VERY EXCITING YEAR IN NHL
POPSICLE BROTHERS REPORT #6
THE ATLANTIC DIVISION
Michael Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief and Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Newsroom-Staff Reporter
OAKLAND,CA-In the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions in the Eastern Conference things are changing. The divisions have been turned upside down with the veteran laden Tampa Bay Lightning, the feisty youngsters with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the frustrated Ottawa Senators who want to go beyond the first round lead the Eastern Atlantic Division after the 20 game first quarter poll.
The new kids on the block are playing well in Newark, New Jersey and Columbus, Ohio and are riding high in the Eastern Metropolitan Division. The New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets are for real and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals better start paying attention to the Devils and Blue Jackets this year.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Goal Brother J.T. Brown from the Tampa Bay Lightning gets the number two star in this report number six for standing with Brother Colin Kaepernick and his fight for equality and justice in America.
The Russian Line, led by veteran Steven Stamkos, is scoring like crazy. Ryan Callahan has stabilized the offense’s second line with Brother J.T. Brown.
The question in Central Western Florida is goalie Peter Budaj. Can Budaj take the Bolts to the next level and the Penalty Kill unit keep shutting down opponents’ power play a full season? The Tampa Bay’s Power Play unit is doing their job leading the league with 20 goals.
The Lightning might be called the best team in the Eastern Conference. Last year’s playoff experience will help them this year in the spring.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Many years ago in South Central Jersey on Saturday nights WOR T.V. Channel 9 blared in our living room. The New York Rangers played the Toronto Maple Leafs and that became my Canadian hockey team. Love the mellow blue colors of the Maple Leafs Gardens on television.
It’s been awhile since the Leafs have won the Cup, (1967) this year could be the end of the long march for Toronto fans. The Leafs missed young gun Auston Matthews for a week, but they continued to win. Matthews returned Thursday night November 16 as the Leafs beat the New Jersey Devils 1-0 in overtime for their 5th straight victory. Then the Leafs laid wood to the Montreal Canadiens with their 6-0 shellacking at the Bell Center Saturday night. Auston Matthews scored the last two goals of the night to seal the deal for Toronto.
This team can be called the hockey version of the Golden State Warriors. The Leafs score in bunches and come at teams with deadly speed and odd man rushes. Once again it will come down to the guy in net, which could be this team’s weak spot. Not sold on goalie Frederik Andersen yet.
This team will once again try to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. They were reborn in 1992 as the Senators re-entering the National Hockey League.
The original Senators were founded in 1883 winning 11 Stanley Cups. The last year of the first Senators played in 1934. The new Senators were a Cup contender in 1998 with centers Alexei Yashin and Daniel Alfredsson; they could never get passed their arch and provincial rival Toronto in the Battle for Ontario. The battle once again could happen this year with both teams playing well early in the season.
In the Dany Heatley era, Heatley had two consecutive 50 goal seasons with the Senators acquired him from the Atlanta Thrashers for fan favorite Marian Hossa, it did not go well and the Sens still could not win the Cup.
In 2005 Goal Brother Ray Emery became the first rookie goaltender to win a series since Philadelphia Flyer Brian Boucher did it in 2000. Emery won his first nine games and tied Philadelphia goal tender Bernie Parent with 12 victories in one month. Ray Emery was a special player and the hockey world knew it. He got tagged with the name Sugar Ray in reference to boxer Sugar Ray Robinson after a rumble with Buffalo Sabre Andrew Peters after Emery finished boxing with Buffalo goalie Martin Biron. After that incident few players tangled with Emery on the ice.
The Sens have not been to the finals since their first appearance in 2007 ten years ago with Emery in net. The new Senators are still trying after 80 years for the city of Ottawa.
The Anaheim Ducks ruined the party in 2007 for the Canada’s Capital City. This could all change this year with a victory in the final round. They currently have the best 1-2 goaltending tandem in the league, Mr. Anderson, Craig Anderson, and Mike Condon. The Matrix Man should have a better year with his family concerns behind him, Anderson can now concentrate on stopping the puck.
Goal Brother defenseman Johnny Oduya will be ending his long career in Canada and the Ottawa Senators gets my third star of the week for teaching the young stars defense the Oduya way.
Oduya is now teaching the young Senators how to defend against rushes by pushing the rush to the boards to neutralize the scoring chance. He has the experience of the Stanley Cup grind with his playing days with the New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks. Mr. Oduya is now an ambassador of the game
The Buffalo Sabres are struggling in the Atlantic Division but the season is young and they have a chance to get back into the playoff race. In pre-season they had four Goal Brothers wearing the Buffalo Blue. They are currently on another four game losing streak dropping them into the basement of the Atlantic Division. The whole team went into a short scoring slump this past week which has cost Buffalo.
My number one star goes to left winger Goal Brother Evander Kane who is off to a fantastic start with 12 goals and 8 assists. This is his best season in the NHL. He seems to be the only one in blue and gold that can find the back of the net.
Kane was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1991 coming from a sports family he knew he had to follow. His scoring skills on the ice appeared when he was 14 years old he scored 140 points in 66 games in the bantam league. He continued in the minor league hockey with the Vancouver Thunderbirds.
Kane kept growing and received a call from the Vancouver Giants at the World Junior Championship.
In 2009 number 9 was selected fourth overall in the NHL draft by the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets). The injuries have hampered this budding star but when he is on the ice he finds the back of the net.
In 2015 he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres to bolster their offense. It seems to be working.
Right winger Goal Brother Kyle Okposo joined Kane in Buffalo in 2016 from the New York Islanders to give the Sabres a great 1-2 punch up front. Still don’t understand this trade unless it was a salary issue. Okposo played well for the New York Islanders for nine years. Now he starts a new chapter in Buffalo, just a little farther north in the State of New York.
The Sabres are looking at the future with Goal Brother forward Nicholas Baptiste who will play for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League this year and will be called up from time to time. Baptiste is in the mold of Evander Kane.
The Sabres still have to fix their goaltending issues before they can move from the bottom of the Atlantic Division.
Stars of the week
- Evander Kane-Buffalo Sabres
- J.T. Brown- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Johnny Oduya- Ottawa Senators
Honorable mention- Ray Emery- Ottawa Senators
NEXT:-Metro-Division-The Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod