Faith in the Nations Capitals

Go back in time to about nine months ago for the Washington Capitals. A good team missing out on the playoffs. Not unusual, there have been plenty of good teams in recent years who have missed the tournament, just a season or two maybe three ago the Anaheim Ducks missed the playoffs, you go through a rough streak and you can miss in today game. Something about the Capitals last season though was very off, something happened or in my opinion someone.

If you have followed my blogs for a little while you’ll know how I did not agree with Adam Oates and what he tried to accomplish out in D.C. From stories and rumors coming out on how he tried to get players to change their sticks and the curves on their blades to getting into a conflict with the former goalie coach and driving him to leave. The line that got me to really dislike Oates as a coach was “I’m a head coach of a team: My job is to know every position,” Oates said. “I never played D but I know D, so I know goaltending.” I can look at that statement for the next ten years and still not get any closer to understanding it. I always compared that statement to this one that I made up, “I am a human, My job is to know my body. I’ve never been a doctor, but I know a doctor, so I should do a surgery.” In my opinion those claims aren’t far off.

Oates wanted to put his hands on everything his team did and change his players to fit the way he wanted to play. Continue reading Faith in the Nations Capitals

What’s Wrong with the Champs?

As we are closing in on the All-Star Break, the defending Stanley Cup Champions are barely in a playoff position out in the Western Conference. Currently the Kings hold the 2nd Wild Card, 8th Playoff Seed in the West with 50 Points and a record of 20-14-10. Right behind the Kings at 50 Points are Calgary at 49, Colorado at 47, Dallas at 45 and Minnesota at 43. Colorado and Dallas are starting to put things together. Granted a lot of good teams in the West by why are the Kings barely holding on to a playoff spot?

Mediocrity:

Other than the Penalty Kill which the Kings are ranked 25th in the league everything else about their game is ranking slightly above average. The Kings are 12th in Goals scored per game, 12th in Goals allowed per game, 13th on the Power Play and 10th on 5 on 5 play. The Kings need to pick up all areas of their game especially the penalty kill.

Home / Road Records:

The Kings have been a really good home team going 15-6-4 in their first 25 home games. However their road record is abysmal. The Kings in their first 19 road games are 5-8-6. That’s only 5 wins in 19 road contests. Also since the Kings have played 6 more home games at this point and time, they will have more road games the rest of the way. If the Kings continue to struggle like this on the road I don’t think they will make the playoffs. Continue reading What’s Wrong with the Champs?

Is Dubnyk The Answer In Minnesota?

Another poor performance in net for the Wild, Tuesday night against the Penguins, in which Niklas Backstrom allowed 6 goals on 35 shot before getting pulled. With the final score being 7-2, GM Chuck Fletcher, said enough is enough; we need someone else in net.

Welcome in Devan Dubnyk; the Wild traded their 3rd round pick in the upcoming draft to Arizona for Dubnyk. The former 1st round draft pick has spent most of his career in Edmonton before heading to Arizona this season. Dubnyk is only under a one-year-contract right now, so unless he plays amazing, this looks like a renter deal for the Wild. They still think they can win this season but after their embarrassing 7-2 loss to Pittsburgh, they have a lot of ground to make up.

What can the Wild expect from Dubnyk? Although he wasn’t the starter in Arizona, Dubnyk had a 9-5-2 record with a save percentage of .916 (higher then all three of the Minnesota Wild’s goalies). With adding Dubnyk, the Wild add another 6’6” goalie from Saskatchewan, Canada (Kuemper is the other one). Dubnyk’s best season came in 2011-12 with the Oiler, where he picked up 20 wins. Continue reading Is Dubnyk The Answer In Minnesota?

Breaking Down the Eastern Conference Playoff Race

The current 8 Eastern Conference Teams that are slotted for the playoffs are separated by just 7 points. This is from the #1 seed all the way down to the 2nd Wild Card the 8th seed. There are a lot of good teams in the East and if the league would get the current match ups NHL fans would get 4 incredible series. Let’s look at the current playoffs teams and the rest of the conference as well.

Division Leaders:

New York Islanders – Believe it or not as we go into Wednesday nights action on January 14th the Islanders lead the East with 59 Points. The Isles have been a strong team since the drop of the puck on opening night. There have been a couple of bump in the road losing streaks but this squad has learned it’s lessons from past seasons and new veteran leadership has helped as well. The Islanders only have 16 road games left in the regular season and already have played all their West coast games be it in the States or Canada. The furthest the Islanders have to go on the road is Dallas. On top of that the Islanders have been a dominant home team going 14-4-0 so far this season. Despite winning games early on the penalty kill was brutal at the beginning of the season is starting to greatly improve. The power play needs to be more consistent. Do not be surprised to see GM Garth Snow by the deadline add a veteran forward to play with Tavares and Okposo on the Isles top line. Given vet D-Man Visnovsky age and beat up body I wouldn’t be surprised if they also added a solid veteran defenseman. The Islanders have a ton of cap space so that won’t be an issue making a trade.

Tampa Bay Lightning – They have scored the most goals in the league and have been a very dominant home team going 16-4-1 so far this season. However Tampa needs to improve their road play as they are just 1 game above 500 away from home. Tampa needs to improve their speciality units as they are middle of the pack in both the power play & penalty kill. The Lightning have a good amount of youngsters on this squad so I would look for Steve Yzerman to add a couple of solid veterans to round out the roster for the playoffs. The Lightning are up against the cap so making a trade will be tricky. Continue reading Breaking Down the Eastern Conference Playoff Race

The Minnesota Wild Goalie Situation:

I am sick and tired of the media trash talking the MN Wild about their goalie situation, and it’s not even the media, the Wild’s own coach and players have been bashing the goalie situation and not only that Mike Yeo called out his team. You’re the coach pal, start coaching! “Backstrom needs to retire”, “send Kuemper packing”, “pull up Curry”, “get Bryzgalov back”, “should have signed Brodeur”. I have heard all of these statements and it’s rather annoying. Last time I checked there were five other guys on that ice besides the goalie, so let’s not be quick to blame the goalie for everything. Start blaming the other five guys that should have stopped the puck from getting to the goalie. For Suter to call out his goalies makes me sick. That’s not a team player if you ask me. “Hey Suter you are the defensemen, stop the puck”! What has Suter done for us this year, let me tell you, not that much. But then again, that’s pretty much the majority of the team. How about the money we put out for Vanek, maybe we should have gotten a goalie instead. Chuck Fletcher, the GM for the Wild and Craig Leipold the majority owner for the Wild knew the situation was rough for our goal tending, but still went and signed Vanek instead of getting the goalie situation straightened out. I place part of the blame on them.

Everyone just needs to lighten up a bit. It is not going to solve anything by sitting Kuemper and Backstrom and playing Curry. Continue reading The Minnesota Wild Goalie Situation: