Puck Daddy Countdown: Kings, Canadiens and shameful hockey writers

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The <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/los/" data-ylk="slk:Los Angeles Kings">Los Angeles Kings</a> look unstoppable right now, but will it last? (Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Kings look unstoppable right now, but will it last? (Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

(In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

7 – Norris candidacy

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The Blues put Alex Pietrangelo on IR this week and expect him to be out a week. Bad news for everyone who penciled him in as the next Norris winner instead of Erik Karlsson, who actually deserves it, because now that whole “At least he’s durable!” argument goes away.

It can be used to start a pile with the “Pietrangelo added an element of offense to his game.” But one assumes that the Blues being a lot better than the Senators will be held against Karlsson, who coincidentally is also not from Canada, as will the fact that someone asked him about his contract status and he answered honestly.

How much do you think has to go wrong for the Blues and Pietrangelo for the Canadian media to not give him the Norris this year? A lot, right?

6 – The Ducks

Here’s a one-act play I wrote:

Randy Carlyle: Hey, Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg are back!

Ducks fans: Oh that’s great, because this team has been muddling through an injury-filled season and haven’t really been able to play at full strength all year. And sure, the playoffs are already feeling like a dim hope, but maybe just maybe they can put something together for the last 60 percent of the season or something.

Corey Perry [writhing on the ground and being helped off the ice]: Ah, my knee! I’m gonna need a week or two off at least!

Ducks fans: Crap.

Thanks. If you want to pay to produce this, the rights can be yours for a billion dollars.

5 – Playing the game

This is inside-baseball stuff, but I really don’t care. It’ll also get me banned from the PHWA forever and I don’t care about that either. So here goes:

Far be it for me, a guy who is not in the PHWA, to tell the PHWA how to handle its business, but it seems to me that it is very bad for the guy who is in charge of the organization to start telling off its members publicly via tweet.

The Athletic’s Justin Bourne, who was a scholarship NCAA forward and later played in both the ECHL and AHL, before also being a video coach in the AHL, said he didn’t like a certain kind of shootout move that Connor McDavid tried and failed, prompting PHWA president and certified brain genius Mark Spector to tweet at Bourne, asking how many goals he scored at the NHL level.

The answer, of course, is zero. But if you’re gonna “never played the game” someone, make sure it isn’t someone who made a living for a few years doing just that. Especially if your Elite Prospects page doesn’t exist.

But the larger point is: The president of the PHWA shouldn’t be calling out members for any reason, especially if he’s also been the president of the Professional Hockey Writers Shouldn’t Criticize Each Other Publicly Association for a lot longer than he’s been running the PHWA. I hate to use this phrase, but Spector is the kind of thin-skinned writer who can absolutely dish it out, but throws a temper tantrum when anyone tries to make him take it.

Spector’s public apology said he was wrong to criticize Bourne without knowing his résumé as a player, which again is about a million times more impressive than Spector’s (even if Bourne did only play at Alaska Anchorage lol), but that’s missing the point, which Spector does a lot, I guess, so it’s par for the course.

The idea that you have to have played the game to understand it is demonstrably stupid, although you certainly have a much greater chance of not understanding it if you didn’t. Exhibit A: Mark Spector.

The PHWA is not an organization which has covered itself with glory in recent years (see: The Alex Ovechkin All-Star kerfuffle, and the fact that Spector of all the writers in the world is allowed to run it), but to let this bozo — whose takes lately have resembled the Sideshow Bob rakes scene — act like this without any apparent repercussions or at the very least offer a better apology is unconscionable.

4 – Mulling a trade

Apparently the Canadiens, after winning five straight and then immediately losing three straight, are back to having an identity crisis about whether they should make a big trade to get them going. And I mean, maybe they should. I don’t think it would hurt, but also I bet it probably doesn’t provide the panacea everyone seems to think it will. Certainly, any midseason trade they could complete won’t make their team shooting percentage league-average overnight. It won’t make the goalies better than .903.

So I dunno. Do what you want, I guess. Probably won’t make this a playoff team. The Habs are 10-14 in regulation and that’s a pretty deep hole to dig out of.

But I do like the idea that despite all these problems, they’re demanding that Shea Weber play hurt in freakin’ mid-December. Never give up!

3 – Carrying water

Eric Francis did a great job in the Calgary Sun this week, basically threatening on Murray Edwards’ behalf to personally move the Flames to Houston if the city won’t pay for a new rink in the next three years.

The best line:

“Maybe this formerly progressive city of 1.4 million is in fact reflective of the anti-business leadership at all three levels of government, driving entrepreneurs like principle [sic] Flames owner Murray Edwards out of town.”

I can’t even imagine what kind of broken-ass brain you have to have to side with a guy worth almost $1.9 billion over the taxpayers in your own city, but conservatives, by definition, are selfish people.

I’ve said this before, but when you see someone going this hard in favor of something that is deeply unpopular, and in favor of moneyed interests, you gotta ask yourself: “What’s in it for that guy?” And maybe there’s nothing in it for him at all! But maybe there is. Who’s to say?

2 – Fleury’s back

By the transitive property of Vegas having a bunch of ECHLers give them save percentages well above what should have been expected, it’s reasonable to predict that Marc-Andre Fleury will go .960 the rest of the season.

1 – The Kings

I’m on record as not really believing this Kings team is especially for real. They have sub-50 possession numbers and the third-highest PDO in the league and really benefit from playing in a pretty bad division. I mean, if you think Jonathan Quick (.930 in all situations, .934 at 5-on-5) is this good, I have a 10-year contract to sell you.

But hey, they’ve won eight straight and sit atop the Pacific, and that’s with Jeff Carter — just about their only good forward last season — being out for almost the entire season to date. Now look, it’s hard to win eight straight against anyone, so even though I’m not super-impressed with that run including wins over Anaheim, Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, Ottawa and Carolina, you gotta say, hey, they banked the points.

(Not ranked this week: The freakin’ holidays, folks!

I’m stressed out!!!!)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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