Mike Milbury, Bob McKenzie, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Joe Louis,Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Bryan Berard, Eric Brewer, Darius Kasparaitis, Bryan McCabe, Olli Jokinen, Todd Bertuzzi, Tim Connolly, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Raffi Torres, Roberto Luongo, Tommy Salo, NHL, NBC, NESN

Mad Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury might just be the most hated man in sports broadcasting.

The New England Sports Network (NESN), Hockey Night in Canada, and NHL on NBC analysts lashed took a shot at the Detroit Red Wings and their Joe Louis Arena on air last night.

Milbury threw shade at the Wings’ beloved arena saying that it was “a dump the day they opened it and it’ll be a dump the day they close it.”

 

Rude, right?

But if you’re surprised by Milbury’s statements I’m inclined to wonder where you’ve been the past 30-plus years. Mike Milbury has always been a controversial figure. Whether it’s on the ice, behind the bench, in the board room, or as an analyst, Mike Milbury has always illicited strong criticism from fans, friends and media alike.

What else would you expect from a man best known for hopping the glass, brawling with fans and beating a man over the head with his own shoe?

Seriously, that happened.

So it is in honour of Mike Milbury’s ridiculously inflammatory nature The Game Haus brings you, from our haus to yours,

Mad Mike Milbury’s Most Memorable on-air Moments

3) The Shoe Incident

There is a strong parallel between Milbury’s television persona and his style of play.

Blunt, raw, and not always easy to watch.

He wasn’t a talented scorer, or a gifted play-maker, but he had his attributes. Most notably, his rough style of play.

In 754 career, regular season, games Milbury amassed 49 goals 189 assist and a whopping 1552 penalty minutes.

On December 23, 1979, Milbury would be involved in perhaps the most iconic hockey fight in history, ubiquitously known simply as the ‘Shoe Incident.’

After an on-ice brawl between the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers broke out, a Rangers fan assaulted one of Milbury’s teammates and attempted to take his stick. The brawl spilt over the boards, over the glass, and into the stands.

Milbury, making his way up the rows, managed to grab the foot of an unruly attendee. He ripped off the man’s shoe and proceeded to beat him over the head with it.

It was truly a career defining moment.

 

 

2) John Scott, All-Star MVP

The 2015/16 All-Star game will go down in history.

Not for the talent that competed, though. No. On the contrary.

It will long be remembered as the All-Star game high jacked by the fans for the sake of John Scott. And while fans rallied around the journeyman NHLer, Mike Milbury did not.

Milbury, apparently disgusted by Scott, detested the grinder. Which is surprising given the way Milbury played the game.

For what it’s worth, John Scott has never beaten anybody with their own shoe. At least not on live television.

 

1) Bob McKenzie with a Zinger

It’s no secret that Mike Milbury’s tenure with the New York Islanders were trying times for both the franchise and Milbury alike.

Hired as their head coach in 1995, Milbury was quickly promoted to general manager and filled both positions until handing over head coaching duties to Rick Browness in 1997.

His time with the Islanders organization is best characterized by the questionable decisions he made with the team’s assets. The bulk of the criticism Milbury received as General Manager stemmed largely from the poor quality of trades he made while managing of the Islanders.

Under the leadership of Milbury the Islanders traded away some of the NHL’s most elite talent, including: Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Bryan Berard, Eric Brewer, Darius Kasparaitis, Bryan McCabe, Olli Jokinen, Todd Bertuzzi, Tim Connolly, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Raffi Torres, Roberto Luongo and Tommy Salo.

During an on-air segment, where Milbury was voicing some highly (hypo)critical opinions about Brendan Shanahan’s hiring by the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, NHL Analyst Bob McKenzie struck him right where it hurts. In the feels.

 

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The Curious Case of Ryan Kesler

Don’t call it a comeback.

Because it’s a lot more like a Benjamin Button thing.

At least that’s the case with Ryan Kesler.

The 32-year-old center is turning back the wheel of time in Anaheim. Kesler could potentially crack the 70-point plateau this season, a feat he has not accomplished since the 2010-11 campaign.

In 47 games with the Anaheim Ducks this season Kesler has managed 18 goals, 20 assists, and 38 points.

In the beginning

Ryan Kesler, Mats Sundin, Pavol Domitra, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Pacific Division, Goals, Assists, NHL, Hockey, Stanley Cup, Presidents' Trophy, Selke Trophy

Photo credit: Jeff Vinnick, NHLI via Getty Images.

Drafted in the first round (23rd overall) by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the Livonia, Michigan native spent ten years with the Canucks before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks in June of 2014.

Kesler rose to prominence as one of the league’s most elite two-way forwards during his tenure with the Canucks.

It was during the 2008-09 season where Kesler first began to shine as point producing forward. He was moved from the third to the second line, alongside Pavol Demitra and Mats Sundin, and consequently finished the season with 59 points. He would follow that up by notching 75 points in the 2009-10 season and 73 points in the 2010-11 campaign. Kesler would go on to help the Canucks win back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and was himself awarded the Selke Trophy in 2011.

However, largely due to nagging injuries and shortened lock-out seasons, Kesler’s point production began to dry up after the 2010-11 campaign. It would have appeared that the aggressive forward had fallen back into a more defensively responsible style of play, his point production having plateaued somewhere around the 40-50 mark.

Respectable, yes, but nowhere near the Ryan Kelser of yesteryear.

Back at it again

Ryan Kesler, Mats Sundin, Pavol Domitra, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Pacific Division, Goals, Assists, NHL, Hockey, Stanley Cup, Presidents' Trophy, Selke Trophy

Photo credit: The Canadian Press.

That being said, the 2016-17 season must be the campaign of yesteryear because Ryan Kesler is looking like a beast out on the ice right now.

The Ducks sit atop the Pacific Division and they owe a large part of their first place success to the outstanding play of Ryan Kesler.

Kessler currently leads the team in points, is second in goals, and third in assists. He also happens to lead the Ducks in +/- (plus-13) and power play points (16). But why stop there? Kesler is also second on the team in shooting percentage (16.1) and third in faceoff wins percentage (57.4).

Looking forward

The Ducks have Kesler signed through to the 2020-21 season and it’s a good thing they do. His point production has steadily increased over his two seasons with the club and is projected to the same this time around.

He sports an “A” on his jersey and if his locker room presence is anything like his on ice play, Kesler will remain a valuable asset for the Ducks franchise for years to come.

With all the pieces in place, not least of which is Ryan Kesler and his dominant play, the Anaheim Ducks we all know and love are shaping up to make several seasons’ worth of cup runs.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

A Wild Ride: The Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild are on fire right now.

In an NHL season characterized by streaks, the Minnesota Wild quietly put together a quality 12-game win streak of their own in the month of December. Second longest streak of the 2016/17 season behind the Columbus Blue Jackets’ history making 16-game streak.

The Wild have won 17 of their last 20 contests and are about to settle in for a four game home stand. Which bodes well for the Wild. They are 12-3-1 at home this season.

For many years the Wild have been a team that has failed to live up to expectations. Mediocre playoff performances have kept the club from making a run for the cup in the past but this year appears to be different.

So what is it about the 2016/17 Minnesota Wild that make them so dangerous to play against right now?

The truth is that there is no simple answer. Instead, it is a combination of factors. So let’s start from the top, shall we?

Bruce Boudreau

Photo credit: Norm Hall, NHLI via Getty Images

After an anti-climactic tenure with the team, head coach Mike Yeo was relieved of his duties during last year’s 2015/16 season. Interim coach John Torchetti took over Yeo’s duties but was not offered the position at season’s end.

Instead, the Wild went looking for something more.

And it is unlikely they could have found a coach with a higher pedigree than that of Bruce ‘Gabby’ Boudreau. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Gabby’ for his talkative nature, Boudreau has turned the underperforming club into a force to be reckoned with.

The 2008 Jack Adam’s Award winner sported an impressive 409-192-80 record before the season began. A record which includes eight division titles and a President’s Trophy.

He’s gone 28-9-5 with his new club and as a result the Minnesota Wild now sit atop the Central Division with sole possession of first place. With 61 points, they are behind only the Washington Capitals (64) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (61) for points in the League.

Bringing Boudreau on board has paid dividends for the Wild franchise.

Eric Staal

Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA Today Sports.

The quiet offseason acquisition of veteran NHLer Eric Staal has been a boon to the offensive output of the Minnesota Wild. But the Wild are not the only ones winning in this equation, Staal’s career is enjoying a late renaissance with the new club.

Staal was drafted in the first round (second overall) by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. In his rookie year he won the Stanley Cup while contributing an astonishing 45 goals and 55 assists in regular season play and another nine goals and 19 assists in the playoffs.

Though his NHL career began with a bang, neither Staal nor the Hurricanes were able to replicate that success. Staal has failed matched his rookie point production since.

However, with 15 goals and 24 assists through 42 games thus far, Staal has matched his last year’s point production with half the season still remaining.

But Staal brings more to the team than just point production. Wild captain Mikko Koivu said of Stall,

“It’s not just on the ice. Off the ice, it’s huge the way he handles himself. It’s not just the game. For me, he helps in a lot of ways. In the room, on the bench, you have to believe whatever he says. You know he’s been there and you know he’s at almost 1,000 games, so he knows what he talks about. He’s played with great players, he’s won [a Stanley Cup]. In my situation, it helps a lot on and off the ice.”

Devan Dubnyk

Photo credit: The Canadian Press.

The Minnesota Wild have the second fewest goals against in the NHL. And it’s not hard to figure out why.

Devan Dubnyk has been leading the league in goaltending stats all year. The 2015 Bill Masterson Trophy winner, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, is having the best season of his career

When it comes to goaltending, Dubnyk is first in goals against average (1.78), first in save percentage (.940), second in wins (23), and second in shutouts (5). He has lost only four of his last 20 starts and currently sports a four game win streak.

With numbers like that, Dubnyk is surely a front runner for the Vezina this season.

Team Effort

Ultimately, when a team like the Minnesota Wild finds success on the ice it is rarely due to just one guy. The Wild have managed to make things work this year because they finally have all the pieces in place.

The Wild have one of the best NHL coaches behind the bench. Bruce Boudreau has turned his team into an offensive powerhouse (fourth in league in goals for) while also managing a shut-down defense (second fewest in goals against).

They sport one of the League’s best goaltenders. Devan Dubnyk ought to be considered for the Vezina Trophy this year, given his dominance in net.

Their veteran presence is strong, scoring, and dangerous. Eric Staal, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, and Ryan Suter are showing no signs of slowing down.

What’s more is that their young talent has finally blossomed. Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, and Mikael Granlund are having career years in their own right.

In short, the Minnesota Wild are firing on all cylinders, turning heads, and making an honest case for the cup.

John Scott, All-Star, All-Star Game, NHL All-Star Game 2017, Jack Adams Award, NHL, Hockey, Coach, John Tortorella, Bruce Boudreau, Michel Therrien, Peter DeBoer, Shea Weber, Carey Price, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thorton, Cam Atkinson, Sergie Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno, Vezina Trophy, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, OHL, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lighting, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins

All-Star Coaches: A Jack Adams Short-List

It will be all the big names, and only the big names, at this year’s NHL All-Star game.

Last year’s game was a public relations nightmare for the NHL.

Journeyman John Scott found himself at the center of a massive push by fans to see an enforcer in the All-Star game. A non-elite player playing with the best of the best. A regular Joe.

And it worked.

John Scott, All-Star, All-Star Game, NHL All-Star Game 2017, Jack Adams Award, NHL, Hockey, Coach, John Tortorella, Bruce Boudreau, Michel Therrien, Peter DeBoer, Shea Weber, Carey Price, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thorton, Cam Atkinson, Sergie Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno, Vezina Trophy, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, OHL, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lighting, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, All-Star Coaches

Photo credit: Christopher Hanewinckel, USA Today Sports.

Scott was voted captain of the Pacific Division but the NHL tough guy was subsequently traded out of conference and demoted to the AHL. And that’s when conspiracy theories started coming out of the wood works.

It was alleged that the trade was an elaborate plot by NHL execs to strip Scott of his All-Star captaincy and thereby “restore” the good name of the NHL All-Star game.

The game having been openly mocked, re-tooled and tweaked for the better part of a decade due to little to no interest by both fans and players alike.

Many argued that the internet was trolling the NHL by voting Scott the Pacific Division captain. Others argued that the All-Star game is meant to represent what the fans want to see, a for the fans by the fans game.

In the end, Scott was allowed to participate. He captained the Pacific Division, scored two goals, and won the All-Star tournament. Despite not being on the ballot, Scott won the All-Star game MVP by an overwhelming amount of write in votes.

But it’s a new year and a new All-Star format has emerged. Along with new voting rules.

According to the new ‘John Scott Rule’ players sent down to the minors, or injured, are now barred from participating in the All-Star game.

So no more John Scott’s

This might lead one to believe that the NHL doesn’t really care about what the fans want.

Rather predictably, this year’s All-Star game will be filled with all the regulars.

The NHL announced the game’s four captains on January 3rd and the full rosters on the 10th.

But forget about the players for a moment. We all know Crosby is an All-Star. We all know Ovechkin is a stud. Of course Carey Price will be there, he is the best goalie in the world.

Let’s talk, instead, about the coaches.

All-Star Coaches

The NHL All-Star game’s coaches reads like a short list for this season’s Jack Adams Award.

Michel Therrien of the Montreal Canadiens (Atlantic Division), Bruce Boudreau of the Minessota Wild (Central Division), John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets (Metropolitan), and Peter DeBoer of the San Jose Sharks (Pacific) will be behind the benches at the 2017 All-Star 3-on-3 tournament in Los Angeles this coming January 29th.

Each of these men merit consideration when it comes to the coach of the year award, the Jack Adams, and here’s why.

Michel Therrien

John Scott, All-Star, All-Star Game, NHL All-Star Game 2017, Jack Adams Award, NHL, Hockey, Coach, John Tortorella, Bruce Boudreau, Michel Therrien, Peter DeBoer, Shea Weber, Carey Price, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thorton, Cam Atkinson, Sergie Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno, Vezina Trophy, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, OHL, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lighting, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, All-Star Coaches

Photo credit: Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images.

Therrien’s coaching career has been a bit rocky. Full of peaks and valleys. Right now, though, he is definitely riding high.

Therrien got his first big league coaching gig in the 2000/01 season with none other than the Montreal Canadiens. After two and half mediocre years he was let go. Only to be picked up by the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2005/06 campaign.

He achieved moderate success in Pittsburgh. Coaching them to the Conference Quarter Finals in 2006/07 and the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007/08. Though he would be let go during the 2008/09 season the Pittsburgh Penguins went on to win the Stanley cup under their new head coach Dan Bylsma.

To Montreal’s surprise, Therrien was re-hired as the Habs bench boss in 2012. General Manager Marc Bergevin citing his ability to work with and mold young talent. A skill highlighted by his work in building the Pittsburgh franchise into what we all know today as one of the league’s top teams; year in, year out.

Even with an injury riddled roster, Therrien has been able to maintain a consistent level of play out of his squad. The Canadien’s are first in the Atlantic Division and will also be sending goaltender Carey Price and defenseman Shea Webber to All-Star festivities.

Since being brought back in 2012 Therrien’s Canadiens have missed the playoffs only once.

Bruce Boudreau

John Scott, All-Star, All-Star Game, NHL All-Star Game 2017, Jack Adams Award, NHL, Hockey, Coach, John Tortorella, Bruce Boudreau, Michel Therrien, Peter DeBoer, Shea Weber, Carey Price, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thorton, Cam Atkinson, Sergie Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno, Vezina Trophy, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, OHL, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lighting, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, All-Star Coaches

Photo credit: Norm Hall, NHLI via Getty Images

Bruce Boudreau’s record behind the bench this year has been nothing short of impressive, which seems to be par for the course for the talkative French Canadien coach. Nicknamed “Gabby” by his players, Boudreau boasts the second highest winning percentage in NHL history.

Throughout his career Boudreau has won eight division titles, four with the Washington Capitals and four with Anaheim Ducks, in only nine seasons. Though he has never won a Stanley Cup championship, he has only failed to make the playoffs once. Boudreau has won the Jack Adams Award once before, with the Washington Capitals back in 2008.

He now finds himself steering the ship in St. Paul as the Minnesota Wild’s new head coach.

The Wild boast the second best record in the Central Division, behind the Chicago Blackhawks, and have enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance this year after firing longtime bench boss Mike Yeo and interim coach John Torchetti last season.

Boudreau has not only awoken the Minnesota franchise from its slumber. He appears to have revived the career of NHL veteran, Stanley Cup champion, and Olympic gold medalist Eric Staal.

Staal leads the team with 13 goals, 22 assists, and 35 points. Halfway through the season, Staal is only four points away from passing last year’s total.

Not only have the Wild been winning but they have been winning in spectacular fashion.

In a season full of incredible winning streaks the Wild managed to cobble together an impressive 12 game win streak. A streak which only came to an end when they faced the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were in the midst of maintaining a historic streak of their own.

Peter DeBoer

John Scott, All-Star, All-Star Game, NHL All-Star Game 2017, Jack Adams Award, NHL, Hockey, Coach, John Tortorella, Bruce Boudreau, Michel Therrien, Peter DeBoer, Shea Weber, Carey Price, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Eric Staal, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thorton, Cam Atkinson, Sergie Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno, Vezina Trophy, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, OHL, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lighting, New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, All-Star Coaches

Photo credit: Christian Petersen, Getty Images.

It should come as no surprise that Peter DeBoer ought to be considered for the Jack Adams Award. DeBoer coached 13 seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, winning the Matt Leyden Trophy (OHL coach of the year award) twice in that span.

In the NHL he has manned the helm for the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, and – since the 2015/16 season – the San Jose Sharks.

In his first season with the Sharks DeBoer took the team all the way to the Stanley Cup championship. This year the San Jose Sharks sit atop the Pacific Division and look poised to take another run at the cup.

Under his tutelage, DeBoer has managed to raise the play of his team into a truly elite squad.

Brent Burns leads the league in shots on goal and points by defenseman.

Martin Jones has turned into a legitimate Vezina contender.

Veteran NHLers like big Joe Thorton, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau continue to post quality numbers while also acting as character guys in the dressing.

And after an injury riddled season Logan Couture looks as though he has not missed a beat.

DeBoer is well on his way to a successful tenure as the head coach of the San Jose Sharks. Perhaps it’s the California sun?

John Tortorella

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Photo credit: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images.

What can you say about John Tortorella? The fiery head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets is a man who needs no introduction. His antics have been broadcast far and wide. The success he and his team have enjoyed so far this season is turning haters into believers en masse.

Prior to the season starting, Tortorella had the honour of being NHL analysts’ head coach who was “most likely to be fired first.”

But you don’t fix what isn’t broken.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been on fire this season. The 16 game win streak Columbus managed to put together in the first half of the season is the second longest in NHL history.

Having previously coached the Tampa Bay Lighting, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks, Tortorella seems to be fitting in just fine with the Blue Jackets.

Since Torts took over as bench boss, Sergie Bobrovski appears to back in Vezina form. His stats so far this season are comparable his 2012/13 Vezina Trophy winning year.

Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno, two of Columbus’s most important character players, are leading the team in points; a lead by example style of play Tortorella likes to emphasize.

Zach Werenski has found great success under Tortorella as well. The rookie defenseman is seeing top line minutes, both in 5-on-5 play and on the power play. Werenski’s name has been brought up often when talking about Calder considerations.

The 2004 Jack Adams Award winner needs no argument made on his behalf. John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ record thus far speaks for itself.

 

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Brent Burns, Alexander Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, NHL, Hockey, Goals, Assists, Points, Forward, Defenseman, Shots on Goal

Brent Burns is a Beautiful Beast

Brent Burns, Alexander Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild, NHL, Hockey, Goals, Assists, Points, Forward, Defenseman, Shots on Goal

Photo credit: Mark Humphrey, American Press.

Brent Burns is both a beauty and a beast.

Drafted in the first round (20th overall) by the Minnesota Wild, Burns was traded to the San Jose Sharks in 2011. The hulking blue liner has spent 12 seasons in the NHL, played in 837 games, and accumulated 462 points in that span.

Still, it appears that the Brent Burns show has just begun.

Though the 6’ 5”, 200 lb blue liner has been all the rage around Norris Trophy water cooler conversations this year, Burns has not always been the elite defenseman he is today.

In fact, it wasn’t until he was drafted by the Minnesota Wild that Burns began to play defense. If it weren’t for Jacques Lemaire – Minnesota’s Head Coach at the time – Burns may never had adapted his game for the blue line. But he did. Earning himself a spot on the Wild’s blue line.

Arm chair General Managers have long known of Burns’ value. Fantasy hockey league’s (like that of Yahoo or ESPN) have in the past listed him as both a defenseman and a forward; providing invaluable mobility to make-believe rosters across this great land.

More recently, though, especially since being traded to San Jose, Burns had made the blue line his permanent position. He is no longer available as a forward in fantasy leagues but that has hardly affected his offensive output.

Having finished last season’s 2015/16 campaign with an incredible 27 goals, 48 assists, and 75 points, Burns came in third on the ballet for Norris Trophy votes.

This year, however, is different.

He is among one of the best in his position, accumulating more 5 on 5 points than any other defenseman in the league this year. He also leads the position in goals and is currently on pace to eclipse his point total from last year. With 15 goals, 24 assists, and 39 points Burns boasts a league leading 160 shots on goal.

I repeat, a LEAGUE leading 160 shots on goal. A stat line all the more impressive when you realize that he has accomplished all of this from the blue line.

To put it in perspective, Burns has more shots on goal than some of the league’s most elite shooters; including the likes of Alexander Ovechkin (151), Patrick Kane (138), and Connor McDavid (123).

But Brent Burns is oh so much more than your typical hockey player.

His personality is larger than life.

With a beard bigger than father time’s and fewer teeth and a four-year old, Burns has what many would call a magnetic personality.

He is a self-proclaimed animal lover, he and his Lake Elmo home (nicknamed the Burns Zoo) was even a subject of CBC’s “Inside Hockey.”

Active on twitter, @Burzie88 never disappoints.

 

 

 

His most recent exploits has the toothless wonder team up with Subway to scare the sh*t out of customers and fans.

 

 

On the ice, Brent Burns is a force to be reckoned with. Off the ice he is just a big teddy bear.

Brent Burns is both a beauty and a beast.

Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Henrik Zetterberg, Steve Ott, Danny DeKeyser, Jarred Coreau, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Blashill, Ken Holland, Grand Rapid Griffins, Goals, Assists, Hockey, NHL, Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, KHL, Goals, Assists

What’s Wrong with the Red Wings?

It would appear that the glory days of the Detroit Red Wings are behind them. The Red Wings now sit seventh in the Atlantic Division, a full seven spots out of the last Wild Card position. They are also 26th in the league in points.

The 2016-17 season has not been kind to this Motor City team. The franchise has managed to scrape together an atrocious 16-17-5 record, posting a worrying 4-6-2 in the month of December. The new year hasn’t been much kinder as they’ve gone 0-1-1 so far.

On January 1 at the Centennial Classic, the Wings lost in spectacular fashion outdoors in overtime to the Toronto Maples Leafs. On January 3, they dropped a 2-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center.

In short, the Detroit Red Wings have grown stagnant. What’s wrong with the Red Wings?

No Datsyuk

Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Henrik Zetterberg, Steve Ott, Danny DeKeyser, Jarred Coreau, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Blashill, Ken Holland, Grand Rapid Griffins, Goals, Assists, Hockey, NHL, Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, KHL, Goals, Assists

Photo credit: Graig Abel, Getty Images.

In June of 2016, Pavel Datsyuk announced that he was leaving the NHL to play in Russia; reportedly to be closer to his family. With a year left on his contract, the Red Wings managed to trade away the Russian center’s NHL rights to the Arizona Coyotes in return for a few picks and prospect Joe Vitale. Then quietly, Datsyuk returned to Russia in the offseason and now plays for SKA Saint Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

In this post-Datsyuk era, the Detroit Red Wings are among the league’s worst at putting pucks in the back of the net. They are currently 27th in goals for. Not surprisingly, their power play is lacking as well. Operating at an abysmal 11.5 percent, the Wings are 30th in the league when it comes to the man advantage.

Without “The Magic Man” Pavel Datsyuk, general manager Ken Holland was forced to look outside the organization to fill the void. Holland made waves when he signed high profile unrestricted free agents Thomas Vanek, Frans Nielsen, and Steve Ott.

The New Guys

Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Henrik Zetterberg, Steve Ott, Danny DeKeyser, Jarred Coreau, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Blashill, Ken Holland, Grand Rapid Griffins, Goals, Assists, Hockey, NHL, Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, KHL, Goals, Assists

Photo credit: Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports.

Thomas Vanek, for the most part, has surpassed expectations. Vanek signed a one-year contract worth $2.6 million with the Wings this season. After a lack-luster couple of years in Minnesota, the veteran left winger made an immediate impact with his new club. The honeymoon was cut short after a lower-body injury suffered in October sidelined the 32-year-old winger for most of November. In 27 games played, Vanek has managed to tally seven goals and 14 assists.

 

 

 

Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Henrik Zetterberg, Steve Ott, Danny DeKeyser, Jarred Coreau, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Blashill, Ken Holland, Grand Rapid Griffins, Goals, Assists, Hockey, NHL, Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, KHL, Goals, Assists

Photo credit: Kim Klement, USA Today Sports

When Holland landed Frans Nielsen this offseason in a blockbuster six-year $31.5 million deal, the hearts of New York Islanders fans everywhere were broken. The veteran center was acquired in a highly publicized free agent signing which saw Nielsen leave New York, whom he had played the last 10 years with. In 38 games with the Detroit Red Wings, Nielsen has put up eight goals and 11 assists. Coupled with a minus-16 rating, things are not looking good for the newly acquired Dane who is under contract through the 2021-22 season.

 

 

Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Henrik Zetterberg, Steve Ott, Danny DeKeyser, Jarred Coreau, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Blashill, Ken Holland, Grand Rapid Griffins, Goals, Assists, Hockey, NHL, Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, KHL, Goals, Assists

Photo credit: Mike Carlson, Getty Images.

 

There’s not much to say about the 34-year-old NHL journeyman Steve Ott. His 14-year career has included stints with the Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, and now the Detroit Red Wings. Ott signed a one-year deal worth $800,000 with the Red Wings this offseason. For the most part, Ott has done what he was signed to do. He is a gritty, in-your-face, character player who is known to get under the skin of his opponents. He’s racked up 56 penalty minutes in 34 games this season, notching two goals and two assists in the process.

With what ultimately amounts to a group of underwhelming offseason additions, and the steady decline of the Detroit Red Wings, Holland has come under an increasing amount of scrutiny and criticism.

Management

Holland has been with the Red Wings for a long time.

He has been the general manager since 1998. Before that he worked various roles including director of amateur scouting and assistant general manager. He has won four Stanley Cups with the team (1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008), but has failed to build a team capable of taking home the cup for a long time now.

The problem with Holland, as far as the fans are concerned, is that he lacks the ability to make big trades and sign high-profile players. That is not necessarily true, but this perception still prevails. It is unlikely for Holland to change that perception this year. The Detroit Red Wings have no available cap space and will need to unload some considerable salaries in order to add any new pieces to his team.

For Holland and the Red Wings, not making those big trades or signing the high-profile players hasn’t really been an issue until relatively recently. By and large, Detroit’s talent has been primarily home-grown. The Grand Rapid Griffins, Detroit’s farm team, have produced a wealth of talent over the years.

Consider the 2015-16 season a test run for this year’s campaign. Head coach Mike Babcock had moved on to Toronto and a slew of injuries found the Red Wings with a bench full of Griffins. Jeff Blashill, former Grand Rapid Griffins Head Coach, took the reins and coached the Wings to their 24th consecutive playoff appearance.

Has the well run dry? The young guns have cooled off considerably.

The Young Guns

Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Henrik Zetterberg, Steve Ott, Danny DeKeyser, Jarred Coreau, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Blashill, Ken Holland, Grand Rapid Griffins, Goals, Assists, Hockey, NHL, Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, KHL, Goals, Assists

Photo credit: Dave Reginek, NHLI via Getty Images.

After an incredible rookie campaign, Dylan Larkin’s sophomore season is anything but. Larkin saw great success centering the team’s top line last year. Now Larkin finds himself centering the third line alongside Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening. Larkin has managed a respectable 11 goals and four assists so far this campaign. The trio combined have a team worst minus-33 rating.

The 2016-17 season has finally provided Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou their opportunity to shine. Each of these young forwards have exhibited moments of true talent. But with 21 points between the two of them, their impact on the scoreboard has been negligible at best.

The Red Wings guns have struggled on the blue line too.

A Deteriorating Defensive Core

Since injuries have sidelined Detroit’s top blue liners, Coach Blashill has been forced to rely on a young and inexperienced defensive core. Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall are ailing from an upper body and knee injury. The torch has been passed rather ingloriously to Detroit’s next generation of defensemen.

With an average age of 25, you would be hard pressed to find a less seasoned defensive core anywhere in the league. To put it lightly, the Red Wings’ blue line needs some work.

Guys Who Need to Step Up

Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Henrik Zetterberg, Steve Ott, Danny DeKeyser, Jarred Coreau, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, Jeff Blashill, Ken Holland, Grand Rapid Griffins, Goals, Assists, Hockey, NHL, Dylan Larkin, Pavel Datsyuk, KHL, Goals, Assists

Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press.

Obviously there are a lot of moving pieces here. Guys are brought up, sent back down, get injured, and sometimes just have off days.

As elite as Henrik Zetterberg might be, he can’t carry the whole team. There needs to be some consistency from the team’s core players, or the character guys. One of them is Gustav Nyquist.

Nyquist’s production has significantly decreased since his breakout 2014-15 season. That year he potted 27 goals, 27 assists, and 54 points. After signing a lucrative four-year $19 million deal in 2015, Nyquist has failed to live up to expectations. So far this season he has managed a mere four goals and 14 assists.

With little point production, Detroit’s goalies are having a hard time helping their team win games.

Goaltending

Detroit’s goaltending problems run deeper than simply stopping pucks.

Petr Mrazek, who saw the lion’s share of starts for the Wings after last year’s all-star break, was sure to be the team’s number one tender in 2016-17. Mrazek got off to a rough start though.

Predictably, Mrazek was replaced by (former) starter Jimmy Howard. Howard has since been sidelined with a sprained MCL and Mrazek now finds himself competing for starts against rookie Jared Coreau.

Coreau, with some controversy, was given the nod by Blashill and started in net for the Wings for the outdoor Centennial Classic on New Year’s Day.

To make matters worse, Howard has essentially become a $5.3 million human paperweight. He is now injured and unable to play. Moving him to another team (without retaining at least some of his salary) seems very unlikely. Not to mention the modified no-trade clause built into his contract until the end of the 2017-18 season.

There’s not much Ken Holland or Jeff Blashill can do about their current goal tending predicament. Even if they could find an NHL caliber starting goalie, there is simply no room in the cap to sign them.

Moving Forward

The Detroit Red Wings’ woes are real. They are severe. They are not going anywhere anytime soon. With nearly $9 million tied up on the long-term injured reserve list, the Detroit Red Wings might have to bow out of the playoffs this year. This would mean the end of a historic streak.

For the past 24 years, the Detroit Red Wings have managed to make the playoffs. Barring an incredible second half of the season, that streak appears to have run its course.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Shea Weber, P.K. Subban, Michel Therrien, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, Hockey, NHL, Goals, Points, Assists, +/-, Andrei MArkov, Andrew Shaw, Alex Galchenyuk, David Dersharnais, Canadian, Denfense, Defenseman, Offense

Montreal in Nashville

The hockey world was stunned when Montreal Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin pulled the trigger this offseason and traded away fan favorite defenseman P.K. Subban for Shea Weber.

Subban was one day away from his no-trade clause kicking in and all signs pointed towards him playing out the rest of his days as a Hab. That was not the case. In a one-for-one trade, Montreal sent P.K. Subban to Tennessee and got the longtime Nashville Predator captain Shea Weber in return.

In Case You’re Not Familiar

Both of these guys play defense, are right handed, and are Canadian born.

P.K. Subban is a fast-talking, slick-dressing character. Off the ice, he is known for his charitable nature, most notably his $10 million donation to Montreal Children’s Hospital. His on-ice play is characterized by his offensive ability, fast hands, skating, and pretty stick handling. He is a young gun and rising star.

Conversely, Shea Weber is soft spoken. His leadership derives primarily from his lead-by-example style and stoic confidence. His on-ice play is characterized by his defensive prowess, big-body play, and blistering slap shot. He has solidified his spot as one of the best defensemen in the league and is a veteran NHLer.

Where Are They Now?

Well, quite frankly, both players have posted solid numbers for their respective teams.

Shea Weber

GP G A P +/-
37 9 12 21 16
Shea Weber, P.K. Subban, Michel Therrien, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, Hockey, NHL, Goals, Points, Assists, +/-, Andrei MArkov, Andrew Shaw, Alex Galchenyuk, David Dersharnais, Canadian, Denfense, Defenseman, Offense

Photo credit: Jean-Yves Ahern, USA Today Sports

Though there was a lot of hesitation by Montreal fans, Shea Weber silenced the doubters almost immediately. When the Canadiens started the season 9-0-1, there was not a lot of bad press surrounding Shea Weber. The fans had quieted down, analysts were lauding it as the trade of the year, and the general sentiment in Montreal was that Weber was fitting in just fine. In fact, Weber potted four goals and six assists through those first 10 games.

In addition, Weber is also logging an average of over 26 minutes of ice time per game; highest among Montreal skaters.

“He’s got a huge impact,” Coach Michel Therrien said.

 

 

 

 

P.K. Subban

GP G A P +/-
29 7 10 17 -11

 

Shea Weber, P.K. Subban, Michel Therrien, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, Hockey, NHL, Goals, Points, Assists, +/-, Andrei MArkov, Andrew Shaw, Alex Galchenyuk, David Dersharnais, Canadian, Denfense, Defenseman, Offense

Photo credit: Peter Power, Canadian Press.

When news broke about the trade, Montreal media would have had you believing that the city was burning to the ground. They acted like the sky was falling and all hell had broken loose. P.K. Subban was truly a hero in Montreal and to see him go was heart-wrenching for the fans.

While nobody in Nashville was ready to say goodbye to their longtime captain, Subban was welcomed with open arms. His fast skating and puck-moving ability would no doubt add great value to the Nashville Predators, who attack the offensive zone with speed and appreciate offensive defensemen.

Unfortunately for Subban, his numbers have not been as good as Shea Webers. To make matters worse, Subban was recently relegated to the injured reserve list and will not be eligible to play when the Nashville Predators host the Montreal Canadiens this Tuesday, January 3. Subban is sidelined with an upper-body injury related to a herniated disk in his back, which may or may not require surgery.

So Who Won?

It’s hard to say who won out in this trade. Subban undoubtedly fits with the style of play that the Nashville Predators prefer to push. He is fast on the ice, smart with his stick, and can move the puck like nobody’s business. He is a compliment to the Nashville blue line to say the least. His numbers are solid and the Nashville Predators are on the rise, starting to put some wins together, and move up in the standings. Nashville’s comparatively slow start to the season leaves a little room for argument though.

While the Predators were struggling to get things going, Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens wasted no time in racking up the wins. They rocketed to the top of the standings and have remained there ever since. Through Carey Price’s absence at the beginning of the season, to the team’s injury related issues (Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw, David Desharnais, and Andrei Markov are all suffering from injuries at the moment), Weber has remained rock solid.

The Game

There will most likely be a short video tribute to the all-star, Olympic gold-winning, long-time former captain Shea Weber before the game on Tuesday. The former Predator spent the entirety of his career in Nashville before being dealt this offseason. Weber played a large role in the development of hockey in the region.

Though P.K. Subban will be in attendance, he will not suit up. He is suffering from an upper body injury and will be sidelined until he is evaluated by team doctors in two to three weeks.

The Nashville Predators will host the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday, January 3, at Bridgestone Arena. The puck will drop at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Alex Ovechkin, NHL, IIHF, IOC, Olympics, 2018, Korea, NLHPA, Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, Hockey, Wayne Gretzky, Washington Capitals, National Hockey League, International Ice Hockey Federation, 2018 Olympic Games, 2014 Sochi Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Olympic Hockey

Olympic Hockey: The NHL Abroad

Olympic hockey as you know it may never be the same again.

Players badly want to represent their countries in the upcoming Olympics, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL owners see no benefit in allowing their players to compete overseas. It is now up to Bettman to find a suitable solution to this problem.

But how did we even get here?

Alex Ovechkin, NHL, IIHF, IOC, Olympics, 2018, Korea, NLHPA, Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, Hockey, Wayne Gretzky, Washington Capitals, National Hockey League, International Ice Hockey Federation, 2018 Olympic Games, 2014 Sochi Games, PyeongChang, South Korea, Olympic Hockey

Gary Bettman (left) and Donald Fehr (right). Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski, USA Today Sports

For the past twenty years, the NHL has participated in the Winter Olympics without interruption: Nagano, Salt Lake City, Turin, Vancouver, and Sochi. This young tradition may soon be coming to an end.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang a little over a year away, the NHL has not yet decided whether or not they will allow their players to travel to South Korea and represent their respective countries.

The main actors at play here are the International Olympic Committee, the NHL, and the NHLPA (Player’s Association).

The whole question of whether or not the NHL should participate in the upcoming Olympics began when the IOC announced that they would no longer front the bill for travel and insurance costs. The estimated cost to cover these was over $10 million. This left a sour taste in the mouths of many NHL owners.

 

According to Bettman

There is a “strong negative sentiment” among NHL owners towards halting mid-season and allowing their elite players to compete overseas in 2018. Their concerns primarily revolve around the almost certain revenue losses, which inevitably come with an Olympic break, and potential player injuries. Both pose serious problems for owners routinely responsible for hundred million dollar payrolls. For Bettman, the solution was a matter of compromise, but not between the NHL and the IOC. Instead, Bettman and the NHL approached the NHLPA with a deal.

In return for the NHL fronting the travel and insurance bills, suffering the revenue losses, and risking their most valuable players to injury, the NHLPA was asked to extend the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, thereby waiving their opt-out clause in 2019. This would have extended the current CBA well into the future, ensuring players the opportunity to participate in international hockey for another two Olympics. It was, however, categorically rejected by the NHLPA.

And so here we are

Everyone is waiting for a decision to come down from the NHL’s top brass about whether or not we will see the world’s top talent compete in Korea in 2018. Some aren’t waiting though.

Washington Capitals star, and NHL icon, Alexander Ovechkin has repeatedly stated that his will to compete in the Winter Olympics is greater than that of the NHL’s to abstain. Even if the NHL refuses to participate, Ovechkin has said that he “and other players will definitely come [to the Olympics]” in 2018 and represent Russia. He made similar statements when the NHL’s participation was up in the air prior to the 2014 Sochi games.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky gave his two cents, stating that he happens “to love everything about the Olympic Games.” Gretzky knows, though, that his love of the games does not necessarily mean that the NHL has to participate. “I like the Olympic Games, but does that mean that the NHL is going to go? I don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t tell you,” he said.

While Gary Bettman and the NHL hope to reach a decision by early January, they continue to appear rather pessimistic in their potential participation, or lack thereof, in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.

 

In the meantime

 

 

The League’s top super stars of past and present have spoken out against the NHL’s proposed divestment from Olympic hockey. Their representative, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, recently released a statement to the public on Sunday.

I’m more optimistic now than I have ever been, at least as far as we’re concerned, that we’ll be able to reach an appropriate agreement with the IIHF to allow for the players to go.

The problem is that this sentiment is not felt by the other parties involved. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has told the NHL that they will find a way to bridge the $10 million gap, but the NHL remains weary of their ability to do so.

The IOC has stoically remained silent on the subject.

The NHL has yet to release any more information other than the fact that they are no more inclined to send their talent to Korea in 2018 than they were before Fehr’s statement on Sunday.

This leaves us fans, sitting here, waiting patiently. Wondering what our respective teams will look like without their NHL talent on board. Wondering, perhaps, who will be willing to follow the likes of Ovechkin and company if the NHL does indeed pull their support for the games and what that will mean for the NHL, the NHLPA, and the IOC.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

The Unstoppable Columbus Blue Jackets

Nobody on this planet could have predicted that by the Christmas break the Columbus Blue Jackets would be battling for first in NHL standings. Nobody could have predicted their incredible 13-game winning streak. Nobody could have predicted the success that John Tortorella has had in Columbus thus far.

In fact, this time last year the Blue Jackets sat among the bottom in league standings and just prior to the 2016-17 season, odds makers had Tortorella among the most likely to lose his coaching job in the NHL.

All that changed after delivering a crushing 10-0 loss to the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens. One could look back at that game as perhaps the moment when Torts and the Jackets let the league know just who came to play this year.

So let’s break down the Blue Jackets’ success.

Sergie Bobrovsky

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

Photo credit: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images.

GP W GAA SV% SO
29 22 1.91 .934 3

 

From post to post, the blue paint of net minder Sergie Bobrovsky has been off limits to opposing teams for the better part of the 2016-17 NHL season. And it’s been showing in a big way for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The 2013 Vezina Trophy winner, Sergie Bobrovsky, has been having a stellar year thus far, posting 22 wins, a 1.94 GAA, 0.932 save percentage, and three shutouts.

Over the Jackets’ 13-game wining streak, Bobrovsky has been rock solid, posting an 11-0-0 record and a .944 save percentage.

Will it be another Vezina worthy year for Bobrovsky? The numbers are certainly there. For comparison’s sake, his GAA and save percentage are both better than his 2013 Vezina Trophy winning numbers.

Offense

 

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

Photo credit: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Image

Okay, sure. Goaltending has been great. But let’s forget about that for now. Offensively, the Jackets have been an absolute powerhouse.

Where to start? The Columbus Blue Jackets boast the league’s best power play. With guys like rookie Zach Werenski, who has earned 12 of his 22 points this year on the power play, Columbus is among the league’s most lethal teams with a man advantage. With a 27.1% success rate when their opponent is in the box, the Jackets are simply frightening when it comes to special teams.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are also third in the league in goals. Forget, for a moment, that the Columbus Blue Jackets have amassed an impressive 114 goals for; behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins (129) and New York Rangers (123). Let’s look at these numbers in terms of goal differential.

While Pittsburgh and New York might be able to lay claim to more overall goals this year, the Columbus Blue Jackets have managed a goals for/goals against differential of +46, making them number one in the league for goal differential.

This can be attributed to many of the team’s core players enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad, Nick Foligno, Sam Gagner, and Scott Hartnell have over 20 points each. And rookie Zach Werenski has been making an excellent case for the Calder this year, with 22 points of his own.

Defense

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

Photo credit: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images.

Last year Columbus’ defense struggled greatly, and there were some personnel changes made in an effort to get Sergie Bobrovsky the kind of back end support he deserves.

Enter Seth Jones.

Seth Jones seems to have settled in nicely alongside his Calder Trophy candidate line mate, Zach Werenski. Acquired last year from the Nashville Predators, in return for center Ryan Johansen, Seth Jones seems to be doing quite well. He holds down the first line unit with Werenski and has collected six goals and eight assists in 27 games so far this season.

With a +46 goal differential, a new and improved defense, and a Calder Trophy candidate on the blue line, Columbus has shown that they are more than just the League’s most dangerous offensive juggernaut.

Coaching

Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Scott Hartnell, Sergie Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, Brandon Saad, Sam Gagner, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Goals, Assists, Power Play, Jack Adams, Ryan Johansen, NHL, Hockey, SV%, GAA, Save Percentage, Goals Against Average

Photo credit: Norm Hall, NHLI via Getty Images

What, then, do we make of John Tortorella?

It’s hard to comment on what happens in the dressing room. It’s hard to say how players perceive their coach. These things tend to happen outside the view of fans and sports analysts. These are the intangible aspects of the game.

Whatever it is that we make of John Tortorella, the wins are racking up and things are looking good for him and his team right now. John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets have a lot going for them. They are cruising through the competition and are poised to make the playoffs and take a run at the cup this year.

The season is still young, but Tortorella might find himself with another Jack Adams Trophy. His name has been tossed around for coach of the year. Obviously this is predicated on the continued success of his team, but the conversation is being had.

Who knows- maybe there is even a second Stanley Cup in John Tortorella’s future.

 

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Steve Downie, Hockey, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Arizona Coyotes, Dave Tippet, Don Cherry, Fight, Concussion

Steve Downie’s Holiday Rant

Former NHLer Steve Downie took to twitter over the holidays to tell it like it is, calling out some of hockey’s biggest names in the process. You don’t have to like what he has to say, but you ought to respect him for saying it.

Photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek, The Associated Press

Photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek, The Associated Press

The 2005 first round draft pick (29th overall) of the Philadelphia Flyers is best known for his aggressive on-ice play. In 2007, Downie was suspended 20 games for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond. This stands as the fifth longest suspension in league history.

About the Hit That Defined his Career

Downie doesn’t shy away from his questionable play though. In a twitter rant full of scorn for the fighting culture of the NHL, Downie said:

Clearly remorseful for his actions, many lashed out with hate as Downie attempted to tell his side of the story. However, not everyone threw shade. Downie had his supporters and they encouraged him to speak up, even against what many consider to be the toxic environment bread in the dressing rooms of teams across professional sports.

It’s not as if Downie’s perils were aimless. He knew exactly who to point the finger at.

This is where Downie makes a good point. He highlights a culture that a lot of young kids grow up in. He uses himself as a case in point for the outcome of what years of false bravado and machismo can do to a person.

Hockey is a game where split second decisions are made and consequences can sometimes result. They can come in the form of career-shattering concussions and 20 game suspensions. It is worth it to put ourselves in Steve Downie’s skates for a second.

He wasn’t quite done with Don. He added:

 

But wait, there’s more

He didn’t just call out Don Cherry for promoting the type of culture to which Downie subscribed, and was subsequently shunned for adhering to. Downie had choice words for Dave Tippet and the Arizona Coyotes franchise as well.

Downie took a shot at the league concussion protocol, the subject of which has been a hot topic as of late.

For what it’s worth, the NHL has installed concussion spotters and a more comprehensive concussion protocol this year to combat exactly the type of mishandling highlighted by Downie. He still had more to say about Tippet:

Who knows why the Arizona Coyotes haven’t been making much happen since they entered the league when the Winnipeg Jets moved to the desert in 1996, but Downie does have a point. They do finish close to last almost every single year.

It’s hard not to feel for Downie in a situation like this. It would appear he did what he was told and now everyone hates him for it.

It’s even harder to see an NHLer express remorse over such a dream as a career in the NHL.

In 434 career NHL games, Steve Downie scored 76 goals and 120 assists while racking up 1057 penalty minutes during stints with the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Arizona Coyotes.

 

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