[AUT/SUI] the official NLA/NLB/austrian bundesliga thread
i thought i start a thread about the swiss leagues as well as the austrian bundesliga. it's just a try though as i don't know if enough guys are interested in this and will keep it alive. if indeed it will be alive, i could make it sticky then. so it's up to you. :)
have fun and write here whatever news you know about the leagues.
To start this thread I'll give you my NLA predictions before the start of the season (I wrote them one week ago, so I'm not cheating).
They have three good scoring lines led by many national team players and the top two scorers of the last season, Ville Peltonen and Mike Maneluk, and a strong checking line as well.
On defense, they could add Julien Vauclair, and got younger by releasing veteran Patrick Sutter and Mark Astley. Vauclair was paired with Petteri Nummelin during the preseason, that could be the best pair in the league.
Ronnie Rüeger is a solid goalie, but he's clearly below ZSC's Ari Sulander and Bern's Marco Bührer.
Overall, they are the most talented team in the league, but they are less physical than the other contenders (loosing Raffaele Sannitz to the AHL, Keith Fair to retirement and Mark Astley to Langnau didn't help in that regard).
Best players :
F: Ville Peltonen, Mike Maneluk, Benoit Gratton, Adrian Wichser, Flavien Conne, Régis Fuchs
D: Petteri Nummelin, Julien Vauclair, Steve Hirschi
G: Ronnie Rüeger
Interesting young player :
On offense, a lot of young player who can only improve from last year, and the addition of Randy Robitaille and Tony Virta should be an upgrade over Christian Matte and Lonny Bohonos.
The defense, probably the deepest in the league since the addition of Flames prospect Tim Ramholt and Martin Höhener from Geneva, is still led by Mark Streit and Mattias Seger.
Ari Sulander is still one of the best goalie in the league.
Overall, with better foreign players, two good additions to the defense and many young players having more experience, this team should only improve.
Best players :
F: Randy Robitaille, Tony Virta, Robert Petrovicky, Jan Alston, Michel Zeiter
D: Mark Streit, Mattias Seger, Tim Ramholt
G: Ari Sulander
Interesting young players :
Tim Ramholt, Reto Raffainer, Pascal Tiegermann
The key forwards remain the same, but they lost good third and fourth liners (Alex Chatelain, Vjeran Ivankovic and Marc Weber) and replaced them with lumberjacks who can barely skate like Philippe Wetzel and Christoph Roder, who fit well with Bern's dirty style of play.
They couldn't keep Sylvain Lefebvre and replaced him with Rich Brennan from Providence. This is the only move on defense.
No problem in goal as Marco Bührer is now the best in the league.
Overall, they'll still play dirty hockey and win games...
Best players :
F: Christian Dubé, Ivo Rüthemann, Patrick Juhlin, Sébastien Bordeleau
D: Rich Brennan, Martin Steinegger
G: Marco Bührer
Interesting young player :
They had the deepest offense in the league, and add Joe Thornton, Rich Nash and Nicklas Hagman, while only loosing Thierry Paterlini, so scoring shouldn't be a problem.
On the other hand, the defense is really poor. No one can make a quick breakout pass, and only Coyotes prospect Beat Forster is good defensively. Surprisingly, no new player was added.
In goal, they lost national team player Lars Weibel to Zug, and decided to add two young and talented, but unproven goalies : former Weibel back up Jonas Hiller who spent last season in Lausanne, and Thomas Bäumle who was playing for Sierre in the NLB.
Davos is a very strange team as they have everything on offense, no defense and take a gamble with their goaltenders. Maybe we'll see some 9-8 games ?
Best players :
F: Joe Thornton, Rich Nash, Nicklas Hagman, Reto Von Arx, Andres Ambühl, Peter Guggisberg
D: Beat Forster
G: Jonas Hiller
Interesting young players :
Beat Forster, Peter Guggisberg, Andres Ambühl, Jonas Hiller, Thomas Bäumle
The offense is well improved with the replacement of Paul DiPietro and Chris Tancill by Oleg Petrov and Niko Kapanen, and the addition of Gian-Marco Crameri and Patrick Della Rossa. Patrick Fischer remains a key player.
The defense is almost the same, except that the other Patrick Fischer, who struggled last year, left and is replaced by Brett Hauer from Geneva, one of the best defenseman in the league.
Improvement in goal as well, with Lars Weibel replacing Patrick Schöpf and Michael Tobler.
Overall, this team should be way better than last year, when they had to fight for a playoff berth until late in the season.
Best players :
F: Oleg Petrov, Niko Kapanen, Patrick Fischer, Gian-Marco Crameri
D: Brett Hauer, Barry Richter
G: Lars Weibel
Interesting young players :
Raffael Diaz, Corsin Casutt
Robert Petrovicky left after a disappointing season, but they added Vitaly Lakhmatov and Loïc Burkhalter from Ambrì, and Trevor Meier from Lausanne. Jeff Shantz is still here, but one might ask if Ryan Savoia is really good enough to be a foreign player in the NLA.
A lot of nice addition on defense, with hard hitter Mark Astley and offensvie D-man Patrick Sutter from Lugano, Jamie Heward from ZSC, and Valeri Shiriaev, who should get a swiss citizenship in november and not count as a foreign player anymore.
They lost two average at best goalies in Marco Streit and Mattias Lauber, and after trying to sign Cristobal Huet could hire former NHLer Corey Hirsch from Timrå, so great improvement in goal as well.
Overall, one of the two teams who improved the most, the other being Zug.
Best players :
F: Jeff Shantz, Daniel Steiner, Thibault Monnet, Loïc Burkahlter
D: Jamie Heward, Patrick Sutter, Mark Astley, Valeri Shiriaev
G: Corey Hirsch
Interesting young player :
Coach Chris McSorley wanted to have four NHL superstar on offense, but budget restrictions forced him to settle on french veteran Philippe Bozon who was supposed to play only if a other foreign player was injured. Still, there were three nice signing in Andreas Johansson, Michal Grosek and Mikael Samuelsson, but Oleg Petrov and Gian-Marco Crameri left for Zug.
Loosing Brett Hauer and Martin Höhener was a huge hit to the defense, while the only big name addition was Goran Bezina.
In goal, veteran Reto Pavoni can still get the job done, but is no longer one of the best.
I have a lot of trouble to understand where this team is going. McSorley wanted all his four foreign players to be forwards, but did nothing to improve his average defense, except signing Goran "hand of stone" Bezina. Many creative players left because they had enough of their strange and boring style, Petrov and Crameri being the last, so I'll be surprised if Johansson, Grosek and Samuelsson last longer than one season.
Best players :
F: Andreas Johansson, Michal Grosek, Mickael Samuelsson, Jan Cadieux
D: Goran Bezina
G: Reto Pavoni
Interesting young players :
Ivan Benoit, Kevin Romy
Local superstar Martin Plüss leaving for Fölunda was a huge loss. Jaroslav Hlinka left as well, and former NHLers Steve Guolla and Domenico Pittis will replace them. Senators 2004 pick Roman Wick left to play in the WHL.
The defense will be better than last year, as Timo Helbling came back from the AHL and struggling Marko Kiprusoff was replaced by James Pollock
In goal, Stars prospect Tobias Stephan face an important season as he look to rebound from and injury plagued year.
Overall, better foreign players should make for the loss of Plüss, and being more lucky than last season regarding injuries should be enough to put them back in the playoffs.
Best players :
F: Domenico Pittis, Steve Guolla, Patrick Bärtschi
D: James Pollock, Fabien Guignard, Timo Helbling
G: Tobias Stephan
Interesting young players :
Tobias Stephan, Patrick Bärtschi, Emanuel Peter, Victor Stancescu, Severin Blindenbacher, Philippe Seydoux
Some solid players added on offense (Demuth, Pont, Baldi, Leuenberger), and a superstar in Jeff Toms, but two huge losses with Loïc Burkhalter and Vitaly Lakhmatov leaving for Langnau.
Oskar Ackerström is a really needed addition to a really unspectacular defense.
A nice goalie duo with Simon Züger who became a solid number one last year, and former QJMHL player Daniel Manzato.
Overall, a very good goalie, a weak defense and a ok offense. They are not worse than last season when they barely made the playoffs, but some other teams improved more than them.
Best players :
F: Hnat Domenichelli, Jean-Guy Trudel, Jeff Toms, Corsin Camichel
D: Oskar Ackerström, Reto Kobach
G: Simon Züger
Interesting young players :
Félicien Du Bois, Daniel Manzato
Not a single addition on offense, but key veteran Patrick Howald and Gil Montandon are one year older. Wild prospect Julien Sprunger should get more ice time.
A huge addition to the defense with Richard Lintner, but otherwise no change.
Gianluca Mona is an average starting goalie.
Overall, the same team who barely made the playoffs last year, but like Ambrì, more improved teams should jump over them.
Best players :
F: Jukka Hentunen, Mickael Karlberg
D: Thomas Rhodin, Richard Lintner, Lukas Gerber
G: Gianluca Mona
Interesting young players :
Julien Sprunger, Lukas Gerber
Their most talented swiss forward, Sébastien Reuille, left for Lugano, and was replaced by hard working Marc Weber from Bern. Dixon Ward retired, and was replaced by Mikko Eloranta who should be one of the best players in the league.
On defense, Marko Tuulola is a nice addition and Patrick Fischer will look to rebound from a poor season in Zug.
In goal, they add journeyman Marco Streit and Michael Tobler, who was ranked second among european goalies by the CSB during most of the last season before falling and ending undrafted after some poor late season showing. He should be interesting to watch.
Overall, nothing exciting apart from the four foreign players.
Best players :
F: Mikko Eloranta, Dale McTavish, Stacy Roest
D: Marko Tuulola
G: Mickael Tobler
Interesting young player :
Marko Tuomainen was added to the offense, which is still lead by former Habs Andrei Bashkirov and Eric Landry.
Former Penguin Patrick Boileau should be an improvement on veteran Serge Poudrier, who left the Québec semi-pro league. Some no name players were added.
In goal, promising Jonas Hiller went back to Davos and was replaced by unspectacular Thomas Berger from Rapperswil.
Last year, Lausanne was the worst team in the league (except relegated Basel), and there's no reason to see an improvement. Choosing a hard worker like Tuomainen instead of a more talented 4th foreigner is strange, considering that Rapperswil could add Eloranta.
Best players :
F: Eric Landry, Andrei Bashkirov, Marko Tuomainen
D: Patrick Boileau
G: Thomas Berger
Interesting young players :
I didn't forget about Aebischer, Gerber and Jokinen, but I wrote this before they signed. Tomorrow I'll write something about the first three games.
Thanks a lot for this preview. I'm not as sold on Lugano, because I think they will struggle when the playoffs come along (not robust enough). The addition of Aebischer might help though, as Rüeger was always a bit of a question mark (at least compared to Bührer, Weibel and Sulander). The ZSC Lions are the team to beat IMO (though I never particularly liked them, but this has improved a bit with the return of Ramholt). I also have my doubts with the defensive stability of Davos; i never understood why they did not sign a foreign defender. 3 forwards would have been enough. Bern won't be too exciting in the regular season (less individual talent than Lugano, ZSC and maybe Davos), but they will be a force again in the POs because of their grit. But of course it is still very early to say anything about the POs because we don't know if the NHLers will still be here.
If Kloten can get (and stay) somewhat healthy, I expect them to finish a bit higher than on your list. But the missing depth is their problem, and therefore injuries hurt them a lot.
I agree with you about Lugano, but it was a prediction on the regular season standing. They may have a lack of size, but even their small players like Conne or Fuchs are not afraid to take a hit to make a play, and the willingness to take a hit is a quality I take any day over the willingness to give a hit. About Davos, I was in Lausanne yesterday and their defense is just awful.
Austrian "Erste Bank" Hockey League
3 Rounds are played in Austria:
ECS : KAC 1:4
VSV : HCI 2:4
G99 : VIC 5:6 OT
HCI : ECS 3:2 PEN
VIC : VSV 2:3 PEN
BWL : KAC 4:0
HCI : BWL 4:1
VSV : G99 2:3
ECS : VIC 2:4
ECS: EC Salzburg
HCI: "Tiroler Wasserkraft Innsbruck
BWL: Blackwings Linz
VIC: Vienna Capitals
G99: Graz 99ers
KAC: Klagenfurter AC
VSV: Villacher SV
first 4 teams will play playoffs
n1 and 2 in this list are DEFENDERS !!! :blush:
It looks like this thread don't get much attention.
Would anyone be interested in some updates about the NLA ? I'd like to write some, but I don't want to waste my time if nobody cares.
I would be most appreciative of your efforts if you could provide updates on the NLA. I'm a fan of Randy Robitaille and Joe Thornton and would love to read anything you care to share about ZSC or Davos and those two players performances in particular.
It's difficult for me and other non-German readers to keep up since the NLA team websites are all in German and all I have to help me is a frequently useless AltaVista.com language translator!
Ok, here I go !! I could only attend two games (Lausanne-Davos and Bern-Lugano), and watch two on TV (Fribourg-Lausanne and Lugano-Ambrì), but I watched as much highlights as I could, and I check each team's line up after every game, so I think I can provide a good overview for every team.
Here's the standings so far (all teams have 7 games played, except Kloten and Geneva who have 8) :
1. ZSC 10
2. Geneva 10
3. Lugano 9
4. Ambrì 9
5. Rapperswil 8
6. Davos 7
7. Bern 7
8. Lausanne 7
9. Zug 6
10. Langnau 5
11. Kloten 5
12. Fribourg 3
And here's how every team is doing (records are given in the european W-T-L format, not in the NHL W-L-T format) :
ZSC : 5-0-2 record, 26-19 goals
They haven't disappointed so far, loosing only two away games to Lugano and Rapperswil, and getting an impressive 5-4 win at home over Davos after coming back from a 3-0 deficit.
Randy Robitaille was on fire, scoring 1 goal and 4 assists in the first two games, but he got injured and hadn't played since. He's expected to return soon. Jan Alston is the scoring leader with 2 goals and 7 assists, and Robert Petrovicky is looking good so far with 3 goals and 4 assists. Veteran Claudio Micheli is a pleasant surprise, getting 5 points.
Montréal's late round pick Mark Streit has already 5 points, including 4 goals, but Flames prospect Tim Rahmolt has been a little disappointing with just 1 goal so far. He started the season on the third pair with hard hitting Edgar Salis (ZSC uses 8 defensemen), but since Mattias Seger got injured, coach Christian Weber changed the pairing and now uses Ramholt as a seventh defenseman.
Geneva : 5-0-3, 25-23
Before the season started, I couldn't figure this team out, and I still can't. They started the season with two shutout wins against Zug and Langnau, then allowed 12 goals in two losses (5-4 against Fribourg and 7-2 against Ambrì), then responded by blanking Lugano. After that, they alternated high scoring and low scoring games.
Andreas Johansson is doing well with 7 points, but surprisingly, their leadings scorers are veterans Philippe Bozon and Igor Fedulov with 11 and 10 points respectively. Michal Grosek has only 4 points, but his physical play and taunting haven't gone unnoticed as he's leading the league with 48 penalty minutes.
Lugano : 4-1-2, 20-13
After blowing a 2-0 lead in their first game against Davos, Lugano played well, except in a 2-0 loss against Geneva.
So far they have been unlucky regarding injuries as four regular players are out, which lead to youngsters Roman Botta and Mattia Bianchi earning ice time and doing well. Mike Maneluk will be the next as he's scheduled to have surgery this week and will miss one month, so Lugano is looking for an NHL player who should have been Brad Richards, but at the last moment he decided to stay in Florida. They are now trying to sign Saku Koivu.
Maneluk's injury forced coach Larry Huras to use him as a 13th forward, which, added to Ville Peltonen slow start, explains Lugano's low offensive numbers. However, Peltonen picked it up in the last two games, scoring his first goal and taking over the team's scoring lead from Sandy Jeannin. Benoit Gratton, with only 1 goal and two assists so far, is a disappointement. He's been mainly use to create space for Adrian Wichser and win key face offs, but more is expected from him.
On defense, they are walking on a tight rope as they only have seven defensemen, including one who is not an NLA-caliber player. They currently play with only six, due to Noël Guyaz's injury. Julien Vauclair is an other disappointment, as he got only 1 assist so far, despite being paired with Petteri Nummelin.
Coach Larry Huras was very fair to goalie Ronnie Rüeger, declaring him the starting goalie until he looses the job, despite the signing of David Aebischer. Rüeger responded well to the challenge as he's the best goalie in the league so far, limiting Aebischer to one start were he almost got a shutout, allowing only one goal in the 59th minute. One can say that David Aebischer is a big upgrade in goal, but not the way it was expected.
Ambrì : 4-1-2, 23-18
Ambrì is a pleasant surprise, mainly thanks to their foreign players who are the best quartet in the league so far. Hnat Domenichelli and Jean-Guy Trudel each have 14 points while playing on the first line, and Jeff Toms provides the offense for the second line with 12 points. He's the only player in the league with at least one goal in every game he played. Kim Johnsson was hired to replace the injured Oskar Äckerström and is leading the defense with 4 points in 4 games.
Ambrì's main problem is the lack of scoring from their swiss player, as their best forward after Domenichelli, Trudel and Toms, Corsin Camichel, has only 1 goal and 2 assists. First line center Michael Liniger has 1 goal, despite playing with two 2pts per game wingers. However, all their forwards can provide hard work and defensive game, thus allowing Ambrì to roll 4 lines and rest their scorers. The big question is how long can they play like this.
As expected, Simon Züger was the starting goalie at the beginning of the season, but after the third game, Carolina prospect Daniel Manzato took over and is doing well.
Rapperswil : 4-0-3, 23-19
An other pleasant surprise. They played some impressive games, including home wins against Davos and ZSC, and a 7-3 win in Kloten. Mikko Eloranta started the season the way he played in the world cup, and may well be the best player in the league so far. He's leading the league in scoring with 5 goals and 9 assists. His linemates Stacy Roest and Thomas Walser have 11 and 7 points respectively. Dale McTavish provides the offense for the second line with 7 points.
On defense, Marko Tuulola and veteran Marco Bayer are a solid pair, with Tuulola providing some offense with 4 points. An other player doing well is Cyril Geyer with 4 points in 7 games.
Marco Streit was the number one goalie when the season started, but Michael Tobler took the job away from him. A good season may help him to get drafted next year.
Davos : 3-1-3, 30-23
After starting the season with a 3-2 win against Lugano, Davos got only one point in two away game against Rapperswil and Lausanne. Joe Thornton and Rick Nash's motivation were questionned after this game, and the next game didn't help in that regard as they hit rock bottom in a 5-1 home loss against Kloten, with Thornton and Nash getting a -4 rating. Davos followed that game with a 5-4 loss aginst ZSC, a game in which they blew a 3-0 lead.
Joe Thornton's frustration led him to compare to NLA to an amateur league with ECHL-level, but after some reactions, including one by Kloten's Olli Jokinen, he said his comments were taken out of context and that he didn't mean "amateur", but "not as professionnal as the NHL". Davos' coach Arno Del Curto then had a discussion with Thornton and Nash to tell them what he expected from them. He placed Thornton on the wing and put unspectacular but defensively reliable Sandro Rizzi at center, thus freeing Thornton from most of his defensive responsibilities. The result was two impressive wins for Davos, 8-1 in Fribourg and 8-2 at home against Langnau, with Joe (3 goals and 9 assists so far) and Rick (5G 5A) finally showing what they can do. Time will tell if Davos is back on track, or if it is just a flash in the pan.
Thornton and Nash weren't the only players to disappoint, as former NHLers Reto Von Arx (1G 5A) and Michel Riesen (1G 2A) didn't provide the offense they are expected to. On the other hand, Jozef Mahra (3G 3A) and Nicklas Hagman (2G 3A) led a very good two way third line, and Andres Ambühl (1G 5A) started the season like he ended the last one (he was one of the best swiss player during the world championship), despite being constantly moved from one line to another. But the biggest satisfaction in Davos is probably the performance of the fourth line (which could be a second line on many other teams), with Claudio Neff getting 6 assists and Washington prospect Peter Guggisberg scoring 3 goals and 2 assists, and showing an amazing scoring touch for a 19 year old player.
As expected, Davos' defense is not playing great, as none of their defenseman can make a quick breakout pass, and the coverage is really worrying. Only Jan Von Arx get some power play time, as Mahra and Hagman play the point on the first power play unit, and Reto Von Arx is paired with his brother on the second unit.
Goaltending is still a question mark. Jonas Hiller holds on the starting job, despite being pulled from the Kloten game after the second period, giving Thomas Bäumle his first NLA minutes. Bäumle kept the starting Job for the next game, but was also pulled after the second period after allowing all 5 goals during the ZSC comeback win.
I'll add the six remaining teams later today.
Thanks for the Swiss NLA update, stv11. It's much appreciated!
Can you answer a related question for me? According to your report, Joe Thornton and Rick Nash are not off to an impressive start, at least not what we would have expected of the two esteemed NHLers. Also, Robitaille's repeated absences from the lineup due to injuries must be disappointing to the coaching staff in Zurich. What is the general attitude of the Swiss fans toward these NHL players who have chosen to play in the NLA/NLB? Obviously the Davos fans cannot be too happy with Thornton's comments and poor attitude.
Bern : 3-1-3, 19-17
Things started well for Bern with wins against Kloten and Fribourg, but after that they went winless in 4 games, loosing in Ambrì, in Lausanne and at home to Lugano, and drawing at home against Zug. The streak ended with a 3-2 win in Geneva, but other troubles may be ahead with tough games against Davos and ZSC.
Bern's main problem may be their obsession to go after players who fit their gritty (or even dirty, if you don't care about me being politically correct) style of play. They dropped three capable third and fourth liners, and replaced them by big but untalented players. Their defense is physical, but also lack talent and replacing Sylvain Lefebvre by Rich Brennan didn't help as they're very vulnerable to agressive forechecking.
Sébastien Bordeleau, despite having 3 goals and 3 assists, and André Rötheli (4 assists) don't play very well, bringing the 2nd and 3rd line down with them. Only Christian Dubé (3G 5A) and Ivo Rüthemann (3G 4A) could provide a consistent offensive effort so far.
Lausanne : 3-1-3, 27-27
Lausanne's season started like a dream, with an away win against big rival Fribourg, an home win against Zug and a well deserved tie against Davos. They lost their 4th game in Langnau, but rebounded with a convincing 5-2 win over Bern which gave them a surprisingly good 3-1-1 record, and thus despite poor goaltending from Thomas Berger. However, the dream seems over as Lausanne lost its last two games, 5-1 at ZSC and 6-5 at home to Geneva, their other big rival. Their next games will be very important, as it will show if their season start was a fluke or if we should count them as a candidate for a playoff spot.
One of the main reason for Lausanne overachieving is the performance of Eric Landry, who so far is one of the best player in the league with 7 goals and 5 assists. Gerd Zenhäusern, who has been Lausanne best swiss player for many seasons, is also playing very well as he now has 3 goals and 7 assists. Andrei Bashkirov started the season slowly, but he picked it up lately and now has 3 goals and 4 assits. As expected, Marko Tuomainen doesn't score a lot (3G 2A), but provides hard work when needed. Patrick Boileau leads the defense with 4 goals and 3 assists.
An other positive news is the great play from 20 year olds Laurent Emery and Florian Conz. Conz is playing on the first line with Landry and Zenhäusern where he could get 5 assists, while Emery, paired with Boileau, is still scoreless but provides solid defensive performances.
Zug : 2-2-3, 24-26
After starting the season with two losses, Zug went undefeated in four games before blowing a 2-0 lead against Ambrì. Zug is clearly disappointing so far, and with games against Lugano and ZSC on their schedule, the future doesn't look bright.
A few players are doing well, like Oleg Petrov (8G 3A), Niko Kapanen (4G 5A) and Patrick Della Rossa (1G 5A, pretty good when you consider that he got only 12 points last season). 20 year old Corsin Casutt has 2 goals and 2 assists so far, despite playing only on the 3rd and 4th lines.
But those few can't compensate for the disappointing performances of Gian-Marco Crameri (scoreless), Patrick Fischer (1G 2A) and goalie Lars Weibel. Those three should be key players, and their future performances will be decisive for Zug.
Langnau : 2-1-4, 16-25
An other team who so far has failed to meet high expectations. Their only wins came in home games against Lausanne and Rapperswil. Their next home games against Ambrì and Fribourg will be very important.
Thibault Monnet, Daniel Steiner and Jeff Shantz lead the team with 8 points, and have been the only guys playing to their potential. Loïc Burkahlter and Vitaly Lakhmatov have not been able to perform as well as last season with Ambrì, and Ryan Savoia is invisible. No defenseman could help the offense as Patrick Sutter and Valeri Shiriaev both have only 3 assists so far. Martin Gerber is also playing way below his usual value.
An important event for Langnau will happend in the near future, as Valeri Shiriaev will get his swiss citizenship, thus allowing coach Jim Koleff to dress another foreign player. It remains to be seen if Koleff will try to create a competition between Gerber and Corey Hirsch, release Gerber and go on with Hirsch, or try something else.
Kloten : 2-1-4, 22-27
Before the season started, I wrote that avoiding injuries should put Kloten back in a playoff position. This couldn't be done as many key players missed the start of the season. Patrick Bärtschi hasn't skated yet, and Steve Guolla missed 7 games, forcing Kloten to hire Olli Jokinen. Philippe Seydoux could only play in 4 games, and Lukas Baumgartner and Roger Rieder both missed game due to illness. Goalie Tobias Stephan, who performed well so far, was pulled from the last game due to a mysterious illness. It looks serious as Kloten is looking for another goaltender.
Despite all these bad news, the worst came in the second game of the season when Fabien Guignard, who was Kloten's best defenseman last season, suffered a potential career ending injury.
On the ice, the top two lines have performed well. Kimmo Rintanen (5G 5A) and Olli Jokinen (6G 1A), with the help of Mark Reichert's physical play, formed a good first line. Unfortunately, Jokinen has now left Kloten as Guolla is back from his injury. The second line of Sven Lindemann (7pts), Domenic Pittis (7pts) and 20 year old Romano Lemm (5pts, 2 shy of his career high) provides the rest of the offense. On defense, Severin Blinderbacher has 1 goal and 4 assists, and Philippe Seydoux is doing well with 3 assists in 4 games since coming back from his injury. Timo Helbling has only one goal but provides good physical play. He leads the team with 32 penalty minutes.
As usual, Kloten responded to the lack of regular players by putting several juniors in their line up. One of them is 17 year old Juraj Simek, who has played in 6 games on the 3rd and 4th lines, and could be an interessant draft candidate.
Fribourg : 1-1-6, 14-32
Fribourg got a nightmare of a season start by loosing to both their archrivals, 4-2 at home against Lausanne and 5-0 in Bern. They won their third game against Geneva, but couldn't repeat this performance.
Fribourg expected a lot from its foreign quartet, but they have been disappointing so far. Michael Karlberg, who led the league in assists last season, has 2 goals and 2 assists so far, Jukka Hentunen has only 2 assists and Richard Lintner 1 goal and 2 assists. Defenseman Thomas Rodin escape the critic with 1 goal and 3 assists. Veteran Patrick Howald and Gilles Montandon have just one goal between them, with Montandon missing 4 games due to injury. Goalie Gianluca Mona has been terrible.
National team player Valentin Wirz (1G 6A) and Minnesota 4th round pick Julien Sprunger (3G, started the season on the 4th line, but now get top lines ice time) are the only bright spots.
The general attitude of the fans is not bad, as most NHL players have a positive attitude (Jokinen, Hagman, Gelinas...). Nash is also given the benefit of the doubt, as he's probably a victim of Thornton's attitude.
Thornton is the only player provoking such reaction. During Davos' poor streak, many fans and even newspapers made fun of the team in general, and of course of Joe, too, claiming he was on holiday. I saw Davos play in Lausanne, and Thornton made no effort, despite his obvious superior skills. I can easily imagine that he was no different in the others games.
But judging by Davos' last two game (8-1 and 8-2 wins with Thornton being the top scorer in both game), I guess Joe had a discussion with Coach Arno Del Curto where they decided to put him on the wing to free him from most of the defensive work, in exchange of a better attitude and work ethic.
Excellent read, I for one sure appreciate the NLA updates! :)
A little update after last week's games. Each teams played 3 times. I could attend two more games (Fribourg-Lugano and Lausanne-Kloten).
1. Ambrì 15
2. Lugano 14
3. ZSC 14
4. Rapperswil 12
5. Davos 11
6. Geneva 10
7. Kloten 9
8. Zug 8
9. Bern 8
10. Langnau 10
11. Lausanne 7
12. Fribourg 6
(10 games for each teams, except Geneva and Kloten with 11)
Ambrì : 7-1-2 record, 35-21 goals (3-0-0, 12-3 since last update)
Ambrì had a perfect week, thus despite loosing Kim Johnsson to a minor injury, with two away wins (3-0 in Langnau and 5-1 in Davos), and a 4-2 home win against Rapperswil, a game in which both team were unexpectedly playing to take the league lead.
Hnat Domenichelli, Jean-Guy Trudel (both 6G 15A) and Jeff Toms (10G 8A) are 1-2-3 in the league scoring race. Domenichelli and Trudel are still playing on the first line with center Michael Liniger, while Toms centers the second line with hard working Alain Demuth and talented Corsin Camichel on his wings, but most of their points came on the power-play, where they play together. Ambrì's swiss players could finally light the lamp, but nothing to get excited about as the 4th and 5th best scorers have only 5 points.
Carolina prospect Daniel Manzato is still the starting goalie, and his play ranks him in the top 3 in the league.
Lugano : 6-2-2, 30-20 (2-1-0, 10-6)
Lugano made the minimum last week with home wins against Zug (2-1) and Lausanne (3-1), two games they should have easily won but in which they failed to convert many scoring opportunities, and a 5-5 tie in Fribourg, mainly due to David Aebischer's poor goaltending.
Lugano had two injured players coming back, and Alex Tanguay was hired to replace Mike Maneluk who had surgery last week and is out for 6 week. Added to Ville Peltonen's return to top shape (he scored 2 goals against Fribourg and all 3 against Lausanne), Lugano will probably stay on top of the standing for long.
Benoit Gratton is still used to create space for Adrian Wichser (which lead to many good scoring opportunities, but Wichser often fail to score after having done the most difficult part), but he also finally provides some offense with 2 points last week.
In goal, Ronnie Rüeger is still a clear number one after good games against Zug and Lausanne, while Aebischer was poor in Fribourg, were he gave a point to his hometown team in a 5-5 tie by allowing 4 soft goals, thus proving that a butterfly goalie's weakness are too much to overcome for a team who lacks physical players.
ZSC : 7-0-3, 36-26 (2-0-1, 10-7)
ZSC's week didn't start well, with a 4-3 OT win against Geneva, a game in which they blew a 3-0 lead, and a 4-1 defeat in Zug, but ended with an impressive 5-0 home win against Bern.
Randy Robitaille is still out, and his place in the line up was taken by Atlanta's Andy Sutton, originally hired to play for ZSC's farm team. Jan Alston (4G 8A) and Robert Petrovicky (5G 5A) are still providing most of the offense, and 22 year old Sven Helfenstein (4G 3A) is finally showing the talent which made him a Rangers' draft pick. He's playing with Alston and international Thierry Paterlini on the first line, while Petrovicky is on the second line with Tony Virta and Reto Stirnimann.
The defense is lead by Mark Streit (4G 2A), while Flames prospect Tim Ramholt (1G) is on the third pair and play on the power play, mainly thanks to Martin Höhener and Mattias Seger being injured.
Rapperswil : 6-0-4, 34-26 (2-0-1, 11-7)
Rapperswil won home games against Lausanne (6-3) and Geneva (3-0) before loosing 4-2 in Ambrì.
Mikko Eloranta (7G 11A) and Stacey Roest (7G 10A) are the only players able to keep pace with Ambrì's trio. They play together on the first line, with Thomas Walser helping them nicely with 6 goals and 4 assists. Dale McTavish leads the second line with 4 goals and 7 assists.
On defense, Marko Tuulola and Cyril Geyer are still doing well with 7 and 6 points repectively, while Patrick Fischer seems to be able to rebound from his poor play from last season, having already matched his 4 assists total.
In goal, Marco Streit and Michael Tobler are now sharing their playing time.
Davos : 5-1-4, 38-30 (2-0-1, 8-7)
After closing last week with 8-1 and 8-2 wins, Davos started this one with a 2-1 win over Bern, with Joe Thornton being held scoreless for the first time this season, and an impressive 5-1 win in Geneva, but their hot streak came to an end with a 5-1 home loss against Ambrì.
Putting Sandro Rizzi at center between Thornton and Nash brought defensive stability to the first line, with Thornton and Nash leading the team with 14pts (3G) and 12pts (7G) respectively. Nicklas Hagman (3G 5A) and Jozef Marha (3G 7A) are still providing solid two-way play, in addition to helping Michel Riesen offensive numbers (3G 4A). They were Davos' best line last week. Reto Von Arx (only 1G last week) is still struggling, bringing down Andres Ambühl (scoreless last week) with him. The fourth line is still doing well with Caps prospect Peter Guggisberg having 4 goals and 2 assists so far.
Nothing new on defense, with Jan Von Arx and Beat Forster being the only players appearing on the scoring list. Jonas Hiller is still the starting goalie, and he's average at best.
Geneva : 5-0-6, 29-35 (0-0-3, 4-12)
Terrible week for Geneva. They came back from a 3-0 deficit against ZSC, only to loose the game in overtime. In this game, ZSC's first goal should have been disallowed (the puck hit the crossbar, but never crossed the goal line), which leads to coach Chris McSorley spending as usual more time blaming officiating than focusing on his team. Their week ended with a 5-1 home loss to Davos, and a 3-0 loss in Rapperswil.
Philippe Bozon still leads the team with 3 goals and 10 assists, but is now injured. Igor Fedulov has 10 points while playing only on the third line, and Andreas Johansson is limited to 9 points. Michal Grosek has only 5 points so far, with 58 penalty minutes as well.
I'll add the other teams tomorrow.
Kloten : 4-1-6, 31-35 (2-0-1, 9-8)
Kloten started the week poorly with a 5-2 home loss against Fribourg. This loss led to coach Vladimir Jursinov being replaced by Myrek Hybler. Jursinov will remains in the organisation as a junior coach until the end of the season. This change paid up as they won their next two games, 3-2 at home against Zug and 4-1 in Lausanne.
Kloten still miss a lot of injured players, including Steve Guolla who could play in only two games before being injured again. They are looking for an NHL player to replace him, most likely Patrice Brisebois. Goalie Tobias Stephan's illness wasn't as serious as it looked, as he didn't miss any game.
Kimmo Rintanen is the top scorer with 9 goals and 6 assists. He's playing on a line with Domenic Pittis (2G 6A) and 19 years old Viktor Stancescu (2G). The second line is lead by 20 year old Romano Lemm, who has 7 points, already matching his career high. On defense, James Pollock (1G 4) and Philippe Seydoux (4A) are the first pair, but Kloten's best defensman so far is probably Timo Helbling (1G 2A), who brings a good physical presence. He's paired with Severin Blindenbacher, who helps the offense well with 1 goal and 4 assists so far.
Zug : 3-2-5, 31-32 (1-0-2, 7-6)
Two away losses for Zug, 2-1 in Lugano and 3-2 in Kloten, but an impressive 4-1 home win against ZSC.
Oleg Petrov was limited to one assist and Niko Kapanen to two assists, bringing their totals to 12 and 11 points. Patrick Della Rossa and Corsin Casutt couldn't confirm their hot start. However, Zug's disappoining players finally started to show what they can do. Patrick Fischer has now 3 goals and 3 assists, Gian-Marco Crameri, who was scoreless until last week, got his first goal and added two assists, and defensman Brett Hauer and goalie Lars Weibel are now playing better.
Bern : 3-2-5, 21-25 (0-1-2, 2-8)
Bern was the first team to held Joe Thornton scoreless, but was still defeated 2-1 by Davos. They then draw 1-1 at home against Langnau in a terrible game, and didn't got a chance against ZSC, loosing 5-0.
After Dany Brière, they tried another NHL player with Chris Clark, and like Brière, he went scoreless. His 3 games contract is now over and he will be replaced by another NHLer.
Christian Dubé (4G 5A) and Ivo Rüthemann (3G 6A) still are Bern's only consistent players. Coach Alan Haworth doesn't seem able to find good line combination, and another bad game could cost him his job.
Langnau : 3-2-5, 24-30 (1-1-1, 8-5)
After a 3-0 home loss against Ambrì and 1-1 tie in Bern, Langnau's management sent an ultimatum to coach Jim Koleff, asking him to win the next game or leave the team. Langnau beat Fribourg 7-1, but Koleff's job is still in jeopardy as they play Lugano twice next week.
There's no constant effort by any offensive player, as leading scorers Jeff Shantz, Daniel Steiner and Thibault Monnet failed to impress last week. Martin Gerber is OK, but he isn't stealing games the way he was supposed to.
Valeri Shiriaev didn't get his swiss citizenship yet, but it didn't stop Langnau from signing Buffalo's Tim Connolly, which means that goalie Corey Hirsch will remains an healthy scratch.
Lausanne : 3-1-6, 32-40 (0-0-3, 5-13)
Lausanne's good start proved to be a fluke, as their loosing streak is now 5 games long, with an home and home series against league leader Ambrì on the schedule. Last week, they were defeated 6-3 by Rapperswil, 3-1 by Lugano with the score being close mainly thanks to Lugano's failiure to convert many scoring opportunities, and 4-1 in a must win home game against Kloten in which they were non-existant.
Eric Landry is unable to maintain is early season pace, as he got only one goal last week. Andrei Bashkirov and Marko Tuomainen failed to impress as well, and Gerd Zenhaüsern is Lausanne's most consistent player so far.
The only good news is that youngsters Laurent Emery and Florian Conz are still doing well.
Fribourg : 2-2-6, 25-46 (1-1-1, 11-14)
Fribourg's week started well with a 5-2 win in Kloten, a game in which their foreign players finally started to score, with Jukka Hentunen getting one goal and 3 assists, and Mickael Karlberg scoring once, adding 2 assists. They then tied Lugano 5-5, mainly thanks to David Aebischer's poor goaltending, a game in which Karlberg (4A) and Hentunen (1G 1A) were key players. Unfortunately for them, they showed why they are last in the standings in their last game, loosing 7-1 in Langnau.
1 Graz 99ers ......... 9 points
4. Linz ........... 8 points
5. VSV .......... 6 points
6. Vienna ........ 6 points
7. Salzburg ...... 2 points
1. jason krog .... vsv ... 9 points ( 5 G + 4 A )
2. daniel welser .... kac ... 9 ( 4 + 5 )
3. dieter kalt .... vienna ... 8 ( 5 + 3 )
4. david chyzowski .... vienna ... 8 ( 4 + 4 )
5. anthony iob .... kac .... 8 ( 3 + 5 )
jackson penney .... vsv ... 8 ( 3 + 5 )
kent salfi .... linz ... 8 ( 3 + 5 )
conny strömberg .... 99ers ... 8 ( 3 + 5 )
A little NLA update. I may have a hard time writing much at once, because I'm no longer unemployed. Anyway, I'll do my best to post regular updates.
Standing (14 games, except Kloten and ZSC who have played 13 games)
1. Lugano 21
2. Ambrì 19
3. ZSC 16
4. Davos 16
5. Rapperswil 16
6. Bern 12
7. Geneva 12
8. Fribourg 12
9. Kloten 11
10. Zug 11
11. Langnau 11
12. Lausanne 9
Lugano : 9-3-2, 47-27 (3-1-0, 17-7 since last update)
Lugano is on an impressive 3 games winning streak, 7-1 against Langnau, 3-2 in Ambrì and 5-2 against Davos.
They got most of their injured players back, and most early season disappointments are now forgotten. Ville Peltonen leads the team with 7 goals and 10 assists, and Benoit Gratton starts to produce (4G 4A) and is still bringing a good physical presence as he's now second in the league with 59 penalty minutes, 25 of them coming against Davos, in a fight against Joe Thornton. The only bad news is that Julien Vauclair is still average at best.
David Aebischer got the start against Davos, but Ronnie Rüeger is still holding on the starting job.
Ambrì : 9-1-4, 46-33 (2-0-2, 11-12)
Ambrì went 9-1-0 after loosing their first 2 games, but the streak is now over as they lost 6-2 against ZSC and 3-2 against Lugano.
They lost Jeff Toms (10G 9A in 11 games) to an injury, and although some swiss players showed up (Benoit Pont has 9pts and Corsin Camichel 8), their lack of secondary scoring killed them.
Hnat Domenichelli (10G 16A) and Jean-Guy Trudel (7G 18A) are still one of the hottest duo in the league, and Daniel Manzato is keeping up with his impressive goaltending and may well move up in Carolina's prospect depth chart.
ZSC : 8-0-5, 46-36 (1-0-2, 10-10)
ZSC lost twice in an home and home serie against Fribourg before nicely rebounding in snapping Ambrì's unbeaten streak.
Randy Robitaille is back in the line up and has now 11pts in 5 games. His chemistry with Robert Petrovicky, who leads the team with 6 goals and 9 assists, is impressive. Defenseman Mark Streit has a nice 6 goals total, along with 3 assists. Andy Sutton, originally hired to play with ZSC's farm team, pushed Tony Virta out of the lineup thanks to his great defensive play. In goal, Ari Sulander is good, but not as impressive as Rüeger and Manzato.
But the best news in Zürich are the performances of the team's many young players. Sven Helfenstein, Pascal Tiegermann, Reto Raffainer and Andri Stoffel are doing very well, while some farm team players are on the brink of pushing veterans Michel Zeiter and Claudio Micheli out of the team.
Davos : 7-2-5, 50-37 (2-1-1, 12-7)
Davos finally played some good defensive games, with 1-1 and 8-1 scores against Zug (twice), and a 1-0 win against Rapperswil, but they lost their last game 5-2 in Lugano, a game in which Joe Thornton went in a fight and got a game misconduct. He will be suspended next tuesday, but the good news is that Davos is hosting struggling Lausanne and probably won't need him to win.
The lines are constantly changing and the coach put Thornton back at center. He and Nash are now playing with Fabian Sutter. Thornton-Nash and Hagman-Marha are the only pairs playing together since the start of the season.
Peter Guggisberg is still impressive and now has 7 goals, despite always playing on the 4th line with differents linemates. Goalie Jonas Hiller is improving nicely.
I won't write anything more, because the site providing the stats is currently down. I'll add the remaining teams tomorrow.
Rapperswil : 8-0-6, 48-36 (2-0-2, 14-10)
Rapperswil is able to hold its early season pace. They split their home and home serie against Bern (6-2 and 2-7), crushed Langnau 6-0 and lost 1-0 in Davos in a great goaltending showdown.
Stacy Roest (10G 16A) and Mikko Eloranta (9G 14A) are among the league's top scorers, and their linemate Thomas Walser keeps his nice scoring pace with 7G and 6A so far. Dale McTavish single-handly carries the second line with 6G and 11A. Defensemen Marko Tuulola (8 pts in 11 games) and Cyril Geyer (10pts) help the offense well, while veteran Marco Bayer is solid defensively. In goal, Marco Streit is now holding on the starting job.
With an easy schedule ahead, they should be able to stay in the first half of the standing for some times.
Bern : 5-2-7, 34-35 (2-0-2, 12-10)
After welcoming Dany Heatley and Daniel Brière in the lineup, the lost 6-2 against Rapperswil, before beating them 7-2 at home. Then they beat Kloten 3-0, a game in which Heatley and Brière should have played with Yves Sarault, but he got injured during the warm up and Bern's coach put defenseman Rich Brennan on Brière's left. What seemed to be a strange move turned into a great idea as Brennan scored twice. Bern's serie of bad game seemed over, but they lost 2-1 in Fribourg the following day.
Heatly (2G 4A in 4 games) and Brière (3G 5A in 6 games), along with the improving play of centers Sébastien Bordeleau and André Rötheli, means that Bern can finally field three dangerous scoring lines, even if their number one center, Christian Dubé (12 pts in 11 games) is currently serving a 6 games suspension for slashing Langnau's Jeff Shantz in the head. Ivo Rüthemann is still Bern's leading scorer with 13 points.
Their defense is not changing, still physical (this played a major part in their shutout win against Kloten), but untalented, but 20 year old Philipe Furrer has shown some improvement.
Like ZSC's Ari Sulander, Marco Bürher is playing well in goal, but is below the hottest goalies in the league.
Geneva : 6-0-8, 40-45 (1-0-3, 12-12)
They extended their loosing streak to 4 games with a 3-0 loss in Rapperswil and 3-2 home loss to Kloten. Then they beat Zug 7-4 and lost 3-2 in Langnau. Coach Chris McSorley constantly try new line combinations, but can't find a way to end this cold streak.
Martin Samuelsson, who was disappointing with only 6 pts in 12 games, left the team and was replaced by Derek Armstrong, who got 4 assists in his first game against Zug, and added a goal the next day. Philippe Bozon is still the leading scorer with 16 pts, 10 of them being 2nd assists, mostly earned by winning battles in the corner. Their best scorer, Jan Cadieux, only has 6 goals, and Michal Grosek is not impressive offensively (8pts) but still leads the league in penalty minutes with 74. Veteran goalie Reto Pavoni seems to play worse every year.
Fribourg : 5-2-7, 38-56 (3-0-1, 13-10)
Fribourg was on an impressive 3 games winning streak, twice against ZSC and against Bern, before unexpectedly loosing to Lausanne.
Their foreign player's slow start is a thing of the past. Jukka Hentunen has 8 goals and 8 assists, and Michael Karlberg has 3 goals and 13 assists. Their linemate Benny Plüss (Martin's brother) is having a nice season so far, with 4 goals and 4 assists. National team player Valentin Wirz leads the second line with 6 goals and 7 assists.
On defense, Thomas Rhodin is doing well with 8 points and good defensive showings, but Richard Lintner is a disappointment as he only has 1 goal and 4 assists so far. Goalie Gianluca Mona has some good games, but is too often a weak point.
Kloten : 5-1-7, 34-40 (1-0-1, 3-5)
Kloten won 3-2 in Geneva before loosing 3-0 in Bern. Kimmo Rintanen is again the player he was when he arrived in Kloten. He leads the team with 10 goals and 7 assists, and his stickhandling is still as impressive. However, his linemate Domenic Pittis has only 9 points, and is too often in the penalty box (51 minutes, 3rd in the league). Their young players are doing well, especially Romano Lemm (8pts, his previous career best was 7), defensemen Philippe Seydoux and Severin Blindenbacher, and goalie Tobias Stephan, but are not consistent enough to put Kloten higher in the standings. Patrice Brisebois came to help the defense, but he's been average in his first two games.
Zug : 4-3-7, 41-50 (1-1-2, 10-18)
After a great game against Davos (1-1), Zug's defense and goalie Lars Weibel hit rock bottom, loosing 8-1 in Davos and 7-4 in Geneva. They rebounded with a 4-2 win against Lausanne.
Niko Kapanen, Brett Hauer, Barry Richter and Patrick Fischer are currently the only players doing ok, but there are some major disappointments, including Oleg Petrov, who had 11 points in his first 7 games, but could only add 3 in the next 7 games.
Langnau : 4-3-7, 30-47 (1-1-2, 6-17)
Despite hiring Tim Connolly and Fernando Pisani, Langnau can't get anything going right. They draw 2-2 at home against Lugano in Connolly's first game, in which he showed his great stickhandling skills, but then lost 7-1 in Lugano and 6-0 in Rapperswil, before beating Geneva 3-2 in Pisani's first game.
Jeff Shantz (7G 6A) and Thibault Monnet (3G 8A) are their only consistent players, but former Ambrì duo Loïc Burkahlter and Vitaly Lakhmatov, hired with great expectations, both only have 6 points. Offensive defenseman Patrick Sutter, who came from Lugano, also has only 6 points. Martin Gerber is way below his usual value.
Lausanne : 4-1-9, 42-54 (1-0-3, 10-14)
After an unbelievable 3-1-1 start, Lausanne had an 8 games loosing streak before beating archrival Fribourg 4-2 at home.
Eric Landry (11G 8A) is among the league leaders, Gerd Zenhäusern (4G 10A) is among the best swiss scorers, Patrick Boileau (4G 9A) leads the defense, Oliver Kamber (2G 10A) is doing surprisingly well, and 20 year old Florian Conz (1G 8A) is another good news, but after them, nobody can get any offensive production, even Andrei Bashkirov (8pts) and Marko Tuomainen (7pts). Their best goal scorers after Landry have only found the net 4 times.
On defense, they are playing way too soft and goalie Thomas Berger won't save them.
Sorry for not updating regulary this thread, but I didn't have much free time lately. I'll use the break in the league schedule to write a little more about every teams.
NLA standings (20 games, except Kloten and ZSC with 19)
1. Lugano 30
2. Ambrì 26
3. Davos 25
4. ZSC 23
5. Rapperswil 22
6. Geneva 21
7. Zug 19
8. Bern 16
9. Langnau 16
10. Fribourg 16
11. Kloten 15
12. Lausanne 9
Lugano : 13-4-3 record, 71-45 goals (4-1-1 since last update)
Lugano is solidely topping the standing. They tied the league record for the longest home win streak to start a season with 10, and are able to play .500 hockey on the road. Despite loosing their 3rd game of the season 5-2 in Zug, they could get some impressive results, including a 3-3 tie at ZSC after trailling 3-0, a convincing 4-1 home win against Bern, and 4-3 win in Rapperswil thanks to Petteri Nummelin goals 12 secondes from time which prevented their host from also starting the season with 10 home wins.
Alex Tanguay helped the offense during 5 games in which he scored 2 goals and added 3 assists, but he suffered a minor injury and went back to Canada. He probably won't return to Lugano as Mike Maneluk, who had surgery early in the season, should be back in the line up for the next game. Ville Peltonen leads the team with 11 goals and 15 assists and is now the 5th scorer in the league after starting the season quitely. His linemate Ryan Gardner got 20 points (11G 9A) thanks to his effective use of his size. Sandy Jeannin, a regular national team player, but mainly because of his good two way play, is also scoring on an impressive pace with 8 goals and 12 assists. Flavien Conne is back from his injury and has 5 pts (1G) in his first 8 games, thanks to his good chemistry with Adrian Wichser, who has only 13 points despite his impressive skills and should work on his (lack of) scoring touch. Benoit Gratton has 13pts in 18 games after starting the season slowly. Lugano's checking line is the same for the third consecutive season (Jean-Jacques Aeschlimann centering Andy Näser and Keith Fair), and it shows on the ice as they can outwork any line in the league.
The defense is led by Petteri Nummelin, who has 8 goals and 15 assists and is the hottest player in the league right now (6 goals and 8 assists in his last 6 games, including a hat trick in Rapperswil). His linemate Julien Vauclair has not been the difference maker he was expected to be, but his improved defensive play could get him a national team spot. Lugano has two other defensemen at the Deutschland cup in Olivier Keller, still one of the best swiss defensive defenseman, and Steve Hirschi, who after playing with Nummelin last season responded well to the challenge of being paired with the slow and hard hitting Andreas Hänni. Lugano's lack of defensive depth forced them to hire Kimmo Timonen for 3 games, in which he got only one assist, but they should be able to dress all of their 7 defensmen next week.
Ronnie Rüeger is still playing surpisingly well and remains the most regular goalie in the league so far. David Aebischer was limited to 5 starts, including 2 where he played poorly, but his reputation was enough to get him a spot in the national team.
Ambrì : 12-2-6, 67-51 (3-1-2)
Ambrì's pace slowed down recently with losses in Bern (5-4) and Zug (6-3), but they can still hold on the second place thanks to their three canadian forwards. Hnat Domenichelli is leading the league with 13 goals and 23 assists, while Jean-Guy Trudel is third with 13 goals and 21 assist. Jeff Toms is now back in the line up after missing 6 games and has 10 goals and 13 assists in 14 games.
Ambrì's lack of scoring depth was exposed during Toms' injury, and things could have gotten worse if Domenichelli didn't strangely escape a suspension for an awful check from behind on ZSC's Fabian Debrunner. Their best swiss scorers are Benoit Pont and Corsin Camichel with 11 points, and nobody else has reached 10 points, even Michael Liniger who is limited to 4 goals and 4 assists in 16 games despite centering Domenichelli and Trudel.
On defense, Kim Johnson has 4 goals and 7 assists in 14 games and is a needed leader. His linemate is veteran Tiziano Giannini, who doesn't provide any offense, nor physical play. The second pair is made of 21 year old Félicien Dubois, who is doing well so far with 1 goal and 6 assists, and Reto Kobach, who doesn't provide many offense (4 pts) but got a national team spot thanks to his good positionnal play.
In goal, Simon Züger challenged Daniel Manzato's starting job, but lost it after two games, including one in Bern where he let in a shot from center ice to tie the game with 30 seconds to go, a game Ambrì lost in overtime. Manzato is still one of the best in the league, and he's schedule to go back to North America next season to play for Carolina's affiliate. However, national team coach Ralph Krüger didn't consider him ready for international hockey and will stick to Aebischer, Gerber, Bührer and Rüger for this season.
Davos : 11-3-6, 68-46 (4-1-1)
Davos lost their third home game of the season, 3-2 to ZSC, but it desn't prevent them to move up in the standing. They are the only team to play above .500 on the road (4-3-3), and won 7 out of 10 home games. With home games against Geneva, Ambrì and Rapperswil coming, they could reach the second place sooner rather than later.
Joe Thornton leads the team with 6 goals and 18 assists, but is still playing below his value. Rick Nash is second with 10 goals and 10 assists, but he's now on a cold streak as he could net only one goal in his last 8 games. His lack of skating skills is exposed on the big ice, as well as his lack of different moves to beat goalies. Coach Arno Del Curto hasn't found the right linemate for them yet. He currently tries an all-NHL line with Nicklas Hagman, but it could only slow down Hagman, who has 5 goals and 9 assists so far. Davos' local stars Reto Von Arx and Michel Riesen are back on the same line, and are making fans forget their poor start as they have 15 and 14 points respectively, most of them recently. Washington prospect Peter Guggisberg has 8 goals and 3 assists in 19 games and was considered for the Deutschland cup, but ended in the under 20 national team. Davos' other main forwards are Jozef Marha, who added 15 points to his usual solid defensive play, and Andres Ambühl, who got a national team call despite having scored only 9 points, mainly thanks to the fact that he's the best skater in the league not named Petteri Nummelin.
On defense, nothing new as not a single of their defensemen can help the offense, hard hitter Beat Forster being the top scorer with 2 goals and 4 assists in 18 games, followed by Jan Von Arx with 4 goals and 1 assists, but both are scoreless in their last 6 and 11 games respectively. Fortunately, the offense is deep enough to produce without any help. Defensively, only Forster was convincing enough to get consideration for the national team, but he had to decline the selection because of an injury.
In goal, 22 year old Jonas Hiller is holding on the starting job and improving after an average season start.
ZSC : 11-1-7, 65-50 (3-1-2)
ZSC has been unconsistent recently, alternating good (5-1 win versus Rapperswil, 3-2 win in Davos) with bad (4-3 loss in Geneva, 3-3 tie with Lugano after blowing a 3 goals lead, 3-2 home loss to Langnau) results.
Randy Robitaille's injury is a thing of the past. He could maintain his impressive pace and is leading the league in points per game with 5 goals and 16 assists in 11 games. He has a good chemistry with team leader Robert Petrovicky (9G and 15A in 19 games), and their linemate can often profit from it. They now play with Sven Helfenstein, who has 7 goals and 5 assists in 18 games after struggling during the three seasons following his draft year. Jan Alston, who had 13 points in 12 games is still injured. There's no regular scorer on ZSC's other line, but many players are close to 10 points, most notably veteran Michel Zeiter (4G 5A added to some good defensive play), youngster Pascal Tiegermann (6G 2A), Thierry Paterlini (2G 6A), who earned a national team call thanks to his good physical play, and Tony Virta (2G 5A in 16 games), who is now back in the line up. 22 years old hard working Andreas Camenzind also earned a national team call, despite scoring only 3 goals and no assists in 16 games.
The defense is led by Mark Streit with an impressive total of 9 goals, most of them on nice shots from the blue line, and 4 assists. Martin Kout and Edgar Salis provide the physical play, but Martin Höhener and Flames prospect Tim Ramholt, who are supposed to help the offense, are disappointing so far. Höhener has one goal, while Ramholt has one goal and one assist. Mattias Seger is still injured.
In goal, Ari Sulander is still getting the job done, but he doesn't look like a difference maker.
I'll add the other teams tomorrow
Rapperswil : 11-0-9, 68-56 (3-0-3)
Rapperswil almost tied the league record for home wins from the start of the season after going 9-0-0 and leading Lugano 3 minutes from time before loosing the game. Unfortunately, they are unable to get things going on the road, being 2-0-8 with both wins coming against the bottom two teams.
As expected, their foreign forwards are regulary finding the net. Stacey Roest is second in the league with 12 goals and 23 assists, and was held scoreless only twice this season. Mikko Eloranta has 12 goals and 17 assists, and Dale McTavish has 9 goals and 15 assists. Roest and Eloranta's linemate, 22 year old Thomas Walser, has been one of the best surprise so far this season, as he has 11 goals and 9 assists. Second line center Mark Weber, known as a hard worker from his days in Bern, had only 3 assists in 7 games before missing 5 games due to injuries, but he got 2 goals and 6 assists in 8 games since coming back. Otherwise, the team can count on solid defensive performances by its third and fourth lines.
On defense, Marko Tuulola was expected to be a leader and to contribute offensively, and he didn't disappoint with 8 points in 11 games before being injured. He was replaced by Dave Tanabe, who did even better with 4 goals and 5 assists in 8 games, but will now leave the team as Tuulola is back. Veteran Marco Bayer is unspectacular (4 points in 20 games), but defensively reliable, and youngster Sandro Gmür (21) and Patrick Parati (18) got their ice time increased because of Patrick Fischer's injury, and are doing well. But the nicest surprise in Rapperswil's defense, and perhaps in the entire league, is the play of Cyril Geyer. He has 5 goals and 7 assists in 20 games, and thus being paired with the average Marco Capaul, and earned playing time on the first power play unit, and his overall play was good enough to offer him a spot on the national team.
Goalie Marco Streit is playing above his usual value, which is a key part in Rapperswil's surprising start. His starting job is still challenged by 19 year old Michael Tobler, who got two starts recently but wasn't convincing enough.
Geneva : 10-1-9, 60-61 (4-1-1)
Geneva played well lately, their only loss coming in Lugano in a 7-5 game in which they could send David Aebischer to the bench after the second period. They got nice wins against ZSC (4-3 in overtime after blowing a 3-0 lead, exactly the opposite scenario from their game in Zürich), and 2-1 in Bern.
French veteran Philippe Bozon still leads the team in scoring with 4 goals and 16 assists in 19 games, but Michal Grosek is finally starting to show what he can do beside sitting in the penalty box and is closing in with 6 goals and 12 assists in 18 games. His 80 penalty minutes still rank him first in the league. Andreas Johansson is third with 6 goals and 10 assists, and NHLer Derek Armstrong is scoring impressively as he got 6 goals and 7 assists in 8 games. 19 year old Rangers pick Kevin Romy's play is improving, and he now has 12 points despite playing only on the third line. However, Geneva's lack of offensive depth was fully exposed in their last games, as injuries to Igor Fedulov (12pts in 14 games), Dani Meier (7pts in 17 games) and Bruno Brechbühl (6pts) forced coach Chris McSorley to dress only three forward lines. The situation won't improve in the short futur as Jan Cadieux, one of the team's main forward (12 pts in 20 games), was injured against Bern after being hit from behind right in the goal post by Sébastien Bordeleau.
Geneva's defense doesn't support the offense very well. Former AHLer Goran Bezina is the top scorer with 2 goals and 4 assists, despite missing 8 games, but his lack of skating and puck handling skills, already a problem in North America, are now fully exposed on the big ice. He still got a chance to play at the Deutschland cup, but he's not a safe bet to remain in the national team. The team's most consistent defenseman is currently John Gobbi, thanks to his physical play (54 pim). Two rookies, Johnathan Mercier and Philippe Rytz, played in every games and could make the most of their playing time.
In goal, Reto Pavoni is clearly on the downside of his career, and he makes it hard to believe he once was the best goalie in Switzerland. His starting job is safe, though, as back up David Bochy is known as one of the worst goalie in the league.
Zug : 8-3-9, 62-68 (4-0-2)
Zug was on a nice 4 games winning streak, including games against Lugano and Ambrì as well as a rare away win in Langnau, but it ended in a loss to Fribourg. They are good at home (7-2-1), but awful on the road, with only 3 points in 10 games.
The main reason for Zug climbing up the standings is the end of many of its players' cold streak. Niko Kapanen leads the team with 6 goals and 18 assists, including 5 points in a game against Ambrì, Oleg Petrov got 3 goals and 3 assists in the last 3 games (13G 8A total), and Patrick Fischer found his old form lately, as he got 4 goals and 6 assist in 5 games, including a hat trick against Lugano (8G 9A total), and was called in the national team. Kapanen and Petrov's linemate on the first line, Frederic Rothen, is using Kapanen's playmaking well, as he got 10 points, including 9 goals. On the second line, Fischer plays with Patrick Della Rossa, who after missing 4 games could reach 10 points, only 2 below his entire last season total, which, added to his usual good physical play, gave him a national team berth. The line is centered by recently hired NHLer Mike Fisher. He has 2 assists in his first two games. The only remaining disappointement are Gianmarco Crameri (1G 2A) and 20 year old Corsin Casutt, who started the season with 4 points in 5 games, but now has only 6 points. Some injuries allowed 1987 born Janick Steinmann to get a place in the line up, and he got his first NLA point in his 6th games, with an assist against Lugano. The guy is already playing in the u20 national team and should be a good draft candidate.
On defense, Barry Richter is having a strong season, and leads the team with 3 goals and 10 assists. However, Brett Hauer was disappointing despite his 11 points in 18 games, and the hiring of Mike Fisher cost him his place in the line up. Veteran Gaetan Voisard is helping the offense well with 9 points, while 19 year old Raphael Diaz, despite being scoreless, looks like he's a future good NLA player.
Goalie Lars Weibel, although not playing as well as when he led Davos to the league win two years ago, is solid. He was injured in an home game against Lausanne, which led to 17 year old Raffael Walter playing his first 40 NLA minutes, without letting any goal in.
Bern : 7-2-11, 51-55 (2-0-4)
Bern is now on a 3 games loosing streak, including 2 home games, the latest against Geneva costing coach Alan Haworth his job. He will be replaced be former Lausanne junior coach Alpo Suhonen, who will have a tough start with games against ZSC, archrival Langnau, Lugano and Davos.
The only reason for Bern holding on a playoff spot is Daniel Brière and Dany Heatley's play. Brière leads the team with 7 goals and 12 assists in 12 games, while Heatley has 7 goals and 8 assists in 10 games. Their linemate was dirty bad boy Yves Sarault, but a 20 penalty minutes "performance" against Lugano cost him his place in the line up. They now play with André Rötheli, a completely different player, very skilled but slow and not physical (a good comparison would be Mike Ribeiro or Mickael Nylander), who has only 1 goal and 6 assists. Christian Dubé (4G 7A in 12 games) is now serving a 10 games suspension for slashing Langnau's Jeff Shantz in the head, and he will be joined by Sébastien Bordeleau, who awfully checked Geneva's Jan Cadieux from behind, right into the goal post. Bern still got two forwards called in the national team, Ivo Rüthemann (6G 9A), who clearly miss his usual center Christian Dubé (he has only one assist in his last 5 games), and Thomas Ziegler, who has only 7 points but is still one of the most physical swiss forward.
On defense, Bern is deep, but too one dimensional as they only have slow physical players. Rich Brennan, who was out of the line up after Heatley's hiring, is now playing again instead of Sarault. He has 3 goals and 1 assist in 13 games (2 goals in a game where he played as a forward with Heatley and Brière). The leading scorer on defense is Martin Steinegger with 2 goals and 7 assists, while playing a physical style which make him a safe bet to stay a regular national team player. David Jobin, altough scoring only 3 points, is playing very well and also got a call for the Deutschland cup, but he had to decline it because of an injury.
Goalie Marco Bührer, despite playing well, is not the difference maker he was last season as he allowed some soft goals.
Langnau : 6-4-10, 42-59 (2-1-3)
Langnau has found some defensive stability, allowing only two goals in each of their last 6 games, but despite the hiring of Tim Connolly and Fernando Pisani, they can't get their offense going. Their next three games, against Fribourg, Bern and Lausanne, will be very important.
Connolly has showned some amazing skills, but his highlight moves aren't very productive as he is limited to 5 goals and 1 assists in 10 games. Pisani played in 7 games, getting 1 goal and 3 assists. The team's top scorers are still Jeff Shantz (7G 9A), Thibault Monnet (5G 10A) and Daniel Steiner (6G 7A), Steiner being called in the national team. Behind them, Loic Burkhalter and Vitaly Lakhmatov are still unable to meet the high expectations placed in them, as they are limited to 10 et 8 points respectively. These seven players should all be able to produce more regulary, and their talent added to the effective hard work of Trevor Meier and Mirko Murovic should allow Langnau to play with three dangerous offensive lines and secure their first playoffs spot since returning to the NLA in 1998.
The defense is solid, mainly thanks to physical players such as Mark Astley and Jamie Heward, and the pleasant performance of 20 year old Martin Stettler, but just like on offense, the production is very limited. Valeri Shiriaev and Patrick Sutter both fall short of the management's expectations, with 6 and 8 points respectively, and Heward, supposed to be a leader both offensively and defensively, has only 8 points.
In goal, Corey Hirsch was released and is now back to the DEL, which wasn't a bright idea because only a few days later, Martin Gerber decided not to sign a new contract and left for Färjestads of the SEL. Fortunately for Langnau, former Ambrì goalie Pauli Jaks was released by Avangard Omsk and signed with them.
Fribourg : 7-2-11, 52-74 (2-0-4)
Fribourg played poorly lately, and injuries to Mikael Karlberg and Richard Lintner, who both missed the last four games, didn't help. To replace them, they signed some out of job players for short stints, namely Jukka Tilikainen, Mark Fortier and Sean Berens, and none of them made any impact. Karlberg is now back, but Lintner's injury is more serious and Fribourg decided to finally hire an NHL player in Paul Martin.
The team's top scorer is Jukka Hentunen with 12 goals and 10 assists, who scores regulary since starting the season with only one assist in six games. National team player Valentin Wirz is second with 8 goals and 9 assists while playing with poor wingers, and Karlberg is third with 3 goals and 13 assists in 16 games. Martin Plüss' brother Benny is a pleasant surprise with 11 points, but most of them come from playing with Hentunen and Karlberg. On the other hand, veterans Patrick Howald (2G 4A in 20 games) and Gilles Montandon (2A in 11 games) are showing that their best days are way behind them, and Wild prospect Julien Sprunger, after scoring 3 goals in the first 6 games, was limited to 5 assists in the last 14.
On defense, Richard Lintner is far from challenging Petteri Nummelin's number like some expected. He has only one goal and 7 assists in 16 games, his only goal coming in the third game of the season. His linemate Thomas Rhodin, however, could add 2 goals and 13 assists to his good two way play. Lukas Gerber, despite only one point, fell short of a national team spot, as he was named a reserve.
Goalie Gianluca Mona is a poor starter, but his job is unchallenged as Fribourg has no goaltending depth.
Kloten : 6-3-10, 50-63 (1-2-3)
Kloten finally can dress all of its main players, and it won't be too much to help them climbing up the standing. Strangely, they can play .500 hockey away (5-0-5), but are an abysmal 1-3-5 at home. Their next home game against Lausanne could help them improve this record.
On offense, Kimmo Rintanen is having a strong season and leads the team with 12 goals and 11 assists, but his center Domenic Pittis is a little disappointing with 6 goals and 10 assists. They still don't have a regular linemate, the latest being Roger Rieder (1G 4A in 13 games). The second line is led by Sven Lindemann (7G 6A) and Romano Lemm, who is having a breakout year (4G 8A so far) and was one of Switzerland's best player at the Deutschland cup. Penguins prospect Patrick Bärtschi is back and got 2 goals and 1 assists in his first four games (he played twice with Rintanen and Pittis and twice with Lindemann and Lemm).
There's also a good news regarding the defense, as Fabien Guignard, who suffered a career threatening injury early in the season, is now back and allows Kloten to dress three solid defensive lines. Severin Blindenbacher (2G 6A) plays on the first pair with Timo Helbing (only 3 pts, but he's the main reason Kloten is no longer deficient regarding physical play), who got a well deserved spot in the national team. Sens draft pick Philippe Seydoux is also playing very well (7A in 15 games and a good defensive play). Curiously, the most disappoiting defensemen are both canadian players, who where supposed to contribute a lot more offensively. James Pollock has 2 goals and 6 assists in 18 games, and Patrice Brisebois only 2 goals in 7 games.
Stars goalie prospect Tobias Stephan isn't playing badly, but has been unable to be a difference maker so far. He must play better if he wants to ever get a chance in Dallas.
Lausanne : 4-1-15, 48-76 (0-0-6)
Let's get this straight from the start : Lausanne plain sucks ! After snaping an 8 games loosing streak, they started a new one which is now 6 games long, and their next game is against Lugano. They decided to take a chance on an NHL player and hired Martin St-Louis, meaning that every NLA teams have dressed at least one NHLer. However, as Lausanne doesn't have enough money to pay five foreign players, Andreï Bashkirov, who was disappointing (only 6G and 6A), was released and signed today with Severstal Cherepovets of the RSL.
Eric Landry is still the leading scorer with 11 goals and 9 assists, but has only one assists in his last 6 games. The second (Gerd Zenhäusern, 5G 12A) and third (Oliver Kamber, 3G 10A) best scorers are also on cold streaks. 20 year old Florian Conz is doing well (1G 8A), but the third foreign forward, Marko Tuomainen, is limited to 4G and 5A, proving the decision of Lausanne's management to go with a hard worker as their fourth foreigner to be questionnable. Lausanne's bottom six forwards are playing terribly and are unable to provide any physical presence or reliable defensive play, let alone offensive production.
On defense, Patrick Boileau was doing well (4G 8A in 16 games), but he got injured, and was replaced by Adrien Plavsic, a foreign healthy scrath for Basle of the NLB, for a two games stints. Lausanne's only other interesting player on defense is youngster Laurent Emery, who has only two assists but is playing with a rare consistency for a Lausanne player. The other defensemen only get noticed for their lack of physical play.
Goalie Thomas Berger, usually unspectacular, got plenty of chance to shine and makes many saves, but is poor rebound control and puck handling prevent him from stealing any game.
Keep it up stv11, your updates are greatly appreciated. Ever since the lockout, I've been doing my best to follow the European leagues, and your updates have helped a lot.
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