2003-11-07 / Sports

Full Speed Ahead! : A Metro Hockey Update

Hockey Columnist
By Andrei Petrovitch
Full Speed Ahead! : A Metro Hockey Update

Full Speed Ahead! : A Metro Hockey Update


New York Rangers’ Mark Messier, foreground, celebrates as time runs off the clock while teammates Dominic Moore, left, Boris Mironov and Brian Leetch follow behind after the Rangers beat the Dallas Stars 3-0. Messier scored two goals in the game to surpass Gordie Howe into second place on the all-time career points list with 1,851. (AP­­­-Photo/Julie Jacobson)New York Rangers’ Mark Messier, foreground, celebrates as time runs off the clock while teammates Dominic Moore, left, Boris Mironov and Brian Leetch follow behind after the Rangers beat the Dallas Stars 3-0. Messier scored two goals in the game to surpass Gordie Howe into second place on the all-time career points list with 1,851. (AP­­­-Photo/Julie Jacobson)

By Andrei Petrovitch

Hockey Columnist

• Apparently, Mariuz Czerkawski reads the Rockaway Wave. How else, then, can anyone explain his resurgence with the New York Islanders? Wh atever it may be – the constant criticism of yo urs truly, consistent ice time with Alexei Yashin - Czerkawski leads this young season in goals with 9. However, this columnist is not ready to eat crow just yet; Czerkawski has been a streaky player for much of his career. Nevertheless, he is for the time being just what Yashin needs – a speedy European winger with hands good enough to convert Yashin’s passes into goals. Need proof of the duo’s effectiveness? Refer back to Monday’s 6-3 whipping of the Ottawa Senators. As of this writing, Yashin, Czerkawski, and Oleg Kvasha, their line’s left winger, are the only Islanders with point totals in the double digits.

• Speaking of the Islanders: anyone notice that goalie Garth Snow’s save percentage has plummeted now that the league has enforced rules concerning the size of goalie equipment? Currently, Snow has a 3.98 goals against average with a mediocre save percentage of .856 – crappy numbers that are due, at least in some part, to the league-enforced absence of his grotesque steeple-style shoulder pads. Robert Loungo, on the other hand, has seized the opportunity; his goals against average is a superb 1.83 with a save percentage of .916… while using regulation pads.


Garth Snow (#30) doesn’t seem to be strong this year without his large goalie pads.Garth Snow (#30) doesn’t seem to be strong this year without his large goalie pads.

• Break up the Rangers!!!! Well, no, not really. But although some Rangers are taking their time in adjusting to the new defensive system that was put in place by assistant coach Tom Renney (*cough*Kasparaitus*cough *Poti*), overall team play is much better than last year. That said, average team age is a factor – witness the team’s collapse versus the Avalanche last Sunday. With the season getting longer, injuries and fatigue can be the team’s undoing IF it doesn’t pace itself (and 43-year old Mark Messier, in particular).

• Speaking of Messier: congratulations to "Moose" on surpassing Gordie Howe for second all-time on the NHL career points list.

• More Messier: who said he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) play the fourth line?

• While we’re on the subject of 40-year olds, it’s worth mentioning that New Jersey Devils center Igor Larionov is earning his keep on the power play. What he lack in speed, he has in smarts, as shown by his five assists, all with the man-advantage, in nine games this year.

• It should also be of little surprise that Patrick Elias is tied with defenseman Brian Rafalski for the Devils’ team lead in points. Uncomfortable at center ice under coach Pat Burns’ system last year, Rafalski has now been reverted to his natural position of left wing and is playing well with natural center Scott Gomez. It may be too early to determine, but initial observations show that the Devils’ freshman defensive third pair of Dave Hale and Scott Martin is the real deal.


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