“Quoth The Maven” is a weekly column where Stan Fischler touches on the three local teams plus other hot NHL items.
1. The King is back and all worries about the Rangers and the playoffs disappear like smoke rings in the air.
2. Every day and in every way Kevin Klein is conspicuous by his absence. And that, my friends, is in the best sense of an evaluation. Without Double K on the blue line, the Rangers defense is missing scoring, savvy and sock. His return will be a huge plus for Alain Vigneault. The sooner, the better.
3. If ever a team badly needs a two-game winning streak, it happens to be the Islanders heading for Columbus on Thursday night. The comeback win over Detroit last Sunday was fine, but with the homestretch race nuttier than ever, a follow-up ‘w’ would be even better.
4. Perfect Squelch of the Week Department: Asked by a reporter about “tanking” talk among the media, Devils Boss, Lou Lamoriello, shot back. “That word is not in my vocabulary!” Nor should it be.
5. Number One on Gary Bettman’s agenda should be finding a better way to allot draft prospects. The term “tanking” has to go.
6. One solution: How about rewarding the winners and give the Stanley Cup Champions first pick! I doubt we’d ever hear the word “tanking” again!
7. Alternate solution: Just throw all the team names in a hat and pick them that way.
8. Why should a successful club such as the Rangers be penalized with a low pick in the draft? Answer: They should not!
9. A good, young reason why the opposition should fear the well-balanced Rangers — J.T. (I Needed Patience) Miller‘s coming of age. Otherwise known as maturation.
10. Do you want to know what Scotty (I’m Also An Author) Gomez is all about? Here’s how Gomer puts it: “My greatest thrill on the ice has always been passing the puck. The greatest joy I feel during a game is when I’m able to set up a goal for my teammate.”
11. One other thing about Gomer; he’s the funniest guy on the Devils; surpassing his former line mate, Jaromir (I Like The Sunshine) Jagr.
12. My nickname for the Derick (What A Deal) Brassard and Mats (Mighty Mite) Zuccarello duet — The Gold Dust Twins.
13. There are two views of the Bruins, positive and negative. Negative: They’re not fast enough, nor skilled enough, and no longer scare clubs with their board play. Positive: Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic will not allow them to miss the playoffs.
14. New Jersey is set in goal and defense. Lou Lamoriello knows that he needs to beef up his offense with two additions up front, both preferably under-30. A few possibilities include winger Matt Beleskey (Anaheim, 26), Drew Stafford (Winnipeg, 29) and Mike Santorelli (Nashville, 29).
15. As much as anything in hockey can be guaranteed, I assure you that Jagr will be on the Panthers next year.
16. Stefan Matteau hit everything that moved against the Los Angeles Kings in his first NHL game since 2013. But one game does not make a permanent varsity spot. Whether he’s NHL-ready for next season could be determined between now the regular season’s end.
17. If I’m Lou Lamoriello, I’d take a shot at getting Vincent Lecavalier from Philly at a bargain price, if possible. Vinny could be a reclamation project in the Scott Gomez manner.
18. Gomez and Steve Bernier are teaming up like perfectly-meshed gears. Both deserve to remain in the red-and-black next season.
19. Adam Larsson is developing a mean streak in front of the net and along the boards. Kudos to Scott Stevens who, no doubt, influenced the new and improved Super Swede.
20. If you’re a Devils fan, you have to be pleased with their compete level at the end of a disappointing season. They aren’t going down in any game without a fight. Exhibit A was their 2-1 home loss to league-leading Anaheim. Despite outplaying the Ducks, the Devs simply couldn’t get the equalizer. And if that doesn’t sound familiar, you haven’t followed them closely all season.
21. Martin Brodeur is fast learning that if he wants a full-time, front office job, either in St. Louis or New Jersey, it won’t be a finger-snap. “I always thought that that kind of job was going to be easy,” says the future Hall-of-Famer, “but I’m surprised how much there is to do — dealing with injuries, personalities, minor leagues and call-ups.” (P.S. Marty, Lou could have told you that.)
22. Definition of a Dynasty-That-Never-Materialized; Pittsburgh (Nifty Arena But That’s Not Enough) Penguins.
23. Definition of Why No Pitt Dynasty: The inconsistent up-and-down goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury and lack of depth behind the Crosby-Malkin combo.
24. Since the NHL and the Devils could use more scoring, how about finding a loophole and allowing The Itinerant Ilya (The KHL Makes Me Ill) Kovalchuk an Amnesty card for Bettman, Inc.
25. When the Frozen Four pucks are dropped next Thursday, the Argus eyes will be on Boston University’s Jack Eichel. The freshman forward leads the nation in points (67) and assists (43). Assuming that Connor McDavid goes first in the Entry Draft, it’s a sure thing that Eichel will be right behind. In the long run, he might prove to be the better player than McDavid.
26. Also featured in the Frozen Four is Islanders prospect Doyle Somerby (fifth round pick, 2012). The Boston University defenseman was second on his club with 50 blocks. He also picked up six assists in 37 games.
27. My three favorite hockey flicks: Slapshot (1977); Mystery Alaska (1999) and The Mighty Ducks (1992). Paul Newman deserved an Oscar for his role as Reg Dunlop in Slapshot, which was a loose depiction of John Brophy.
28. Exploding A Myth Department: There once was a theory that suggested a playoff spot. It went like this: If a team was in playoff position by American Thanksgiving, it would make the postseason. Aha, but last Thanksgiving, Toronto was in and the Rangers were out. Just look at them now.
29. Jacques Lemaire explains how he handled defensive defenseman Ken Daneyko when Mister Devil thought he had offensive skills: “One night he scored a rare goal and thought he could score another, but kept getting caught out of position. When he got to the bench I said, ‘Dano, how many goals you got?’ And he said, ‘One.’ So, I said, ‘How many did you get last year?’ He said, ‘One or two.’ Then, I ended the discussion this way: WELL, YOU GOT IT NOW – SO STAY BACK!'”
30. Pal Gus Vic offers an interesting take on the Jets – especially if Winnipeg misses the playoffs. 1. On March 10, after coming back from a three-goal, third period deficit in St. Louis, Ondrej Pavlec allows a 75-footer from Barret Jackman with 63 seconds left. 2. March 12, Michael Hutchinson allows an Aleksander Barkov wrister in Florida from top of the circle with 3:53 left for the GWG. 3. March 29, a 3-2 third period lead, Tobias Enstrom gets tangled with linesman allowing Patrick Sharp to corral loose puck to tie the game. Jets fail to clear and a Jonathan Toews tip in wins it with :31 left. In less than three weeks, that’s three points on the doorstep and as many as six lost. Now, they’re gonna miss those points on April 11 … or are they?
31. After watching Alex Ovechkin riddle the Rangers, buddy Joe Kozlowski writes, “No player is as exciting nor disruptive than Ovie. His scoring touch is unrivaled and he now creates havoc on the forecheck, while stilll managing to hit anything that moves.”
32. All things considered, Ryan McDonagh has been an exemplary captain; which means that he’s an effective leader and a good reason why the club is on top.
33. The Bruins and Senators keep on winning and that means the Islanders must start to put together a winning streak of their own – or else! You’re in the playoffs only after you CLINCH a postseason berth!