Puck Daddy Countdown: USA Hockey suffers huge loss

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 Jim Johannson, the general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, has died on the eve of the Pyeongchang Games. He was 53.
 Jim Johannson, the general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, has died on the eve of the Pyeongchang Games. He was 53.

8. Russia???

So now it’s looking like Russia might not participate in the Olympics after all, following the IOC’s deceision not to invite a bunch of athletes, it seems like maybe Russia might pull out of the hockey tournament?

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While the IOC decision involved a bunch of sports — including a number of athletes who were expected to medal in PyeongChang — there were a handful of hockey players who will not be allowed to participate:

A few once and (probably) future NHLers in there. Maybe this doesn’t move the needle off Russia as the heavy favorite, but it certainly hurts them a bit.

If they pull out, of course, well then things get a whole lot more interesting just a few weeks out from the Olympics. At that point you gotta put your money on….. Sweden? I dunno. Maybe Sweden.

7. Pace

One of those things I love to see is media members talking about how important Pace is.

“Oh the Avs play so fast in person. That’s why they’re winning these days.”

“Wow Vegas plays at such a high tempo and that’s why they have the best record in the league.”

This is where the “watch the games” thing falls short as far as analysis goes sometimes. Just because you see a team play fast, or more likely APPEAR to play fast, that does not mean it’s why they’re winning. Correlation, causation, all that kind of thing.

One of the only real ways to measure “pace” in the NHL is just how many times teams in a game attempt shots. If a club and its various opponents are attempting a lot of shots over a long period of time, it stands to reason that they are getting up and down the ice pretty quickly. So is there any sort of correlation between how many shots a team takes and allows every hour of 5-on-5 hockey they play and how often they win?

You’ll be shocked, I’m sure, to find out the answer is “no.” Super-fun, super-fast Vegas? Their pace in terms of all shot attempts in their games is 17th in the league. In shots on goal it’s 16th. In goals? Well they’re seventh *cough*PDO*cough*. But even in scoring chances and high-danger chances they’re 11th and 25th, respectively.

Colorado during this streak? Well, in all those same categories they’re 15th, 18th, ninth *cough*PDO*cough*, 15th and 25th.

Playing fast doesn’t necessarily mean playing well. Two of the three “fastest” teams in the league in terms of the pace of play are Chicago and Montreal. C’mon.

6. Seattle’s potential names

A few of the apparently planned names for the new Seattle franchise, which is 10000 percent going to exist in like two years. None of them are particularly inspiring.

Cougars? Pass.

Eagles? Pass.

Emeralds? Heavy pass.

Firebirds? Nope.

Rainiers? Not bad.

Renegades? Absolutely not.

Seals? Didn’t we already have a team like that?

Sea lions? Ten billion percent yes.

Sockeyes? I love it.

Totems? Pretty sure we already have a racist team name and logo.

Whales? Too close to Whalers.

Kraken? Ugh.

The internet dweebos seem to love “Kraken” so they can go, like, “RELEASE THE KRAKEN” or whatever when the team scores. The guy from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie can say it on the video board. Dumb.

But it’s a stupid-ass name. Here’s a big reason why: the Kraken comes from middle-ages Norse and Icelandic myth which, I don’t know if you know this, but those people never made it to the damn Pacific Northwest.

Now Ogopogo, there’s a Pacific Northwest sea monster. Its name is probably too silly to be a team name, though. Even if you said “Ogies” or “Ogos” or something.

By the way, there is little in the way of fossil record in the Pacific Northwest from the time of the dinosaurs, so don’t even think about that!

One lesson we’ve definitely learned? Do NOT pick something that’s going to piss off the military. You might have to change your name after like a year.

5. A Mighty Ducks reboot series

Maybe this is a silly question but do you guys, like, remember the ’90s? The freaking 1990s? That famous decade we all know and love?

Of course you do!

So they’re rebooting the Mighty Ducks as a TV show, maybe. Bad idea. How much stuff that gets rebooted from the ’80s and ’90s these days is any good at all? This isn’t a “Don’t ruin my childhood” thing. I don’t care about that because I’m a grown man now. My favorite intellectual properties of my childhood are not sacred to me, as long as they’re done well. So far the track record here is not good, especially if it’s about a scrappy team of upstart losers who overcome the odds to beat the hyper-competitive coach and learn a few lessons along the way. Like, this is well-trod territory.

The only way I will accept this is if it’s a gritty, “Riverdale”-style reboot where Coach Bombay keeps trying and failing not to drink, Averman has a shoplifting problem, and Goldberg witnesses a mob hit.

4. Have you heard about Gerard Gallant?

On the Golden Knights’ big swing through the Southeastern U.S., we got so many stories about Gerard Gallant. Oh man did you know he used to coach the Panthers? Did you know they left him in a taxi in Carolina or whatever happened?

Pretty crazy!

Or at least it would be if it weren’t brought up literally any time Vegas wins a game at this point. Good lord, we know. Aren’t there more interesting narratives surrounding the team at this point? And if not, shouldn’t you try to find some? They’re pretty good!

3. Being critical

Oh dang the Leafs are saying they’re mad about all the losing they’ve been doing lately. Shows how much they care!

I dunno, man. If your job was to win a lot and then you didn’t win a lot despite the fact that you probably should have, maybe that’s like… just gonna get you mad. I don’t know why calling out your teammates after a string of losses is necessarily this Brave Good Thing. Seems to me like if you’re playing well and the team around you isn’t, it’s kind of imperative that you point it out to them.

Auston Matthews has six goals in the last 10 games, which is a good pace and probably exempts him from too much criticism (as long as you don’t look at those underlyings ha ha ha). Freddie Andersen is at .920 for the year, though only .915 in his last eight appearances, so he probably gets the right to gripe as well.

2. The Avs

Well now it’s 10, isn’t it? The fact that they did it in Toronto this time is probably enough to get everyone to freak out, but Nathan MacKinnon didn’t have any points so the MVP race is still very much up in the air.

1. Jim Johannson

This was a big-time bummer, man. Huge loss for the American hockey community. There are plenty of good remembrances out there, and all of them are worth your time. Seek ’em out. Thanks.

(Not ranked this week: Being Jeff Glass.

No pressure, kid, but if you aren’t good enough to get Chicago in the playoffs come April, people are going to try to assassinate you. That’s how it goes and there’s nothing you can do about it!)

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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