Weekly ramblings, musings, and thoughts to ponder about every team in the league.
Anaheim Ducks – Hanging on to a wildcard spot currently the Randy Carlyle effect has started to take hold as the Ducks have cooled off. John Gibson is doing everything he can to drag this team into the playoffs on his back but they are currently the only team with a ticket right now who have a – goal differential (-18).
Arizona Coyotes – Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen addressed several rumors surrounding the team and thanked fans for their support in a letter to season-ticket holders. “Arizona is our home. We love it here. And we love playing for you, the very best fans in the NHL.” New Year, Same me for the Yotes, still trying to find a long term solution and stable ownership. It’s beyond time this team moved to another market with a supportive and capable ownership group.
Boston Bruins – Bergeron is back and the B’s get a big win at the Winter Classic in South Bend.
Good news for the league too in showing the Winter Classic still has huge appeal.
The B’s currently sit 3rd in the Atlantic. Tough to see them overtaking the Leafs unless they go into a big time slump and they’re battling with Buffalo for final divisional spot vs a wild card. Either way this is a playoff team but this division has become a powerhouse.
Buffalo Sabres – Jack Eichel got hurt in their game on Monday, seems like it’s day to day and he shouldn’t miss too much time. Goes without saying but Buffalo can’t afford to have Captain Jack miss much time this year, his line is basically their entire offense. Also his game day routine is insane and he hates “shitty apples.” Don’t we all.
Calgary Flames – The Flames are making people believers and are rewarded with an outdoor Heritage Classic game against the Jets next year in October. Despite the success it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as Michael Frolik is fighting for playing time and his agent sounded off claiming the Flames are trying to run him out of town. He aint what he once was, but Fro would be a solid depth addition to any team looking to make a run.
Carolina Hurricanes – What?
Chicago Blackhawks – Though they lost at the Winter Classic they take advantage of a floundering Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton and sent Brandon Manning up north.
Manning has a history with Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, too. Two years ago, Manning broke McDavid’s collarbone with a hit and later admitted intent in causing the injury, prompting McDavid to call Manning “classless.” Good work Peter. The Hawks get Drake Caggiula to help out on the wing in return and vet D man Jason Garrison for depth on the blue line.
Colorado Avalanche – You get an outdoor game! You get an outdoor game! You want one? You too! Colorado will host a stadium series game at the United States Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs in 2020. No opponent named in that game yet. The Av’s are looking a little vulnerable lately but can’t afford to let up, they only a small lead over the Stars in the standings. The offense has dried up a bit as they have 2 goals or less in 6 of their last 7. Rantanen finally relinquished the overall points lead to Kucherov (65), but still sits 2nd (62) with MacKinnon in 3rd (59). I’ve been saying these guys are going to top 100 points and now it looks like they might have some company at the end of the year.
Columbus Blue Jackets – With Pittsburgh right on their heels in the division CBJ have stayed hot going 7-2-1 in their last 10. For years the Jackets have been struggling to find that true #1 center to match up with the talent in their division and Pierre-Luc Dubois is drawing some favorable comparisons to show he can be that guy.
Dallas Stars – Interesting few days for Dallas. Currently in a wild card spot their two best forwards Benn and Seguin get ripped by the team owner. “They are fucking horseshit, I don’t know how else to put it,” Lites said to The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro. “We are a stars-driven league, and our stars aren’t getting it done,” he said. “It’s embarrassing, and no one writes it. Write it!”
“(Benn is) the leader of the team, he stirs the drink, but he’s not doing it. He’s got to get it done,” Lites told The Athletic before turning his attention to Seguin. “He’s hitting posts, ‘wah-wah.’ That’s what I say about hitting posts. Get a little bit closer to the action, actually go to the spot where you score goals. He doesn’t do that, he never does that anymore. He used to be a pest to play against, people hated playing against Tyler Seguin, they don’t anymore.”
Thing is they’re not actually playing as bad as Lites’ tirade makes it sound. If you’re into numbers you can see those here.
I would argue the Stars bigger problem is lack of quality depth and a sub par blue line.
On the bright side they also get an outdoor game as they host the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl, opponent tbd… My vote? the Vegas Golden Knights ORRRR hear me out… The Houston Coyotes…
Detroit Red Wings – Dylan Larkin has 7 goals and 10 assists for a 14 game point streak. Detroit started out this year terribly, then rebounded stringing a bunch of wins together. Water has found it’s level as they’ve settled into mediocrity now but that’s ok! They’re in an incredibly tough division right now and a major roster overhaul. They need to stay the course, keep collecting draft picks and prospects, and hang tight til Stevie Y is running the show next season.
Edmonton Oilers – Interesting thought here from Justin Bourne
and with injuries to Klefbom and Russell now the pressure multiplies. Bringing in Brandon Manning and Petrovic from Florida is a stop gap move and Edmonton is LONG overdue for a #1 D man. I understand they don’t grow on trees but its very apparent Adam Larsson isn’t the guy they hoped they were getting when they shipped Taylor Hall out.
Florida Panthers – Florida finds itself 7 points back of the Habs for the final wildcard position in the East with 44 games left. I’m calling it, they’re dead. Bold move I know, but they just don’t have the horses to get it done. They have a solid group but without a superstar this team seems like it’s destined to just be perennial middle of the road fodder.
Los Angeles Kings – Still waiting for them to blow it up. I love ‘em, but the Kings stink so here’s a list of every player’s choice for an individual goal song.
Minnesota Wild – I’ve been saying for weeks now the Wild need more from their guys up front and only having 1 guy in the top 50 scorers in the league wasn’t going to cut it. Well it gets worse now with Matt Dumba out for 3 months after surgery. Dumba was having a killer year with 12 goals from the blue line.
Montreal Canadiens – Tomas Tatar has been the just the rebound the Habs needed to get over Max Pacioretty the break up. He’s been outperforming Max this year and is on pace for a career high in points.
Nashville Predators – The Preds were slumping and limping out of 2018 with a 6 game losing streak (losing their last 10 road games!) but 2019 is already looking up. Sometimes you just need to come across someone else is a little more down on their luck than you to appreciate what you really have and that’s just what the Preds did shutting out the Flyers 4-0. Once this team heals up they’ll be fine.
New Jersey Devils – The Devils have won 3 straight and managed to climb out of the gutter without Taylor Hall on the heels of back to back shutouts by Mackenzie Blackwood. Though I think it’s a bit early for headlines like “Devils may have found their franchise goalie” after those shutouts came against Vancouver and Carolina.
New York Islanders – History has not been kind to the Isles recently so let’s take a look back at something fond for the fans to remember.
Also a fun fact for you RIP Mean Gene:
New York Rangers – Jimmy Vesey is the 4th leading scorer on the team with 10 goals, 10 assists. Jimmy Vesey is a healthy scratch tonight against Pittsburgh. Go ahead and figure that one out if you can. Not sure how much longer until the Rangers are open for business but I would expect Vesey, Shattenkirk, and Zuccarello to all be wearing new uni’s in February.
Ottawa Senators – Congrats Ottawa! After a somewhat surprising start and a sudden 5 game L streak the Sens are now bottom of the bucket in the East. Honestly not terrible at home but absolutely abysmal on the road going 4-14-1. Mark Stone apparently called the team out in practice for how bad they’ve been which is interesting considering he’s in the midst of contract talks and may not even be there after the deadline.
Philadelphia Flyers – Not a lot of bright spots for the Flyers this year outside of the promising start of young Carter Hart’s career. Things are about to get even tougher.
The Flyers play 13 games, 6 away and 7 at home, in the first month of the new year. Three of those games take place against opponents who are leading their respective divisions. Two of those games take place in the first 8 days of the month, and are only three days apart.
Pittsburgh Penguins – The Penguins have finally woken up. 8-2 in their last 10 on a 6 game win streak and just 3 points behind Washington for the division lead. There are still questions about the blue line but the goaltending seems to have solidified… for now. Murray now has a .959 save percentage in his first five games since returning to the lineup. Those are outstanding numbers. So outstanding that it is the highest save percentage he has had over any five-game stretch at any point in his career.
San Jose Sharks – The Sharks were none too happy with this hit from Sam Bennett on Simek with 25 seconds left in the game against Calgary. Pavelski called it “gutless” but there is no further discipline coming from the league.
St. Louis Blues – The Blues have taken over the distinction of worst team in the west but they did get awarded the 2020 NHL All Star game…. So that’s cool right?
Tampa Bay Lightning – The Lightning led the League in wins (57), points (119) and goals for (313) in regular-season games in the 2018 calendar year. Over the past 25 years only two teams (the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins and 2005-06 Ottawa Senators) have scored more goals than Tampa Bay’s 154 through 37 games. Not sure if they even lost a game in the month of December. Pencil them in for another trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Mitch Marner is currently on pace for 100+ points with 53 in 39 games. He gets more expensive every game as the Leafs will have to find enough money to go around to make everyone happy.
Vancouver Canucks – Elias Pettersson (39pts in 36 GP) is the only rookie to lead his team in points, while 11 players age 23 or younger are their team’s leading scorer in 2018-19. Sixteen of the League’s top 30 point-getters this season are age 25 or younger.
Vegas Golden Knights – MAF led all goaltenders with 44 regular-season wins since Jan. 1 (44-22-7 in 73 GP), marking the third calendar year in which he has recorded 40 or more victories (also 46 in 2009 and 45 in 2013). He also recorded his league leading 6th shutout.
Washington Capitals – Ovechkin has already came out and said he’s skipping the ASG to rest and recover. After the offseason he had I don’t think anyone can blame him.
Tough for the league to stomach as Ovi is a personality you want on a stage like that but it does give a chance for some of the young guys to shine. Alex is committed to going back to back.
Winnipeg Jets – Byfuglien is out with a leg/ankle injury until around the ASG and this is the type of adversity that can galvanize a team. If they can rally around losing the big guy and keep stringing wings together it’s going to make them a much tougher out come playoff time. Also just thought this is weird, Blake Wheeler is 10th in points in the NHL with only 6 goals, but he has 44 assists. Shoot the puck Blake!