montreal 5
Buffalo 1 at Montreal 4
Montreal Wins Best-of-Five 3-1 
Can you hear the chants of "na-na-na"?

A microcosm of their regular season; the Sabres started off strong in this series but faded slowly along the way. After a Game 1 win at the Auditorium, the Sabres held a 2-0 lead after the 1st in Game 2 but the Canadiens rallied with a 4 goal 2nd period and never looked back on route to a 3-1 series win. The Habs defensive trio of Larry Robinson, Chris Chelios and Rick Green shut down Gilbert Perrault and company at the Forum in Game's 3 & 4. Despite their 6-5-1 regular season record, the Canadiens should not be overlooked as a Cup contender - if the saying is true that defence wins championships.

Patrick Division
(1) New York Islanders vs (4) New Jersey Devils
Trottier's Game 2 Goal was a series
turning point.
New Jersey 5 at NY Islanders 2
New Jersey 0 at NY Islanders 3
NY Islanders 6 at New Jersey 2
NY Islanders 8 at New Jersey 6
NY Islanders Win Best-of-Five 3-1
The upstart Devils stormed onto Long Island, opening a 3-0 lead in Game 1 while actually out attack-zoning the Islanders in the 1st period of Game 1. They then threatened to take a stranglehold of the series behind some stellar Chico Resch netminding in Game 2, but Bryan Trottier final broke through with a goal in the 3rd period, and Ken Morrow and company posted a shutout in front of the empty net to gain a split. It was a totally different series once the teams hit the Meadowlands for Game 3 as the Devils defence just couldn't slow down Trottier, Bob Bourne and Bob Nystrom as the Islanders busted out for 14 goals in New Jersey earning the 3-1 series victory.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (3) Washington Capitals
Washington 4 at Pittsburgh 3
Washington 3 at Pittsburgh 1
Pittsburgh 3 at Washington 5
Washington Wins Best-of-Five 3-0
The Capitals celebrate a stifling
Game 2 victory at The Igloo
The clock struck midnight on the Penguins, who's surprisingly strong season ended in a thud. After dropping their finale 8-2 to the Devils, the Pens proved little match for the Capitals in the opening round. Washington took a 3-0 lead in the 1st period of Game 1 and hung on for a 4-3 victory. In Game 2 they almost shutout the Pens, before Dave Hannan finally put one in late in the 3rd to break Al Jensen's bid at a blanking. Things weren't much different in Game 3 as Mike Gartner's speed was too much for the Penguins to handle as Washington broke out the brooms at The Capital Centre.

Rick Vaive's OT Winner in Game 1
set the stage for a stunner.
Norris Division
(1) St. Louis Blues vs (4) Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto 2 at St. Louis 1 (OT) 
Toronto 6 at St. Louis 1 
St. Louis 2 at Toronto 3
Toronto Wins Best-of-Five 3-0
It was not that rare in the 80's for a heavy favourite to be dismissed quickly in the 1st round in a massive divisional upset. Rick Vaive's OT goal in Game 1 set the stage for the President's Trophy winning Blues to experience just that in a stunning opening round sweep by Toronto. No one would've predicted the Blues would have the best record in the NHL this season; and perhaps that caught up to them here. The acrobatic goaltending of Mike Palmateer and physical defensive corps of Gary Nylund, Dave Farrish and Jim Korn frustrated the Blues on their home ice in Game's 1 & 2 and they would continue to stifle them at Maple Leaf Gardens in Game 3 as the Leafs held a 3-0 lead after the 2nd and hung on to finish off the upset.

(2) Minnesota North Stars vs (3) Detroit Red Wings
Detroit 4 at Minnesota 6
Detroit 7 at Minnesota 4 
Minnesota celebrates their Game 5
victory at The Met Centre
Minnesota 5 at Detroit 6 (OT)
Minnesota 8 at Detroit 5
Detroit 2 at Minnesota 3
Minnesota Wins Best-of-Five 3-2
Not surprisingly the North Stars and Red Wings staged the most wide-open and closely contested series in the opening round. Brad Park's OT goal in game 3 staked the Wings to a 2-1 series lead, and had people talking about an improbable Hwy 401 Toronto-Detroit 2nd round matchup. The high flying North Stars though would prove resilient however, skating all over the Wings in a Game 4 win and then posting an uncharacteristic low-scoring Game 5 victory at the Met. It seemed all year that Minnesota and St. Louis were on a collision course for a Norris Division final - but it took the distance here for the North Stars to hold up their end of the bargain - which is more than we can say for the Blues.

Bengt Lundholm's last second marker
wins a tight Game 1 for heavily
favoured Winnipeg
Smythe Division
(1) Winnipeg Jets vs (4) Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver 4 at Winnipeg 5
Vancouver 5 at Winnipeg 4
Winnipeg 5 at Vancouver 2
Winnipeg 4 at Vancouver 2 
Winnipeg Wins Best-of-Five 3-1
The Canucks had the worst record among playoff teams but they'd give the Jets fits at Winnipeg Arena. It took a final second Bengt Lundholm goal for the Jets to take Game 1 and a late Thomas Gradin goal stole game 2 for the Canucks. However at Pacific Coliseum the home team just didn't have enough juice to keep up with the speedy Jets as the visitors posted a pair of solid victories.

The Battle of Alberta was a chippy
series - as expected.

(2) Edmonton Oilers vs (3) Calgary Flames
Calgary 3 at Edmonton 4
Calgary 5 at Edmonton 2
Edmonton 5 at Calgary 2
Edmonton 7 at Calgary 4
Edmonton Wins Best-of-Five 3-1 
The inaugural Battle of Alberta was a physical series marked by several fights and plenty of hard open ice hits. The Oilers were a great home team in the regular season but struggled on the road under CPU control. Well they reversed that trend in this series, bouncing back from a sound Game 2 defeat to take Games 3 & 4 at the Saddledome. The speed of Ken Linseman and Jari Kurri were just too much for the Flames to handle in Game 4 - as they each netted a hat trick for the victorius Oilers.

Round Two Matchups:

  • Boston Bruins (9-3-0) vs Montreal Canadiens (6-5-1)
  • New York Islanders (8-3-1) vs Washington Capitals (5-2-5)
  • Minnesota North Stars (8-2-2) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (4-7-1)
  • Winnipeg Jets (7-3-2) vs Edmonton Oilers (6-4-2)

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Week 12: Nordiques, Devils and Canucks advance to playoffs

Week 12 Results: 
Adams Division:

Boston 8 at Buffalo 6 - The cream rises as pre-season favourite Boston finally takes over 1st
Cleveland 3 at Hartford 2 - Barons rally from 2-0 down to put the pressure on the Nordiques
Montreal 3 at Quebec 4 - The Nordiques win a nail-biter versus provincial rival to break Barons hearts

Patrick Division:
Philadelphia 3 at Washington 3 - Capitals conclude season with three consecutive 3-3 draws
New Jersey 8 at Pittsburgh 3 - Devils bomb Pens to force Rangers into must win situation
NY Islanders 7 at NY Rangers 3 - Islanders eliminate cross-town rivals and win Patrick in the process

Norris Division:
Minnesota 8 at Toronto 2 - North Stars cream Maple Leafs; but will finish 2nd unless Hawks upset Blues
Chicago 1 at St. Louis 4 - Blues have no problem clinching Norris - and President's Trophy - versus Hawks
Atlanta 2 at Detroit 6 - Firebirds finish 0-12. Barely score 2 goals a game. Wings have 1st Rd date with Minny.

Smythe Division:
Winnipeg 1 at Calgary 3 - Jets lose back to back in Alberta; Flames set-up Battle of Alberta 1st Rd with win
Edmonton 4 at Colorado 2 - Oilers finally win on road under CPU control eliminating Rockies
Los Angeles 3 at Vancouver 6 - Canucks jump from 6th to 4th place stealing a playoff spot from the Kings

Final Standings - Click Here
Playoff Bracket:


Friday, 13 June 2014

Week 12 Preview - Battle For Playoff Spots

  • Top 4 teams in each division make the playoffs; 1vs4 / 2vs3 1st Round
  • All playoff rounds are Best-of-5
  • First tiebreaker is goal differential; Second is head to head record; Third is strength of schedule
Wk 12: Boston at Buffalo / Montreal at Quebec / Cleveland at Hartford
  • Sabres and Bruins battle for 1st in Buffalo; winner avoids Canadiens in 1st Rd - provided Montreal doesn't lose by 7 in Quebec - which is highly unlikely.
  • The Barons win any tiebreaker with the Nordiques; as if they finish in a tie they will at least finish in a tie in goal differential and the Barons won their matchup. So the Barons need to earn one more point than Quebec to takeover the 4th and final playoff spot

Wk 12: New Jersey at Pittsburgh; NY Islanders at NY Rangers; Philadelphia at Washington

Presuming there are no 7+ goal margins in these games the following is true:
  • A Penguins win ensures it's a Penguins-Rangers 1 vs 4 matchup in the 1st Rd; as the Devils need to gain a point on the Rangers to make the playoffs
  • A Penguins tie and Islanders win means the Islanders win the division
  • A Penguins loss opens it up to the Capitals as well who would win a tiebreaker over Pit OR Nyi
  • The Flyers are mathematically alive but really have no chance here

Wk 12: Chicago at St. Louis; Minnesota at Toronto; Atlanta at Detroit
  • The Blues take 1st with a win
  • A Blues tie or loss opens door for the North Stars; if the teams finish tied in both wins and goal differential they also tied 6-6 in their head to head matchup - so strength of schedule would be the determining factor. Calculated only if necessary.
  • The Red Wings are locked into 3rd and Maple Leafs locked into 4th 
  • The Firebirds have one more shot at avoiding the embarrassment of being skunked on the season 

Wk 12: Winnipeg at Calgary; Edmonton at Colorado; Los Angeles at Vancouver
  • The Jets and Oilers are locked into 1st and 2nd
  • With their goal differential gap the Flames clinch 3rd with a win or tie; or a loss and an L.A. tie or loss
  • The Kings clinch a playoff spot with a victory
  • If LA-VAN ties and the Rockies win, the Rockies make the playoffs - as they would at worst tie the Kings in goal differential and the Rockies won the head to head match. The Rockies also make the playoffs with a win and a Kings loss
  • The Canucks make the playoffs with a win and a Rockies loss or tie  
Lineups for Week 12: The Sabres could have trouble slowing down Pederson, Middleton and Bourque with Mike Ramsey out of the lineup. The Barons playoff hopes take a hit with Dennis Maruk on the sidelines. Here's a full list of Week 12 lineups.


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Week 11 Recap

Adams Division:

Bourque and the Bruins Bury the Barons
Cleveland 3 at Boston 8: Consecutive 3-goal victories over Quebec and Montreal had the 4th place Barons feeling mighty good about themselves - but they were humbled this week in the Boston Garden. The Bruins led 5-1 after the 2nd, but Cleveland cut into the lead with two quick ones by the speedy Dennis Maruk early in the 3rd. Undaunted; the Bruins reasserted their dominance scoring 3 beautiful goals to blow away the Barons

Quebec 4 at Hartford 2: The Whalers' Ray Neufeld knocked Louis Sleigher out of the game in a 2nd period fight, but not before Sleigher staked the Nords to a 2-0 lead, converting on brilliant feeds from Marian Stastny and goalie Clint Malarchuk. Quebec sealed the game late in the 3rd, when Blake Wesley bodychecked Blaine Stoughton out of a scoring opportunity and skated the other way, eventually firing home the game clincher. The Nordiques regain possession of the 4th and final playoff spot in the division from the Barons with the victory. The Whalers are 0-5 under MAN control at the Hartford Civic Centre this season.

Buffalo 3 at Montreal 3: Skating without Gilbert Perrault, the Sabres manage to come out flying once again in La Belle Provence. Buffalo had a 2-0 lead 27 seconds in, but the Habs defence would tighten back to normal the rest of the way. John Chabot potted the lone goal in the 3rd period to tie the game for Montreal. Tom Barrasso stopped 13 of 16 shots for the visitors. The Sabres will host the Bruins next week with 1st place in the Adams on the line. The winner will avoid 3rd place Montreal in the 1st round.

Patrick Division:

New Jersey 3 at NY Islanders 4:  The Devils suffer their first defeat under CPU control; dropping a tough one on the Island. Ken Morrow sprung Anders Kallur on a breakaway with a brilliant feed for the go-ahead goal midway through the 3rd. Morrow would later lay out Brent Ashton in the slot; keeping him from firing a potential game tying shot. The Islanders did control the play in this one; limiting the Devils to only 0:43 of attack zone. Chico Resch stopped 15 of 19 shots for the visitors.

Glen Cochrane won the fight; but the Penguins
win the  Battle of Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh 5 at Philadelphia 3: The inaugural Battle of Pennsylvania was a match of 1st and worst in the Patrick Division -- who would guess it'd be Pittsburgh in 1st and Phlly in last? Dave Hannan continued to give the MAN controller fits with his 2nd consecutive road hat trick. Glen Cochrane would win a couple fights with Pat Boutette; but that was all the fight Philly had in this one. A convincing win for the Penguins, despite only connecting on 14 of 30 passes.

NY Rangers 3 at Washington 3: Capitals' Doug Jarvis went 12-0 in faceoffs against Robbie Ftorek; but his biggest contribution was a game-tying goal, as the Capitals rally to tie the Rangers. It's a familiar result for New York, as this is their 6th tie of the season, and it's enough to move them into 4th place heading into the final week.

Norris Division:

Winless Atlanta couldn't battle back from this crushing goal
St. Louis 2 at Atlanta 1: The 0-10 Firebirds didn't figure to be in good position for their first points of the year against 1st place St. Louis, but they'd put up a pretty good fight in this one. They dominanted the play in the 1st period - as evidenced by the Blues only attempting 1 pass in the period. However the meagre Atlanta attack couldn't find the back of the net until midway through the 3rd - on a surprising Ed Kea breakaway.
Larry Patey scored with 1 second left in the 2nd to give the Blues a 2-0 lead - a crusher of a goal for the low flying Firebirds.

Toronto 2 at Detroit 4: Danny Gare set the tone in this one, knocking Rick Vaive out of the 1st period with a vicious bodycheck, and then hammering home 2 goals past Mike Palmateer. The Leafs would manage to tie the game at 2 apiece midway through the 2nd. - but barely crossed center ice the rest of the way as the Red Wings secure 3rd place in the Norris Division with the win. The Leafs still clinch the 4th and final playoff spot in the Norris Division thanks to the Black Hawks loss in Minnesota.

Chicago 3 at Minnesota 4: The Hawks have been a much better team in the 2nd half of the season, and they gave the North Stars fits early in this one, leading 3-1 after the 1st - courtesy 2 goals by Steve Larmer and another by Steve Ludzik on a nifty feed from Darryl Sutter. Minnesota would clamp down though the rest of the way, finally taking the lead on another last minute Keith Acton breakaway goal.

Smythe Division:

Winnipeg 2 at Edmonton 5: Home and cooled atop the Smythe Division, the Jets were slowed down a bit by the Oilers, who secure 2nd place in the division with the victory. It took 3:09 of attack zone before the Oilers finally found the twine late in the 2nd on a Pat Hughes goal. They'd start converting from then on out, as Hughes would add another in the 3rd and Paul Coffey would follow with a pair late to seal the win for Edmonton. The Oilers are undefeated at home under MAN control; but winless on the road under CPU control.

Double-digits reached for 1st time as Flames torch Kings
Calgary 14 at Los Angeles 2: No this is not a mis-print. The Flames top the previous high for goals in a game by 6 as they score 14 consecutive goals after actually falling behind 2-0. A nightmare for the light-weight Kings, as the Flames took possession off most of the draws and quickly found a path to the empty net. Doug Risebrough and Lanny McDonald scored 5 goals each for the visitors. The opposite of their Alberta rivals; the Flames are tough on the road under CPU control but are winless at the Saddledome under MAN control. Both the Jets and Oilers want to avoid the charging Flames in the 1st round.... and yes the MAN controller did try in this game......

Colorado 2 at Vancouver 2:  As goal differential is the first tiebreaker for division standing, the romp the Kings suffered has really opened the door in the final week for both the Rockies and Canucks. Especially Vancouver who can now vault ahead of the Kings with a win versus them at Pacific Coliseum in Week 12. Whether that earns them a playoff spot would depend on the Rockies result in Denver versus the Oilers. John van Boxmeer tied this game midway through the 3rd for Colorado, and Doug Favell held on to the pivotal point, robbing Moe Lemay in tight in the game's waning moments.

Only 1 Week to Go -- Updated Standings Here

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Week 9 & Week 10 Recap

Ray Neufeld knows the way to try and beat Buffalo is to
beat up Mike Ramsey
Week 9: Hartford 4 at Buffalo 4 - Down 2-1 in the 3rd Ray Neufeld knocked out Mike Ramsey in a fight, severely weakening the Sabres defence, enabling the Whalers to tally 3 in the 3rd. Real Cloutier would score late to salvage the draw for 1st place Buffalo

Week 9: Quebec 0 at Cleveland 3 - No Stastny's = No problem for the Barons. Despite strong goaltending by Clint Malarchuk (17 saves on 19 shots) and Louis Sleigher knocking Dennis Maruk out of the game in a 2nd period fight; Cleveland easily handles Quebec to tighten the race for the 4th and final playoff spot in the division.

Week 9: Boston 0 at Montreal 3 - The Bruins were giving the MAN controller fits, outscoring the Flyers and Nordiques 14-4 in the first 2 games of a 3 game road trip. However the defensively strong Habs caught a break as the three Bruins on the bench for this one were Rick Middleton, Barry Pederson and Ray Bourque. The remaining good - but not great - Bruins lineup was no match for the stingy Canadiens.

Week 10: Hartford 1 at Boston 6 -  Doug Sulliman opened the scoring for the visitors in the inaugural Battle of New England - but it was all Bruins the rest of the way. Mike Milbury knocked Ray Neufeld out of the game, and Terry O'Reilly later took on Neufeld's replacement Torrie Robertson, as the game got chippy in the 3rd.

Week 10: Montreal 3 at Cleveland 6: Even the stingy Habs couldn't corral the speedy Dennis Maruk, who scored 4 goals on an astounding 12 shots as the Barons move into 4th place in the Adams Division.

Week 10: Buffalo 5 at Quebec 3:  Winless in their previous 3, the 1st place Sabres stop the bleeding with a 4-goal 1st on route to an easy win at struggling Quebec. The Nords are 0-3 and have been outscored 16-5 against divisional foes.

Bobby Clarke's K.O of Mel Bridgman
wasn't enough for Philly
 Week 9: Philadelphia 2 at New Jersey 4:  A familiar theme in Week 9 was the trailing team knocking out the other team's top player. It worked for the Whalers in Buffalo as they fought back for a draw; but it was too late for the Nordiques in Cleveland and for the Flyers here in New Jersey - as Bobby Clarke takes Mel Bridman out of the game in a fight. Bridgman factored into all 4 goals for the Devils who vault ahead of the Flyers into playoff positioning in the Patrick.

Week 9: Washington 5 at NY Islanders 7: The Capitals had been lethal on the road under CPU control,. but Al Jensen had no answer for Bryan Trottier and Bob Nystrom in this one, as each had a 5 point night. The Isles added an empty netter after Jensen surrendered 6 goals on 16 shots.

Week 9: Pittsburgh 6 at NY Rangers 3:  The Penguins just keep on surprising folks as they take over 1st place in the Patrick Division with a convincing victory at MSG. This was the game heading into the Patrick' slate that figured to favour the home-side; but Dave Hannan and Doug Shedden gave fits to the Ranger defensive pair of Reijo Ruotsalainen and Scot Kleinendorst.

Week 10: NY Rangers 4 at New Jersey 4: The 5th place Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but couldn't jump ahead of the Devils in the standings, as New Jersey rallies for the draw. Steve Weeks robbed Joe Cirella in the final moments to preserve the point for New York.

Week 10: NY Islanders 4 at Philadelphia 2: The physical defensive tandem of Glen Cochrane and Frank Bathe, managed to allow 2 early goals to light-weight Mats Hallin; as the Islanders jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Billy Smith stopped 14 of 16 shots; including several big stops in a scoreless 3rd period.

Week 10: Washington 3 at Pittsburgh 3: A battle for 1st place in the Patrick Division results in the status quo, as the Penguins maintain their 1-point advantage thanks to Andre St. Laurent's marker with 4 seconds remaining. This was a tight-checking game that was only 1-1 after 2 periods.

Week 9: Atlanta 4 at Chicago 5 - In a matchup of the only two winless teams remaining, the Hawks rally from 3-1 down to keep the Firebirds pointless on the season. Steve Larmer scored his usual hat trick, and Tim Higgins potted the winner with 45 seconds left.

Week 9: Detroit 4 at Minnesota 5 - Injury replacement Ted Nolan scored his 1st career goal, and Murray Craven scored 2 in the 2nd as the Wings took a 4-2 lead into the 3rd. However the high-powered home-side responded, eventually winning it on a late Keith Acton breakaway.

Week 9: St. Louis 5 at Toronto 4 - The Blues are a perfect 5-0 under CPU control, with only 1 road game remaining at lowly Atlanta. They were strong in the 1st, actually posting a 0:43-0:37 attack zone advantage on MAN controlled Toronto; but trailed 2-1 as Rick Heinz failed to stop both shots he faced. St.Louis would not lead until Blake Dunlop converted on a brilliant Jorgen Pettersson feed with 28 seconds to go.

Week 10: Toronto 3 at Atlanta 1 - An absolute bloodbath at the Omni as this game had 4 fights and 3
Flying fists ignite an otherwise dejected Firebirds' crowd
injuries. 2 of the injuries were to Greg Terrion, but he was still able to score twice for victorius Toronto. Willi Plett couldn't find the net on several glorious opportunities, but he did connect on several punches, as he took on Gary Nylund once and Jim Korn twice. The only goal by listless Atlanta came courtesy a Mike Palmateer pass off a defenceman's skate. This one was ugly on many levels.

Week 10: Detroit 4 at Chicago 4 - The Black Hawks are showing life in the 2nd half of the season, as another Steve Larmer hat trick enables them to draw with Detroit. The Red Wings clinched a playoff spot with the point. Larmer had a chance for a 4th goal to prevail late, but he was stoned in tight by Corrado Micalef. The Wings 4 goals in only 0:47 of attack zone shows they capitalized on all their chances in this one.

Week 10: Minnesota 6 at St. Louis 6 - The battle for 1st place in the Norris Division did not disappoint as the North Stars score twice late to salvage a tie. Neal Broten came off the bench as the extra attacker and fed Dino Ciccarelli to make it 6-5, and Steve Payne would outmuscle Andre Dore to tie it with 11 seconds left for Minnesota. The Blues led 3-1, 4-2 and 6-4 but could just not put away the talented visitors. St. Louis does however maintain 1st place in the division.

Week 9: Colorado 3 at Calgary 3 - For some reason Lanny McDonald and Paul Reinhart are just not clicking under MAN control as the Flames continue to struggle at the Saddledome. The Rockies defence of Bill Baker and John van Boxmeer clogged up the middle all game and Wilf Paiemant tallied a pair of goals - and a pair of fight victories over Jamie Macoun and Doug Risebrough.

Week 9: Vancouver 2 at Edmonton 8 - All three games on the Smythe slate looked like potential routs for the home team, but this is the only one that materialized. Harold Snepsts did score an end-to-end goal to start the scoring, but that was the lone highlight for the Canucks. The Oilers Pat Hughes scored 3 and fired 8 shots at Richard Brodeur.

Week 9: Los Angeles 4 at Winnipeg 5 - The 1st place Jets struggled with a Kings lineup that was depleted by the absence of Bernie Nicholls. Steve Christoff scored 3 for L.A., but goaltending let them down in the end as Gary Laskoski allowed 8 goals on 13 shots. None of those to Dale Hawerchuk surprisingly, who was held to a lone assist in this one.

Boschman wins a fight - and the game for Winnipeg
Week 10: Winnipeg 4 at Colorado 3 - Another difficult game for the Jets against a division lesser-lite but they manage to get the 2 points again. Yvon Vautour staked the Rockies to a 2-0 advantage with a pair of 1st period goals. The 2nd wasn't nearly as kind to Vautour, as he lost a fight to Laurie Boschman. Boschman would follow that up with the go-ahead goal as the Jets rally to clinch 1st place in the Smythe Division.

Week 10: Edmonton 3 at Los Angeles 4 - The Oilers continue to lose close ones away from Northlands Coliseum. Bernie Nicholls made his presence felt as always with a hat trick, as the Kings led 4-0 and held on for the pivotal 2 points.

Week 10: Calgary 4 at Vancouver 3 - Unlike their Alberta rival, the Flames are proving to be a much stronger team on the road under CPU control. Rejean Lemelin stoned Rick Lanz late as the Flames move into playoff position in the Smythe.

See Updated Standings Here - Only 2 Weeks to go in the Regular Season

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Wk 8 - Blackhawks at Maple Leafs

This week's feature matchup takes us to the lower half of the Norris Division as the winless Chicago Blackhawks (0-6-1) - or is it Black Hawks in '83? - visit the Toronto Maple Leafs (3-4-0). The best player on each team is on the bench in this one, as Steve Larmer and Rick Vaive ride the pines for their respective clubs. The Hawks need a win to move within 3 points of 4th place Toronto for the final playoff spot in the Norris. The Leafs can put away their dim hopes if they can post their 3rd consecutive victory.

Out of Town Scoreboard:

Cleveland 2 at Buffalo 2: The Sabres looked to be bouncing back from their 1st defeat of the season when they took a 2-0 lead on Gilbert Perrault's marker in the 2nd which followed an injury to Cleveland's best defenceman Greg Smith. But the Barons would hang around against the Sabres best possible lineup, as Walt McKechnie and Rick Hampton would net last minute goals to salvage a point - and their teams playoff hopes. Gilles Meloche made several big saves to keep the Barons in the game.

Montreal 4 at Hartford 1: Suffocating defence by Larry Robinson and Rick Green kept the Whalers off the score sheet until Blaine Stoughton scored - off Green's head! - with 4 seconds remaining. The Whalers had a chance to tighten the playoff race; but were no match here for Montreal, only mustering 9 shots against Rick Wamsley.

Boston 8 at Quebec 2:  Anton Stastny opened the scoring for the Nordiques in the game's opening shift but it was all Bruins the rest of the way. Barry Pederson and Rick Middleton each scored 3 and assisted on 2, while Ray Bourque netted a rare CPU controlled 2-goal game by a defenceman. After a sluggish start, the preseason favourites are rolling; winning the first 2 games of a 3 game road trip by a combined 14-4. ...Next up the Forum in Montreal!

Philadelphia 4 at NY Rangers 4:  The Flyers best possible forward trio of Bill Barber, Bobby Clarke and Ron Sutter gave the Rangers fits in the opening period, pacing Philly to a 3-0 advantage. The Rangers though would clamp down, and eventually take a 4-3 lead. The Flyers would tie it - and could've won it - but Clarke took a possible game-winning breakaway away from Sutter when he dropped the gloves with Tom Laidlaw to settle a score from several earlier checks by the imposing Rangers' blueliner. See footage --- Sutter would've likely scored as only light-weight Robbie Ftorek had a remote chance of catching him,
Boutette takes one for the team

NY Islanders 4 at Pittsburgh 4:  Bob Nystrom manages to top Clarke, by deciding to slug it out with Pat Boutette just as Anders Kallur's possible game-winner was about to cross the line. Nystrom would leave Boutette's face bloody - but may have left his team's playoff chances a little injured as well. Also in the footage.

New Jersey 4 at Washington 4:  The Patrick Division was expected to be the tightest this season, and that is coming to fruition as the first 3 divisional matches in the circuit end in 4-4 draws. A key turning point in the game was when Randy Holt - a defensive liability for the Capitals - made himself valuable by knocking top Devil forward Mel Bridgman out of the game in a 3rd period fight. The first place Caps took advantage, rallying from a 4-2 deficit to earn the point. Could have been 2, but Mike Gartner and Bobby Gould were both robbed by Chico Resch in the final seconds.

St. Louis 4 at Detroit 2: The Blues go into Detroit and handle the Wings in this battle for 1st in the Norris Division. Dwight Foster had the game tying goal on his stick with Rick Heinz down and out, but  would clang one off the post in the game's final minute. Wayne Babych would put the game on ice moments later, outmuscling Reed Larson for his 4th of the game.

Atlanta 3 at Minnesota 8  - The North Stars offence continues to soar, as they hang an 8-spot on another visitor to The Met Centre. Unlike last week's thriller with the Oilers, this week's opponent couldn't dream of keeping up with them. 8's are wild for the Firebirds - and not in a good away - 8 goals against and an 0-8 record. Both Minnesota and St. Louis clinch a playoff spot with a 1/3 of the season remaining - thanks in large part to the futility of Atlanta and Chicago.

Babych was too much for the Canucks
Vancouver 1 at Winnipeg 6 - Very similar result north of the border in Manitoba, as Dave Babych dominated
at both ends of the rink, propelling the 1st place Jets to a commanding victory over visiting Vancouver.  This was among the most dominating performances of the season.

Calgary 4 at Edmonton 4 - The Flames may be coming to life as Lanny McDonald scored a pair and the defensive tandem of Jamie Macoun and Steve Konroyd - plus defensively aware forward Doug Risebrough - kept the Oilers attack largely at bay in this one. Jari Kurri would eventually breakthrough for a hat trick, to salvage a draw for the home side in the inaugural Battle of Alberta.

Los Angeles 3 at Colorado 6 - The Rockies were clicking this week, connecting on 22 of 25 passes (89%) and firing 22 shots at Gary Laskoski, easily disposing of the Kings 6-3. Both Anders Hakansson and Brian MacClellan were knocked out of the 1st period as Colorado set the tone physically before taking care of the Kings on the scoreboard. The game was 4-0 after 2 periods.

Feature Game: Chicago (0-6-1) at Toronto (3-4-0)
A very good example of Empty Net hockey. The Leafs controlled this game nearly throughout, but got too cute in their own end on the Hawks 1st goal. As can happen this triggered a flurry for the Hawks as they score all 3 of their goals within 23 seconds - and should've had 4 in 40 had Curt Fraser found the empty net. Both the CPU and HUM can fire goals in quick succession off the faceoff; but can go into long droughts as well. The Leafs help their cause in this one by injuring 2 Hawks forwards, meaning their all-33 rating injury replacements come in; and Greg Terrion capitalizes on a terrible Dave Feamster giveaway to tie it. Still this should've been the 1st win of the year for the visitors; but oh do the Leafs catch a break in the end...

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Week 7 - Sabres at Capitals

The Sabres perfect 6-0 record is on the line at the Capital Centre
in a battle of 1st place teams
This week's feature matchup is one of two battles of 1st place teams this week as the undefeated Buffalo Sabres (6-0-0) visit the Washington Capitals (4-1-1). Campbell Conference front runners the Jets and Blues are also squaring off this week in St. Louis. The Sabres have won their 6 games by a total of 8 goals, winning 4 one-goal games. The Caps meanwhile have a greater goal differential thanks to routs in L.A. (8-4) and Cleveland (8-1). They are however coming off their 1st loss of the season in Boston last week. The Sabres would appear to hold the lineup advantage based on ratings, but keep in mind that defensive stalwart Mike Ramsey is on the bench - and size and defensive awareness are not the strengths of Housley and Fenvyes. - which could pose a challenge against the speedy Mike Gartner.

Out of Town Scoreboard:

Hartford 3 at New Jersey 6 - Already weary from a physical game in Philadelphia, the Whalers were battered around by a Devils squad who are better than their last place standing may indicate. Both Marty Howe and Michel Galarneau were sidelined by ferocious body checks, and goalie Greg Millen was peppered with 21 New Jersey shots as the Devils prevailed 6-3.

Montreal 4 at NY Islanders 5 - The Islanders were limited to only 10 shots on goal by a strong defensive lineup of the Habs featuring Guy Carbonneau, Rick Green and Chris Chelios. Unforunately Rick Wamsley could only stop 50% of what he faced - including a weak one by Bob Nystrom in the 1st - as the Islanders built a 5-1 lead and hung on for a much needed victory.

Quebec 4 at NY Rangers 4  - Looking for a sweep of New York, the Nordiques held a 4-2 lead late despite only connecting on 11 of their 30 attempted passes. The game looked to be over when Mark Pavelich rang one off the crossbar with 30 seconds left. However Don Maloney would rescue the Rangers by tallying with 16 and 2 seconds left to salvage the tie for New York. Brother's Anton and Marian Stastny each scored a pair for the visitors.

Boston 6 at Philadelphia 2 - The Flyers were only allowing 2.17 goals per game entering the week, but were no match for a Bruins lineup led my Rick Middleton, Ray Bourque and Tom Fergus. Boston played an impressive road game; only trailing in attack zone 2:10-1:45 after 2 periods. The Flyers forwards could not penetrate the tenacious Bruins D' of Bourque and Gord Kluzak, only scoring on two point shots by defenceman Miroslav Dvorak.

Shedden celebrates game winner
away from his teammates
Cleveland 4 at Pittsburgh 5 - An entertaining game at the Igloo as the Penguins led 3-1 after the 1st, and then fired a barrage of shots at Gilles Meloche in the 2nd and early 3rd but could not extend their lead. It was only a matter of time before Barons' Dennis Maruk woke up - as he'd score 2 and add an assist in a 32 second 3-goal flurry midway in the 3rd. But the Penguins are a resilient bunch this year, as Doug Shedden would vault the Pens' back in the lead for good potting his 3rd and 4th goals of the game in the final minute.

Los Angeles 4 at Atlanta 1 - The Firebirds may never win a game. Facing a beleaguered Kings squad minus Bernie Nicholls, they would fall flat at The Omni once again. The light-weight forward trio of Anders Hakansson, Doug Smith and Steve Christoff was a favourable matchup for the defensive tandem of Brad Marsh and Ed Kea - but pivotal errors (an errant pass into their own net) and some bad luck (two goals scored when Kings were bodychecked but the loose puck slid into the empty net) were too much to overcome for the inept Firebirds' attack.

Colorado 2 at Detroit 3 - Despite icing a lineup including Steve Yzerman, Brad Park and Reed Larson, the Red Wings struggled mightily against the woeful Rockies, and trailed 2-1 in the 3rd. However Murray Craven tied it on a goal-mouth scramble and Larson would hit a streaking Ron Duguay in the game's final minute for the breakaway winner. Surprisingly the Rockies held both Yzerman and Park off the score sheet in this surprisingly tight game at the Joe.

Vancouver 1 at Toronto 2 - Toronto was in the attack zone for 5:12 of the 9:00 game but couldn't beat King Richard Brodeur until the game's final minute as Greg Terrion and Rick Vaive scored late to earn the Leafs a hard-fought victory at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Thomas Gradin'less Canucks posed no offensive threat as their only goal was scored when Mark Kirton was flattened by Gary Nylund in the goal-mouth but the loose puck slid into the empty net.

Calgary 5 at Chicago 4 - Paul Reinhart finally came to life with a CPU controlled end to end rush in the final minute to earn the Flames a victory in this matchup of previously winless teams. The Black Hawks only managed to fire 10 shots on Rejean Lemelin; 3 of which were goals by Steve Larmer. The low -flying Hawks and Firebirds are the lone winless teams in the league.

Maxwell blasted home a hat
trick in a wild  8-7 triumph
Edmonton 7 at Minnesota 8 - An absolute barn burner in Bloomington as North Stars defenceman Brad Maxwell netted a hat trick and still wasn't included in the game's 3 Star selection. Both teams squandered 3 goal leads (3-0 Oilers & 7-4 North Stars) before Tom McCarthy finished a tic-tac-toe play with Neal Broten and Dino Ciccarelli for the 8th and decisive goal by the home side. Despite allowing 8 goals on 17 shots, Grant Fuhr made several brilliant saves in the final minutes of a 2nd period that was owned by Minnesota.

Winnipeg 2 at St. Louis 3 - In the week's other matchup of 1st place clubs the Blues dealt the Jets their 1st loss of the season, leaving Buffalo as the league's only undefeated team pending their result in Washington. The Blues looked to be cruising when they scored 2 goals early in the 1st against a Jets lineup that was missing Dave Babych and Dale Hawerchuk. However the Jets would hang around, eventually tying the game on a Laurie Boschman 3rd period goal. Jorgen Pettersson though would counter with his 2nd of the game to earn the win for St. Louis

Feature Game: Buffalo Sabres (6-0-0) at Washington Capitals (4-1-1)