Â– Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov has two shutouts in his two wins for San Jose this season. Not too shabby. But in his two losses, he has a goals-against average of 5.00. His platoon partner Vesa Toskala only has one shutout (from last night's 3-0 blanking of Columbus), but he's 5-0-0 this year. Advantage, Toskala.
Â– Speaking of the Blue Jackets: Yikes. They've lost four straight, and only three teams in the league have scored fewer goals. I'm sure it's all part of Doug MacLean's master plan.
Â– My good friend and Leafs Lunch radio host extraordinaire Jeff Marek is all over me today on his blog for ripping Don Cherry's pro-fighting claptrap.
I'll concede the point Marek and Cherry make Â– that publications look like hypocrites for bashing NHL fisticuffs in one section of the paper, and running photos of fights one or two pages next to it Â– but there's an easy solution to the problem. Make me photo editor of all sports publications everywhere, and those shots will no longer be seen.
Â– If I hear another analyst or league management type say it's too early to start worrying about NHL attendance, I'm gonna lose it. Most teams have now played 10 per cent of their season, and any way you slice it, 10 per cent of anything is a significant chunk. Ergo, it's not too early to start worrying. And you can bet the league is, if only behind closed doors.
Â– Although I picked the Red Wings to make the playoffs, I got a lot of angry e-mail when I suggested they might be destined for a tumble in the standings this year. I'm not receiving any more of those e-mails lately.
Re: league attendance. I am from Winnipeg and I was in Atlanta for their home opener. It was declared a sellout, but the place was half full. The corporate community can't give seats away and whole sides of the arena are empty...my friends from Toronto moved down to the lower bowl and had a row to themselves. They had a deal - four seats and four chicken dinners for 80 bucks... Talked with two guys in the snack line who are worried about losing the franchise. They were just thankful the NBA's Hawks suck or it would be worse. Unfair...pretty sure Winnipeg would have been full for a home opener.