It seems like every hockey fan online, other than those in Detroit, Dallas and Minnesota, has jumped on the Columbus Blue Jackets bandwagon, rooting for them to make the playoffs. Fans on Twitter have latched on to the #Lumbus hashtag, started by the Los Angeles Kings’ twitter account, with every improbable victory leading to eruptions of virtual support.
I admit, I have a purely selfish reason to be rooting for Columbus. At the start of the season, I made the absolutely crazy prediction that the Blue Jackets would make the playoffs, before they had played enough games to make any statistical analysis worthwhile. I was just going with my gut. A month later, the Blue Jackets were 5-12-2 and I was feeling like the biggest idiot in the blogosphere.
Then the Blue Jackets started grinding games into overtime and the shootout and began stringing wins together. They currently sit in eighth in the Western Conference, tied with the Minnesota Wild in points and just one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings. The Wild and Red Wings both have a game in hand, as do the Dallas Stars, who sit three points back. If the Blue Jackets make the playoffs, I get to play the only-guy-who-predicted-the-Blue-Jackets-would-make-the-playoffs card. If they don’t, I get to play the at-least-I-was-closecard, which isn’t anywhere near as fun.
Here are 5 much better reasons why it would be awesome for the Blue Jackets to make the playoffs.
Certain players in the NHL have specialized abilities that you periodically see and go “oh wow, he does that at a level better than everyone else.” It could be post-to-post speed by a goalie, it could be a heavy shot, it could be shot-blocking, whatever. Maybe it’s face-mashing, ala John Scott.
Those skills are easily identifiable though, and don’t go without praise from the general public.
One thing I don’t think you get as much of a sense for on TV is the guys who make the fans get out of their seats the second they get the puck and start cruising through the neutral zone. There’s a jump to their step and an air of danger, like the fact that it’s a one-on-two is irrelevant because somebody is going to have to stop this uber-talented human going mach five through the neutral zone at some point.
I thought it was time to pay homage to those most-electric players in the league, so today we’re looking at the 10 NHL most dangerous men through the neutral zone. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments, of course.
Before the season, on this thing called the Backhand Shelf Podcast (which you should totally listen to because we’re awesome), I predicted that Al Montoya would be the Winnipeg Jets starting goaltender by the end of the season because I needed something random and arbitrary and I think Ondrej Pavelec is terrible. On Saturday, Montoya got a shutout. On Monday, amongst Montoya discussion, our little podcast gang determined that Montoya was the definition of an “average” goaltender and, thus, the Montoya Line was born. Basically, if Montoya is the standard for being average, a goalie can rank above or below the Montoya Line. It’s a complicated system.
Today I had the thought Bourne told me to rank all the goalies in the NHL on the Montoya Line. I created a three-point system on either side. Basically, a goalie can rank anywhere from 1 to 3 points either below or above the line. Sometimes higher, though. And sometimes I just ranked goalies wherever I felt like it. Keep in mind this is entirely my opinion based on a rating system that I made up. YOLO, etc.
This year, I thought I’d give it a slightly different twist: Instead of doing teams, I wanted to do the lines I most enjoyed watching. The problem is, coaches like to spread around the talent, so I’ve narrowed it down to powerplay units. Some teams are stuck without any elite talent, while others can put out a five-man unit that literally looks like an all-star team. They may not necessarily have the highest conversion rates, but when your team is up a goal late in the game, these are the units you’d least like to see hopping the boards.
With a stick-tap to DailyFaceoff for some of the information, here are…
It doesn’t take long for even the most well-groomed man to go completely feral. Without any outside motivation to wash, shave, and dress properly, most men will do the absolute minimum necessary to survive from day-to-day. Given the opportunity, a man will lounge around the house in his underwear, drinking milk straight from the carton, while growing a gross neckbeard and averaging half a shower per week.
Consider, then, that the NHL was locked out for months, leaving hundreds of men jobless. While some outsourced themselves to Europe and kept themselves clean-cut for their new employers, others took the opportunity to completely let themselves go.
Why does this matter? Because training camp is when the official team pictures are taken; it’s the NHL equivalent of picture day at school. And not everyone took the time to clean themselves up after 6-8 jobless months. Here are the 5 most egregious examples.
This Boston Bruins baby bikini doesn't actually appear on the list, but it haunts me. Oh, it haunts me. (shop.nhl.com)
If we have learned anything from the NHL lockout, it’s that the owners of the various NHL franchises like money. They like to have it and, once they have it, they like to keep it. If they feel they don’t have enough of it, they want more of it. Most importantly, they want to have it for a very long time and are willing to have less of it now if it means having more of it later.
A decent chunk of the Hockey Related Revenue that the owners want more of comes around the holidays, as hockey fans across North America buy hockey-related presents for their loved ones: tickets, jerseys, collectibles, and other sundry items with a team logo affixed along with a slightly heftier price tag than the exact same item bereft of said logo. I have received many such items from my family over the years: pens, car flags, scarves, t-shirts, and bumper stickers, to name a few.
Quite frankly, no one should be spending any money on the NHL during the lockout, as currency is the one mode of communication a fan has to express his or her displeasure. I know, however, that the NHL and its teams’ stores will still do business, albeit at a slightly less brisk pace. Heck, my wife and I couldn’t resist buying our 1-year-old an infant-sized Canucks jersey when Sport Chek had a 40% off sale. But seriously, he looks adorable in it. We are very weak.
But there are far stupider ways to give the NHL some of your hard-earned cash this Christmas. Here are five of them.