The Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers are in a tailspin caused by terrible management. So naturally this week, said terrible management came out and blamed everyone but themselves for their misfortune. Eugene Melnyk said that Mark Stone was too old for a long term deal, the Leafs rebuild forgot to add defence, fans who didn’t believe were probably 12 year old trolls from Toronto, had a different beef with their TSN beat reporter, and made ominous threatening comments towards his GM and the Mayor of Ottawa. Similarly, Edmonton CEO Bob Nicholson went bizarrely insane blaming all the Oilers misfortune on Tobias Rieder. Yeah, that’s Edmonton’s whole problem, that one guy who didn’t score the 15 goals you expected. Maybe if you kept Drake Caggiula instead of trading him for Connor McDavid’s arch nemesis – who was then demoted and released – you’d have those 15 goals.
Here’s a question for you learned Hockey fans – who can actually play defence? Morgan Rielly was an early Norris candidate, but as a Leaf fan I can tell you he’s not a shutdown guy. Jake Gardiner apparently is an awful defenceman, but the Leafs went into a tailspin without him. Ron Hainsey is our veteran second pairing shutdown guy and he gets TONS of heat in the media for being a liability. Did I mention Hainsey is +32 and third among NHL defencemen? This was prompted by Drew Doughty recently roasting Brent Burns for becoming a perennial Norris contender. He claimed that Burns gets Burned 3 times a game. San Jose’s other marquee defender Erik Karlsson is also well known for not being able to find his own end without a GPS. Apparently Mark-Edouard Vlasic is a good defender, but not quite enough to make up for those two. So Rielly, Burns and Karlsson all can’t play defence despite regularly being Norris contenders. So if Norris nominees can’t defend, who can?
Playoff races are heating up, but it seems more teams are stepping down to bow out of their playoff races rather than teams stepping up to claim a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Buffalo has dropped 8 of their last ten and eliminated themselves, leading to Jack Eichel’s annual elimination tantrum. I think he’s a great player and I respect his competitiveness. However, I kinda prefer Connor McDavid’s exasperated resignation at being eliminated to Eichel’s frustrated rant. Montreal, Carolina and Columbus are slugging it out for the last 3 playoff spots. Barring a miracle out of Philly or a disaster out of Toronto, Long Island or Pittsburgh the East is mostly settled. It’s a little more muddled out West as Dallas, Colorado, Arizona and Minnesota keep battling for the final spots. As of now it looks like Dallas has the upper hand and the latter three are fighting for one spot. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper has almost singlehandedly willed his team into the playoffs. I’d prefer if Colorado got in instead though, they’ve got some very exciting talent on that team.