NHL Super 8

Not so super 8 – Feb. 17

This week finally picked up a bit in the top 16.

However, a couple of teams were snubbed by the panel in place of what feels to be less deserving teams (LA Kings and New Jersey Devils.)

Let’s get right to it.

ANAHEIM DUCKSSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Ducks should’ve had a spot in the Super 16. Some of the other teams that made it into the top 16 definitely are not as hot as the Ducks right now. They likely missed because of their close victories with below average teams.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Ducks need to start showing up and taking command against lower-ranked teams as stated earlier. They only beat the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers each by a score of 3-2, and then lost to the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. They are getting destroyed by the better teams in the league and barely squeaking out wins against every other team. The Ducks are 5-3-2 the last 10.

COLORADO AVALANCHESuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

This is another team that is in the top 16 rankings wise that didn’t make the power ranking cut. They probably also should have made the Super 16 over a couple other teams, but they missed due to their just “ok” last 10 record of 4-5-1.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Last week they got destroyed by the St. Louis Blues and then lost to the Carolina Hurricanes. This week they barely beat the Sabres and the Montreal Canadiens and then were blown out by Winnipeg. Much like the Ducks, they need to start finding victories against better teams and need to limit the scoring of lesser teams.

They are also seeing impressive offensive numbers from their forwards. Nathan MacKinnon has 61 points followed closely by Mikko Rantanen with 52 and Gabriel Landeskog with 42. They just need their goalies to pick it up a bit. They only have a combined .914 save percentage.

CAROLINA HURRICANESSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Hurricanes have honestly done pretty well over their past 10 games, but aren’t really in a ranked position to be in the Super 16. They are 5-4-1 in their last 10 and won three straight before losing their last two to the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Hurricanes are on an upward path. Their victories have come against some quality teams. They beat the LA Kings 7-3 earlier in the week. If they continue to play well against teams like the Kings, they have a shot to move up significantly in the standings.

FLORIDA PANTHERSSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

While the Panthers have won their last two and are 6-4-0 in their last 10, they have been struggling to shut down their opponents offensively not only in their losses, but also in their wins. Like when they beat the Oilers on Monday by a score of 7-5.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Roberto Luongo has stepped up his game in the crease, but the backups need to become more reliable. James Reimer and Harri Sateri have a combined .910 save percentage. Considering Reimer has started the most games this season, those numbers just won’t cut it.

New York IslandersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

This is where things start going downhill. The Islanders are 4-5-1 in their last 10, which is “ok” but not great.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

If the Islanders can see more goaltending performances like that of Jaroslav Halak against the New York Rangers (50-save shutout), then they may start looking up. His .912 save percentage is less than average, but if that changes, they may be ok. Especially with the impressive offensive numbers they are seeing. John Tavares has 64 points so far this season and is followed just barely by Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey, who each have 62.

DETROIT RED WINGSSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Redwings are 4-4-2 their last 10. They are low in the standings and can’t seem to find a winning rhythm, which is why they keep missing out on the Super 16.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Turn those two OT losses into wins and their record the last 10 is 6-4-0, and they are up three spots in league standings. Regulation wins would really help boost this team, especially at home where they have a league-leading seven OT losses.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETSSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Blue Jackets were 3-5-2 in their last 10. Their record in the last 10 games alone is what is keeping them from even getting close to the Super 16.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Blue Jackets have been on a significant downward spiral these past three weeks. They barely missed the Super 16 three weeks ago. Now they aren’t even close and are traveling closer to the bottom of the standings.

This past week, they have been very hot and cold. They will beat teams by large margins, like when they beat the Islanders 4-1 and the Devils 6-1. They also lost by significant margins to the Leafs (6-3) and the Washington Capitals (4-2).

The Blue Jackets really need to stay consistent here to even have a shot at breaking into the Super 16.

ARIZONA COYOTESSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They are last in the league, so it is clear why they missed. But they are more deserving to sit in this spot just due to their efforts in their last 10. Their record sits at 5-4-1 the last 10 and they are on a three-game winning streak.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They can actually keep winning games. It is hard to break this down because everything needs to change for the Coyotes. In reality, they have no shot of even getting close to the Super 16, but their effort the last stretch is worth recognizing and their fans should appreciate it.

 

Team logos and featured image from NHL.com

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Team Canada

(W)o(e) Team Canada!

For the first time in recent memory, we will not see the NHL star-studded Olympics of Winter’s past.

I am sure you all are very familiar with Gary Bettman’s decision to nix NHL player’s participation in the Olympics this year. Meaning that all of the Olympic hockey rosters have a very different look this year.

IN THE CREASE

Two of the goalies on Team Canada’s roster have played less than 85 games.

31-year-old Justin Peters played 85 games in the NHL and sported a losing record of 25-38-9 with an unimpressive .901 S%. He currently plays for Kölner Haie in Germany.

27-year-old Kevin Poulin is even less impressive (is this supposed to be our Olympic roster? I’m confused). He played only 50 games in the NHL with a 18-25-3 record and a .899 S% (yikes).

Team Canada

Ben Scrivens is Team Canada’s goalie with the most NHL experience. (Courtesy of Montreal Gazette)

He currently plays for EHC Kloten in Switzerland.

Their starter seems to be 31-year-old Ben Scrivens who spent 144 games in the NHL with a 47-64-17 record and a .905 S%. He currently plays for Salavat Yulaev Ufa in Russia.

Their goalie situation is below average, at best. Three goalies with NHL losing records and far below average save percentages. The only plus? They have more experience playing against international players so maybe that will be their saving grace.

THE BLUE LINe

The defensive core sports two defensemen that have no NHL experience. Mat Robinson and Chris Lee both went undrafted in the NHL out of college. 37-year-old Lee does has impressive KHL numbers, and was the top scoring defenseman in the league in the 2016-17 season. He is also one of Team Canada’s alternate captains

Next we have a group of defensemen with less than 25 games played in the NHL. Chay Genoway played one game in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. He currently plays for Lada Togliatti in Russia. Maxim Noreau played six games in the NHL also for the Wild. He is Team Canada’s other alternate captain. Rounding out this group is Karl Stollery who has 23 games of experience in the NHL. He bounced between three different NHL teams and currently plays for Dinamo Riga in Latvia.

The three most notable blue-liners for Team Canada are Stefan Elliot, Cody Goloubef and Marc-Andre Gragnani. With a combined 291 games in the NHL between the three of them they still don’t have much pro time.

THE FORWARDS

This is where we find some more of the well known NHL names.

Only four of these players have less than 100 games of NHL experience and those players are: Christian Thomas with 27 GP, Eric O’Dell with 41 GP, Brandon Kozun with 20 GP and Quinton Howden with 97 GP.

Also making an appearance on the roster we have: Gilbert Brule who played 299 games in the NHL with 43 goals and 52 assists, Andrew Ebbett who played 224 games in the NHL with 26 goals and 45 assists, Ebbett broke his leg in 2015 and was told he may never walk normally again let alone play hockey, so his appearance in this year’s Olympics is an impressive one. Rob Klinkhammer played 193 game sin the NHL scoring 22 goals with 21 assists and Linden Vey played 138 games in the NHL with 14 goals and 30 assists.

Wojtek Wolski played 451 games in the NHL and scored 99 goals with 168 assists. He was a 21st overall draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche. He bounced between five NHL teams in his seven seasons. In 2016 he broke his neck and thought he was paralyzed after diving head first into the boards. Wojtek plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in Russia.

Mason Raymond played 546 games in the NHL and scored 115 goals with 136 assists. He was the 51st overall draft pick for the Vancouver Canucks in 2005. He played for four different teams during his time in the NHL. Raymond currently plays for SC Bern in Switzerland.

Maxim Lapierre played 614 games in the NHL with 65 goals and 74 assists. He was the 61st overall draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2003. He played for five different teams in the NHL. Lapierre won the Calder Cup in 2007 with AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. He currently plays for HC Lugano in Switzerland.

Team Canada

Chris Kelly is Team Canada’s captain. (Courtesy of stanleycupofchowder.com)

Rene Borque was quite a well known player during his time in the NHL and is one of Team Canada’s alternate captains. He played 725 games with 163 goals and 153 assists. He played for six different NHL teams and had a 50 point season during his time with the Calgary Flames. Borque currently plays for Djurgardens IF in Sweden.

Derek Roy is by far the most notable player on this roster, with 738 NHL games played. He scored 189 goals with 335 assists. He was drafted 32nd overall in 2001 by the Buffalo Sabres. Roy currently plays for Linköpings HC in Sweden and was selected for the 2010 Olympic summer roster but did not make the final cut.

Chris Kelly is Team Canada’s captain and has the most NHL experience on the roster with 833 GP. He had 123 goals and 166 assists. He won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with the Boston Bruins. Kelly currently plays for the Belleville Senators in the AHL.

THE OUTLOOK

General Manager Sean Burke recognized that while the NHL is the best hockey league in the world that their is plenty of talent outside of it.

“The N.H.L. is the best league in the world, and I don’t think anybody would disagree with that,but Canada still has a large pool of talent. Try to tell them it’s not the N.H.L. players, it’s not the best players in the world.”

While I agree that their are plenty of talented players outside of the NHL, the Olympics this year may be a struggle for Team Canada.

The group of forwards they selected is a veteran squad but a very talented one. Where we are going to see issues is first at the blue line and then in the crease. While NHL talent isn’t everything, the defensive core for this team has not seen nearly enough pro games to prepare themselves for this level of competition.

The goalie situation is really awful and there is no other way to spin it. Their collective save percentage is .902 and they sport losing NHL records. All three goalies were unable to keep up with the speed and accuracy of the NHL shooters.

Due to the fact that NO NHL players are in these Olympics does help the situation but it will be a much more even playing field (or rink) than in years past.

Featured image from CHL.com

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Super 8

Not so Super 8-February 9

And we are back with this week’s “Not so Super 8”.

There was quite a bit of shifting this week in the Super 16, some of which I am not totally in agreement with. I mean sure the Golden Knights lost a couple games in regulation. That doesn’t mean they deserve to be dropped to the third spot.

This week also had a lot fewer teams that even deserved to be in consideration. Most of the teams that missed the Super 16 are on huge slides right now.

Let’s get right to it.

Super 8LA Kings

WHY DID THEY MISS?

This one is tough. They are on a two game win streak, their record the past 10 is 5-5-0 and they are in the top 16 in the NHL. It really just game down to choosing between them, San Jose and Anaheim.

Super 8

Offensive statistics for the LA Kings (Screenshot from NHL.com)choosing between them, San Jose and Anaheim.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

We need to start seeing more production offensively from players other than Anze Kopitar. Just take a look at their offensive stat breakdown. Kopitar leads the team in points by almost 20 above Drew Doughty. And while there is nothing wrong with defensemen who are offensively minded, why the hell is Doughty above any other forward in point production?

In addition to this, Jonathan Quick is not playing his best for the Kings. With only a 2.51 GAA and a .919 S% he really needs to cement his place as the Kings’ number one guy in the crease.

Philadelphia FlyersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Flyers did pretty well this week, so much like the Kings, I am not super sure. Also on a two game win streak and sporting an even better record the past 10 games of 6-3-1, I think they also could’ve had a spot in the Super 16.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

It is too bad the Flyers don’t have better goalies because they have three players with plus 50 point production. The struggles in the crease are killing the team. With Brian Elliot and Michal Neuvirth combing for a dismal 2.67 GAA and a .910 S%. They need a pick me up or their woes will continue.

Super 8Carolina Hurricanes

WHY DID THEY MISS?

This is where the play quality takes a steep drop in the list. The Hurricanes are at an okay 4-5-1 the past 10 games. They have been 9-10-1 their past 20 so they are really playing pretty averagely right now.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They are only pulling out close wins against average or less than average teams and they are getting smoked by good teams. The Hurricanes really need to find a way to pull out wins against the better teams if they want to move up in the league at all. They need more offensive production but they really won’t ever win games if their goaltending continues to be awful. Cam Ward and Scott Darling combine for even worse numbers that Elliot and Neuvirth, with a 2.85 GAA and a .901 S%. I mean those numbers are just awful and potentially the worst in the league with the exception of the Coyotes.

Florida PanthersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Panthers missed purely because of actual ranking in the NHL. Other than that they are on fire, they have won four straight games and are 6-4-0 in their last 10.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

In their six games before the win streak they had 27 goals against. That is 4.5 goals per game, and it is completely unacceptable. Roberto Luongo needs to step up in a big way to keep their goal differential lower. This team could easily be in the top 16 in the league, they have the pieces to the puzzle. They just need to execute.

New York IslandersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have lost one and are 3-5-2 their last 10. They are gathering points but just not quite enough to keep them on par with the Super 16.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Win. In. Regulation. A couple of their regulation losses have been by a one goal margin. In addition to that they lost twice in overtime. They need to start pulling that second point instead of settling for one. Also they lost to the Coyotes and the Sabres in that time frame. Those are the worst two teams in the league a win in both of those games flips their past 10 record to a better than average 5-3-2.

Columbus Blue JacketsSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Blue Jackets are closer to being in the league’s top 16 than a lot of the teams above them. They missed because of the three game slide they are on right now with a past 10 game record of 3-6-1.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They need to start getting contributions from their key players. Josh Anderson is leading in goals with 16 and Artemi Panarin leads in points with 42. That’s fine and all, bit where are Zach Werenski, Nick Foligno and Alexander Wennberg? I found them. Way down the stat sheet not really contributing to their team.

Chicago BlackhawksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

I was really starting to grasp at straws here. The Blackhawks record the past 10 is 2-6-2. That pretty much speaks for itself.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

With the amount of star power this team has, it never ceases to baffle me how badly they are doing this year. They are just waiting for something to click, and when it does I am sure they’ll be back to their winning ways.

Edmonton OilersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Oilers are just finally starting to figure things out this season. It is too late at this point. Their 5-4-0 record the past 10 is okay and it’s far better than most of the bottom dwellers they share real estate with.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

It can’t be just “The Connor McDavid Show” anymore. The kid is LITERALLY carrying the team to victory. He scores the majority of the goals whether they win or lose, and there isn’t much other offensive production.

I have no bonus team this week because every team that did not make the Super 16 cut was relatively average. Whereas in the past teams have been snubbed.

Team logos and featured image courtesy of NHL.com

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Welcome back Mike Fisher

It’s not quite comparable to the emotional rollercoaster Brett Favre put Packers’ fans through in 2008 but it comes close. Mike Fisher was a staple in Nashville before his somewhat unexpected retirement at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Fisher played 17 seasons in the NHL and captained the Nashville Predators for the last season. He amassed 276 goals and 309 assists in 1,088 regular season games.

FISHER’S IMPACT ON THE NASHVILLE COMMUNITY

In addition to his impressive career he was also well loved by the Nashville (or Smashville) community. In 2012 Fisher won the NHL Foundation Award which celebrates the player who best enriches the lives of those around them and in the community.

The NHL said this with the announcement of his nomination,

“Since coming to Nashville in February 2011, Fisher has developed strong relationships with a number

Mike Fisher

Fisher with NHL Foundation Award. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

of non-profit organizations: Room In the Inn, a full-service homeless facility located a few blocks from Bridgestone Arena; Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt; and Cottage Cove Urban Ministries, a Nashville based non-profit organization that serves inner-city youth.

Fisher donated $40,000 to Cottage Cove to purchase a van for the youth center and renovate their music room. He’s also purchased tickets for the Fisher’s Friends ticket program for youth organizations. In September 2011, Fisher released the book, “Defender of Faith: The Mike Fisher Story,” geared toward children ages 9-11 that highlights his faith journey, with all sales benefitting World Vision, and autographed copies sold at Bridgestone Arena raising money for Room In the Inn.

Fisher and his wife also are seen at various charity fundraisers in the Middle Tennessee area, including events for The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s and Rocketown, and he is an annual participant in the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation program.”

This is how the Smashville community reacted to his retirement.

Fisher’s reach went beyond just Nashville.

Definitely take a chance to read that story in the last tweet. It just goes to show how important Fisher was to hockey fans in general.

WHY HE LEFT

It seems as though beyond Fisher’s desire to open more time with his family there were no additional reasons in his decision to retire.

In a heartfelt letter to the people of Nashville he opened with,

“Smashville,

I can still picture it vividly.

That afternoon on TV, I’d seen a drone shot of Broadway and the area surrounding Bridgestone Arena that showed all the people gathered for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. I gasped. How was there that many people there? And all to support us? It was almost incomprehensible.”

-Mike Fisher, Captain of the Nashville Predators

In the letter Fisher states his reasoning for leaving as just being the right time. He also attributed his decision to God’s timing. He shared his support for the city and the team and said “I believe that this team, that this city, is going to win a championship, and I’m going to be the biggest fan. No one will be happier than I will be to see it happen, because, these fans, they deserve it.”

During his brief retirement Fisher loved the times he got to spend with his son Isaiah and loves that he has gotten to see him grow up from home.

ANNNDDDD HE’S BACK

In a surprising turn of events Mike Fisher has announced that he is returning to the NHL on Jan. 31. The decision was, there’s no other way to say it, random. I don’t think anyone saw it coming.

The implications around his return are only just starting to clear up but there are some theories floating around as to why he is returning and as to what prompted his return.

However, after speaking with former teammate, Roman Josi and consulting with his wife Fisher decided to go back to the sport he loves. He says that after discussing with his family and praying about it that he decided it would be best for him to return.

Mike Fisher

Fisher and his wife, Carrie Underwood, with their son Isaiah. (Courtesy of Reuters)

“I asked my son and he’s like, ‘no, no,’ and I don’t even know if he knew what he was saying no to,” said Fisher in an interview with NHL.com

Beyond Fisher’s feeling that it was the “right time” and him getting the blessing from his family and the Predators, there is really no other given reasons for his return.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Predators’ leadership core says that they would do anything to get Fisher’s leadership and passion back on the team so they have jumped at the opportunity to have him back.

“Everything I’ve ever known about Mike, from the time that he’s been here, is he sets a challenge he thinks he can do, he will get it done. He’s got some work to do on and off the ice. We have no timetable for his return, we’re going to be patient, we’re going to see where he’s ready to go and we’re just going to manage this between Lavi and me and Mike and all this is really for getting ready for the playoffs… this is a huge day. This is really neat.” Said Predators’ GM David Poile.

There is no definite timeline for Fisher’s return. Both he and the Predators hope to make a Stanley Cup run.

His return not only comes as joy to the Nashville Predators but also to the hockey community as a whole.

Featured image from ESPN.com

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Super 8

The not so Super 8 February 2

The NHL puts out their picks for the “Super 16” power rankings each week. They consider these teams the hottest in the NHL.

Every week I will take the eight teams closest to making the Super 16 cut, plus one bonus team (a team that made the Super 16 that should not have) and tell you what I think they are doing wrong and what they need to do to break into the Super 16.

Here are the team in the order that they missed the Super 16 by:

New Jersey Devils Super 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

Honestly, this one has me a little unsure. The Devils sit at 12th overall in the NHL and their record the last 10 games is 4-5-1. It isn’t stellar, but they are sitting better than a few of their counterparts that made the cut. Three of those losses came to the Predators, Bruins and Flyers, all very good teams. The only reason they missed is likely due to the fact that they were on a bit of a downward slide when the Super 16 was released.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE? 

They really need to have Keith Kinkaid step up his game as backup net minder. He has a less than stellar 3.10 GAA and a .896 S%. In addition to that Taylor Hall is leading the team offensively by a great amount. If some of their secondary contributors would step up the team would benefit greatly.

Calgary FlamesSuper 8

 WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Flames were the hottest team in the league to start the year off. They had a seven game win streak and an 11 game point streak. Even though they extended their point streak for 11 games they have lost six straight games.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Flames need to learn how to hold a lead. In their last two losses (to the Golden Knights and Lightning) they held a two goal lead at some point in the game. Unforced errors lead to break downs in their defense and ultimately a couple of rough losses. They also need to start winning at home.

Columbus Blue JacketsSuper 8

  WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Blues Jackets’ record the last ten games was 5-4-1, not great, but not too bad. They mostly missed out here due to the fact that a few of their losses the ten games have been to pretty subpar teams (i.e. the Sabres and the Canucks).

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They need to start beating the easy teams. In addition to that, they need to start beating some of the league leaders as well. They aren’t competing when it counts and it is costing them. Sergei Bobrovsky is playing incredibly well so they need to capitalize on that.

Carolina HurricanesSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

While the Hurricanes are on a three game win streak, they have a deep hole to dig themselves out of. Their record the last ten games is 5-5-0.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Their net minders need to both step up. Both Cam Ward and Scott Darling are playing at very average levels. In addition to this they aren’t able to keep up with any of the better teams in the league, and they are losing by too big of margins.

Chicago BlackhawksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They are sitting at 4-5-1 in their last ten games. They have put the beat down on lesser teams but aren’t able to compete with the top teams in the league.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Blackhawks are surprisingly bad. They have all of the pieces. They are a team of all-stars, but nothing is clicking for them. Once they are able to click at the right time and actually start competing with the better teams in the league maybe they will climb out of this hole. They also need to improve their power play.

Florida PanthersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have won two straight but are still just 4-5-1 in the last ten games. Much like the Hurricanes, they are often getting blown out by average teams.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The fact that they have both James Reimer and Roberto Luongo and they still aren’t able to have solid goaltending is shocking. Both net minders need to step up.

New York IslandersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have two straight losses and a 5-4-1 record their last ten.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They are getting pretty solid numbers offensively but they are backstopped by one of the worst goalie combos in the league. Not much more to say there.

Vancouver CanucksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have been consistently struggling not only this year but for the past four or five years. They are sitting at 5-5-0 in their last ten.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The player with the highest contribution is their rookie, Brock Boeser. The veterans need to step up and start contributing more and leading the team.

BONUSSuper 8

I don’t think it’s super surprising that the Philadelphia Flyers are the team I think shouldn’t have made the Super 16. They sit below three teams that didn’t make the Super 16 (Devils, Flames and Blue Jackets) and they aren’t even on a hot streak. They have lost three straight and their record the last ten games is 6-4-0, which is fine but still not impressive.

All team logo images courtesy of NHL.com

Featured image courtesy NHL.com

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Jaromir Jagr

Living Legend’s Era Comes to a Close: Jaromir Jagr and NHL part ways

Well, it’s official. Jaromir Jagr’s waivers have cleared and he is on his way to play for HC Klando in the Czech Republic.

WHERE WAS THE BREAKDOWN?

Jagr just couldn’t quite hang in the big leagues this season. Consistently battling injuries, and slowing down, the Calgary Flames just were not benefiting from having Jagr on the payroll anymore.

In his 22 games played with the Flames, Jagr only tallied one goal and six assists with a plus six rating.

His time on ice average was dwindling at 13:03 per game, down from his career average of 20:19.

The final factor really comes down to the fact that there just wasn’t room for him on the Flames.

It sounds crazy for Calgary to not need help in the offensive zone (I mean they aren’t stellar, but they certainly aren’t struggling) but 49 games into the season the Flames are sitting at 11th place in the NHL.

The offensive trio of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Michael Ferland is lights out. I mean come on, look at this chemistry. The setup starts 45 seconds in. (Video from Sportsnet)

They are also bolstered by Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett.

JAGR’S MARK ON THE FLAMES

You can’t have a guy with the experience of Jagr on your team and not benefit in some way.

The young Flames certainly learned a thing or two from Jagr and the coaches thank him for it.

“I get to say I played alongside Jaromir Jagr,” said forward Curtis Lazar in an interview with calgaryflames.com.

Flames GM Brad Treliving said they don’t regret signing Jagr at all and that they were happy to have him as a part of the team.

“Any time you’re around greatness, any time you’re able to pull from that, I think you can only improve.” Said Treliving in an interview with calgaryflames.com.

Coach Glen Gulutzan said that just having Jagr around made the team better.

JAGR’s MARK ON THE NHL

There is no doubt in my mind that Jaromir Jagr will be the next big addition to the NHL Hall of Fame.

Jagr ranked in the top of categories such as second in total points with 1,914, third in goals with 765, 13th in power play goals with 209 and number one in game winning goals with 133.

Jaromir Jagr

Jagr during his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Courtesy of Beer League Beauts)

I know I talked about Jagr’s potential NHL retirement last week, but now that it has come to fruition it is worth mentioning again that Jagr is a legend.

Even though we could see it coming that doesn’t make it any less unfortunate and downright sad. I don’t think there is a hockey fan out there that didn’t want to see Jagr have a phenomenal season no matter who he played for.

Bearing that in mind. Cheers to you Jaromir Jagr, it has been a pleasure and an honor watching you play. Next stop: the Hall of Fame.

Featured image from Boston Herald

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NHL concussions

When will concussions be taken seriously?

The NHL has seen an increase in concussions over the years. That is more due to the fact that the NHL has implemented concussion protocols, and athletic trainers are actually looking out for more minor signs to catch them early on before they compound.

To put it simply, the number of concussions occurring is still the same as it used to be, we just are more aware of them now due to an increase of attention paid to concussions.

The Protocol

In 2016, the NHL introduced a new concussion protocol that implemented a “spotter” who is trained to spot visible signs of concussions immediately after a player gets hit.

NHL concussions

George Parros goes down hard on the ice after a fight. (Photo from Yahoo Sports)

study done in April of 2017 by the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that it was easier to predict a concussion if the player showed visible signs such as loss of consciousness, motor in-coordination or vacant look. It was harder to predict concussions when visual signs such as being slow to get up or clutching their head were exhibited.

I believe the biggest goal for these “spotters” will be to pull players from a game before they exacerbate their concussion. Like many athletes, NHL players have the tendency to try and play through the pain.

Playing through broken bones, torn ligaments and stitched up wounds isn’t ideal, nor is it healthy. Playing through concussions can have lifelong consequences. If the symptoms aren’t identified immediately after a player is hit, they will likely get up and keep playing.

Andrew Shaw of the Montreal Canadiens knows this all too well. “If there’s something wrong, right away you have to speak up and say something,” said Shaw in an interview with Sportsnet.

He had collided with Brady Skjei of the New York Rangers in a playoff game during the 2016-17 season. Instead of notifying the training staff, he played on. After subsequent hits, he was sidelined during Game 6 of the series, and the symptoms affected him until mid-July.

Aside from being sidelined, Shaw suffered from mood swings, anxiety and severe depression. Remember the “spotters” who were supposed to monitor these things? They are virtually useless when players do not exhibit any visual signs, much like Shaw in the video below. (Video from Sportsnet)

 

Shaw takes the hit right to the ear, so him wincing in pain is to be expected. However, he does not seem to be dazed or rattled by the hit.

I spoke to Chris Ritter who is a Sports Medicine Professional at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. Ritter spent a season working with the Anaheim Ducks as an intern athletic trainer.

“The general culture of contact sports has proven that being ‘tough’ means hiding or denying injury, especially when it comes to concussions. Now we are in a transition period, when the younger generations are fighting through the old mentality and learning that reporting injuries, especially concussions, is a good thing.”
-Chris Ritter, Cal Poly athletic trainer and former intern athletic trainer for the Anaheim Ducks

Now only time will tell as the younger generations come up and take over the big leagues.

Give The People What they want

Many fans are also calling for improvements to the concussion protocol.

The NHL has made moves to try and help with concussion prevention, but it isn’t enough. It’s hard to say what could be done to prevent compound concussions, but it is clear that visual signs are simply not enough to go by.

 

Featured image from The Globe and Mail

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Jaromir Jagr

Is it time for Jaromir Jagr to hang up the skates?

The man is a legend. As the oldest current player in the NHL at 45 years old, Jaromir Jagr has had a phenomenal, record-breaking career.

The man’s name is painting the record books. He is top-five in the categories of regular season goals, OT goals, game-winning goals and games played.

He is classified right alongside the most elite like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who aren’t bad company to keep.

THE LAST TWO SEASONS

Jaromir Jagr

Jagr during his time with the Florida Panthers.
(Photo from News At Speed)

Jagr’s 2015-16 season was an incredibly impressive one. It would be an impressive one for any player in the NHL, let alone someone his age. With 27 goals and 39 assists, Jagr was a force to be reckoned with. As the Florida Panthers’ scoring leader, they were forced to re-sign Jagr even with his age in question.

The next season saw a slight decline in production for Jagr, going down to 16 goals and 30 assists. By no means are those embarrassing figures, but perhaps the Panthers saw this as the beginning of the end for Jagr.

Postseason Jagr found himself in free agency with limited interest from teams, and no offer from the Panthers.

CURRENT SEASON

On Oct. 4, 2017, Jagr signed a one-year deal with his first ever Canadian NHL team, the Calgary Flames.

The young Flames really seemed like they could use the guidance of a seasoned NHL veteran like Jagr. Sure they have Mark Giordano and Matt Stajan, but they don’t quite fit in with the company Jagr keeps.

It’s safe to say that Flames fans and players were excited to see a legend come to Calgary.

“He’s one of the best to ever play the game. We’re getting a legend,” Michael Frolik said, according to ESPN.

Coach Glen Gulutzan said that Jagr’s hockey IQ was through the roof and would bring a lot to the team.

He even had a fan club based in Alberta called “The Traveling Jagrs.” Considering that they started the fan club before Jagr came to Calgary, they were pretty excited about the signing. (Video from Sportsnet)

Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived. Jagr’s numbers have plummeted during his time with the Flames. He’s been hindered by injuries likely due to age, which have caused him to miss many games this season.

With only one goal and six assists this season, it seems as though Jagr’s hopes of playing in the NHL until he is 50 are being quickly stripped away.

The Flames have now gone into talks about working on an exit strategy for Jagr. It is unsure at this time whether or not Jagr is in agreement with the Flames, but only time will tell.

IS IT HIS TIME

As a hockey fan and lover of all great legends, I would really hate to see Jagr go. Just purely because it is going to be so sad to see an end of an era.

As a reasonable human being and former athlete myself, I say it is time. To play any sport until nearly 50 years old takes a major toll on the body. To play hockey specifically until that age is a feat of immortals. Well, almost.

Jagr had two pretty stellar years before this one, so it is likely no one will even remember this season should he choose to end it here.

I would hate for him to go out like Chris Chelios and just battle a little too long to stay in the big leagues. Granted, nothing will take away Jagr’s accomplishments, not even one or two bad seasons.

The NHL will surely miss his presence as will the young Flames, at least from the hockey knowledge perspective. But I don’t think that Jagr has much time left in the NHL, if any at all.

 

Featured image from SB Nation

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Calgary Flames

Those Flames are so hot right now

The quintessentially average Calgary Flames have finally found their stride and it may be for real this time.

THE SLUMP YEARS

The last time the Calgary Flames made a legitimate run for the Stanley Cup was in 2004 against the Tampa Bay Lightning (spoiler, the Flames lost).

The last time the Flames won a Stanley Cup was WAY back in 1989 and that is their only Cup.

So, it’s been a while since the Flames have tasted victory and it seems as though they are finally getting hungry.

The Flames have failed to make the playoffs in six of the last ten NHL seasons. Those seasons were chaotic, unsure and frustrating.

Calgary Flames

Miikkaa Kiprusoff may be the best goaltender the Flames have ever had. (Photo from Reddit)

After losing Miikka Kiprusoff (who may be even more missed than Jarome Iginla) to retirement before the 2014-15 season the Flames struggled to find someone to take command between the pipes. They went through Jonas Hiller,  Kari Ramo, Reto Berra, Brian Elliot, Chad Johnson and most recently Eddie Lack.

Even when the Flames had Kiprusoff they lacked solid secondary support in the crease which caused the Flames to overplay Kiprusoff and potentially lead to his somewhat premature retirement.

In addition to their goaltending woes, the Flames also had an extremely slow and old group of players.

Calgary Flames

Here is a breakdown of the average ages in the NHL in 2010-11. (Screenshot from QuantHockey.com)

Veterans are beneficial to a team, but you don’t want a whole team of veterans.

The Calgary Flames were above the NHL age average from the 2009-10 season until the 2012-13 season. Two of those seasons they were second in age average (at nearly 30 years old) to only the Detroit Red Wings.

A COUPLE GOOD MOVES

Extending the contracts of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were clutch moves (albeit obvious). Their connection is absolutely incredible and adding Michael Ferland to that line has made a huge positive difference.

Picking up Dougie Hamilton and Travis Hamonic and the rise of Michael Stone have bolstered the Flames D-line to be one of top defensive cores in the league.

Picking up Mike Smith is one of the best things that’s happened to the Flames since Gaudreau became an unexpected star.

THE PAST TEN GAMES

In their last four games of December the Flames went 1-3. Not due to lack of effort. The Flames shootout loss against the San Jose Sharks was one of the best games I have ever watched.

On New Years Eve the Flames turned it all around. They were playing the Chicago Blackhawks and came out on top with a great all around effort. That victory sparked a seven game win streak which is still in progress. During the win streak the Flames have matched up with and beaten extremely strong opponents, such as the league leading Tampa Bay Lightning, the Anaheim Ducks and the LA Kings.

The biggest difference between this current streak and some of the Flames’ past streaks is the quality of the teams they are beating. In addition to this, the Flames are seeing offensive contributions from more players than just their first line, including key contributions from their defensemen.  

The Flames are seeing depth not only from their forwards and defensemen but also their goalies. It seems like for the first time in over a decade the Flames may have found a decent backup in David Rittich who has gone 4-1-1 since being called up with a 2.03 GAA and a .932 S%.

LOOKING FORWARD

Two members of the Flames were named to the NHL’s Three Stars of the Week; with Johnny Gaudreau at number one and Mike Smith at number two.

If the Flames continue to execute on special teams and keep their possession numbers up there is no reason why they shouldn’t be in the playoff picture.

Things are really starting to look up for the Flames, so if they can keep this level of confidence the rest of this season should be smooth sailing. 

Featured image from Calgary Herald

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NHL All-Star Game

NHL All-Star Game: The stars, the surprises and the snubbed

On Wednesday the NHL announced the roster for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game (ASG) in Tampa Bay, FL.

Most of the players that made the cut were obvious choices: Connor McDavid, Anze Kopitar, Nikita Kucherov, etc.

However, a good amount of players that made the team don’t quite fit the bill. There were a lot of quality players that didn’t make the cut in favor of less qualified players.

THE STARS

There are two different categories for the stars in the ASG.

You have the obvious, always have and will be all-stars such as Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, McDavid and more.

There are the stand alone stars who’s teams are seeing mediocre seasons but they still stand out such as: Mike Green, Johnny Gaudreau and Jack Eichel.

Granted the Penguins, Oilers and Blackhawks are having less than stellar seasons so Crosby, McDavid and Kane could all be included in this group too, but lets face it; it’ll be a cold day in hell when these guys aren’t on this roster.

THE SURPRISES

Here we have a category of players who either surprised me (in a good way) individually this year or they come from a surprisingly good hockey team (looking at you Vegas).  In this group we see: James Neal, Marc Andre-Fleury and John Klingberg (are you kidding me, 33 assists as a D-man?).

Some additions in this group of surprises are: Josh Bailey, right winger for the New York Islanders, who is sporting impressive numbers this season in goals and assists for the floundering team. Bailey has a career plus/minus of -31 so this season is definitely a turn around for him.

Aleksander Barkov a center for the Florida Panthers is also somewhat of a rising star this season.  With 14 goals, 21 assists and a +4 rating; Barkov has definitely surprised hockey fans (especially with his flashy shootout moves). (Youtube link from Puck Daily)

In addition to these positive surprises I also have a list of “how the hell did you make it on this roster”.

Starting us off. Carey Price. I get that they are picking a player from each team, but even the shockingly bad Canadiens have better to offer this season.  After missing a handful of games due to injury, Price returned and has since been sporting a 2.89 GAA and a .911 S% over 29 games.

Our second victim in this category is Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This is by far the worst selection of the ASG. Sitting at 6 goals and 13 assists with an absolutely HORRENDOUS plus/minus of -34, Ekman-Larsson’s name doesn’t belong anywhere near the word all-star. Honestly, just give Shane Doan an alumni appearance in his place.

The final selection for the (bad) surprises is Rickard Rakell. He isn’t a bad player, he just isn’t the best the Anaheim Ducks or the Pacific has to offer. He has a respectable goal count with 15 but he only has 16 assists and a -6 rating.

THE SNUBBED

Speaking of that surprise selection from the Ducks, where is Ryan Getzlaf on this roster? I get that he only has 4 goals this season, but with 20 assists, a +9 rating and his leadership qualities he seems like a better choice for the ASG.

Mark Giordano somehow slipped under the radar for this year’s ASG. Coming from one of the best defensive cores in the NHL it is amazing that no D-men from the Calgary Flames made this roster. Dougie Hamilton could’ve easily been taken in place of Ekman-Larsson as well.

NHL All-Star Game

These are the top five forwards for the Vegas Golden Knights.   (Screenshot from NHL.com)

Finally we have the omission of Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson.

Marchessault leads the Golden Knights in points with 40 (16 goals and 24 assists) and Karlsson is right behind him with 36 (22 goals and 14 assists). James Neal made the roster in favor of these two which is shocking to me, especially if you look at the statistical breakdown of the Golden Knights’ forwards.

 

 

 

The Wrap Up

Overall, I am not impressed by this year’s ASG roster. Just bring back the fan vote (I want to see more John Scotts in the ASG) or the draft because that at least would make things more exciting and dramatic.

The 3-on-3 format is nice because it’ll keep things moving and showcase more speed so at least that will be interesting.

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