evander kane 3

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If we’re all okay with taking some not-so-massive leaps here, I’m gonna go ahead and say that Evander Kane is not happy in Winnipeg, and the Jets aren’t too thrilled with him either.

The short version of the latest flare up is that the Jets were going to play in Toronto…

…Kane went out, and it’s possible he had a bit too much fun.

Now, I don’t know that he slept in and missed a team event in the morning, but I know enough about hockey players, the lifestyle, and passive aggressiveness that I feel okay making that ca-raaaazy leap.

So, after that Kane was seen chatting with his agent in the hall (doesn’t mean anything, most players do, but when you’ve got another four years on your deal and just got healthy scratched as a young star “talking to your agent” certainly carries heavier overtones), and the next day he found himself in front of the camera, remorseful and apologetic about the unknown reasons for his absence.

Nah, I’m kidding, he was pretty indignant about the whole thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Rinaldo2

There’s a certain type of hockey player that climbs up through the ranks because, to put it bluntly, they’re a pain in the ass to play. They play an up-tempo style, they’re fearless, they’ll hit everything that moves, and they’ll chirp you in the process. They are Zac Rinaldo.

The thing with this type of game is that you can play it in a clean way. You don’t have to be a constant injury threat who doesn’t respect your opponents. Unfortunately, Rinaldo has yet to learn how to play that game, or he just has no interest in trying.

Two years ago he was suspended two games for a jumping shoulder to the brain of Jonathan Ericsson of the Red Wings just eight days after being fined twice for two separate incidents (a late hit and a slewfoot) in the same game. Here’s a refresher on the suspension:

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety won’t likely be pleased to see his name on the docket again today.

His hit to head of Chad Ruhwedel earned him a match penalty, and was injurious:

So, Rinaldo’s getting suspended. Let’s break down the play and give ‘er the old “Court of Public Opinion” assessment. How many games for this?

The facts:

Read the rest of this entry »

fights

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Look, I get it.

Fighting is on the way out in the NHL.

Fighting in neanderthalic (not a word, whatever).

But if you’ll allow yourself, on a Friday, to climb down from your high horse and accept that two humans have agreed to a contest of face-knuckling – grown men mind you, making their own decisions – and enjoy it for the basic entertainment that it is, you might just enjoy this list. Also, I only chose fights where nobody was concussed, so sleep easy.

If you pay close attention, in one of the fights one of the guys uses his fist to hit the other guy’s face. It’s fascinating.

#5

Colton Orr vs John Erskine

“Here come the jackhammers.” Read the rest of this entry »

red wings

With the regular season winding to a close, the playoff picture is becoming clearer. What we know:

* Tampa Bay vs. Montreal is happening.

* Chicago vs. Colorado is happening.

* Three out of the four divisions are sewn up: Pittsburgh, Boston, and St. Louis are going to be playing wild card teams.

* San Jose or Anaheim will be too.

So, with it coming down to five teams – again, Pittsburgh, Boston, St. Louis, San Jose/Anaheim – I thought it would be fun to rank their biggest wild card nightmares. You know how hockey is. 8 seed-1 seed upsets happen (hell, the Kings won the Cup as an #8 seed), 7-2s are barely uncommon, and any matchup closer than that is basically a coin toss.

For the teams who’ve put in the work all year for home ice and “easier” opponents, here’s who they’d least like to draw in round one:

(Washington, New Jersey, I’m sorry – I had to draw the line somewhere, and you guys are cooked.)

#6 Toronto

Let’s be honest: Boston let Toronto win Thursday in hopes they could draw an easier round one opponent than Columbus. They want them in.

…Okay, fine, mayyybe not “let” Toronto win, but you know they wouldn’t be bummed to see them come playoffs.

The Leafs are in a perpetual state of chaos. They’ve got a couple talented d-men who are young and make glaring mistakes, they’ve got little in the way of depth, and quite frankly, last year’s psychological assault would more or less render playing the games pointless. The B’s would walk through the Leafs like they were a ghost, which is fitting, considering their season is pretty much dead. Read the rest of this entry »

Gustav Nyquist

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Gustav Nyquist has been a terror everywhere he’s played. In the excellent NCAA conference Hockey East, he put up 144 points in 113 games over three seasons with the Maine Black Bears.

He was okay in the AHL too.

And now in the NHL…

I don’t give a flying fun what you have to say about regression – in fact, eat it, don’t say anything about it – this kid is a pure talent and not a flash in the pan. Let’s just enjoy a player at his most confident discovering his NHL game and devouring opponents in the process. We know he’s not a 70 goal guy.

Anyway, last night the man who prompted this excellent graphic from @wingingitmotown

nyquil:vist

…scored just a massive goal for the Red Wings to put them up 3-2 on the Boston Bruins while in the midst of a tight playoff race. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: you need game-breakers, and Nyquist broke this one open for Detroit like a kid at his piggy bank with a hammer.

Let’s take a look at how the opportunity arose, and what went wrong for the Bruins. Read the rest of this entry »

Toews Versteeg

Blackhawks fans watched Brooks Orpik steamroll their captain on Sunday night, likely the hardest hit he’s taken in his NHL career save for the Willie Mitchell massacre, and come up wounded. They had to have panicked with playoffs on the horizon. I know I immediately tweeted something to the affect of “Welp, bet losing Toews throws a wrench into the Blackhawks playoff hopes” (or something with a similar message). It didn’t look promising.

Well, the good news is Orpik apparently didn’t turn Toews’ shoulder into ground chuck, and he’s going to be back for playoffs “at 100%.”

What that confident statement from coach Joel Quenneville says to me is that the Blackhawks are in a unique situation for a hockey team: they know exactly who they’re going to play in the first round despite there still being a half-dozen games and two weeks to go in their season, so there’s no need to rush anyone back. I’m willing to bet they aren’t that passionate about beating themselves up down the stretch to earn home ice. A healthy team on the road is better than a damaged one at home.

So the Hawks wisely want to maximize his rest time before heading into the same field of battle they’ve conquered twice in the last four years, and rightfully so. They know the physical sacrifice it takes. But for Toews, and quite possibly his also-wounded partner-in-crime Patrick Kane, that first game might not be easy, especially since they’ll likely be opening up in a fired-up building in Denver, Colorado. Those fans haven’t seen a playoff game since 2009-10, and that young Avs team is going to come out like gangbusters. Read the rest of this entry »

alex ovechkin

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Not sure if you’ve heard this tasty little tidbit yet or not, but Alex Ovechkin is minus-4,000 in his 2013-14 NHL campaign. I mean, if you’re rounding. He’s actually minus-36, which is a few worse than the likes of Nail Yakupov (-33), Alex Edler (same) and Steve Ott (-31). Winning the “green jacket” for being the farthest “below par” during a hockey season requires a combination of being on a bad team, playing a good amount of minutes, and usually not being great defensively.

But it’s Alex Ovechkin, so this has been a big thing. He’s going to lead the league in goals, and (might) finish last in plus-minus. That’s a pretty special accomplishment. Also, he’s Russian, so that whole stereotype gets the Mario-finding-a-mushroom bump in some eyes.

The problem is, his coach just made the spotlight on him stronger, which he probably didn’t enjoy. Adam Oates had this to say about Ovi’s defensive effort on the Stars fourth goal during a completely embarrassing 5-0 loss at home in the midst of a playoff race. From Katie Carrera of The Washington Post:

“Ovi quit on the play coming back,” Coach Adam Oates said. Whitney “forced [the play] down the ice and just goes to show you you’ve got to hustle the entire time, the whole entire time.”

Carrera corrected herself that it was Dustin Jeffrey that beat Ovi down the ice on the play.

Here’s the play in question:

As a winger – as any forward, actually – you don’t really have to get back to the zone as fast humanly possible when your team has “numbers” (enough people to cover those on the rush). What you do have to do, is shoulder check, and make sure your desire to be lazy and save your energy so you can use it offensively doesn’t leave your team in a bad situation. As in, if it’s a 3-on-3 headed back towards your own goal, you need to, at the very least, stay a step ahead of whoever their fourth guy is. Usually it’s a d-man who won’t try to press by you, but you do need to be sure. (Your coach will say you need to get back ASAP, but you’re usually fine dawdling.) Read the rest of this entry »