“Thoughts on Thoughts” is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman’s terrific weekly post “30 Thoughts.” Justin Bourne selects his 10 favourite tidbits, and elaborates.
Friedman’s column, May 1st: NHL awards picks and 30 Thoughts
Elliotte Friedman shared his NHL awards ballot, which reads as such, in sum:
Hart: Jonathan Toews (Crosby didn’t play enough games)
Norris: Ryan Suter
Calder: Jonas Brodin
Lady Byng: Patrick Kane
Selke: Jonathan Toews
All Star Teams: to come in 30 Thoughts
And a couple of the best concurrent paragraphs ever:
Every year, I try to remind people that just because I didn’t vote for your favourite player on your favourite team, it’s not negative. It just means someone is a little better. Of course, that never works, so it’s time for a new tactic: if you’re unhappy with these selections, yes, it is because I hate your player, your team and you too.
If you missed my own awards votes, you can check them out here.
1. NHL All-Star Team selections: Toews, Crosby, Tavares at centre; Ovechkin, Kane, St. Louis at right wing; Rick Nash, Henrik Zetterberg and Kunitz at left wing; Suter, Subban, Doughty, Beauchemin, Chara and Keith on defence; Bobrovsky, Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Niemi in goal.
Obviously you can check out my picks and see where we differed, just a couple thoughts: I really feel like Taylor Hall was under-loved for his fantastic season on a crap team, and I also feel like Zdeno Chara’s lack of offensive statistics pushed him down on a lot of lists (not Elliotte’s), because really, if there were an NHL draft for a league of teams that were going to play for a single season, I can’t think of a defenseman that would be more coveted than Zdeno Chara, Ryan Suter included.
3. After his brilliant performance in the 2-1 Game 1 overtime loss to Chicago, Harding declined to talk about his battle with Multiple Sclerosis. One of the people who helps him through this disease is Abbotsford Heat goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet. Sigalet was diagnosed with MS a decade ago, and like Harding, initially disliked discussing the issue. He kept it secret to all but a close few for the first six months.
In general, I find players saying they don’t want to talk about X or Y annoying, because, whatever, just give a few cliches (which is less of a story for reporters) and be on your way. But in this case, no kidding. I absolutely don’t blame him. “Hey, you’ve worked your entire life to make the NHL and potentially ride the unicorn that is lifting the Stanley Cup, you just played great in a Stanley Cup playoff game, tell us about your life’s most difficult moment.” Dave Lozo had a much more thorough, well-reasoned take on this earlier today, and like him, I don’t blame anyone for asking after Game 1 (I’d have judged people for not asking, actually), but I will past today.
7. The biggest question now is: if Luongo plays great, does Vigneault stay with him? The number one factor is Cory Schneider’s health. But, last Saturday, captain Henrik Sedin said, “I don’t want to play one shift just to extend my consecutive-game streak.” To which Vigneault basically replied, “I don’t care. You’re playing, because this is not ending on my watch.” If he wants to use Schneider, he’ll use Schneider.
My dad and I exchanged some texts on this before knowing how Game 1 would play out, and his take as a former coach was “you’d have to have some mighty big stones to put Schneider in if Luongo starts well.” As in, you’re putting yourself in a situation where you’re saying “My hunches and preferences are more important than just going with the thing that ain’t broke,” so if things don’t pan out, suddenly you’re on the hook. You wouldn’t be faulted for going with a guy who’s playing well.
8. The next biggest Canuck question is Ryan Kesler. One Western Conference coach: “I still don’t think Kesler is in top shape… but I’m talking about ‘hockey shape.’” The coach is referring to the fact Kesler missed the start of the season, played seven games, then got hurt again and missed another five weeks. “Did he ever get back to 100 per cent condition-wise?” We find out now.
I had something similar happen to me one season. I tore my MCL at training camp with the Hershey Bears, and missed a month at the start of the season, when everyone is doing their most dogged conditioning. I came back, wasn’t in great shape, and re-aggravated the injury. Then it happened again. The long of the short is, I had a terrible season in the ECHL even when I got in because I wasn’t in near the condition of other players. You can skate all the lines you want, it’s not the same as game shape, and it’s not easy to catch up.
Ryan Kesler didn’t look good in game one, and I could totally see that being justified by him just not being “there” yet. That said, if he’s not “there” now, it’s not going to suddenly happen in the next game or two, which is bad news for the Canucks.
16. Whenever the Avalanche coaching job comes up, you have to check with Patrick Roy. There were significant talks in 2009, but the two sides couldn’t make a deal. Nicole Bouchard, who really runs the QMJHL Quebec Remparts, said by email: “Just talked to (Patrick) and he told me as of now nobody contacted him.” That was Monday afternoon.
I have no insider information on Roy, so allow me to give an opinion influenced by nothing but my own hockey experience and my observations from afar: Roy not coaching the Avalanche seems like it would be the best thing for Colorado. With his name you have a much easier time recruiting junior players who would hope to use his connections down the road to advance, so you’re going to succeed in junior hockey based on talent. Once he switches to coaching pro and his name means next-to-nothing when it comes to bringing in talent (and he’s going up against tacticians), I’m skeptical that Roy would be able to hang. Total guesswork on my part here, but I can’t see a crazy-confident ex-goaltender being a specialist at, say, drawing up powerplay breakouts. But who knows I guess.
20. Huge bounce-back night for Corey Crawford. “If he gives up a bad one early, maybe they start to wonder about him,” one Western Conference coach said. Crawford did, to Cal Clutterbuck. But he responded very well, including a brilliant save off Zach Parise in overtime.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes to Elliotte’s point. I immediately thought the Clutterbuck goal was going to be the start of the “See, I knew Corey Crawford was only succeeding because he’s playing behind the Blackhawks” movement. I’m not sure if I think he’s legit or not yet, but him bouncing back from opening playoffs with a softie went a long way to convincing me that he is.
21. Asked one Eastern Conference coach how the Islanders could beat Pittsburgh. His reply: “The Penguins are the most physical team in the Eastern Conference, hard to play against, with good speed. It’s incredible how hard everyone plays. If you are not willing to stand up…it is tough on you. Pittsburgh really imposes their will on you in the first five-to-seven minutes in their own building. The Islanders do have good puck-moving defencemen. If those ‘D’ can get the puck before the forecheck, that’s how they can play with them.”
The Cole’s Notes summary of their conversation:
Elliotte: “How can the Islanders beat Pittsburgh?”
Scout: “Pittsburgh is amaaaaazing.”
Scout: “…I guess they could be quick with their breakouts? Then they could at least play with them.”
Welp, that series is over.
22. The biggest question for Montreal will be how the Canadiens make this series hard on Erik Karlsson. The Rangers were built to do it. They like to get the puck down low, behind your net and battle to create offence from the there. Montreal is one of the NHL’s fastest teams. They get the puck and they go. Karlsson likes that game, too. Will it matter if they don’t punish him physically?
I stole this point for the podcast today because I love it so much. The last thing Erik Karlsson needs is to find himself pinned against the boards getting mashed every shift over 30 minutes of ice time a game. What he does need at his age, is a contest where people want to out speed-and-skill him, given the fact that he’s the one of the best in the world at those things. So that will be the chore for Montreal, and I’m certain something along the lines of “Don’t pass up any hits on Karlsson” has been or will be said before the puck drops at 7 p.m. tonight.
23. One of the places the Kings really targeted in beating St. Louis last season was left defence. The Blues’ right side was excellent with and Roman Polak. Los Angeles worked really hard on the other side and were successful. Both teams chased Jay Bouwmeester, with LA backing off because they were scared of the defenceman’s cap number for next season. The Blues got him (and Jordan Leopold). Will those moves change last year’s result?
That has to be the toughest part of an NHL GMs job: making the honest assessment of where the club is at, and deciding whether it’s worth “going for it” or not, at the price of handcuffing your future team. The Blackhawks sold out to win a Cup and got it done. Beyond that, we’ve seen teams make The Big Deadline Move and fail. I think St. Louis is close enough – and Bouwmeester reliable enough going forward – that making the trade to get him this season was a worthwhile risk.
27. Of all the contract decisions Boston must make, the first one will probably be Patrice Bergeron. Since he has one year left on his contract, nothing can be signed until July 5. But it sounds like the Bruins are working on getting it ready. Good call, he’s their best forward.
I’d bet a lot of money the Bruins spend what they need to to retain him. I’d also bet his agent has caught wind of advanced possession metrics, and will use them in their negotiating this summer. Peter Chiarelli is a smart man though, and I believe he knows where his bread is buttered. I’d be shocked if he let Patrice Bergeron walk, no matter the cost.