8. George McPhee (again)
Last week Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee made the rankings because Martin Erat, a forward for whom he traded prized prospect Filip Forsberg less than a year ago, a) sucks now, and b) demanded a trade. Puts McPhee in rather a difficult position. If he can find someone to take Erat's salary — which is unlikely — the return he gets for him might be a Filip Forsberg rookie card with one of the corners bent.
And now, for the second time in less than a week, a Capital has demanded a trade. This time it's 22-year-old defenseman Dmitry Orlov who wants out, and it's not only because of how coach Adam Oates is using him. Instead, it's because of how McPhee is using him. He's been assigned to and recalled from Hershey six(!) times since March and it wasn't until this trade demand came that he even got into his first career NHL game this season, in which he got just 13:41 of grudging ice time. And while he might have gotten used to the Hersey-to-Washington drive, the not-playing had to be maddening.
It's a well-known thing in the NHL that the Ducks and Kings have some of the worst jerseys in the league, and as if to underscore that, and rub it in everyone's faces, there came confirmation that the colors of the jerseys they'll wear in their already-idiotic outdoor game are going to be orange and dark grey, respectively. What horror.
The fact that the Kings aren't wearing purple is, in my opinion, a great reason to just scrap the Dodger Stadium game and act like this whole embarrassing endeavor never happened. I'll pretend if you will.
6. The shootout
Lots of controversy in San Jose over the weekend, as Joe Pavelski scored this shootout goal to cap a win over the visiting Ducks.
Ryan Getzlaf in particular was heated about it, saying that in theory that shouldn't have counted because Pavelski came to a stop. That's in the rules, right? So why did this one count? Well, the short answer is, “Because the shootout is stupid.”
All the arguments about how spin-o-ramas should be handled, and this kind of thing cropping up about once or twice a season, shows that no one has any idea how this should be handled.
The argument for five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime grows ever stronger, because while that, too, is a sideshow, it's at least both actual hockey (to an extent) and not the shootout, which everyone except for idiots hates. The likelihood that goals are scored in five minutes of 3-on-3 significantly cuts into the likelihood that we'll ever have to see one of these dumbass things again.
5. Human decency
Movember is over, and now I don't have to look at these awful mustaches any more. Thank god. If I never see Logan Couture's mustache again, I will feel great about it. Finally, Michael Jordan once again has the monopoly on Hitler mustaches.
4. Seattle's alleged relevance
Because there will never be a day when we can live free of the thought of NHL expansion or relocation, it appears once again as if there's going to be a push to get a team in Seattle come hell or high water.
The man to lead the charge? Unfortunately it appears to be Jeremy Roenick. When you want credibility for your bid, there's no one better than Roenick, who you'll remember was really good in that video game and has since set up a small cottage industry saying bizarre things on NBC Sports broadcasts and also occasionally crying.
He would, apparently, be set up as the “front man” for the operation, whatever that means, and let's also keep in mind that there's not even an arena built because the city wants an NBA team first and foremost. Maybe that changes, maybe it doesn't, but the NHL has at least met with the ownership group in question, so perhaps there is indeed some appetite for expansion.
3. The NHL not wanting to make ridiculous amounts of money all the time forever
On the other hand, there is this: The NHL-quality arena in the Toronto suburb of Markham is drawing closer to being a real thing, but the league apparently wants nothing at all to do with it.
Gary Bettman was not his usual cagey, qualifying self on the subject, telling Bruce Arthur, “We have never been encouraging of this project. And we have repeatedly said that if this building is built, it should be built with the expectation that they will not get a team.”
This all seems so bizarre. Granted, Bettman probably doesn't want to step on the toes of the league's most profitable team by far just a few miles down the road, but at the same time, a willingness to at least consider the idea of putting a second team in a market that would buy every ticket for the next 10 years with the enthusiasm of a million Winnipegs seems like something that's just good for business.
Let's allow franchises to languish in areas where no one cares or goes to games, let's now consider expansion to unproven markets where fees for getting a new team would be relatively low, and let's tell perhaps the most hockey-mad area in the world that no, their fancy new arena and massive expansion fees wouldn't be good enough for the National Hockey League.
A second Toronto franchise is a license to mint toonies, plain and simple. Granted this specific project seems troubled right now, but that the league has seemingly little interest in it, and dismissing it out of hand, doesn't make a lot of sense.
2. Definitely not the Leafs
The time is now for the Maple Leafs' colossal collapse to be truly realized. While they've been awful of late (losing nine of their last 13, in fact), that was not exactly against the toughest of competition. They went 1-1-1 against the Sabres during that stretch, for example, and have given up 19 goals in their last four games in November.
But as No-Good November comes to an end, the winter winds signaling the very and absolute end of the Leafs' legitimacy as a threat in the league this season comes in the form of — as Toronto fans have dubbed it — Deathcember.
Last night's game with the Sharks was but a prelude to the carnage that is about to be rained upon Randy Carlyle's troops in the four weeks ahead of the Winter Classic against a Detroit team that's going to bludgeon them. After that Sharks game, they host the Stars, visit Ottawa, and then things get uuuuuuuuuuugly.
From Dec. 8-16, this is the Leafs' schedule: hosting Boston (12/8), hosting Los Angeles (12/11), visiting St. Louis (12/12; yes, it's a back-to-back), hosting Chicago (12/14), and visiting Pittsburgh (12/16). That is, for those scoring at home, five games in nine days against the sixth-, seventh-, fourth-, first-, and eighth-place teams in the league. If they get any points at all from that stretch, it will be something of a small miracle.
Again, they can't even beat Buffalo reliably these days. And after that stretch come games against the Coyotes and Wings, among others. They're terribly busy, and terribly bad. Things are not going to go well here.
At some point we just have to admit he's a good coach, coaching a good team. Have the Avs over-performed to some extent? Of course they have. Their PDO with the score close this season is the highest in the league by a wide, wide margin; the difference between their 105.4 and second-place Boston's 103.5 is also the difference between Boston's and 10th-place Phoenix. In fact, their team shooting and save percentages are Nos. 2 and 1, respectively in the league.
With that having been said, their corsi is close to being even and even if they slow down, they've beaten some exceptional teams this season and they've been about league average in other regards. As such, the likelihood that the Avs get into the playoffs appears pretty high, despite how competitive the West is.
No coach can be credited with keeping his team's PDO all that high. One could argue that save percentage is certainly impacted directly by coaching, as one need only look at the Bruins before and after hiring Claude Julien, but there's no way to control shooting percentage to that extent over the course of a season. With that said, the Avs do look a lot better now than they ever did under Joe Sacco. I'm inclined to believe they keep it up.
(Not ranked this week: Anyone pumping up Chris Kunitz for Team Canada, the Red Wings' trainer's room, any thought of a goaltending controversy in New York, Coach's Corner, John Tortorella kicking the Rangers' ass, PK Subban's Olympic hopes for some dumb reason, having your goalie out on bail, anyone who watched that Devils/Sabres game on Saturday, everyone who bought a “Keep calm and corsi's wrong” shirt, leaving Darnell Nurse off your World Junior roster like you actually want to lose.)
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