Rant answers: Fearing another Caps collapse and more goalie strife

October, 25, 2011
10/25/11
1:06
PM ET

Another week, another long list of rants to filter through. You puckheads are an angry bunch! Let’s take a look:

blejays: my rant is about my community of Vancouver continuously ripping on Luongo, regardless if they know hockey or not. don't live in Vancity: feel free to rip luongo; we do he same to your team, but the constant negativity within the community, regardless of how great our season is going is really discouraging. don't like his style? his lack of "winning", his contract..... SHUT UP AND SUPPORT YOUR TEAM.

My take: There’s no question Roberto Luongo is the whipping boy in Vancouver regardless of anything that happens. Some of it is merited, but overall it’s over the top. My sense from being in Vancouver as often as I’ve been there the past few years is that Luongo’s performance in back-to-back playoff losses to Chicago in 2009 and 2010 really fueled Canucks fans to the point of no return. Nothing at that point was ever going to change their opinion short of a Stanley Cup victory. Even Luongo’s brilliant performance in a Game 7 win over those same Blackhawks last spring wasn’t enough. That’s because Luongo’s struggles in the Cup finals was the clincher for most Canucks fans. Quite honestly, anything short of a Cup championship and Luongo will never change the minds and hearts of his critics in Vancouver. It’s why if I’m the Canucks and this season ends without a championship, I would at least see if there’s any market out there for him. It won’t be easy; there’s 10 more years left on his deal, although the cap hit is not too bad at $5.3 million. Another interesting factor to consider is the next CBA. My guess is that the NHL will try to implement another one-time buyout window for teams when it doesn’t count against the salary cap, just like there was in August 2005 after the last lockout. That’s just a guess. But if there is, that might be something else to consider for Vancouver -- if things don’t go well this season. Thing is, Luongo was a Vezina Trophy nominee last season. The guy has won a lot of games in this league. He may yet have the last word in Vancouver.


Zacchariah: The Flyers. First they get embarrassed by the Caps then lose to a not-so-strong Blues team. Bryzgalov hasn't even been decent the past 3 games....the flyer need to get there stuff together fast because i can’t take another Philadelphia team with such high hopes....collapsing...again.

[+] EnlargeSergei Bobrovsky
Eric Hartline/US PresswireDo we have a burgeoning goalie controversy in Philly?

My take: I’m sure you feel better after the 4-2 win over Toronto, my friend. The Flyers looked terrific Monday night. It will be intriguing, however, how head coach Peter Laviolette deals with his sudden goalie situation. Sergei Bobrovsky has outplayed the highly paid Ilya Bryzgalov. It’s early, and Bryzgalov is still adjusting to his new surroundings, but the name of the game is to win games. Keep an eye on this one.


cyclonesamp87: I've been a Blue Jackets fan for about 8 years (Since I was in 7th grade). Living in the shadow of Chicago, I've received a lot of heat from my Blackhawk fan friends over the years. I have watched as season after season we simply don't get the job done or live up to expectations. I honestly thought Steve Mason would bounce back this year and the additions of Carter and Wisniewski would make us a legitimate threat and not just a stepping stone around the league. I know we're only 8 games into the season, but after the incident in Ottawa, it’s hard to find hope in this season. At the rate, we're going aren't some major things are going to have to change in order for us to turn it around? If you're Scott Howson, how do you turn this franchise into a winning organization? Long term, short term, somewhere in the middle I don't care but what should the game plan be?

CBJ_Fan 001: Saturday night’s game of Columbus at Ottawa is an example of why Jackets fans are going literally insane now.

My take: Man, I feel for Jackets fans. I really do. A decade-plus of mediocrity. Four playoff games -- all losses. Then the owner finally steps up this summer and spends money. The team finally has a No. 1 center. Jeff Carter now has a broken foot, the team is winless in October and it looks more dire than dire can be. Sources on other clubs have told me that Jackets GM Scott Howson has in recent days stepped up his phone calls to try and see if there’s a trade that can help his club. But as of Monday night there was nothing imminent. It’s still early for a lot of teams to be making trades. And he’s not dealing from a position of strength, either. Hang in there, Jackets fans.


heavEhitta77: I hate to say this, but Halak is a one-hit wonder. sure, his playoff performance was unbelievable and will be remembered for a long time, but he has shown no signs of consistency, except in crappy games. letting in goals from the blue lines without screens and 3 of the 4 goals let in against the kings were through the five holes. brian elliot should be the new starter, should we trade halak for cap space and call up a minor league goalie, or should we let halak try to redeem himself for the second season?

My take: I’m not ready to give up on Jaroslav Halak just yet but it is interesting to see the trouble he’s had in finding consistency in St. Louis. At the very least, it tells you Habs GM Pierre Gauthier made the difficult yet correct decision to choose Carey Price over him. It’s early yet though, my friend, but my sense is that Halak will recover from his early struggles here. But St. Louis is the last place I thought we’d have an early-season goalie controversy. Kudos to Brian Elliott this past week for stepping up and making it a story. Still, I think in the end, Halak will regain his form and status as the top dog in St. Louis.


hockey_fan_87: Why aren't the Toronto Maple Leafs getting any love from the experts? They are off to a hot start, but still not receiving any kudos. I know they have not reached the postseason since the lockout, but they got the right pieces in my opinion to make a playoff run. So they lost in Boston 6-2. They followed that up with a 5-4 overtime win at Montreal without James Reimer, who was knocked out by Brian Gionta (any suspension or fine coming for that?), which to me is a step forward when last season it seemed like the Leafs followed a loss with a string of losses. Send some love toward Toronto!

My take: Well I can’t speak for the rest of the national media, but certainly in my case, I need to see more from this team before I fully embrace its ascension. I got hammered by Leafs fans Monday for listing them only 12th in the Power Rankings despite their 5-1-1 record at the time, but that’s the point of the rankings -- it’s a subjective assertion of where we feel the teams currently rank and where they will end up. It’s a mixture of the present and the future. Monday night in Philadelphia, the Leafs struggled with turnovers in their 4-2 loss. So far in their four-game road trip, they’ve been outclassed twice (in Boston and Philadelphia) and survived a nervy game against the woeful Habs. Listen, nobody wants Toronto to make the playoffs more than me -- it means I could stay home in the first round instead of traveling. Ha-ha. But right now, I need to see more from the Buds before I can elevate them from where I had them in preseason: a bubble team battling for seventh or eighth in the East.


joeg1703: The Stars played two exciting divisional games this weekend...at 900pm and 930pm Dallas time!! I know Detroit wants realignment, but Dallas really really really needs it. Furthermore, it makes no sense for them to be in the Pacific division, especially when there is another team (Vancouver) that is ACTUALLY ON THE PACIFIC OCEAN!!!

My take: Well you certainly have company in your viewpoint from the Dallas Stars management. The Stars have made it clear to the NHL that whatever realignment plan is voted on come Dec. 5-6 in Pebble Beach when the board of governors meets, they want to be moved out of the Pacific Division. I really can’t blame the Stars for wanting out, given that they’re the only team not in that time zone. It makes for brutal traveling as well as fans having to watch road games at the wrong times, etc. … The Stars want to move either to the Southeast, where Winnipeg will vacate for next season, or, at the very least, to the Central Division, where Detroit may possibly vacate. Either one makes sense. But we’ll see if the Stars have enough support at the board of governors' level.


Music4Christ85: What's up with the Preds D? Rinne's standing on his head, but other than that, things are U-G-L-Y. Nashville's getting consistently doubled up in shot totals. Weber's taking uncharacteristic penalties. What happened to them between this year and last?

My take: I know from talking to the Preds before the season that the expectation was for the possibility of a slow start as more young faces took bigger roles in the lineup after some offseason defections of veteran players. The hope is that as the season wears on, these young players will have grown into their roles and minimize their mistakes. But I think that’s what you’re seeing right now.


hoyaboya: Every year when the Caps season ends way to early I swear that I will not get involved during the following regular season. Every regular season, I convince myself that this year’s version is finally the right mix of youth and experience, and finally the right mix of skill and grit. Every single year I watch every game, and my heart and mind convince me that I'm not wasting my time. Why have I already convinced myself that this year will be different? A win in Philly, a blowout at home against Detroit, and here I am, already convinced again that this is the year. Damn you, Capitals, for fooling me again, or maybe, just maybe, thank you, Capitals, for finally putting the puzzle pieces together. Only time will tell, but I am already mad at myself for repeating history, hopefully this year has a different ending.

My take: Ah, they reeled you in again! And why not? There’s no better team in hockey at the moment. What I like especially right now on this team is how the bottom-six forward group is deeper and more effective than ever. When the going gets tough come playoff time and top-six forwards like Alexander Semin perhaps disappear again, having those bottom-six guys contribute should prove to be an important factor. There are no guarantees, and a healthy Pittsburgh, a high-flying Philly plus Boston and Buffalo will have something to say about it, but the Caps looked more poised than they ever have to finally get over the hump.


stedga: Pierre, why does the NHL have rules and that hinder young players development? Specifically, why do the Flyers have to choose between Couturier going back down to juniors or staying with the big club? Am I wrong to think that having a young star in the AHL would be good for that league, as well as the best thing for Couturier's development, and certainly the Flyers salary cap and contract limit issues?

My take: Those rules are in place to help protect major junior hockey in Canada. The Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League continue, as always, to be the biggest suppliers of talent to the NHL. In return, they ask that they don’t get depleted of 18-year-old players unless those kids are clearly ready to make the jump. If they can’t play in the NHL, then they go back to junior. That’s only fair to major junior clubs in Canada. And I wholeheartedly agree.


fbullock: Seems that it is way too early in the season to hit the panic button but Montreal is looking over the cliff and waiting for someone to push them over the edge. Right away most teams would probably look at the coaching staff, and even though I am not in love with Jacques Martin or his system, I don't feel he should get the blame. How about Mr. Gauthier? He drafted/traded/signed for this team and what has it shown? On the other end of the spectrum, kudos to the Avs; it looks like those other two goalie offseason additions in DC and Philly were not the best move. Varly is playing like he was the top addition by any team in the pipes this year. Looks like that conditional draft pick the Caps got for him may end up being a very low pick after all.

My take: Let’s deal with the Habs. It’s mayhem in La Belle Province after yet another loss Monday night, this time to visiting Florida. Jacques Martin is taking the majority of the blame from fans but personally I point to the GM. Pierre Gauthier signed Andrei Markov to a lucrative three-year extension without fully knowing whether the veteran Russian blueliner would be ready to start the season after undergoing another knee surgery. Markov will have missed at least the opening month, if not more, and who knows how effective he’s going to be when he returns. Gauthier also signed Erik Cole to that ridiculous $18 million, three-year contract. A lot of money for a third-liner. And finally, despite losing to the Bruins last season, Gauthier refused to address his team’s lack of team toughness. I’m not talking about signing an enforcer, I just mean acquiring players who can deliver a hit and take one. It’s still early and the Habs have lot of time to turn this around, but if they don’t, I put the blame mostly on the GM.


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