Winnipeg Jets v Florida Panthers

NHL Week 3 Panic Rankings

Its time for the third week of the illustrious NHL Panic Rankings. We’re starting to get into injuries, and we’re seeing some trends emerge from teams. So which are panic worthy? I wish I could expand the list, but I’m going to hold firm at 10.

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

10. Honouring the fallen Canadian soldieraNY3bTU

No panic here, but I wanted to get this on the list and put it in a position that everyone would see it. What the Penguins did was terrific. And then the tribute on Hockey Night in Canada where the anthem was synchronized across Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal on Saturday night was very touching.

Its a great thing to see all the support at home and coming in from other parts of the world.

9. The Dallas Stars defence

The biggest concern for the Stars this year was whether their defence could hold up over the course of a season. Well, so far not so good. Patrick Nemeth, while a rookie, was logging decent minutes and he’s out for the season.

Goligoski/Daley, Dillon/Benn, Oleksiak/Connauton/Gonchar is not the greatest group of defenceman you could have to handle the big boy teams in the Western Conference.

Not helping is the fact their their backup goaltender, Anders Lindback, has only stopped 1147 of 1282 shots he’s faced in the last 3 seasons for a .895 save percentage. 15-20 points lower than league average.

Jeff Petry! Dustin Byfuglien! Other out of favour really good defenceman! Come on down!

8. Colorado Avalanche

Tell me if you’ve heard this before: Coach says “We don’t compete hard enough! That’s why we aren’t winning!” Not blaming it on the fact that his team is bad and slow and not very talented and never has the puck.

I see a team in Colorado that competes just fine. Those players work their bags off. But those players aren’t a great collection of players with uncertain goaltending, a slow defence and a forward group severely lacking in bottom six players.

“Compete” doesn’t solve those issues.

Read the full Panic Rankings, including the Bruins, Jets, Canucks, Sportsnet and Tanner Pearson by clicking here!

sweatersnhlbad

How To Fix The NHL’s Absolute Worst Jerseys

The NHL, like any sports league, has its share of absolutely dreadful uniforms. Strange colour choices, weird designs, random stripes, etc. Visual mess that players wear and fans buy out of loyalty. But it doesn’t have to be that way! I’m fixing the NHL, again.

I’ll only be picking on teams that are due for a change. As in, they have yet to make a recent fundamental adjustment.

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

You’re about to learn just how big a fan I am of classic looks.

(Dis)Honourable Mention

Winnipeg Jets

Yawn. Look like every other generic dark blue sweater used in the NHL. Bland colouring leads to absolutely no visual pop and a brutal logo design. Unfortunately, they’re too new for the team to change anything into anything half appealing.

San Jose Sharks

Absolutely nothing going on. Almost as bad as the old Oilers’ sweaters, but at least the teal is bright. Unfortunately, these things are barely a year old so they’re here to stay and continue to be horrible uninteresting.

Buffalo Sabres
sabes
It’s close (main sweaters on the left and right), but would it really hurt just to actually give the fans the classic 70′s sweater? That is what they want. That is what everyone wants. These ones are a little boring and dark, with unnecessary piping and thin striping. I want piping to die. I don’t want to talk about the Turd Burger third jerseys.

Carolina Hurricanes

These are just boring. There is a disconnect from the logo to the sweater. The storm flag design around the base was great, but the rest of the shenanigans were unnecessary. The red knocks of 2010 Olympics Team Canada and the white, well, it isn’t actually that bad. Its missing a little storm flag inspiration, but its pretty good.

7. Vancouver Canucks
canucks

The Canucks, with a poor uniform?! A shocking statement.

The colours and striping is really good. Blue and green, and its variations, really just fits into the pacific northwest.

But the “VANCOUVER” needs to go. It has to go. We know where the team is from. I get that it was done to shill the sweaters during the Olympics as souvenirs, but it’s been four years since then, and these sweaters are almost 8 years old. The logo also doesn’t match the colour anywhere else on the sweater. Why?! Please fix it.

Solution:
newcanucks
Its simple, and right there in the team’s recent history. The third sweater should replace the home, and wear the 40th Anniversary sweater on the road. They’re both leaps and bounds ahead of the current get ups, and they’re not “new” either which is a lifesaver for the Canucks.

Read the full list over at Talking Baws

John scott goal

NHL Week 2 Panic Rankings

I still think it is too early for power rankings, so I won’t do them. But in sports, it is never too early to panic! There are some real things worth panicking over in the NHL right now.

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

10. The Boston Bruins

Things are getting better but there is still some cause for concern, as in they are not being good at hockey. They may be only a 10th of the way into the season, but it is important to get points early and 6 through 7 games is not good enough. The forwards are out of sync. The defence misses Seidenberg’s knee and Johnny Boychuk. At least they beat up on Buffalo.

9. Calm people 

Everyone has let up on making their sweeping generalizations after 2 games. Where is the fun in that? Don’t let reality set in people. Reality and being sensible is way too boring.

8. Touchy Feely Referees Embedded image permalink

They’re being right up front with it now, which is an improvement over last week.

Read the full Panic Rankings at Talking Baws

eakins

What is Wrong With the Edmonton Oilers?

The Edmonton Oilers lost last night to the Los Angeles Kings, and now sit at winless on the season. They didn’t just lose though, they were embarrassed by the defending Cup champions. There is no shame in losing to a team that good, but it is the manner in which the Oilers went about getting their teeth kicked in that makes it a point for conversation.

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

1. We’ll start things off with the defence in Edmonton.

Prior to last night’s contest, it was unveiled that head coach Dallas Eakins healthy scratched Jeff Petry. This was met with a resounding “What in the world?!” by anyone that knows anything because Petry is the Oilers’ best defenceman. It isn’t even close.

This comes after the Oilers demoted their other best defenceman to the AHL for reasons, I guess.

That left the Oilers, a team that needs everything to go right to win, starting the game against the best team in the NHL last year, with this:

Nurse – Schultz
Nikitin – Fayne
Hunt – Ference

When it could have been this:

Marincin – Petry
Nikitin – Fayne
Ference – Schultz

For absolutely no discernible reason, the Oilers handicapped themselves. Imagine if Vancouver went into Los Angeles and decided to scratch Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa for no reason. This is almost the same thing, and its the kind of decision that would get a coach fired for actively surrendering a win.

Eakins’ hasn’t been gifted with an all-star defence, but he hasn’t done himself any favours with it either.

It was blatant against Vancouver that Brad Hunt is not capable of playing 5 v 5 in the NHL.

  • His foot speed doesn’t allow for him to prevent zone entries because he has to use a Red Deer sized gap or else he gives up a breakaway.
  • He’s not strong enough or quick enough to win battles in the corners, behind the net or really anywhere along the boards which pins the Oilers in their zone.
  • And unless it is a perfect breakout with no forecheck, he’s unable to make a pass that allows the Oilers to transition in control of the puck.

Scratching Petry in favour of Hunt is not smart. A good team does not scratch a quality 5 v 5 player for a specialist role. Most of the game is played at 5 v 5. Only a few minutes are played on special teams, and Hunt is only useful on the 2nd unit powerplay.

2. The Oilers’ either aren’t taught a system, or the players ignore it

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_4nw9hnC9Q&w=420&h=315]

That is a great breakdown of how the Oilers just aren’t equipped and/or prepared to deal with good breakouts. I brought up last night with a friend how easily the Oilers get carved by a strong side break out.

To add to the video:

  • It starts with a pinch by Hunt, which isn’t a bad play here in essence. He looks to have the some support to avoid a massive blunder.
  • But it turns out bad because instead of playing the body or being aggressive, Hunt only 75% commits to the pinch and waves his stuck a whole bunch. That might work in the AHL where the winger is going to just hammer it up the boards blindly 95% of the time, but you’re not in the AHL anymore.
  • Then Joensuu (#6) decides to write a check his feet could never cash in by trying to hold the blueline while the Kings are in a full breakout. This compounds the failed pressure by Hunt on Richards. Yakimov also doesn’t do anything besides waste his breath.
  • This is where Hunt’s mistake is compiled again, as you don’t make that pinch when you have players like Joensuu and Yakimov as your support against the Kings first line.
  • Everything compounds even worse once the Kings gain the Oilers zone because Ference (#21) is the lone player vaguely in a defensive position, but since things were so hammy in the neutral zone, he has to back off and leave a huge gap that he has no chance of defending. If he doesn’t leave this gap, Kopitar has a partial breakaway.

This is something that comes down to a mix of bad players and bad coaching. A bunch of mistakes were made here by players just not prepared or poised enough for the situation.

Coaching comes in where the Kings didn’t catch the Oilers off guard with this line match up, and Eakins didn’t immediately get Nikitin and Fayne, or anyone else to be honest, for this play. He could have easily changed his players here, but didn’t.

This is where the mix of coaching and players come into play though. If the weak side forward (Yakimov) pressures hard back to Williams then nothing bad really happens. You probably give up the zone, but Ference can play up and Kopitar who justs takes it low and wide and it becomes a regular entry.

All it took was two mistakes, pinch by Hunt and whatever Joensuu tried, and its a Los Angeles goal.

It is pretty brutal all round, and you could excuse Eakins for bad players if this was just a one-off, but it isn’t. You can say “he didn’t coach that awful coverage” but you’re left to wonder “Well, what is he coaching since it happens every game?”

3. So why is Dallas Eakins the coach?

I’m not sure I have the answer to this. Bad players can still know what to do. They just don’t do it well.

I was asked if the Oilers system is “no system” and I felt like I had to agree. There were two break outs that happened back to back that demonstrated this quite well, unfortunately I don’t have YouTube powers.

When you watch the Kings break out, it is: strong side winger low, center support, weak side winger provides mid ice option and weak side D backs up the middle of the ice in case the play breaks. Almost every single time.

The Oilers do it differently: they tend to send the strong side D towards the strong side wingers spot (decides to pass to winger or center), center is pressing the blueline, weak side winger never crosses into the middle for support and weak side D is picking his nose.

The Oilers seem to have no idea what they’re doing to try to exit their zone, or go through the neutral zone, or what to do any time someone not named Taylor Hall has the puck in general.

So again, why is Eakins coach? Well, he coached the Toronto Marlies and got the hype train that comes with it. The Marlies weren’t a team that succeeded because of the young Leaf picks, even though that was the popular opinion. Eakins’ Marlies teams rode strong defensive forward career AHLers in prominent positions.

But he does not have strong defensive NHL forwards to make his system work, and thus you get all sorts of this.



4. So is it the forwards fault?

It is tough to say. A coach has to shape the players into better players, but he can only work with the players he’s given.

Craig MacTavish made a huge mistake by going into the season with a center ice of 1. Nugent-Hopkins 2. Arcobello 3. Draisaitl 4. Gordon. Centers serve as the core of any defensive system and having 2 rookies anchoring the middle six is living on a prayer.

This problem only gets worse when Nugent-Hopkins gets injured. Now, most teams are pooched without their top center, but no team is more pooched than Edmonton due to the sheer lack of anything else in the position.

So the next thing to look at is the wingers. Can they insulate the centermen? And the answer is a resounding “No.”

Pouliot and Purcell are veteran players and responsible enough defensively. Perron and Hall are both better than they get credit for, but no one is confusing them for Jiri Lehtinen any time soon.

That leaves Yakupov and Eberle.

I feel that people unfairly pick on Yakupov for not caring about defence, where I feel the issue is that he is honestly and wholeheartedly plain confused. You can see that he wants to be in the right defensive position, but he doesn’t know where that is. That is the coach’s job.

Eberle has managed to get away with being quite possibly the least defensively responsible forward on the Oilers for quite some time now and I’m not sure why.

By the point in his career, there is no way that Eberle doesn’t know his defensive positioning. And I think he does, but he prefers to cheat for the occasion that it pays off, but you can’t do that in the NHL.

Now this is anecdotal, as I tried some number digging and it was inconclusive, but the number of times you’ll see Eberle do a lazy loop or cheat to the inside and only give his defenceman a risky outlet is way more than any other forward on the Oilers.

5. So…?
Embedded image permalink

To pull off a center ice, or lack thereof, like the Oilers’ have, you’d need a St. Louis Blues group of top nine wingers. Anything short of that compounds the issues at center. Which compound the issues of the systems play. Which compounds the issues of the defence. Which compounds the decision making of coaching. Which compounds the issues of management.

I guess it is a good thing you can still say that the Oilers are “rebuilding” because if this anywhere resembles the finished product then I’d nuke it from orbit.

dudeperfet

Dallas Stars And Dude Perfect Team Up For Sick Trick Shots

If you’ve been following the NHL for any amount of time then you’re well aware that Dallas Stars‘ players Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are two of the most skilled and dominant at their positions. But if you need any further proof or their talents, then Dude Perfect is here with the stars of the Stars performing some incredible hockey themed trick shots!

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

From the ice to the baseball diamond, these guys are good.

See the video at Talking Baws

201405292312835309001

Week 1 NHL Panic Rankings

Its too early for power rankings. If you’re doing power rankings after 2 games you’re getting ahead of yourself. How do you really know who is the best and who is the worst? Or the most “powerful”? The first place team in the NHL is the Montreal Canadiens with 6 whole points. Lets give it some time and do the panic rankings instead!

You won’t make the playoffs in October, but you can miss them.

by: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

Welcome to the Panic rankings. I’m going to do my best to make this into a weekly feature where I focus on 10 teams/players/happenings in the NHL and rank them on the panic scale.

Warning: Humour and Hot Takes follow.

10. New York Rangers

First Derek Stepan breaks a fibula. Now Dan Boyle breaks his hand. A team that won because of their depth last year has had that very aspect depleted. They got rocked by the Leafs 6-3. Lucky for them they are in the worst division in hockey and can keep themselves above water on that fact alone.

9. Edmonton Oilers
oilsweater

They’re bad again. Lost the first game of the season. Sweater thrown on the ice. Lose to Vancouver. The defense is C+ and they for whatever reason put their best left handed defenceman in the AHL for one bad pre-season game. That Nikitin contract, oof. Good luck against an actual big boy team.

8. People who watched Chicago-Dallas on Thursday night
(Click here for highlights)

That game might have been the fastest regular season game ever. I lost weight just watching it. That game was being played on such a different level than any others that night it made the rest of the NHL games look like AHL contests.

7. In-arena reporters
fans

You gotta be careful now. The fans are coming for you! You’re under attack! The Russians have come and they’re attacking in Columbus! And in Philadelphia they’re getting touchy. Just trying to convince you to let your guard down. Might be time to invest in some bear mace.

Read the full Panic Rankings at Talking Baws

recap

NHL 2014 Preview: Complete NHL Recap

The NHL season has kicked off! FINALLY! But wait, are you ready? Have you read extensive previews? What about perfect predictions? What about mind blowing observations that will make you the smartest guy at the water cooler or the call-in show?

Behold! The 2014 total NHL Preview! Everything is perfect. Don’t believe? Then go read every article and see for yourself!

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

Enjoy all my hard work!

NHL 2014 Preview: Metropolitan Division Off-season Report Card
metrodivision
Who’s going to make the playoffs? Who improved? Will the Penguins be actually good? Can the Isles or Devils return to the playoffs? Can the Rangers repeat their surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals? Will Columbus or Philadelphia hold onto their playoff spots? Will the ‘Canes become relevant?

NHL 2014 Preview: Atlantic Division Off-season Report Card
Atlantic
Can the Leafs or Senators return to the playoffs? Are the Bruins still top dog or will the Lightning take over? Can the Red Wings continue their playoff streak? Will Buffalo or Florida outsuck the rest of the NHL again? Can the Canadiens build off their deep playoff run?

NHL 2014 Preview: Central Division Off-season Report Card
central
Have the Blues done enough to overcome the Blackhawks? Are the Stars for real this season? Can the Wild hold it together? Were the Avalanche smoke and mirrors? Will the new-look Predators take a playoff spot? Just how bad are the Jets going to be?

NHL 2014 Preview: Pacific Division Off-season Report Card
pacific
Can the Kings do it again? Will the Ducks be able to overcome a roster overhaul? Was last season an aberration or the real Canucks? Which Albertan team will be better? Will the Sharks identity crisis make them better or worse?

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 5 Players to be Traded
traded
Who’s days are numbered where they are? Trade requests? Expendable? Are they worth trading for or are they overrated products of their systems?

You also get to read me totally whiff on Bobby Ryan.

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 5 Players Ready for Breakout Seasons
breakoutplayers
What players are set to break out? Who will have a star making season? Who is coming up on make or break territory? What is missing from a few players chances to become that star?

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 5 Players to Take a Step Back
top5stepback
What breakout players aren’t likely to repeat their terrific seasons? How hard will they fall back to earth? Why was last season all smoke and mirrors?

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 5 “Change of Scenery” Players
456356318_slide
Which players are going to benefit the most in a new city? Which new signings are going to prove their worth and rebound? Which trades are going pay off? What players are going to make their managers look savvy?

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 5 Bounce Back Players
bounceback
Take a quick look at players coming off bad years that should be primed to comeback and have good years. While the title says 5, I actually include 8! That’s 8 for the price of 5. How can you not read it now?

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 6 Stupid Myths in Hockey
nhlmyth
The NHL is full of myths. What are these dumb myths? This highly intelligent article will educate you and expand your brain thinking abilities in the realm of hockey so you won’t fall for shenanigans and silliness anymore!

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 7 New Signings Under Pressure
bust contracts
Which players are under the most pressure? Who holds the most potential to bust and be an expensive waste of space? What hope do these players have? What was the general manager thinking?

NHL 2014 Preview: Top 10 Absolute Worst Contracts
worst contracts
Which players hold the 10 worst contracts in the league? A better question… what teams were dumb and gave out the 10 worst contracts in the NHL? Just how bad are they? Is there any hope for these teams/players/fans at all?

NHL 2014 Preview: Made Up Summer Awards
summer
What teams are the winners of my completely fictional awards? Who is improved? Who is bad? Which teams are on hallucinogenic narcotics? Who looks the nicest?

NHL 2014 Preview: Preseason Awards Predictions
nhl_trophies20135301
Who is gonna get which piece of hardware? Who will score the most? Be the best defenceman? Stop pucks the best? Use the best coaching voodoo? Which team will be the absolute best and give fans eternal bragging rights?

I loved writing these! I hope you enjoy them too!

worst contracts

NHL 2014 Preview: The 10 Absolute Worst Contracts

The NHL season is thankfully underway! What better way to celebrate than passing judgement on which players are bad and signed to the worst contracts this season? Dash a little optimism and break a few hearts before your team has a chance to do it for you!

Trust me when I say picking out the 10 worst contracts in the NHL was a lot harder than you think. I had a list of 22 and got seriously stumped at 18. And that was after I decided they needed to have at least 3 seasons remaining.

I feel like I Nathan Horton might be #1 on next years edition.

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

Author’s note: Don’t hold a player being on this list against them. Hold it against the dumby manager who thought it was a good idea. If Talking Baws wanted to grossly overpay me then you can sure bet I’d accept it!

10. Ryan Callahan, 6 years left, $5,800,000 annually.

General Manager Steve Yzerman has done such a good job in Tampa Bay that you want to forgive him of the odd misstep, but you really can’t in a salary cap world. Or at least not for long.

High cap hit. Lots of term. Brand new contract for a player with a body continually breaking down. Callahan has only played three of his six big league seasons at anything close to resembling a full year. His level play was already showing signs of falling off for the Rangers to boot.

Maybe removing him from New York where they’ve played a more grinding, heavy system in his career can shave some of the miles off his legs and keep his joints glued together. If not, this contract is going to look even worse before you know it when he’s bouncing between the third and fourth lines as a 31-year-old.

9. Ryan Miller, 3 years left, $6,000,000 annually.
9991301
Reason #1: He’s been on the decline since 2011 and couldn’t even be average behind a team as good as the St. Louis Blues, a team that is significantly better than the Vancouver Canucks.

Reason #2: He’s getting 6 million a season in a market where the Canucks essentially bid against themselves to drive up the price they paid for him while a better, or at least equal, goaltender in Jonas Hiller signed for significantly less in Calgary.

Reason #3: There will be trade talk and buyout chatter before this contract is even a year old once Eddie Lack outplays him by Christmas.

Reason #4: Lack, the better goaltender, will end up being traded. All for whatever reason this signing made sense.

8. Vincent Lecavalier, 4 years left, $4,500,000 annually.

Ray Ferraro thought teams were high when they were fighting to sign him. Why would teams be high to sign a player who put up 20-17-37 in 69 games?

He just completed the first season of his contract and the Philadelphia Flyers were already desperately trying to trade him this summer. When they realized he was damn-near untradeable, they considered buying him out.

After one season.

That one season came where they signed him after he got bought out by his previous team.

He stands to be a buyout candidate after this season for financial details and cap implications, which will make him the first player to be bought out twice. Woof.

7. Dennis Seidenberg, 4 years left, $4,000,000 annually.

The biggest danger with “defensive” defenceman is that once they lose even a bit of mobility, they’re hooped. It’s a steep decline once their legs start to go. Did I mention that he’s a 33-year-old coming off surgery to repair the MCL and ACL in his right knee. He wasn’t fast before, and he won’t be any quicker now.

Whats worse though, is that the contract for an aging, slowing, defenceman with limited puck skills has cost the Bruins a quality player in Johnny Boychuk because of the cap crunch that his contract helped to largely contribute towards (well, Chris Kelly’s absurd contract too. At least the NHL is being gutless and not penalizing them for Marc Savard as well).

Lucky for him, he’s likely to play significant minutes with Zdeno Chara. That’ll make people think he’s better than he is for at least the next two years. Thats about it.

Read the full article at Talking Baws

summer

NHL 2014 Preview: Summer Awards

So you’ve seen my awards predictions for the upcoming NHL season. But what about my own awards for teams for their activities this summer? Who am I gifting my own personal awards that I’ve made up and was able to completely decide the criteria for best signing, most delusional and best fashion among others?

By: Adam Pyde - @Adam_Pyde

Hint: The answers are below!

Best Signing
Contenders: Brad RichardsAnton StralmanChristian Ehrhoff
bestsigning
The rich get Richards. (•_•) / ( •_•)>⌐■-■ / (⌐■_■) The Blackhawks have never been able to employ an actual second line center since pulling themselves out of the basement on the NHL about 7 years ago. But now, they have Brad Richards on a one year deal for low dollars and he’ll provide their best offensive weapon, Patrick Kane, a real centerman any time he isn’t playing with Jonathan Toews, which is a luxury that Kane has yet to have in his career. Richards is still a good hockey player, but he just wasn’t worth the ~7 million cap hit he had in New York. In Chicago he’ll thrive between Brandon Saad and Kane.

Now Tampa boasts a great defence that is as good, or better, than anyone else in their entire conference. What Stralman provides is the perfect player to complement Victor Hedman on the top pairing, or to act as the driver on the second pairing. That kind of utility is hard to find, and the Bolts only paid 4.5 million annually for it. In contrast, an equal player in Matt Niskanen got $5.75 million/year and significantly crappier Brooks Orpik signed for $5.5 million/year. The Lightning managed to get the second best defenceman available on the market for a pittance, especially considering that he’s only 28.

Ehrhoff was the best defenceman available in free agency and is an excellent offensive defenceman with an underrated defensive game. He’s great on the powerplay, an able penalty killer and can function as a one-man-breakout-machine with his skating ability. He was being wasted in Buffalo, but in Pittsburgh he’s going to have every chance to prove his worth and sign for a huge contract next season. The Penguins get a player more than capable of replacing Niskanen and who also serves as a better insurance policy to fill Kris Letang’s role in case of injury. All that for a paltry 4 million against the cap.

But I give my hat tip to the Lightning here. Stralman being on for another 5 seasons is what makes that deal so good, while the other two signings are one year deals.

Worst Signing
Contenders: Brooks OrpikDavid Bolland
worst signing
I feel like I need some puking emojis for these. I’ll keep this really short.

Both are getting paid anywhere from 4-6 times their worth. Orpik is bad, and old. Bolland is bad, and not quite as old.

That makes the Orpik deal worse and the “winner”, because at least there is a one-in-a-million chance that Bolland could make this look less awful.

Read the full article at Talking Baws