Happy New Year Hockey Community! I’ve been off for a bit, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both fell on a Wednesday.
I had a great Hockey weekend, attending the Leafs Vs. the Islanders on Saturday and then watching Canada win the World Junior Hockey Championships on Sunday. The Barrett Hayton saga was a thoroughly interesting subplot. Hayton took major heat for not removing his helmet to show respect to the Russian National Anthem after a 6-0 drubbing in the round robin. I gotta admit, I wasn’t impressed. He should have done better as our Captain. That said, twitter weirdos were saying he should be stripped of the C or sent home out right. I love how the internet has given us wonderful little Hockey communities. I hate how the internet has bred hyperbolic rants about the most minor of injustices. Calm down people, faux outrage and crazy overreactions have become the norm and it’s not helpful. So after the sin comes the redemption! In the semi finals against Finland he appeared to suffer a serious shoulder injury. He came right back the next day to score a HUGE goal in the finals against Russia. I’m proud of the young men who represented Canada, especially Akil Thomas’ absolute beast of a game winning goal. I also gotta give all the other participants props for a great tournament, especially Russia. I also paid close attention and noted that they all took their helmets off for the Canadian anthem. Respect is earned boys, and you’ve got mine.
Speaking of earning respect, at the Leaf game Saturday Night I was waxing poetic on how bad a goalie Michael Hutchison was as we watched the players warmup. I’m thrilled to say that he sure showed me as he pitched a shutout against a very dangerous Islanders team whose fanbase hates the Leafs. The players don’t really seem to share their supporters animosity as the game went by with one penalty against the Leafs all game, none for the Islanders and hardly any whistles at all. The beefy Islanders also enjoy a significant physical advantage over the Leafs that they didn’t seem too interested in exploiting. The start of the season saw the Islanders as one of the hottest teams in the league – it seems the Leafs took up that mantle when they fired Mike Babcock and replaced him with Sheldon Keefe. Well, until we met Connor McDavid….
Speaking of the coaching carousel, the Nashville Predators fired Peter Laviolette this week. It’s a shame, I feel that Laviolette is an excellent coach. His replacement? John Hynes. Is there something I don’t know about Hynes? His claim to fame seems to be that he’s the guy who got fired for Hockey reasons at a time when the axe was falling left and right on coaches for off ice misconduct. New Jersey had regressed, their goalies were playing terrible, their newly acquired stars didn’t acclimatize, their two #1 overall draft picks development had stalled and their special teams were bottom feeders. So of course Nashville – who has been a 100 point playoff team under Laviolette – wanted Hynes instead. Please someone explain this one to me.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won the President’s trophy in a cakewalk last year before being rudely embarrassed and swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round. They seemed dazed by that shocking defeat for the first few months of the season. I’m here to warn you that the Lightning have won 8 in a row and Andrei Vasilevskiy has remembered how to play nets. The many people wringing their hands over burning first overall pick in their playoff pool on Nikita Kucherov are breathing easier as Kucherov has 7 points in his current 5 game point streak.