After The Whistle: Rookie coaches making big impacts
Each week hockey columnist Scott Morrison and his protegé, senior hockey writer Tim Wharnsby, exchange (mostly) friendly banter on the latest storylines in the NHL.
1. Which rookie coach has made a bigger impact on their team so far this season, Scott Arniel with the Columbus Blue Jackets or Tampa Bay Lightning's Guy Boucher?
MORRISON: There is no question that both coaches have done a terrific job so far, but I think the West is a tougher conference so making headway on that side of the ledger is more difficult and the accomplishment a little more eye catching. Arniel has the Jackets playing good defensive hockey and has two goaltenders contributing. He doesn't have a ton of firepower, so he has adjusted accordingly.
WHARNSBY: Both have made an impact so far, but I particularly like the job Scott Arniel has done with the Blue Jackets. He doesn't have the horses that Boucher has in Tampa, but Arniel has Columbus headed in the right direction, especially defensively. The Blue Jackets have the third lowest goals against average. The Lightning has allowed more goals than it has scored.
2. What's been your favourite story in the past week?
WHARNSBY: The fainting goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, has stood tall on both skates lately. The Czech gave everbody a scare when he passed in the season opener and hit his head on the ice. Now he has reeled off five consecutive wins, including four against the league's stronger clubs in Washington, Detroit, Montreal and Boston, with two shutouts and only three goals against. His play has the Thrashers in the thick of the playoff race in the East.
MORRISON: The Brass Bonanza is back. So too are the Whale. The Hartford Wolf Pack became the Conneticut Whale on the weekend and they resurrected the Brass Bonanza, which was the Hartford Whalers old theme song. Good times.
3. If Marc Savard returns to action in the next two weeks and the Boston Bruins are healthy, should they loan rookie Tyler Seguin to the Canadian junior team?
MORRISON: I am not a big fan of sending the kids back. If he is good enough to play in the NHL that is where he should stay and it should remain a junior tournament, not an NHL-junior tournament.
WHARNSBY: Of course, I'm biased because of a soft spot for the Canadian junior team. The 19-year-old Seguin is off to a solid start as a pro with four goals and eight points in 22 games, but other than the fourth-liners on the Bruins he has been given the least amount of ice time among Boston forwards at 12 minutes and 49 seconds. With Savard back, his shifts will dwindle even more.