This guy with the funny stick and big pads is getting good again.
For much of the year the Los Angeles Kings, reigning Stanley Cup champions though they may be, have languished in relative mediocrity. Anaheim jumped out to such a big lead in the Pacific that their neighbors never really got a chance to stake a claim to the tops division, and even if they wanted to, they never really played well enough to warrant it.
It’s looking more and more, though, like the Kings are going to come a lot closer to the Ducks than anyone had a reason to believe even a few weeks ago, having overcome a rather bizarre handicap.
Jonathan Quick — who, if Sergei Bobrovsky is becoming a clearer Hart contender as the Blue Jackets keep winning, should have won that award last season instead of Evgeni Malkin as well as the Vezina taken by Henrik Lundqvist — has for most of the season been playing like absolute garbage. His stats stand at pathetic marks of 2.44/.901, with an even-strength save percentage of .908. The save percentages are actually worse than Ondrej Pavelec’s numbers, and it’s important to remember that Pavelec is terrible.
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You know for sure that bag isn’t full of good managerial decisions
Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe is a lot of things.
He’d be quick to remind you that he is a multiple-time NHL All-Star and only slightly less frequent Stanley Cup champion from his time with the team that won so many game in the 1980s.
He’s also an indisputably bad NHL general manager who only got his job because of who he is and what he did for the franchise in the past. He’s the executive on whose watch perhaps the ugliest stretch of futility seen league-wide since the Pittsburgh Penguins of the early 2000s.
And so imagine the absolute balls it must take to stick with the Oilers’ long-time tradition of being a good old boys club in naming his new general manager, and meeting all skepticism leveled at him and his decision — the latest on a long list of those that have been questionable at their absolute best, dating back to right around when he took the Edmonton GMing job, and seems destined to expand in perpetuity like the universe itself — by saying, “I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.”
The fact of the matter is that, unless Lowe means he knows about what it takes to win in the NHL is roughly on par with the rest of ours, the room should have exploded in paroxysms laughter and knee-slapping. What it takes to win in the NHL is good players, and the Oilers haven’t had that lying about — save for that time they traded next to nothing for Chris Pronger somehow — in a good decade at least. Read the rest of this entry »
This guy is doing that “I’m really mad” smile and it’s scary.
One thing that is often going unmentioned in all these talks about exactly where Jarome Iginla, or any other free agent of even the vaguest name value and declining hockey skill, will end up is that a team which is so often considered a rather enthusiastic buyer in the market has been largely silent.
It’s been tough to dig up any information about who the New York Rangers might be interested in pursuing at the deadline, if anyone, and that strikes me as being more than a little weird. On the one hand, John Tortorella’s boys are vastly underperforming expectations, and as of this writing sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, a place pretty much no one expected them to be after they won the conference by a point last season and went to the Eastern Conference Final against the Devils. They returned just about everyone, added Rick Nash, had some exciting rookies in the offing, all that stuff. But one has to wonder exactly how much this unforeseen down year changes expectations. Apart from the usual distant rumblings about an appetite for moving Marian Gaborik, which have been shaking the ground underneath Madison Square Garden ever so slightly more or less since he was acquired for reasons I’m not sure I understand, it seems unlikely that the Rangers would ever actually go to the trouble of selling off veteran pieces unless they tank very, very hard in the next few days and maybe Henrik Lundqvist retires.
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It’s crazy to think about the fact that as bad as the Flames have been in the last three-plus seasons, they’ve never been as bad as they are right now. They’re dead last in the Western Conference with just 22 points from 24 games, and only two points up on 30th in the league, though with two games in hand on Florida.
A big part of the reason for this is that their goaltending is just about the worst in the NHL. You might say to that, well, Miikka Kiprusoff missed a month, and when your most notable backup is Joey MacDonald you’re just asking for trouble, but Kiprusoff has arguably been the worst starting goaltender in the league. His even-strength save percentage is .884. That’s bad, and only Brian Elliott and Scot Clemmensen have been worse among goaltenders with 10 or more appearances.
Where before the Flames had always had reasonably okay goaltending that kept them somewhat competitive in the West (though obviously short of a playoff spot) and struggled in other areas just enough to make all their “Going For It” a funny joke, they are now abjectly miserable, and that’s despite the fact that they spent way too much money this summer on Dennis Wideman, Jiri Hudler, and Roman Cervenka not too long after re-acquiring Mike Cammalleri from the Canadiens. Wideman and Hudler have been perfectly fine this season, Cervenka and Cammalleri not so much, but it all boils down to a big smoking mess. Read the rest of this entry »
The way this thing gets won is gonna be dumb soon.
So the NHL and NHLPA are finally going to go forward with a plan to change the configuration of the league, from having two 15-team conferences each with three five-team divisions to two conferences, one of which has two eight-team divisions and the other with with two seven-team divisions. Logistically, this is bad and stupid, as are most things the NHL decides these days.
But in terms of the actual way in which they’re going about this — mostly moving Detroit and Columbus into the Eastern Conference and replacing them only with Winnipeg — at least makes geographical sense and, as has been pointed out by just about everyone since the plan was unveiled last Saturday, will really make the league and its televisions partners happy. To say nothing of the fans who are sick of hearing the Red Wings complain about their travel every few months. All of this, it should be noted, has only reached the “proposal” stages but most people who would know about this sort of stuff are talking like it’s going to be a thing in real life sooner than later, so let’s just go with this.
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There really hasn’t even been that much of this.
The Boston Bruins are currently 8-1-2, first in their division by two points even with at least a game in hand on everybody, including three against second-place Toronto. They’re also only one point behind the East-leading Devils, who have played two additional games.
Obviously being 4-0-1 on the road is a really good way to inflate your point total, as is being 4-1-1 at home, with that one regulation loss being the kind of defensive disaster teams like the Bruins see once every three years at most.
But one thing that’s been kind of lost in Boston making yet another run toward the top of the conference, if not the league, is that it has not been all that impressive in doing so. At least, not in the way to which the hockey world at large may have become accustomed over the last two seasons. They played 30 games last season in which they scored four goals or more, and they won 20 by a margin of three-plus. This was a team that would back opponents against the ropes and just pummel them. Mercilessly. Until they were battered and bloodied, sometimes both figuratively and literally. Christ, they had six games last season in which they beat their opponent by six or more goals. All of them were shutouts. Read the rest of this entry »