Image (2) ronwilson1-thumb-250x169-18922-thumb-250x169-18923.jpg for post 15166

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke gives Ron Wilson the vote of confidence

There are many phrases, statements and sentences in life that are often considered “a kiss of death.”

Take relationships, for instance. If a woman is adamant about calling you a “really nice guy,” you might as well change your zip code to the “friend zone.” When either party begins a conversation with “We need to talk … ” you probably won’t be speaking much longer.

Sports probably maintain quite a few examples, but the best one might be when a general manager or owner gives a coach a vote of confidence. More often than not, that same GM hands that supposedly safe bench boss his walking papers about a month or so later. In the end, the vote of confidence isn’t all that different than a death row appeal – it’s merely a temporary reprieve.

The most recent dead coach walking seems to be Toronto coach Ron Wilson. The local media is notorious for turning on the experienced manager, but considering the fact that the team lost eight of its last night games, the calls for his head aren’t crazy. Yet, much like Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray and coach Randy Carlyle, Brian Burke is pointing his finger at the players, not Wilson. Here is what Burke said to TSN.

“If you watch the game films and show me one thing Ronnie did wrong, then come back and ask me about it. The answer to your question is yes, the coach is safe,” Burke told The Star at a sports management conference that he was co-chairing.

(snip)

“Did Ron play poorly last night? No. Why don’t you guys focus on the players who played poorly last night instead of questioning the coach,” Burke said to The Star. “We have players who aren’t performing at a proper level on a nightly basis. That has to change.”

Honestly, I think that if anyone should get canned, it’s Burke. Yet what would that really accomplish? The Leafs are a work in progress and while many mistakes were made, the story is still incomplete. Perhaps with some patience, Burke and Wilson can figure things out.

Unless they both dug themselves a hole that is too deep.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

Leave a comment

Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

Leave a comment

Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

1 Comment

After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP
1 Comment

It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.