Sharks struggling, Ryan Kesler and Las Vegas (Puck Daddy Countdown)

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Sharks struggling, Ryan Kesler and Las Vegas (Puck Daddy Countdown)
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  • Bruce Boudreau
    Canadian ice hockey player
  • Ryan Kesler
    Ryan Kesler

(Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

7. Ryan Kesler's assessment of the coaching job Bruce Boudreau did in Anaheim, which was very wrong

Late last week, Ryan Kesler gave an interview with the Vancouver Province in which he said what the Ducks really need for next year is “a good bench coach, a coach that does things on the fly, and makes changes during the game and not just between periods. We need a coach that holds everyone accountable, not just certain guys. We need a coach to come in and just be a good motivator and do what a coach does.”

This is all just kinda nonspecific nonsense and coach-talk. It reads a little like post facto guessing at what was wrong with the Ducks in their flameout loss to Nashville, which is probably all you can really expect from a hockey player in an interview.

But then he added this: “The biggest thing is we need a good bench coach for strategies.”

The implication being that Bruce Boudreau was not a good bench coach for strategies. Whatever that actually means.

There are plenty of good coaches out there, for sure, and the Ducks might be able to find someone who checks all the boxes Kesler is describing: A tactician who can recognize in-period issues and address them, but who also yells at everyone and is a good motivator.

Maybe the argument here is that Boudreau didn't do the latter parts particularly well, but in terms of being able to draw up strategies, how many more Xs-and-Os guys in the sport are better than Boudreau? Remember, when the Ducks were shooting like 0.6 percent for the first month of the season, it was Boudreau who completely changed their approach, which dug them out of a huge hole and allowed them to win the division with relative ease.

And it's kinda not the first time Boudreau did that, either. Remember when the Caps completely changed their approach in order to play a more defensive brand of hockey? Yeah, that was Boudreau's doing, and they won the division the next year (even if they were clearly worse than they had been when they were running and gunning).

Who actually does that better? If the Ducks have another slow start next year with [insert coach here] will that coach be able to completely re-jigger the entire team's approach?

Of course, there's still the non-zero chance the Ducks hire Randy Carlyle, the guy who thinks helmets cause more concussions because guys' heads get too hot. Which Kesler seems to kind of want, saying, “He was a very good bench coach and very detailed. We worked on faceoff plays every practice and on the power play every practice — things that you really need to work on everyday.”

So maybe there's just no accounting for taste.

7. Tomas Hertl and by extension the Sharks

If the Sharks weren't already in a deep hole when they returned home down 2-0 in this Cup Final, the fact that Tomas Hertl wasn't going to play for them in San Jose might be what dropped a backhoe's worth of dirt on top of them.

You have to feel gutted for any player who ends up missing most of a Cup Final due to injury, especially if they're a guy like Hertl who has never been close before. But for it to also be a player as important to the Sharks' success for the last few months as Hertl was is an even bigger blow.

Obviously Peter DeBoer isn't handling the San Jose bench well to begin with, but throwing a no-Hertl monkey wrench into the works is even more disastrous.

Again, Hertl played the first two games of the series, neither of which the Sharks actually won, and missed Game 3, which they did win. But the difference he would have made for his club especially with home ice and last change probably goes a long way.

The Sharks haven't played well enough in this series, no doubt, but losing a player like this gutted their chances.

6. Bad ice

Oh man can we stop complaining about this? Even if the ice were perfect, the hockey media would still find a reason to complain about games being in June. Who cares. You know how much hotter it is in San Jose this week as opposed to the last week of May? Not at all. In fact, it's been a little bit cooler.

Maybe global climate change is real and it's just getting hotter anyway? Can't wait to see people complain 25 years from now about how you can't play hockey in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

5. The new Panthers jerseys

Photo via Florida Panthers
Photo via Florida Panthers

They're fine. But when I think “the endangered species Florida panthers,” I don't think “military aesthetic.” Just change the team name at that point.

4. Having a lead

The stat you're hearing trotted out a lot is that the Penguins have outshot their opponents for 12 straight games, tying records set by some of the best teams in recent memory. It's because they're really good and everything like that.

But how about this for a stat, from CSN's Ray Ratto: The Sharks haven't played with a lead at any point in this series, and if they don't do it tonight, they will become the first team since the 1960 Maple Leafs to never lead in a Cup Final.

Yeah they won the OT game, but they never had to defend that lead. They've either played tied or from behind for the entire series. And for a team as good as San Jose, that's crazy.

3. Patrik Laine

What a delight this nice little boy is. He says he's better than Jesse Puljujarvi, says he doesn't care whether people think he should tone it down a little bit.

It's too bad the league (probably led by the Winnipeg media) will hammer the fun out of him within a few years, because right now every interview he gives is awesome. And it helps that he's one of the better prospects to come along in recent years, and will completely change the face of the franchise that drafts him. That might buy him a little bit of leeway.

But if Hertl can catch a load of crap because he went between his legs to score his fourth goal of the game, Laine  actually saying what he thinks is never going to fly.

2. Las Vegas

Congratulations on getting that new team approved. And thanks to the league for doing it so soon, so we can just get all the expansion rules published ASAP and there's no need to really stew on exactly what an expansion draft looks like and all that.

Is there any way those expansion rules can include something about the Rangers having to extend Dan Girardi forever, though? That would be cool.

1. Hockey next year

As long as the NHL is a league, teams will try to emulate what their betters do. “It's a copycat league,” and so on.

For instance, when the Bruins won a Cup, a bunch of other teams tried to get tough, without realizing that what made the Bruins great was a top-level coach, an all-time elite goaltending performance, a Hall of Fame defenseman, and a super-talented forward group in its prime. Plus Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.

But it's really hard to copy elite teams, because they have elite talent at most positions. And the vast majority of teams do not have that luxury. However, the Bruins' example made hockey worse because a bunch of low-end guys trying to check each other isn't fun to watch.

If the Penguins win, and teams really start prioritizing skill and speed for depth roles, yeah that'll make the NHL product a lot more watchable in pretty short order. The sooner we can cycle unskilled players out of the league, the better off everyone will be, teams and fans alike.

(Not ranked this week: That Cizikas contract.

Well, this is one that just makes no sense. The thing with contracts like this is that someone will always defend them by saying, “You clearly don't watch many Islanders games” or whatever, and even if you don't, an objective reading of the statistics will pretty clearly tell you that Casey Cizikas isn't worth anywhere close to what the Islanders gave him in either money or years.

Yeah, he is a good penalty killer. He's not a high-end penalty killer or anything like that, but he's reliable. Maybe one of the three best forwards the Islanders have in that regard. That skill, which obviously doesn't show up in 5-on-5 numbers, has to be reflected in his paycheck. But you certainly shouldn't be overpaying for that skill, which is what the Islanders did, and other teams do on a regular basis.

Being really good at one thing in hockey is all well and good, but if that thing is killing penalties, you can get better players to do it pretty effectively as well. What's interesting is that Hockey People hear, “He's a mid-pairing power play specialist” and instinctively start dry heaving. The ultimate player in that regard is probably Torey Krug; immensely valuable on the power play and in attacking situations, but certainly not considered a high-end guy who deserves a boatload of money.

But Cizikas and players like him, because they are Gritty and Responsible will be paid for years at way too high a freight, because the ability to prevent goals is viewed as intrinsically more valuable than the ability to generate them. Which doesn't make sense. A goal is a goal.

This contract is very bad, and while it won't break the Islanders' backs by any means, it does take about $1.75 million away from someone else they'd be better off re-signing.

But hey, penalty killing.)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.)