Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Years' Resolutions: NHL Edition

Ah, New Years'. It's a time of change, champagne, and resolutions. Though, in most cases, New Years' resolutions don't last very long, they're still nice to think about, and then forget about three weeks later.

Nonetheless, New Years' resolutions are made by everyone, including some of the NHL's most prolific faces. Here are some New Years' resolutions from inside the NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers: Hire a proofreader for contracts - signed the wrong Manning.

Ryan Getzlaf: While it's nice to see players get invested in charity ventures, maybe, for now, Getzlaf should avoid giving pucks to the other teams' players.

Tyler Toffoli:  Probably should ask why all these reporters are asking him about Cy Young.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Should maybe fix the typo on Mike Sullivan's roster sheet that lists #87 as 'Tanner Glass'.

Jarome Iginla: Should probably look into scoring more, as it seems that his career goal total reflects the winning percentage of the team that he plays for.

Calgary Flames: Buy a trophy to give to Jonas Hiller for winning the Flames' monthly "highest point total award", although, come to think of it, points in the 'GAA' column probably don't mean 'goals'.

Ryan Kesler: Could take up a new hobby, maybe by joining a divers' club at the local pool.

Brian Burke: Allow spending to be done more freely, and hire a clothing stylist. Preferably with experience in dressing necks.

Braden Holtby: It's not nice to keep stealing all these scoring chances from opposing players, should maybe stop doing that.

Erik Karlsson: It might be nice to donate some of his luscious locks to the Jaromir Jagr Mullet Fund.

Dave Tippett: Could maybe give the All-Stars on his roster a bit more playing time.

Jaromir Jagr: Should share his secret anti-aging formula with the rest of the league, hopefully without making them have to get it by playing three years in the KHL.

Anaheim Ducks: Maybe should think to flip the calendar in the dressing room from 'September' to 'December'.

Sidney Crosby: Maybe should think to flip the calendar... oh, wait.

Happy New Year, everyone!

All of the jokes made in this post are made purely with humourous intent, and do not reflect any feelings felt towards any of the individuals or organisations listed above. 

Three Likely Candidates for the Jack Adams

Credit: James Guillory - USA Today Sports

It's common knowledge that the Jack Adams award is more of a "best comeback team" trophy than one for the actual best coach - if it was the latter, then Mike Babcock and Joel Quenneville would currently be sitting at eleven combined and few others would ever be finalists. Here are three likely candidates to win the Jack Adams award at the midway point of the season. 

Lindy Ruff

Remember 2014-15, when the Dallas Stars had all of that offensive firepower (including the Art Ross winner) and failed to make even a wild-card playoff spot? The team was awful defensively, giving up almost three goals per game, and their goaltending tandem of Kari Lehtonen, Anders Lindback, and Jhonas Enroth combined for a miserable .900 save percentage. They were a puzzle, considering how they were second in the league in scoring, but failed so badly defensively.

In the offseason, Lindy Ruff has evidently taught this team how to play defence (and acquiring Antti Niemi and Johnny Oduya has helped, too). The forwards are still scoring at will (Jamie Benn leads the league in points, and Tyler Seguin is 3rd), and the defence is actually, you know, playing defence, with Dallas ranking a much better 15th in the league in goals against, compared to being at the bottom of the pack last year.

The Stars are currently at the top of the Central Division pack. Should they keep this up, there's no reason that Lindy Ruff won't find himself as a Jack Adams finalist.

Barry Trotz

Now, I'm not saying that Washington was bad last year, by any stretch, because they weren't. They finished with 101 points, good for second in the Metropolitan. 

However, what the Caps are doing this year is remarkable, and a big reason for their surge up the standings is their coach, veteran Barry Trotz.

Under Trotz's direction, the Capitals are first in the Metro. By eleven points. They're also one point back of Lindy Ruff's Dallas Stars for first in the NHL.

The scorers are scoring: Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin each have over 30 points. Who else has over 30 points? Sophomore Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has benefited from an increased role given to him by Trotz, and whose goal totals through 35 games are the same as they were in 80 games last year. The Capitals are also fantastic defensively, as is expected from a Trotz-coached team.

Barry Trotz has the Washington Capitals soaring. Should they remain at pace, he'll be a shoo-in for a nomination.

Gerard Gallant

In the tightly-packed race for the Atlantic Division crown, one team currently stands on top: ...wait, really? The same team that finished out of the playoffs by eight points last season?

The Florida Panthers have been a huge surprise this year! They're fun to watch, skilled up front with young stars and old faces, solid defensively, and great in goal!

Florida has the third-fewest goals against in the NHL. Last year, they weren't even third-best in that category in their division. Forwards young and old, such as Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jussi Jokinen, and, right, Jaromir Jagr, are providing much more scoring than last year. And star goaltender Roberto Luongo has a .926 save percentage... better than his marks in the past five years.

Clearly, Gerard Gallant has his team going in the right direction, and they're certainly heading in the right direction. Should they make the playoffs, he'll be right in the mix come Awards-time.

Also Considered: John Hynes, NJD; Jeff Blashill, DET; Darryl Sutter, LA; Dave Tippett, ARI

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Three Possible Hart Trophy Candidates

Credit: Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

What does it mean to win the Hart Trophy? You have to be valuable to your team, yes, but another factor to be taken into consideration is where your team would be without you. Jamie Benn is having a standout season in Dallas this year, but he's not a likely candidate for the Hart - Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg, and the goaltending tandem would likely have that team in the playoffs without Benn.

No, we aren't looking for players like Patrick Kane on this list; we're looking for players whose teams would be sunk by their absence.

Here, in no particular order, are the three likeliest candidates to win the Hart Trophy this coming summer.

Johnny Gaudreau

The Flames' #13 is enjoying a banner year in the C of Red, leading Calgary in scoring with 39 points in 35 games (through Dec. 28, 2015). Though the Flames suffered through a horrendous start to the season, going 2-8-1 through their first eleven games, the club has enjoyed a massive resurgence lately with a 9-2-0 record thus far in the month of December, a month in which Gaudreau has an astounding 18 points (including 12 goals) and two hat-tricks. 

The Flames are also currently riding a 11-game home-ice winning streak, on which Gaudreau has 22 points (including 15 goals). Since the start of Gaudreau's hot streak, the Flames have jumped from last in the NHL to one point back of 2nd place in the Pacific Division. If Gaudreau, who is currently tied for sixth in the NHL in points, can keep his pace and carry the Flames to the playoffs, he'll be a contender for the Hart for sure.

Braden Holtby

Braden Holtby is having a fantastic season in D.C. His 23 wins rank first in the NHL, as does his sparkling 1.86 goals against average. To further accentuate his 2015-16 greatness, his tallies in the save percentage (3rd), shutouts (9th), and saves (7th) columns all rank in the top 10 for each category. Holtby (23-4-1) is making saves that lesser goalies dream of...

...and he's being called the Caps' best player by a superstar in his own right, Alex Ovechkin. Everything he's doing is working, and he's propelling the Capitals up the NHL standings. As of this writing, Washington was sitting with 56 points - one back of Dallas for the top mark in the NHL.

Erik Karlsson

Hi, I'm Erik Karlsson. I'm a two-time Norris Trophy winner, and here's why I deserve to win the Hart Trophy.

- I currently lead the entire NHL in assists. Not just by a defenseman - I lead the entire NHL.

- I am currently fourth in the entire NHL in points - again, the entire NHL.

- I am currently leading Mike Hoffman, a forward, and the second-highest point scorer on my team, by seven points.

- Among the top 8 scorers on my team, my shooting percentage is the lowest.

- Among the top 20 scorers in the entire NHL, my shooting percentage is second-lowest.

- I have fantastic hair.

- I sometimes make plays like this:

- And because of all of this, my Ottawa Senators team is currently holding on to a playoff spot. Where would they be without me?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Breaking Down the Calgary Flames' "Ugly Christmas Sweater Miracle" Video

If you haven't seen the above video yet, I feel very sorry for you. Put on by the Flames, the two-minute video is fantastic.

I could write 2,000 words about this video, so I will. Here goes nothing!

- We open with some Derek Wills narration. Nothing wrong with Derek, though he gets rather growl-shouty when he's excited.

- The Flames Quartet of Dougie Hamilton, Brandon Bollig, Sam Bennett, and Markus Granlund are terrible singers, and as such, get treated as all awful Christmas carolers do: with doors slammed in their faces by people they can't see. Note their headgear.

- I'm still trying to figure out whose voice squeaks at approximately the :16 mark.

- The Flames Quartet is shocked by having these doors slammed in their faces. Dougie really feels it, going so far as to drop his book in shock.

- You know, I've always dreamed of watching four dejected Calgary Flames players stumble along a sidewalk over Elvis singing. Was this Brian Burke's idea?

- What's with the arm swing that Dougie does at :28? Does he have a cramp? Is he expressing disgust? I really don't know.

- "Aw, geez guys, I don't know what's wrong. We just don't... have it." - the Calgary Flames in November 2015

- "Christmas [is] the worst day to be [a] bad singer" - [insert your joke here]

- "I don't get it. Maybe we're just... missing something." - How about a good goalie?

- The Flames' doorbell reactions at :51 are all priceless, but Dougie Hamilton's "I-just-signed-a-huge-contract" face takes the cake.

- "What's this?" - I don't have a joke here.

- "Golly, thanks Santa Harv!" - "Santa Harv" aside, don't you think Bennett is trying to act a bit like  Clark Kent here?

- Bollig opens his present with his teeth. Haha! Canned laughter!

- "Gadzooks! It's the new Flames ugly Christmas sweaters!" Haha! I actually laughed.

- Bollig takes the cake back from Dougie in the crazy-face contest at 1:14.

- "Oh gee whiz. I got the Flames... ugly patchwork Chris-sweater," mumbles a forgetful Markus Granlund.

- "Oh heavens me! I got the Flames ugly retro big logo crew sweater." Hey, anyone else getting the impression that Dougie is way too into this?

- Now Bennett's wearing glasses and... has a pipe? I was going to say he really is Clark Kent, but now what?

- Haha, Bollig gets the girls. The girls' sweater, mind you.

- "Only 74.99." Haha, casually-stated ridiculous prices. Seriously, though, that's ridiculous.

- Rover got the Flames' ugly sweater vest, which is also exorbitantly-priced. 

- We end with the Flames dancing arm-in-arm towards the camera. How sweet. That's it for this post, folks. You can exit this page n- 


- The Flames are suddenly transformed into beautiful singers. How does this make sense!?