Only one team every year gets to win the Stanley Cup. Only four get to win their divisions. Only 16 get to make the playoffs. These are the basic measuring sticks for success in an NHL season and it has always been a little strange to see the ways in which teams will view themselves as being capable of doing one of the above things when all the evidence screams out that no, of course they cannot.
A good example cropped up late last week when the Calgary Flames' training camp opened and some wise person had the audacity ask the players what their expectations were for this year, given that they are dreadful at just about every position and any reasonable human being thinks they're going to get creamed in significantly more than half of their games this season. The Flames, as you might expect, thought that was a load of garbage, because what else are they going to say?
Here's newly-acquired TJ Galiardi on the subject:
"Since I’ve been here, to be honest, it kinda pisses me off when I hear people say all these negative things, 'Oh yeah, have fun finishing last,' stuff like that, even from people from Calgary. People like that should just not bother talking."
While he's certainly not going to have fun, finishing last, whether it's in the division or the entire league, seems a rather likely outcome after 82 games that are sure to be brutally boring. But there is, or at least should be, a fine line between "People shouldn't make fun of me in the streets for playing on this team," and thinking you can make the playoffs with a roster such as this, which Galiardi said is at least a possibility.
Likewise, you can see this kind of misplaced confidence on a more macro level all over the league as well. Often, this revolves around goaltending in particular.
Dan Bylsma, for example, recently said of the Marc-Andre Fleury/Tomas Vokoun battery the Penguins will roll out the "best tandem in the league," which caused anyone on earth who watched a single Penguins playoff game for two seconds before their ears started bleeding and they had to be rushed to the hospital. This is a patently and demonstrably absurd statement to make, but make it he did, and everyone outside the Penguins dressing room (and, one assumes, at least a few within) had a hearty laugh about it.
This was also the case down the road in Philadelphia, where owner Ed Snider held court on Friday and said of the Flyers' goaltending, "Our goaltending situation, I think is solid, and I would be very disappointed if it is not. … What is in the past, I don't really want to talk about, but right now we have two outstanding goalies who I think are going to do a great job for us."
This, obviously, started a flood of jokes about Snider's disappointment preparedness because the team's goalies this season are, despite their having been named the second coming of Bernie Parent and receiving a first-place Vezina vote last season, respectively, Steve Mason and Ray Emery.
Anyone who is being honest with themselves does not think that's a goaltending situation that will be "solid" in the traditional sense. Their being league-average or better would be a very fortuitous outcome for the Flyers, given the way their defense is composed (favoring quantity over any sort of appreciable quality) and the fact that this is Steve Mason and Ray Emery we're talking about.
And that's fine. The Flyers have rolled out similarly underwhelming goaltending batteries in the past and been very good; not too long they even made the Stanley Cup Final in this way, though you can chalk about 86 percent of that up to Chris Pronger's presence on the roster. Oliver Lauridsen probably won't be able to replicate that.
So what it comes down to, I think, is something Jay Feaster of all people took to talking about recently: Intellectual honesty.
There's a big difference between saying, "The Flames could make the playoffs," or "Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun are the best goaltending tandem in the league," or "The Flyers' goaltending will be disappointing if it's not at least solid," and coming back away from the ledge a little bit. Players, coaches, and owners can say that there will be challenges without saying that a team or particular situation stinks, or even if they don't want to go that far, they don't have to take the illogical leaps above.
Going from saying the Flames will finish last to doing better than people expect, or that Fleury and Vokoun are the best tandem on the planet as opposed to good and reliable, or that Mason and Emery would be disappointing if they weren't at least solid.
Professional pride and so forth, I understand, but these are crazy pronouncements. The Flames are going to be in the bottom two or three in the league, and the Penguins' and Flyers' goaltending is going to be above average and just about at the league median if they're lucky this season.
There's nothing wrong with any of that. That's reality.
There's a big difference between having high expectations and asking for the moon.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Who stands to benefit most from the Bobby Ryan trade? Why, it's Kyle Palmieri, who will fill Ryan's role playing alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Unfortunately for him, this isn't a contract year.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins could use Zdeno Chara to screen the goalie instead of playing the point on power plays. On the one hand, it's hard to advocate taking the hardest shot in NHL history away from a place where he can bomb it in, but on the other, having him in front of goal will be like having goalies try to see around a mountain.
Buffalo Sabres: The reason Tyler Myers was so bad last year was the pressure of playing under a massive contract, and also that he isn't nearly as good as the contract would have you believe in the first place. Remember, he took a pretty big step back after his first two seasons thanks in large part to injury, but the idea that he can be worth $5.5 million this season by thinking positive, well, I'd really doubt that.
Calgary Flames: The Flames and Oilers, rather fittingly, both picked up wins in a pair of split-squad games. Calgary's came in a shootout, which is notable because it means Calgary actually beat someone in a shootout and that never happens.
Carolina Hurricanes: At a recent Hurricanes scrimmage, players were divided up into Team Eric and Team Jordan, leaving Jared to sulk on the bench about how it's not fair he doesn't have his own team and Coach Muller totally likes Eric and Jordan the best ughhh they're such suck-ups! GOD! I'm going to my room.
Chicago Blackhawks: Danny Wirtz brought the Stanley Cup to Riotfest in Chicago over the weekend. Of all the legendary artists at the festival that he could have hung out with (The Replacements, Bob Mould, the Pixies, Rancid, Bad Religion, Joan Jett, Saul Williams, Guided by Voices, Dinosaur Jr., Suicidal Tendencies, etc. etc. etc.), who got to have the Stanley Cup on stage during their set? That's right, it was Fall Out Boy.
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan O'Reilly's move to the wing seems to have been one hell of a good idea; he and Matt Duchene have ripped up training camp so far. "Wow," Patrick Roy after a scrimmage. “It was a nice clinic out there. I mean Matty and Ryan seem to work really well together. Ryan’s a smart guy, he’s so good along the wall, making room for Dutchy. They click really well. I thought it was great."
Columbus Blue Jackets: Three more years for Jared Boll in Columbus, which seems like an awful long time to give a guy who gets 8 minutes a night. But at $1.7 million a season, that's… oh wait that's way too much money.
Detroit Red Wings: With Tomas Tatar all but assured a roster spot with the Wings this season, how many insufferable "sauce" jokes from those idiots who say things like, "For the boys!" a lot can we expect? A trillion?
Florida Panthers: "Brad Boyes hopes to bring goal-scoring skills to the Panthers." Well, about that…
Los Angeles Kings: There seems to be a few open slots on the Kings' defense, and seemingly that includes the one you probably would have thought was occupied by the currently-injured Willie Mitchel. Said Darryl Sutter, " If we're healthy, nobody's taking Drew's place. Nobody's taking Slava's place. Nobody's taking Greener's place. Nobody's taking Robyn's place. After that, there's holes there."
Minnesota Wild: This is so great. Local newspaper editor thinks the Wild's defense will be "a lot better" than last season, what with Jonas Brodeen and Keith Ballard. If this Brodeen kid is as good as Jonas Brodin they're gonna be real solid for sure. "We were eliminated in five games by Chicago," and ,"The first preseason game is Tuesday or Wednesday. What a great time of the year." This is highlight-reel stuff. Indeed.
Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team: Milwaukee Admirals coach Dean Evason on the Preds' newly-signed wing Matt Hendricks: "He plays the game the right way, but he plays for his teammates." You hate to sign guys who play the wrong way for selfish reasons.
New York Rangers: Chris Kreider might get a chance to play with Brad Richards and Rick Nash to start the season, and if that doesn't work out, maybe John Tortorella was right to put him in the minors.
Philadelphia Flyers: Matt Read getting a chance to bounce back alongside Sean Couturier after both had rough 2013 seasons. You see, because his goals per game dipped to 0.26 and his points fell to 0.57. Couturier, meanwhile, saw his shooting percentage drop some 53 percent. I can't imagine there's much of a chance they don't "bounce back."
Phoenix Coyotes: How you know Phoenix isn't a good hockey market, part 10,201: "Phoenix Coyotes center Mike Ribeiro portrays tough guy, refined family man." Mike Ribeiro, tough guy. I'll be laughing all week.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins don't allow fights at training camp. Hey, let's also extend that to the regular season and playoffs. You know, since the same principles of not wanting guys to get hurt doing something that stupid applies then, too.
San Jose Sharks: Brad Stuart thinks he'll be good to the go for the Sharks' season opener, after suffering a lower-body injury over the summer. He'll probably be a third-pairing defenseman. Who makes $3.6 million.
St. Louis Blues: There was only one loser in the whole situation where Alex Pietrangelo signed that big-money, long-term deal. It was Ryan Whitney, who was brought into St. Louis on a tryout largely on the basis of Pietrangelo potentially refusing to sign until after the season started.
Gold Star Award
Minus of the Weekend
Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of GBLIII. My how time flies.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "mrinsane" is living up to the billing.
To St. Louis: Brayden Schenn, Braydon Coburn, Samuel Morin, Nick Cousins and 1rst round 2014
To Philly: Alex Pietrangelo and 4th round pick 2015
If you give a Valentine to a sixth grade boy, girls are gonna think you're... sensitive.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Calgary Flames
- Ryan Getzlaf
- Tomas Vokoun