“Quoth The Maven” is a weekly column where Stan Fischler touches on the three local teams plus other hot NHL items.
1. Considering that Cam Talbot played his college hockey in Alabama, the Rangers‘ netminder’s ascent has to be one of the best goalie sagas of our decade.
2. If it hasn’t happened already, the Blueshirts goalie coach, Benoit Allaire, rates a few thousand kudos for the manner in which he’s groomed student-Talbot.
3. Every night in every way, Rick Nash & John Tavares each make a case for being a Hart Trophy finalist.
4. Even in defeat, the Islanders could claim a roster victory with the return of Kyle Okposo. Rusty he may have been against the Rangers, but he’ll be fine by the weekend.
5. All things considered, the Devils’ celebration of its 1995 Cup team Sunday night was as tasteful and moving — but never boring — as a tribute could be.
6. Of all on that championship club, Scott Niedermayer looks as if he could step right in and be a Top Two defenseman on any of today’s NHL teams.
7. So far, so good for Farmingville, LI native Keith Kinkaid as Devils back-up goalie. Let’s hope his contract is renewed for 2015-16.
8. Quick Quiz: Which Ranger skates fastest under the NHL Radar?
9. Quick Answer: Carl Hagelin who becomes an RFA at season’s end.
10. The most compelling off-the-ice competition already is being raged between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. Detroit wants to retain the NHL’s best coach, Mike Babcock and Toronto wants to pay bazilions to woo Merry Michael away.
11. Pushing Mike toward Toronto — but well in the background — is a block of coaching colleagues who figure that the more Babcock makes, the higher the salary bar for the entire coaching clan.
12. If you know who the best coach in the league is right now, please tell me. It’s virtually impossible to pick among Bruce Boudreau, Barry Trotz, Alain Vigneault, Jack Capuano and Michel Therrien. And that’s just to name a few in this tight race.
13. Trotz has one thing going for him and that’s the arresting manner in which he converted captain Alex (I’m The Big Eight In Case You Forgot) Ovechkin into a two-way, “plus” player.
14. Looking backward, Ilya Kovalchuk must be regretting that he ever left New Jersey and the world’s best hockey league. Everyone I talk to insists that the Kontinental Hockey League is the Third World’s worst.
15. Plenty of stars — Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Claude Lemieux, et. al. — graced the Devils 20th Anniversary Cup reunion. But my unsung hero always will be defenseman Shawn (Fastest Post-Game Dresser) Chambers who scored more big goals than anyone remembers.
16. Bruce Driver recalled that the Devils were snowshoeing through a mediocre 1994-95 season until the final pre-playoff practice in Boston. “Everything suddenly jelled in our scrimmage,” the defenseman recalled, “and we were off and running after that.” Amazing!
17. Rangers fans once-hated defenseman Ulf (Pardon My Elbow) Samuelsson when he was one of the most abrasive foes ever to skate on Garden ice. Now they can thank Ulfie because he’s New York’s assistant coach and played a large role in Glen Sather getting Keith Yandle. Sammy knows Keith well from when he was assistant coach of the Coyotes.
18. David Nonis may have saved his job as Leafs GM by unloading David Clarkson and his stratospheric contract. Then again, Dave’s boss, Brendan Shanahan, is known to bring in his own people to take orders and Nonis simply ain’t one of them.
19. At a recent Devils post-game press conference, Lou Lamoriello wondered out loud why I ask a laudatory question about Scott(All Smiles) Gomez every third Lou presser. So, I told him, “I like Scotty.” Plus, Gomez and teammate Jordin Tootoo both are legit candidates for the Bill Masterton Trophy.
20. The dirtiest word in hockey — if I didn’t tell you before — is spelled T-A-N-K-I-N-G. … It’s also spelled Connor McDavid.
21. Speaking of all-time underachievers, try David Booth. One GM calls him “A 2:55 player.” According to my Toronto Sun buddy, Steve Simmons, it means as follows: “If you don’t get the depth guy you wanted and you’re five minutes away from the deadline at three p.m., you might make a call on him.”
22. Bruins bosses Charlie (Owner’s Son So Don’t Mess With Me) Jacobs and Cam (Remember how Claude Lemieux out-foxed him in ’95) Neely have threatened GM Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien regarding the need for a playoff berth.
23. Hey, it’s Charlie’s right. But this much is certain; 99 44/100 percent of hockey people say that the GM and his bench boss are among the NHL’s best.
24. Even with a healthy Patrick (Raising) Kane in the lineup, the Blackhawks never can be called a Cup favorite with Cory (Sorry About that) Crawford between the pipes. Exhibit A: Cam Talbot out-goaltending Crawford on Sunday night.
25. Ditto for Cam Talbot and the Rangers.
26. It’s good to be Mike (I’m Carrie’s Husband) Fisher. It’s not good to be on the S.S. (as in Suddenly Sinking) Predators.
27. If you’re looking for a terrific, offbeat hockey book, I suggest you buy CHILL FACTOR — How A Minor League Hockey Team Changed A City Forever.
28. Authors David Paitson and Craig Merz show how zany can work in hockey marketing and lead to formation of an NHL club, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
29. One of the best — but long forgotten — teams ever to play in (old) Madison Square Garden was the Coast Guard Cutters who skated in the Eastern League.
30. Based in Baltimore, the Cutters won successive championships during the 1942-43, 1943-44 EHL seasons. When they visited MSG, the Cutters played against the Rangers farm team, the Rovers.
31. Now a group of Coast Guardsmen are breathing new life into that historic club, selling T-shirts and jerseys. Plus, this will be the first year for a Coast Guard team to be participating in the World Police and Fire Games to be held in Fairfax, Virginia.
32. Don’t be surprised if the Flyers’ Craig Berube is the next coach on the very hot seat. He’s neck-and-neck with Peter Horachek in Toronto.
33. They all laughed when Lou Lamoriello went behind the Devils bench. Lou’s got the last laugh now, along with his aides, Scott Stevens and Adam Oates.
34. Since Peter DeBoer got the gate, New Jersey’s record is 16-11-3. Under DeBoer, they were only 12-17-7.
35. Who’s the Rangers Biggest Surprise? My choice is Derick Brassard, a center who’s really earning his dough.
36. Fun Fact: This is the first year in 44 seasons that two Rangers goalies have recorded more than four shutouts in a campaign. Previous was Ed Giacomin–Gilles Villemure combine in 1970-71.
37. Scott Gomez continues to play as if he wants to be a Devil again next season.