(In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)
“Obviously I didn’t mean to do that,” Gustav Nyquist said.
What are you talking about, dude? I have never in my life seen someone try-to-do-that as much as Nyquist tried to spear Jared Spurgeon in the mouth. You can not-like the hit Spurgeon put on him in the first place, which is fair. The reaction is worthy of about 20 games.
How can you not be sick of this crap? Every time a guy commits a suspension-worthy penalty, it’s always, “Yeah, I mean I saw his numbers for the four strides I took to get them before I jumped into the hit from behind but it was never my intention for him to get hurt. I’m not that kind of player. I’m glad he’s only in the hospital and not dead. I’ll text him later and say I’m really sorry.”
Get lost. My man, this is like Captain Ahab’s dying words being, “My bad, Moby Dick.” Heat of the moment, sure, but you had vengeance in your heart on this play and there’s no dressing it up.
7. More in the Duchene lottery
I don’t have Nick Kypreos’s sources, obviously, but I really struggle to understand why the Pittsburgh Penguins would want to acquire Matt Duchene in the first place, let alone put together the pieces to actually acquire him.
Like, do you really trade for Duchene to take on that money (how, by the way?) to move him to the wing? Do you take on that money to keep him as your No. 3 center? Didn’t we already try this with Jordan Staal?
It’s nice to be in the market for useful players. And many of the teams connected with Duchene to this point have been clubs that make some amount of sense. Duchene to Pittsburgh? I flat-out don’t get the logic there.
6. Getting up on your high horse
Like, you got taxpayers to cough up a ton of money for a rink no one goes to, then you can’t get anyone to build you another taxpayer-funded rink maybe slightly more people will go to. And you have the temerity to get up there and “How-Dare-You!” somebody. That actually is very cool and awesome.
Like, if you’re the Coyotes, you shooooooooould be looking at Portland and Seattle. And even if you’re not, using the fact that you might be looking at them as a bargaining chip is a classic “evil sports owner” move. How do you mess that up?
5. Michel Therrien’s hot seat
So the Habs were in a spiral, with only three points from their last seven games, and their win coming against the obviously-trying-to-tank Coyotes. In overtime. By a score of 5-4.
It cost Michel Therrien his job. But you’re never gonna guess what the problem was here! It was PDO!!!!!!!!!
The Canadiens had a 5.5 shooting percentage and .882 save percentage in the seven games before Therrien got canned. It’s a 93.7 PDO. How many games do you think that wins you?
And look, I know a lot of people are still very locked-in on the idea that Therrien isn’t a good coach, but the past two seasons the Habs have actually had one of the better processes in the league. They missed the playoffs last year because Carey Price was injured and Mike Condon couldn’t make a stop. They’re losing now because Carey Price can’t make a stop and no one can put the puck in the net.
Not that they couldn’t stand to get a little better process-wise right now (they’ve been outshot by 13 over these seven games despite trailing for most of them) but like, this coach wasn’t the problem.
With that having been said, if you get the chance to hire Julien, you of course take it. He’s the only actually elite coach who speaks French in the entire world, so this is literally the best Montreal is ever going to do.
4. Vegas’s coaching search
I guess this is the stretch of the PDPR where we talk about coaches. So here we go:
Okay, we know the Golden Knights were always out on Claude Julien, which I guess is understandable because he probably wanted like $3 million a year (his rumored salary in Boston). If I’m a brand-new franchise and I really don’t know what I’m going to have, I don’t make that kind of investment, especially because any smart GM is looking to tank in the first few years of the club’s existence to get a bunch of picks and prospects.
(If I’m GM George McPhee, I try to rob everyone blind in the expansion draft then extremely trade several of those guys to the highest bidder as soon as possible.)
But anyway, yeah, you have coaching options that aren’t going to cost you a lot and will probably have a decent amount of pro or even NHL experience. The way coaches are getting fired these days, you might have a surfeit of options available to you that strike the right balance for you. Better to hold off.
Though I hear this Therrien guy might be available.
3. Lindy Ruff’s hot seat
You gotta give the St. Louis Blues credit. In making the very wrong decision on firing Ken Hitchcock, they unstuck the coaching situation in the NHL with relative ease.
Next came another bad but more understandable decision: Claude Julien getting turfed in Boston.
And now it appears as though Dallas is ready to part ways with Lindy Ruff. Honestly, it’s tough to blame them. When he was hired, I didn’t think he was the right guy in the first place, but you can’t argue with the results he wrung out of a team that, to put it lightly, has endured some roster problems. This season’s performance seems to have caught everyone by surprise, mainly because the older players in the lineup aren’t producing to previous levels.
But at the same time, like, defense was a huge problem last year, right? And then they lost Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski, and GM Jim Nill figured rookies would fill those holes? Seems like a big blunder on management’s part, especially because the goaltending problems were eminently foreseeable for the second year in a row as well.
Does a coaching change help? I dunno, but it probably doesn’t hurt. Despite the very obvious problems the team has had, it doesn’t seem like Ruff has done much but hope to outscore the opponent 4-3 every night.
Maybe you get a nice fellow called Claude Julien on board. I bet Tyler Seguin would be thrilled!
2. The Capitals
I know their PDO is like 600 right now but man this team is playing some damn great hockey even with all their luck. They’re in the top five or six teams in the league in just about every tangible score-adjusted 5-on-5 category you can come up with, and have the kind of lineup that’s going to be conducive to special-teams success as well.
Heck, I wouldn’t wanna play ’em now. And especially not in the playoffs.
1. Brent Burns
Man, this guy’s gonna win the MVP, isn’t he? Good lord. He entered Tuesday night fourth in the league in points, only two back of Connor McDavid. And sixth in assists. And tied for 11th in goals.
He’s a freakin’ defenseman. And because he’s a Good Canadian Boy who throws checks, no one will ever accuse him of never being in his own zone. (Pssst, he gets fewer shorthanded minutes per game than Chris Tierney.)
Yeah, this guy rules. How blessed are we to watch him? Wow!
(Not ranked this week: When you get extremely owned.
Quick thing on the Bruins here: This worked out great for Cam Neely. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.)
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)
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