Sam McCaig

  • O Canada: First-quarter MVPs for the Great White North's seven NHL teams

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    Believe it or not, the first quarter of the 2014-15 NHL regular season has already happened. And with that, here are our picks for first-quarter team MVPs for Canada’s seven NHL clubs. Some of them you will believe and some, perhaps, you will not:

    Ottawa Senators: Spoiler alert, we’re going with another goaltender. Craig Anderson can’t be denied, even though he’s won just five of 11 starts for the Sens (5-3-3). Anderson’s .935 save percentage is simply too good to ignore, ranking second among NHL No. 1 goalies behind only the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick (.938). Clarke MacArthur is a candidate, leading the Senators in goals (eight), points (14) and game-winners (three), as well as captain Erik Karlsson, averaging 27:42 in ice time per game. Or you could even go rogue and argue for rookie Mike Hoffman, with seven goals and a team-leading plus-8 in 15 games. But if not for Anderson, the Sens wouldn’t be holding down a playoff spot, and that’s why we like him.

  • O Canada: How the Great White North's seven NHL teams stack up in goal

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    No, we’re not saying that Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec is the best goalie among the netminders on Canada’s seven NHL teams. Of course not, not with Carey Price between the pipes in Montreal and Ryan Miller off and running in Vancouver … and Craig Anderson streaking in Ottawa and Jonas Hiller rebounding in Calgary.

    However.

    Overall, the Jets boast the third-best GAA in the NHL at 1.95, behind only the Chicago Blackhawks (1.83) and St. Louis Blues (1.90). It would be downright shocking if Winnipeg is anywhere close to that number at the end of the season, and a huge victory if they’re in the NHL’s top 10 in GAA, never mind the top three. But for the time being, you can’t argue with the results – and you can’t deny Pavelec’s contribution.

    Here is how Canada’s six other teams rank in net, in order of goals-against average (entering Friday night’s games):

    Ottawa Senators: 2.37 GAA, 11th overall in the NHL

    Montreal Canadiens: 2.47 GAA, 12th overall in the NHL

    Calgary Flames: 2.56 GAA, 14th overall in the NHL

    Toronto Maple Leafs: 2.60 GAA, 15th overall in the NHL

    Vancouver Canucks: 2.72 GAA, 18th overall in the NHL

    Edmonton Oilers: 3.33 GAA, 27th overall in the NHL

  • O Canada: How the Great White North's seven NHL teams fared in the first month of 2014-15

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 20 days ago

    We’re one month into the 2014-15 NHL regular season, and it’s the end of the beginning but not the beginning of the end for any of Canada’s seven NHL teams. No, not even the Edmonton Oilers, who lost their first five games, won four in a row, then lost four straight heading into Friday night’s winnable contest at Buffalo. (Note: If the up-and-mostly-down Oilers beat the Sabres, it’ll be Edmonton’s first road win of 2014-15; they’re the last team in the NHL without a victory away from home.)

    A cross-Canada checkup on the Great White North’s seven NHL teams, in order of how they fared in the first month of the NHL season:

  • Rankings: The top 30 starting goalies in the NHL

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 yr ago

    There’s nothing like a good goalie debate. And this is a debate about 30 good goalies, the 30 starting goalies in the NHL.

    But first, a clarification. This is a ranking of the 30 No. 1 goalies in the NHL. Every team is represented once, no more and no less. Which means that there’s a few masked men who are not on this list who would certainly make the grade if it was a straight-up ranking of the NHL’s top 30 goalies. But it isn’t. It’s a ranking of the NHL’s top 30 starting goalies.

    For example, perhaps you’ll notice that a certain all-time winningest NHL goalie isn’t listed. That’s right, we believe Cory Schneider will take over as New Jersey’s No. 1, supplanting 41-year-old legend Martin Brodeur. Of course, Martin being Martin, he’ll probably prove us wrong by winning 50 games and signing a new three-year contract. But unless he’s got a Dorian Gray portrait hidden in Lou Lamoriello’s office, Brodeur has to slow down sometime. Right…?

    And here we go, the NHL's top 30 starting goalies:

    1. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles

    It’s always a debate, but the Kings goalie has been the NHL’s best puckstopper over the past few seasons.

    2. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

    3. Pekka Rinne, Nashville

  • NHL free agency: The 2013 UFA Leftovers All-Star Team

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 yr ago

    NHL free agency opened on July 5, and most high-profile UFAs were signed and sealed in the first couple of days. But there’s still a few big names and several serviceable players available; in fact, there’s enough to ice an entire UFA Leftovers All-Star Team. It might be a long shot for the Stanley Cup, but we think it’s got at least a Blue Jackets’ chance at making the playoffs. (Note: Teemu Selanne wasn’t included due to his annual return-to-Anaheim-or-retire rite of summer passage, but everyone else was fair game.)

    Here it is, the UFA Leftovers All-Star Team, the best club that money can buy in the middle of the summer. The team’s strengths are up front, especially on the wings, and there's decent overall depth. Weaknesses? Everything else. Blame the GM for skipping the entry draft and waiting two weeks into free agency before starting to build a team…

    FORWARDS

    First Line

    Center: Peter Mueller. A big gamble, but Mueller is also a big body (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) with a big pedigree (drafted 8th overall in 2006) and he’s only 25. The talent’s there; he scored 22 goals and 54 points as a rookie.

    Second Line

    Third Line

    Fourth line

    DEFENSEMEN

    Spare: Andrew Alberts. Let’s get physical.

  • NHL Power Rankings: Penguins flying high to end season; Flames, Avs, Panthers stay comfy in the basement

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 yr ago

    This is Sam McCaig’s final Power Rankings column of the 2012-13 NHL season.

    POWER RANKINGS: Rating the NHL teams from 1 to 30

    1. Pittsburgh Penguins: One of their biggest challenges will be finding chemistry on the fly as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Paul Martin work their way back into a lineup that’s still adapting to trade acquisitions Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen and Douglas Murray. It’s a good problem to have.

    2. Chicago Blackhawks: The ‘Hawks were the NHL’s biggest story in the first half of the season, reeling off an league-record 24-game point streak before they suffered their first regulation-time loss. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa headline a potent offensive arsenal, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are the go-to guys on defense in any given situation, and the goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery has been nothing less than phenomenal.

    8. St. Louis Blues: If you had to pick a team to pull a Kings – ie. quietly cruise along all season and then break out in the playoffs – you could do worse than the Blues. Fast and physical, deep and talented, and the goaltending has found its form after struggling most of the season.

  • NHL Power Rankings: Top seeds jostling for playoff position

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 yr ago

    Sam McCaig’s weekly Power Rankings column will appear on Saturdays.

    POWER RANKINGS: The NHL’s top 10 teams

    1. Pittsburgh Penguins: It’s all about getting chemistry with the new guys – and getting a healthy Sidney Crosby and James Neal back in time for the playoffs – as the NHL’s top-heaviest team gears up for a run at the Stanley Cup.

    2. Chicago Blackhawks: The ‘Hawks hit a rough patch a few weeks ago, losing five times in a nine-game stretch. The good news? Those were their only five regulation losses all season, and they’ve gone 6-0-1 since.

    3. Anaheim Ducks: Inevitably the No. 2 seed in the West, the Ducks have defeated the Blackhawks and Kings in recent showdowns with the conference’s elite.

    4. Boston Bruins: They beat up on a couple of non-playoff teams last week, but the Bruins have struggled to score for about a month. Still, they’re too deep and too talented for that to last. Plus, they got Jaromir Jagr so you know they’re good.

    6. Los Angeles Kings: The defending Stanley Cup champions won’t have to do it as an 8-seed this time. The Kings have the inside track on fourth place in the West, and home ice in the first round.

    Rising Up: Washington Capitals

    ALL-STAR TEAM OF THE WEEK

  • NHL Power Rankings: No. 1 Blackhawks won't budge; Crosby's all-star mates; do it again, Daugavins

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 yr ago

    Sam McCaig’s weekly Power Rankings column will appear on Saturdays.

    POWER RANKINGS: The NHL’s top 10 teams

    1. Chicago Blackhawks: After opening the season with a 24-game point streak, the ‘Hawks endured the indignity of back-to-back regulation-time losses against Colorado and Edmonton before stabilizing with a shootout win over Columbus. All in all, not a bad showing for their worst week of the season.

    2. Anaheim Ducks: Everybody’s favorite runner-up, the Ducks have won five consecutive games – surrendering a total of four goals – and have 17 victories in their past 21 contests.

    3. Boston Bruins: The B’s won three times in four outings, which is on par with their pace this season. No big surprise, but the Bruins look more playoff-ready than any other team in the East.

    4. Pittsburgh Penguins: With Evgeni Malkin sidelined, The Crosby Show is playing to rave reviews. The Penguins’ team defense might be causing coach Dan Bylsma a few sleepless nights, but they’re scoring enough to stay out of trouble.

    5. Montreal Canadiens: The Habs are hanging in atop the East, though the Bruins and Pens are pushing hard. Montreal is riding a four-game winning streak, including three in a row on the road.

  • NHL Power Rankings: The Streak is over; all-East all-star team; games of the week

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 yr ago

    Sam McCaig’s weekly Power Rankings column will appear on Saturdays.

    POWER RANKINGS: The NHL’s top 10 teams

    1. Chicago Blackhawks: It was a heckuva ride, but The Streak is over. (Long live The Streak!) But because of that incredible 24-game run to open the season, the 'Hawks can put it in cruise-control a bit in the second half and still make the playoffs in style.

    2. Anaheim Ducks: You know, if the ‘Hawks hadn’t gone half-a-season without a regulation loss, we’d all be praising the Ducks’ incredible rise from the dregs of the standings last season.

    3. Boston Bruins: They lost two in a row, but don’t worry – the last time that happened the B’s bounced back with six straight wins. Perhaps beating Toronto on Thursday night was the first step toward another six-game fun run.

    4. Pittsburgh Penguins: First, the good news: They’ve won three in a row, five out of seven and eight out of 11. The bad news? The Pens have surrendered at least three goals in eight of their past nine contests. So they’re scoring and winning, but the defense and goaltending need to improve.

    Rising Up: Dallas Stars

    Falling Down: Edmonton Oilers

    ALL-STAR TEAM OF THE WEEK

    GAMES TO WATCH

    LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

  • NHL Power Rankings: 'Hawks beyond hyperbole; Kopitar sparks Kings; games to watch

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 yr ago

    Sam McCaig’s weekly Power Rankings column will appear on Saturdays.

    POWER RANKINGS: The NHL’s top 10 teams

    1. Chicago Blackhawks: Running out of ways to describe the ‘Hawks and their stunning start. How’s this: They entered Friday’s game against Columbus fourth in the NHL in goals per game (3.10) and second in goals against (1.70). Do the math, and they were plus-27 in goal differential through 20 games. The Ducks were the only other team in the West in double-digits (plus-16).

    2. Anaheim Ducks: Thanks to their West Coast locale and Chicago’s record-breaking ways, the Ducks have been able to fly below the radar. Then you realize they’ve won 11 of their past 13 games, in large part due to a potent offense (3.33 goals per game, second overall) and a killer power play (29.3 percent).

    3. Boston Bruins: Camouflaged by the fact they’ve played the fewest games in the league, the Bruins have the second-best point percentage (.824) behind Chicago. Boston boasts two scoring lines, but of course they really do it with defense – they’re fourth in goals against (2.06) and first in penalty killing (93.9 percent).

    Rising Up: Winnipeg Jets

    Falling Down: Tampa Bay Lightning

    ALL-STAR TEAM OF THE WEEK