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About Toronto and Prague.


hedgehog337
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*cocky hedge on the way!*

 

 

The historical season is about to come to an end next week. For the first time in VHL history we witnessed a season with 16 teams in it. You would think that this move would spread the rosters move evenly...and you were kinda right. But even with that we saw a fierce battle for the playoff spots as we had 6 teams eyeing the post season. From each conference. Only 5 could advance further so one team from each conference had to say goodbye to their championship aspiration before even the playoffs started. And I'm going to talk about them now.

 

 

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I'm still a firm believer this team was overachieving last season. Also, they have to say thanks to DC offense that was tanking all season long that threw them out way before the playoffs despite having a decent roster on paper. Then they decided to prove to everyone that the regular season performance was not a fluke...and they actually somehow managed to do that by taking the future finalist Calgary to 7. I guess that made Peace think he doesn't need any big moves and sticked to drafting. To be fair, he was trying to land a big player that was HHH in the free agency. However, Beaviss (via random) showed a middle finger to this team and went to an expansion team Warsaw. I do think that at the beginning the random actually picked the Canadian team, but I guess Beav didn't want yet another playoff-less season for Vancouver so he took HHH talents to Poland for stat-padding. But perhaps I'm just making stuff up and that never happened and my memory went south.

All season long Toronto was in the fight for the post season action and for the majority of it they were a decent 4th NA team. And then the trade deadline came...nothing from Toronto. Not a single deal to boost their chances for the decent playoff push. To be fair (x2), Peace was trying to make some deal(s), at least that's what he was telling on one of his articles. He also mentioned that potential trade partners were asking too much for their players. Now the question is, what did Toronto GM mean with ''too much''? If that was like ''minor picks for rental HHH or another lesser TPE, but still decent player'': I don't understand him not pulling the trigger. After all, I'm not sure if Toronto will really need some seconds/thirds so throwing them away for a chance to surprise the world could have made sense. However, if these teams were asking for a first rounder or some real promising player for the same stuff, Peace can not be blamed in this case. Taking such a risk for a 50/50 (or even 40/60) chance to make something relevant happen in playoffs...the first rounder might be used in the offseason for making the real push.

To be fair (x3), the team was still sitting 4th in NA. The point margin between them and DC/Vancouver wasn't big, but they were pretty consistent on not falling behind them both. And then the end of the season happened. The reality struck them in the face. They were holding on for so long to see their hopes being crushed by a huge collapse at the end. I believe they only won 2 games in last 10 or even more games. Not only that, Vancouver has decided to go on rampage mode after saying goodbye to Fong. DC was just making too steady progress to have another miss. It had to be Toronto that ended up on the wrong side of standings.

Why did I mention about the reality check? Well, just look at their forward roster. Magnum, McDagg and...uhmmmm. Gotta give props to Lehtinen Jr., he managed to have a helluva swan song, but even that wasn't enough to push his team above any other NA contender. But the question now is, what's next? As I mentioned earlier, this season was most likely Lehtinen's swan song. Blaze and Thorny went gone gone a long time ago with low TPE so they won't be very useful. Looks like Gainer also went inactive (although this is still under question, his last update was on early August). McDagg is regressing without having any banked TPE. Elmebeck is gonna be double regressed. Leon Gutzwiller? Well, that was an unexpectidely nice season...he is inactive anyways. Having Merrick and Anigbogu coming up from minors next season is nice, but I think Peace gotta take the action and bring decent to star players (preferably forwards) to this team to make big NA dogs sweat and perhaps even making the finals for their conference at least. Now he knows staying put won't elevate Toronto from being a perennial mediocrity like our next subject and his main players are already in the prime. An upcoming trade market seems good enough to make good things happen and maybe this team won't even need rentals for that (I assume their GM isn't really fond of them). The ball is on his court.

 

 

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So, where should I start? Well, let's start with the fact in their 6 season existence they managed to win 2 playoff...games. That's right. Not two playoffs series. Two playoff games!!! Should I humble myself by telling that these two wins came against my team, Riga? Anyways, I doubt Diamond was envisioning this kind of performance when he was creating Prague. Yet here were are, the team is competing since S70 and the only thing they have to show is two wins in the playoffs. Not to mention that this is the second season in the row this team misses the playoffs altogether. Minnesota Wild vibes anyone?

Honestly, I never was expecting Malmo to hang on till the end. My prediction was them slowing down by game 55-60 and letting both Davos and Prague to march into the playoff zone with a relative comfort. But apparently the Nighthawks roster was already decent enough to make it a three-way bloodbath for the two playoff spot. And it was Prague that cracked under the pressure and failed against Vancouver that put them out of the contention early.

*By the way, some interesting fact. In S70 NA conference also had the same three-way battle between Seattle, DC and NY for same two playoff spots. NY had one less point than 4th place Seattle, but they didn't play their last game yet. This was the game against Vancouver. Beaviss has decided to put then-backup Jimmy Spyro to the net and you could feel how the Americans fans' hope was skyrocketing after hearing these news...and then the 25 save shutout game by Spyro happened. NY remained one point back from playoff spot, except that they didn't have any game left to fix this situation. It was them that ended up watching the playoffs from their TV rather being a part of it. Fast forward to S73, the neutral EU and VHL fans are enjoying the same fight. This time between Prague, Malmo and Davos. The Phamily is one point away from the 5th place Davos, but they have one game left. Against Vancouver. Against Spyro. I guess you already know what happened? Yes, Prague managed to get the puck past the Vancouver netminder. The problem was they only did it once and despite actually outshooting their opponents it was Vancouver that took the victory. That's it, lights out for the Phantoms.

So a quick tip for teams. If you are one point away from the playoff spot with one game left against Vancouver, just pack your bags and enjoy golfing. Spyro is going to kill all your hopes anyways.*

 

Back to our subject. You know what I'm thinking right now when writing this? Carbon copy. Am I out of my mind? Probably. But I think this does make sense. In their first contention years their playing was eerly similar to Malmo. I was feeling that their main plan was to legitimately kill opponents rather than play some hockey. Unfortunately, this was pretty much the reason why they couldn't capitilize on Brick Wahl's MVP worthy season in S71 and make a further push than just another round 1 loss. So, copying Malmo's tough guys style didn't help them? Well, let's take some notes from Riga then. Big TPE defensemans and not very much on offense. Ironically, this lead them to letting 240+ goals last season which was one of main reasons why their playoff push ended right after the last regular season game. And you know what, it's not like Riga was having a huge success with this roster setup either. This season? Can't say they were copying anything, but their roster reminded me of Helsinki's one, escpecially forwards. None of them had a single huge TPE forward. Both of them were rather relying on a depth and hope that everything clicks perfectly. Guess who ended up being worse? Just look at the standings.

 

Carbon copy of Malmo?

Carbon copy of Riga?

Carbon copy of Helsinki?

 

Or I'm just perhaps being too cocky because my team is the defending champ and just advanced into the conference finals once again? Maybe. But you know what, enjoy while yall can before Simon pulls a stop on us so I'm going from 100 to 0 real quick. By the way, you know what else comes to my mind? The graveyard of players who were not good enough or were too old for Calgary. Or Calgary lapdogs. Ok, I guess I went a bit offside with the last statement. But the first one is staying there. Like for real. Kefka Palazzo, Ondrej Ohradka, Gary Tarantino, Brick Wahl, Roll Fizzlebeef. What do these lads have in common? Yup, they were a part of the Wranglers' squad at some point. Another common fact? They all were traded to Prague when either they were too old for the long term Bushito plans (Wahl, Palazzo and Fizzlebeef) or they felt that these players won't be elite enough to carry this franchise (Ohradka, Tarantino). In all fairness, most of them weren't slouches in the Phamily and actually amounted to something. Wahl with his S71 MVP performance, Tarantino with having his best season to date, Fizzlebeef with a solid offensive performance. Ohradka also is doing decent at scoring. However, despite of their best efforts it wasn't enough to put Prague as the legitimate contender throughout all these seasons.

Honestly, I have a feeling that Diamond is still having some soft spot for Calgary. And for real, why he wouldn't? Being their GM for 16 seasons (which was a record before Bana and I overtook him), winning one championship and three Knight awards in the process. He definitely has fond memories of that time. But does that means that he has to take all of them oldies and ''leftovers'' from them Wrangs? No matter how solid they were in Prague, only Wahl could be referred as the man who would carry the team to better heights. Other ones were fine, but that obviously never carried them out of the medicority.

Anyways, enough with the present. What's next? First of all, let's look at their current roster and see what's up. Do you see? So much old guys and most of them are welfare ones. ALL OF THEM BUT LANDRY II AND MCPINE WILL REGRESS IN THIS OFF-SEASON. Neither of regressing forwards are having a lot of TPE either. We can argue how much banked acutally do both Diamond players have, but is it going to help much? Pearson and McGirr are most likely going to be relegated to 300 someting TPA, Palazzo is experiencing a triple regression and it doesn't seems like Ohradka or Havlova will become much better next season either. The defense is in the better shape. They all are regressing, but also having enough banked and money to fight it without missing a beat. Having three rookies coming up (Bailie Jr. Lebastard and Knight Gee) will be a nice addition to the roster. But as much as Toronto, will it be enough? For me, the answer is pretty obvious. More good forwards needed. Simple as that. The only big TPE forward as of this moment is aforementioned Landry (ironically, his problem is that he has the highest checking rating of all Prague forwards so it makes him split his duties between hitting guys and scoring. Needless to say, his scoring stats are tanking because of that.) It's just not good enough. The team certainly don't need all of them high TPE forwards, but the current roster is doing nothing either. We saw what is this team is cappable with this squad. It needs to be elevated. The ball is on Diamond's court.

 

 

My first 2000+ word media in like 2 years? Gotta do what I gotta do to make Sir better than Kallis, am I right?

 

That's it and I'm out.

 

weeks:

 

24.08 - 30.08

31.08 - 06.09.

07.09 - 13.09.

14.09 - 20.09

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