February 02, 2014

Dobber Sports

2014-02-02

Rankings will be up Monday. (Dobber)

Forum – may be more finicky than usual over the next couple of days as we continue with the fixes and creep ever closer

 

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It’s Super Bowl Sunday and that means a meagre NHL schedule is on tap for this, our day of rest. The NHL rightly tends to counterprogram the Super Bowl since no North American sports fans are watching anything but football this afternoon anyway, and both of Sunday’s games start in the early afternoon.

 

So you have the classic “attempt to appeal to American hockey fans with big names” game at 12:30 (Washington v. Detroit) and also an all-Canadian “we’ll be the second sport covered on Sports Centre if not Sports Center tonight!” matchup at 1 pm (Winnipeg v. Montreal).

 

I’ll go ahead and assume that you’re just now stumbling out of bed, bleery eyed and feeling somewhat worse for wear due to last night’s exploits, and give you a friendly reminder: go set your fantasy lineup. Go now. The rest of our Sunday Ramblings will be here waiting patiently for you.

 

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I was at the ACC as a fan last night to take in a relatively meaningful February game, a classic “four pointer” between the Maple Leafs and the Senators. The Senators have been trending in a very auspicious direction for months, while the Maple Leafs have been winning games in bunches of late thanks to special teams play, stellar goaltending, and a dominant top-line.

 

Ottawa’s puck possession game didn’t show through much on Saturday night and neither did Toronto’s usually stellar goaltending, but Phil Kessel sure did. Kessel managed a hat-trick on Saturday, and none of the goals he scored were “cheap” or fortunate. On Toronto’s first tally, Kessel just cleanly beat his check and tapped in a perfect cross crease feed from James van Riemsdyk.


On Toronto’s go-ahead marker, Kessel manufactured a clever zone entry (stepping over the line and flipping the puck to van Riemsdyk on the far wing) and flashed shark-like instincts when he retrieved the puck and skated straight into the high-slot before unleashing a wrist shot to put Toronto ahead. Finally, Kessel chipped home the game-winner when Tyler Bozak took advantage of an Eric Gryba misplay. That goal put  Toronto up once again after Chris Neil’s second of the game tied things up.

 

Basically it was a memorable performance from a great scorer at the absolute apex of his powers.

 

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Kessel being hot like this going into the Olympics is a great thing for the American Olympic team…

 

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Toronto’s second goal objectively shouldn’t have counted, though I was OK with it at the time since I figured it would set up an interesting third period (and, y’know, I’d paid for tickets). Still, Nazem Kadri’s hit on Cody Ceci was textbook boarding and a dangerous play to boot. From repeated blown offsides calls, a handful of phantom penalties that destroyed the pace in the first period, to a bad non-call on a sequence that lead directly to a goal; that was a poorly officiated game.

 

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Riding high on a big winning streak that has seemingly cemented the Toronto Maple Leafs as a playoff team, the Leafs are the toast of Toronto once a