~~~ CANUCKS and LIONS Podcast: http://soundcloud.com/you/tracks ~~~
Always exciting to get to watch the Penguins in the early game, even without Sid and Jordan Staal, and if both teams are starting their back-up goalies, and the rich tradition of the Montreal/Boston rivalry is in full force on CBC in other areas of this country. Seriously, as much as I’d love to watch Boston continue to meltdown, I am loving watching both of these teams this year, even if I took MAF in the third round of my hockey pool and he’s riding the pine tonight. This is already an exciting game between two teams that in execution and game plan are ahead of the pace.
I was already going to sit down and write about how impressive I felt the Leafs’ power play was against the Rangers Thursday and by the time I did a little research we see a great power play punctuated by a goal from the point by the Buds and a breakaway at both ends of the ice.
I was shocked to see the Leafs’ PP managed only two shots on four opportunities in a 4 -2 win over King Henrik and the Rangers. They were fluid, inverting the stick on the point, winning puck battles, making smart pinches, generating traffic in the tough areas and executing tape-to-tape passes with laser like accuracy.
For the past few seasons I have thought Ron Wilson has underachieved as head coach of the Leafs – I’m supposed to hate them because I live west of the Rockies, but I enjoy a team for the game they play and not the arena they play 42 regular season games in and the Leafs team is firing on all cylinders.
I’ve also really questioned Brian Burke. I’m usually one of his detractors. This polarizing hockey personality is both loved and loathed but for years I felt he squandered the Canucks’ system, inherited somebody elses cup team in Anaheim and then dumped them to take a high profile job in Tronna and promptly make a giant mess of things with bad signings and trades – maybe I’m wrong.
I still wouldn’t trade two first round picks and a second for Phil Kessel, even if he wins the Richard trophy this year and parades the Stanley Cup down Yonge St. for the first time since 1967 but the Leafs are a team I really respect and would greatly fear in the playoffs. They have the Brian Burke stamp of pugnacity and truculence, very solid goaltending and offensive depth, and to Burkie’s credit he has really restocked the cabinet in Leaf Land.
Wilson and Burkie deserve a ton of credit for creating an on-ice product finally worth the ticket price.