Daniel Wagner

Recent Posts

On Wednesday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety issued a one-game suspension to Duncan Keith for a slash to the face of Jeff Carter, which seems relatively fair. Shanahan’s description in the video had me expecting a longer suspension, to be honest: an intentional slash to the face by a repeat offender causing 20 stitches and dental work? That’s usually the recipe for a longer break from on-ice action.

Some people pointed out that if it was a different repeat offender in Keith’s place, such as Raffi Torres, the suspension would have surely been for longer. It’s an interesting idea, but the two players are prone to very different offences. Comparing the two players, however, gives some insight into why Torres is vilified and why Keith still seems to have a sterling reputation.

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(Jared Wickerham, Getty Images)

(Jared Wickerham, Getty Images)

During the playoffs, you tend to hear a lot about fourth-liners and their importance. Whether it’s a gamewinning goal from an unexpected source or a big hit that supposedly shifts the momentum of a game, fans and media members alike love their unlikely heroes.

But it’s certainly true that a good fourth line can make a major difference in the playoffs. The ability to roll all four lines keeps players fresh throughout the post-season and makes it difficult for opposing teams to effectively match-up lines.

At least, that’s a common assertion this time of year. Let’s take a look at how true it actually is.

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Leafs fans - Toronto Star

Hockey Ughs is the cynical sister to Puck Daddy’s Hockey Hugs, a feature written by my same-sex blog-partner Harrison Mooney from Pass it to Bulis. While Hockey Hugs highlights the joy of scoring a goal and celebrating it with your bestest buds, Hockey Ughs highlights the agony of the other team’s fans right behind the glass, watching those hugs.

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The above image made the rounds a couple weeks ago when the Bruins made their improbable comeback in the third period of Game 7 against the Leafs. It perfectly encapsulates the shock, disgust, and despair that is the Hockey Ugh, but I just can’t bring myself to poke fun at the fans in this picture. The pain is just too stark and raw and it still somehow feels too soon.

Fortunately, the second round of the playoffs gave us plenty of other Hockey Ughs, as the stakes got higher and, with them, the potential for disappointment. Read the rest of this entry »

The Dino Ciccarelli Award is presented to the best rookie during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is named in honour of Ciccarelli’s rookie record 14 goals during the 1981 postseason, scored in just 19 games. Candidates are not required to be a total jerk.

Two weeks ago, I introduced the early candidates for the Dino Ciccarelli Award after the first round of the playoffs. They were good candidates – strong candidates — but, regrettably, I managed to completely miss the rookie who is now the odds-on favourite to win the award after his performance in the second round.

To be fair, he had yet to play a single game in the playoffs when I wrote that post, but that’s not much of an excuse.

Torey Krug came out of seemingly nowhere and became one of the major stories of the second round of the playoffs, scoring four goals in five games for the Boston Bruins as they eliminated the New York Rangers.

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165544597 - Steve Babineau

(Steve Babineau, Getty Images)

Post-season narratives are fascinating. Teams don’t win because they’re better than their opponents or even more lucky; they win because they “want it more.” If a goaltender goes on a hot streak in the playoffs, it’s not actually a hot streak; instead, he’s “clutch.” And forwards who go on a scoring tear in the playoffs are said to have an “extra gear” and tend to be highly coveted in free agency (just look at Ville Leino and Joel Ward in recent years).

There are a few players who seem to have stepped up their game in the playoffs this year. Derrick Brassard has a career-high of 47 points, though he scored at a higher rate this season, but now has 10 points in 10 playoff games. Kyle Turris has underwhelmed so far in his career, but 5 goals in 9 playoff games will certainly catch your attention. And Pascal Dupuis certainly scored a lot of goals this season, but 7 in 10 playoff games is something else entirely.

But then there are three players who, unexpectedly, have no goals in the playoffs. Tyler Seguin, Jonathan Toews, and Jaromir Jagr are all very talented players at different stages of their careers. They combined for 55 goals during the regular season, but have yet to find the back of the net in the post-season. Clearly, they must be choke artists who can’t handle the pressure of the playoffs.

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(Martin Rose, Getty Images)

(Martin Rose, Getty Images)

It wasn’t your typical Hollywood underdog sports story. Underdogs generally don’t win 9 straight heading into a championship final. Underdogs don’t tend to be one of the top-scoring teams in a tournament, finishing tied for the most goals. Underdogs don’t boast incredible goaltending, finishing second in team save percentage.

That is, however, what Switzerland did at the World Hockey Championships, defeating Sweden, Canada, the Czech Republic (twice!), and USA enroute to a landmark appearance in the gold medal game. Despite ultimately losing in a rematch with Sweden in the final, it was still an incredible tournament for the Swiss.

The national team’s performance, combined with the emergence of Swiss players in the NHL, is an indication that Switzerland is once again poised to be a top tier nation in hockey.

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(Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)

(Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)

Throughout the playoffs, the NHL has been parcelling out announcements of the post-season award nominees. This has led to the usual debates: did Player X get snubbed for Award Y? Should the Hart be for the player most valuable to his team or for just the best player in the league? Do purely offensive defencemen belong in the discussion for the Norris trophy?

For some fans whose teams didn’t make the playoffs or got bounced in the first round, these arguments can be a welcome distraction, if they still want to think about hockey at all.

But what I find interesting is that the Selke award is the only one that still has all three nominees in the playoffs. At least one nominee for all the other major awards either didn’t make the playoffs or got knocked out in the first round.

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