Puck Daddy - NHL

  • Despite not being traditional rivals, the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning located their animosity rather quickly in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs divisional semifinal on Wednesday. That including a scrum during the game in which Steven Stamkos (of all people) went after Andrei Markov after a late hit on Ondrej Palat.

    As true hockey fans know, there is but one reaction to seeing this kind of passion and postseason drama: Lemme get a selfie!

    Now, on the one hand, the idea of turning your back on the action to self-indulge when playoff action is unfolding a few feet away from your pricy lower bowl seats is nearly a hockey sin.

    On the other hand … you have to admit that’s a pretty sweet selfie. Unless this was just more viral marketing for Samsung …

    With that – Pass or Fail: Taking a selfie during a scrum at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    Via the great Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn)

  • The Stanley Cup Playoffs. Brutality. Passion. Heroes. Villains. Celebrations. Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

    There are a few of our favorite things, and Hockey Night In Canada’s mad genius Tim Thompson put it all together in an incredible montage for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ opening night:

    Really, any opening that can feature James Hetfield, Pat Burns and the California Golden Seals gets all the love and affection we can shower on 3 and a half minutes of hockey highlights.

    Kudos for not using "Enter Sandman," as well.

  • Happy Hockey Christmas every!

    The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday night, so tell your family you’ll catch up with them sometime in June. As a reminder, here are the first-round battles:

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

    Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings

    Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens

    Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

    New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars

    San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings

    Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

    St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks

    Who wins the first round battles? Who wins the big prize?

    Glad you asked … here are the official Puck Daddy playoff picks from our editors, writers and friends.

    Greg Wyshynski, Editor

    Bruins in 7
    Lightning in 7
    Blue Jackets in 6
    Rangers in 5

    Ducks in 5
    Sharks in 7
    Avalanche in 5
    Blackhawks in 6

    Stanley Cup: Sharks over Bruins in 6

    Conn Smythe: Patrick Marleau

    This actually marks the 40th season that I’ve selected the Sharks to win the Cup. I know this might seem amazing given my age and the age of that franchise, but that doesn’t take into account those years in which I traveled back through time to re-select the Sharks at the start of the playoffs, convinced the outcome would somehow be different due to the Butterfly Effect. Which I believe is the definition of insanity. Or that of a man obsessed with murdering butterflies.

    Anyhoo, the Kings series is going to be a war, but home ice wins in the end. I think the top seeds hold serve, with the Avalanche haven’t a surprisingly easy time with the Wild due to their goaltending advantage. The Blues getting healthy might throw that Blackhawks series on its ear, but just because you’re healthy doesn’t mean you can necessarily score in the playoffs.

    The Blue Jackets pick is, obviously, my transparent wearing of a heart on my sleeve, as a I feel it would be a franchise-transforming moment for the BJs. But I also think their tenacity, goaltending and coaching – the teacher over the student as Todd Richards faces Dan Bylsma – are a recipe for an upset, with another MAF meltdown always a possibility.

    The Bolts win is under the assumption that Ben Bishop plays a few games in the series, which I think he will. The Rangers are a going to be able to take out Claude Giroux and get to the Flyers’ goaltending. As for the Bruins, it’s a really, really odd series: One that you can’t believe the top seed juggernaut would lose, yet you can easily imagine they can.

    Also, Patrick Marleau as playoff MVP would the cherry on the absurd sundae that is a Sharks Stanley Cup. Go teal!

    Sean Leahy, Editor

    Bruins in 6
    Lightning in 7
    Penguins in 6
    Rangers in 7

    Stars in 7
    Sharks in 7
    Avalanche in 5
    Blackhawks in 6

    Stanley Cup: Sharks over Bruins in 6

    Conn Smythe: Joe Pavelski

    The key for the Sharks is if they can survive their first-round match-up with the LA Kings. That will not be an easy series to get out of. If they do, it should be smooth sailing en route to the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final where they'll meet the Boston Bruins, a team who's been consistently dominant all season in the Eastern Conference.

    San Jose will continue to get heavy production from their top end guys, but it's the secondary ones like Matt Nieto, the now-healthy Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels that will help them claim their first Cup.

    Harrison Mooney, Editor

    Bruins in 6
    Lightning in 7
    Penguins in 6
    Rangers in 7

    Stars in 7
    Sharks in 6
    Avalanche in 5
    Blackhawks in 7

    Stanley Cup: Sharks over Bruins in 6.

    Conn Smythe: Joe Thornton.

    I'm picking the Sharks for the Stanley Cup again this year, and let me explain why: they're a fantastic team -- in my opinion, the best in hockey -- but they're also crazy due. You can't be this good for this long and not eventually get there. I'm going to keep picking them for years to come, and the way I see it, I either eventually get vindicated, or the Sharks reward my lowalty with a set of those sweet paper teeth.

    But here's how bad San Jose's luck is: they're drawing the best possession team in the NHL in round one. Thus, if they lose to pretty much the only team they might struggle with, it'll look like another
    first-round choke. That's crazy. But I think think they survive on the strength of their ability to score goals, and once they get past the Kings, they make quick work of the Stars, who will shock the Ducks, battle their way past the Blackhawks, who can't shake that Sochi hangover, and have enough left to beat the Bruins, who slice through the East like a lightsaber through flesh.

    And at the end of the day, because Thornton's big points totals and all the chatter he gets, leading his current team over his former team to Stanley Cup glory, he hoists the Conn Smythe, along with his long-awaited first Cup.

    Jen Neale, Writer

    Bruins in 6
    Canadiens in 5
    Blue Jackets in 6
    Flyers in 4

    Avalanche in 5
    Blackhawks in 6
    Ducks in 6
    Kings in 6

    Stanley Cup: Boston over Chicago in 7

    Conn Smythe: Patrice Bergeron

    "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior." This applies to Marc-Andre Fleury and the rest of the Penguins, including the coach. The Sharks are given a hard time because they're always falling short of expectations. What about the Penguins? Last year was the first time they made it to the conference finals since winning the Cup. Don't discount Columbus; a young team with nothing to lose who are just happy to be there. The rest of the teams are gimmies except for Philly. They draw the Rangers, but with Alain Vigneault behind the bench. We all know what happened in Vancouver when he had a superstar goalie...

    Los Angeles is built for the playoffs. They're a solid defensive team that can crush you, and even if they don't score a lot of goals, they've got a goalie who can keep the score low enough to win. The Sharks won't be able to keep up physically, and Antti Niemi has a serious case of the yips at the worst time. In the conference finals, Chicago can score in bunches and that will irritate Quick. Throw him off his game and get Doughty emotionally involved to where he makes stupid mistakes, and Chicago is off to the Cup finals again.

    It's going to be LA vs. Chicago in the West and Boston vs. Philly in the East, with the Blackhawks and Bruins coming out on top. Even if they are getting Toews and Kane back from injury, the Blackhawks are banged up and looking a bit tired. A majority of that team has played a helluva lot of hockey and they tailed off after the Olympics. There were Olympians on the Bruins, too, but they're clicking at the perfect time. Plus there is a slight possibility of getting Dennis Seidenberg back to help out a tired Big Z.

    Patrice Bergeron is indispensable to the Bruins. He's going to play a pivotal role for Boston (again). He should get a couple extra Conn Smythe votes for just how seriously injured he was in last season's Cup run and managed to play through it.

    Ryan Lambert, Columnist

    Bruins in 5
    Canadiens in 6
    Penguins in 6
    Rangers in 6

    Stars in 7
    Sharks in 7
    Wild in 7
    Blackhawks in 5

    Stanley Cup: Bruins over the Blackhawks in 6

    Conn Smythe: Patrice Bergeron

    The East is garbage and the West is full of great teams, all of which will end up beating up on each other to the point that whichever team limps out of it will have played a lot more games against far tougher opponents than their Eastern rivals.

    Most of the playoff matchups in the East are coin flips, all things considered. No one is particularly better than anyone else, with the exception of the Bruins being so much better than everyone else that they might as well give them a bye to the final. You saw how it went last year, with the Bruins needing just 16 games to get through to the Cup Final, and that team wasn't as good as this one. The rest of the East is likewise notably worse.

    Out west, you have to feel for any team that goes through that gauntlet. They're going to have a lot taken out of them. But with Chicago playing a Blues team in sharp decline, the winner of Minnesota/Colorado (maybe the worst first-round matchup), then whoever comes out of the other bracket, they're going to be hurting. And probably easy pickings.

    Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Fantasy Writer

    Bruins in 7
    Canadiens in 6
    Penguins in 7
    Rangers in 5

    Avalanche in 6
    Blues in 7
    Ducks in 4
    Sharks in 6

    Stanley Cup: Blues over Bruins

    Conn Smythe: Alex Steen

    In one of the toughest first rounds to call in years, this is an easy 3-5 win/loss record for me I just know it. But these are where the darts landed when I threw them at the board my results after some lengthy analysis. The Chicago - St. Louis series is possibly your Stanley Cup Final right off the bat. Or maybe it's the San Jose - Los Angeles series. I don't think anyone can say that Chicago or Los Angeles deserves to be golfing before May.

    I like Montreal here because of Carey Price. And if he's in full-on game-stealing mode, then watch the Habs get to the Conference Final. The Rangers are 43-25-6 after their rocky start, whereas the Flyers are 41-23-10 after theirs. I'm calling this one as a rather quick series, though, because of the Steve Mason factor. He's had some great games and has turned his career around, but I'm just not 'there' yet with him. Not for the NHL playoffs.

    A couple of weeks ago, I Tweeted a statement about how flawless I thought the Blues were. The perfect team, from goaltending on out. And then Ryan Miller et al peeled off six losses in a row to end the year. And so I've gone from being 100% certain that this team was coming out of the West to a mere 50/50. If they get past Chicago it will be in no small part to the soon-to-be Smythe winner Steen, who has emerged as a star thanks to his 25 goals scored by mid-December.

    Nick Cotsonika, NHL writer

    Bruins in 6
    Canadiens in 7
    Penguins in 5
    Rangers in 6

    Ducks in 6
    Sharks in 7
    Avs in 6
    Blackhawks in 7

    Stanley Cup: Bruins over Sharks in 7

    Conn Smythe: Patrice Bergeron

    The Bruins are the class of the East by far. Their closest competitors are the Penguins, whom they swept last year in the conference final. Right now the Bruins are healthy and humming, and their biggest concerns are: 1. Focus. If they slip and don’t play their system, they become vulnerable. 2. Fatigue. They have played a lot of hockey over the past year and a half. 3. Emotion. If they face the Canadiens in the second round, they cannot lose their cool.

    The West is best, but it’s a mess, a meat grinder. Four or five teams have legitimate championship chops. The thing is, two will be gone after the first round, with San Jose playing Los Angeles and St. Louis playing Chicago. Why is this the Sharks’ year to make the final after so many cycles of hype and disappointment? Because they are a faster team now, and guys like Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have reached new levels, and Antti Niemi will be all right, and well, uh, a team this good for so long has to do it sometime, right?

    What, you think this is scientific? Also, the other major contenders have major question marks at the moment: The Kings still struggle to score. The Blues and ‘Hawks have injuries. Though several players are expected to return for the playoffs, from David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, we can’t be sure if they will return and how well they will play if they do. The Ducks and Avs have a lot to prove despite their outstanding regular seasons.

    Why not the Jumbo Joe Bowl in the Stanley Cup final? The Boston Globe will have fun with the Thornton-returns-to-Boston storyline. Meanwhile, Patrice Bergeron will cement his status as one of the best players in the game.

    Sam McCaig, NHL Editor

    Bruins in 5
    Canadiens in 6
    Penguins in 6
    Rangers in 7

    Ducks in 6
    Sharks in 7
    Wild in 6
    Blues in 7

    Stanley Cup: Sharks over Bruins

    Conn Smythe: Joe Thornton

    The East is tight, the West is war. There isn’t a single NHL playoff series that’s easy to predict, never mind trying to forecast four rounds into the future and guess the Stanley Cup champion. They’ve fooled us before (many times), but the Sharks’ star power, depth, experience and chemistry makes a compelling case for a Cup breakthrough. (On the other hand, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if L.A. dispatched of San Jose in five quick games, would it?)

    If the Sharks can fend off the Kings, it might be the confidence boost they need to power them to their first NHL final. The Bruins have played for the Stanley Cup twice in the past three seasons, and Jarome Iginla’s presence gives them extra motivation for another spring run. Despite the Blues’ stumbles at the end of the regular season, we think they’ll knock off the defending champion Blackhawks in a lulu of a first-round matchup.

    And it says here the Wild have the best shot at a first-round upset – and Minnesota will, indeed, knock off the surprising Avs.

  • [Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

    8. The Leafs, still in the news

    In a shocking turn of events, the Toronto Maple Leafs did something this week to distract from the fact that they missed the playoffs again in spectacular fashion.

    Brendan Shanahan in, no one (as of today) out.

    Which is an odd way to go about things if you're an organization built, presumably, on accountability. After all, the terms “culture” and “identity” were thrown around a lot by Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis, the two men at the helm of this shambolic wreck, and they've shown very little inclination to change it of their own volition. So now Shanahan has to do it, under a rather focused microscope and with very little room for error; if the Leafs make the playoffs again next year (doubtful if Carlyle remains the coach), then all the better. If not, why was he brought in?

    The good news is that Shanahan says he's read up on corsi and fenwick, a novel approach here in 2014, at least in Toronto, and has said that if a losing team isn't looking at all available options to evaluate themselves, then they're not doing things correctly. Please, no one show him this list of real quotes from Leafs front-office types, rife as they are with hilarious poo-pooing of counterintuitive nonsense.

    Maybe Shanahan can do for the Leafs what he did for Player Safety: Come in hot, then immediately back off when everyone gets mad at him for the decisions he's being paid to make. No problem at all!

    7. Sticking to your guns

    Another team that seems reluctant to fire a coach who a) really deserves it, and b) is sticking fiercely to his guns is the Washington Capitals, where no amount of player-related bus-throwings or pitiful performances appears to have been enough to get Adam Oates canned just yet.

    Remember, this was a team everyone thought would be pretty good (not great, but this is the Eastern Conference we're talking about, so y'know) and instead was flat-out bad for most of the second half. It would have been a lot worse, of course, had Alex Ovechkin not scored 51 goals this season.

    And yet, here's Oates on his star player's quality this season: “He can't score 50 goals and be a minus-35. It's counterproductive ... he is the identity. We go as he goes.”

    Right, because the Capitals' real problem was that too many players were following Ovechkin's lead. Yup. Good stuff from the coach. Who, by the way, Ovechkin wants back behind the bench next season. But he doesn't want blame for the way the season went. But he wants the coach who said he's to blame for the season because the team saw his minus-35 and said, “Me too.” Yeah, this is going great.

    6. The end of an era

    Barry Trotz is finally out in Nashville, and it really makes sense because this is the first time the Preds have missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons since 2003-04. And look, I...

    Wait a second here the Nashville Predators have made the playoffs seven times in the last 10 seasons? And they've had how many scorers break 70 points ever? Just four? So why isn't there a Barry Trotz statue in front of Bridgestone Arena, exactly?

    Someone had to pay for two seasons like this, obviously, and Trotz was the man holding the bag. David Poile, who hasn't given Trotz much to work with up front the last few seasons, wasn't going to fire himself. Their leading scorer, who had 56 points, was a defenseman, and that says it all in terms of the tools Trotz had before him.

    As good a player as Seth Jones is, the fact that he fell to them and not, say, Jonathan Drouin, is a tragedy in a lot of ways. That kid would have been a difference-maker for this team in a way that Jones cannot be. They were dead last in goals last season, 20th this year. Things aren't going to get better in this regard any time soon. And it's too bad. They have a good group of guys in place, but they need a scoring forward or three if they're ever going to get anywhere at all.

    Shea Weber can only do so much by himself, and whoever takes over there is going to have his work cut out for him.

    5. Delusion

    Martin Brodeur's career with the New Jersey Devils came to a likely end on Sunday, and afterward he couldn't help but act like he's still good at hockey. Which he categorically is not.

    Sayeth Marty: “Not playing as much, that's an obvious one. It was difficult. And again, the position the coaching staff was in with having two goalies as No. 1s, it just doesn't work. It didn't work in Vancouver. It didn't work here too good. We didn't make the playoffs. I think it's important when you have one good goalie you have to give him the bulk of the work. [Schneider] will get that from now on."

    This clearly ignores the fact that he should have gotten it all along; Brodeur blamed the lack of playing time he received on — get this — his being overly prepared for the season. He came in ready to play more games than he did. That's why he posted a .901 save percentage. For the second year in a row. And those followed a .908 season. And that one was after a .903 campaign. Man, if only Marty had come in ready to play more games than that. Four years ago.

    Get out of the league, Marty. We're done here. More specifically, you are.

    4. Frontier justice

    Not normally being one to condone fighting in any form, it sure was nice to see Justin Johnson, all 73 inches and 220 pounds of him, get John Scott all wobbly-kneed. No one deserves it more. Good work, Mr. Johnson. You are a nice boy.

    Fighting is still bad and pointless and for idiots, by the way.

    3. Feuding

    Well both teams ate big ol' turd pies this year, but you gotta give it to the Flames and Canucks for keeping things interesting right to the end. You'll remember this is the team that had a full-on line brawl to start a game, then one coach try to fight the other after the first period.

    And because these teams are these teams, the fact that Sunday's matinee was literally meaningless did nothing to stop things getting extraordinarily ugly. Paul Byron of all people boarded the hell out of Daniel Sedin — accidentally, he says, and apparently the league believed him because he didn't get a hearing or a fine — and that got John Tortorella all hot and bothered once again, as you might expect.

    The amount of respect Tortorella seems to have for Flames coach Bob Hartley is roughly negative a trillion, and this did nothing to soothe any hard feelings on the issue. He said he doesn't like the way Hartley runs teams, he says he doesn't like the way his teams play, he said he might have tried to fight him (again).

    So then Brian Burke, who's never been shy about speaking his mind and commenting on what other teams are getting up to at any given time, took offense that Tortorella was speaking his mind and commenting on what another team was up to. Said some mean stuff.

    Fortunately, all this arguing meant everyone forgot both these teams missed the playoffs by wide margins. And really, that's what's most important here, isn't it?

    2. Underrated defensemen

    Well, if you're a defenseman with an expiring contract and you don't literally just lie down at the top of the faceoff circles and start crying every time the puck comes into the defensive zone, I have some very good news for you. If Andy MacDonald can pull six years and $30 million, you can too, provided you can find a GM as bad at giving out contracts as Paul Holmgren (unlikely).

    This is a bad contract. Not so much the money, because even as people still see it as being somehow first-pairing money, $5 million a season really isn't that any more. And sure, a raise of more than 900 percent to a guy whose team is clearly better without him on the ice than with is a lot of money, but you can't really fault the guy for trying to get paid. That's what Dave Bolland is doing: Seeking silly money. If someone pays it to you, it wasn't that silly, all things considered.

    But now any time a guy, like, say, TJ Brodie or PK Subban, both of whom are up for extensions this summer, has their hands out, they can point to that MacDonald contract and say, “Well hey look at what that bum is getting.” Make no mistake, MacDonald is a flat-out bum. He's a No. 6 or 7 defenseman at the very best, and played over his head in a limited role in Long Island before last season. Then he started drowning.

    Now, Subban was going to get paid anyway, but Brodie, with his effective own-zone play can now demand that Calgary make with the money. He deserves it. MacDonald doesn't. This is the NHL.

    1. Playoffs

    I couldn't be more excited if I tried.

    (Not ranked this week: The realization that we probably only have a handful of Teemu games left.

    The fact of the matter is that Teemu Selanne hasn't played a ton this year and, in fact, has been a healthy scratch for more than a few games of late. One wonders just how much Bruce Boudreau plans on using him in the postseason.

    But even beyond that, say he gets into every game the Ducks play before they're eliminated. That's still, if we're being generous, between six and 14 more games before we never see Teemu Selanne play hockey again? Ugh, I'm so depressed just thinking about it. Man, I really hate Luke Schenn.)

  • Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

    • Jonas Hiller prepares for Round 1 by rocking out.

    • Ray Emery will start Thursday's Game 1 for the Philadelphia Flyers as Steve Mason nurses an upper-body injury. [Broad Street Hockey]

    • Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray on Paul MacLean's job this season: "The players like the old Paul, they liked the guy who sat and talked to them and treated them in a more easygoing fashion. That talked, not confronted. There were some mistakes, obviously." Meow. [Ottawa Citizen]

    • Here are your referees and linesmen chosen to work the Stanley Cup Playoffs. [NHL Officials]

    • Another concussion lawsuit has been filed against the NHL, led by Dave Christian, Reed Larson and William Bennett. [AP via Yahoo]

    • The first round will feature a brother vs. brother match-up with Brendan Smith's Red Wings facing off against brother Reilly's Bruins. [Freep]

    • Claude Julien apparently has a thing against shorts. [Days of Y'Orr]

    • The Buffalo Sabres have cleaned house behind their bench with assistants Joe Sacco and Jerry Forton reassigned within the organization; Teppo Numminen sees his contract not get renewed; and goalie coach Jim Corsi will not return. [Sabres]

    • The anthem signing during the playoffs is always the best. [Wall Street Journal]

    • Why defenseman Aaron Ekblad and the Florida Panthers make perfect sense with the no. 1 overall pick. [Buzzing the Net]

    • Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray on his discussions about officiating with the NHL head office: “I’ve had some talks with people in the league. We’ve had our pee-pee slapped once here so I got to be careful with what I say." [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

    • The LA Kings and Colorado Avalanche will be playing a preseason game in Colorado Springs in September. [Mayors Manor]

    • Here are five reasons why the Pittsburgh Penguins have a possession problem. [The Hockey Writers]

    • The next head coach of the Nashville Predators hasn't been named yet, but whoever he is he faces a few challenges. [On the Forecheck]

    • Seth Jones will join the U.S. contingent at the World Championships. [Color of Hockey]

    • Tuukka Rask's "Boston Strong" goalie mask is up for auction benefiting One Fund Boston. [In Goal Mag]

    • Anton Belov will be leaving the Edmonton Oilers for the KHL and SKA St. Petersburg. [R-Sport]

    • In a match-up of fantasy hockey defensemen, who do you choose: Dougie Hamilton or Jacob Trouba? [Dobber Hockey]

    • Digging deep and examining the New York Islanders' 2013-14 season. [Islanders Insight]

    • Looking at why good hockey teams lose. [National Hockey Link]

    • Finally, here's T.J. Oshie promoting Enterprise Rent-a-Car:

  • Facebook knows that you like hockey. They know because you told them, clicking the "Like" button on your favorite NHL team, in an attempt to further personalize your profile, but really just helping them to advertise to you.

    They knew you were going to like this map, then. Facebook knows all. Stop telling Facebook all your secrets.

    Still, it's a pretty cool map. This colour-coordinated look at North America illustrates which playoff team each state and province is rooting for, based on the number of Facebook Likes.

    There are some interesting takeaways:

    • The San Jose Sharks are California's most Liked franchise. Anaheim and Los Angeles may have been assigned colors, but the Golden State is San Jose teal. (I guess that's really more of a persian green.) It seems strange that the state of California would be rooting predominantly for the one local team that's never won a Cup, but perhaps it's in the interest of fairness?

    • Pittsburgh wins the Battle of Pennsylvania, if not in-game, than on Facebook. That's probably due mostly to Sidney Crosby's star power, which also bleeds into the Virginias (Virgina is apparently for lovers of Crosby), and the Carolinas.

    • Crosby's reach also seizes central Canada, as well as the Northwest Territories. He's the only reason the country isn't completely Habs purple.

    • Perhaps if the Vancouver Canucks were a playoff team, Washington would be able to get behind them. Instead they've moved on to their second love: the Detroit Red Wings, apparently.

    • Detroit fans are all over the place. Besides Michigan, they've also turned states like Alaska, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennesee. That's right: Tennessee. With the Predators out, the majority of folks in this state cheer for a former divisional rival. 

    • Blackhawks fans are similarly spread out. Beyond Illinois, they've infected Nevada, Oklahoma, Kansas, and even Arizona, who have apparently thrown their weight behind the former Stanley Cup champions after their Coyotes fell short of the postseason.

    • Don't forget about the people that love you in the Dakotas, Minnesota.

    • The Colorado Avalanche own the Rocky Mountains. 

    All that said, this map may not be that accurate. Lots of fans may like their NHL team without "Liking" their NHL team. Which would mean Facebook's information is woefully incomplete. It could be that there's just one NHL fan in New Mexico, and he bleeds burgundy and steel blue, for instance.

    s/t to Business Insider

  • LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

    It's a Wednesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

    Special Guest Star: Chris Johnston of Sportsnet on the Lightning and the Habs.

    • Yea, analytics!

    • Eastern Conference playoff preview.

    • Mason, Bishop Updates.

    Question of the Day: Jeff and Greg are GOING POSTAL! Ask us anything! Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

    Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.

  • Happy Stanley Cup Playoffs Day everybody!

    To celebrate the greatness that is the start of the NHL postseason, your friends at Puck Daddy present a special playoff mega chat at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. Yell at us about our awards picks! Yell at us about our playoff picks! Just yell at us to make you feel better about work stress! Whatever you'd like.

    You bring the funny; we bring the abrupt changes in tone and Hamburger Women. That's how it works.

  • Paul Maurice has signed a 4-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets to remain their head coach, which is good news for both.

    Maurice works well with young players and preaches an up-tempo style that you need to play to thrive in the Western Conference. Plus, the idea that the Jets would have three coaches in two seasons does not make for consistency.

    So that’s good news.

    Less than good: GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said that Ondrej Pavelec will also return next season.

    "Ondrej Pavelec is our No. 1 goalie next season,” he said at Wednesday’s press conference, via Illegal Curve. When asked if he felt the beleaguered goalie was holding the team back, he responded, "No one person on this team is greater than the sum of its parts."

    That’s actually correct, because Pavelec is worse than the sum of the Jets’ parts.

    His .908 save percentage at even strength is the worst in the NHL for goalies that faced a minimum of 1,000 shots on goal this season. And before you’re like, “well, maybe the Jets are just atrocious at even strength,” keep in mind backup Al Montoya had an EV SV% of .925.

    Pavelec’s save percentage has fallen in each of the last three seasons. He’s shown maybe a glimmer of potential once out of every 10 games; otherwise, he rightfully wears the dunce cap as the worst starting goalie in the National Hockey League.

    And yet he’ll enter 2014-15 as the incumbent No. 1 starter.

    Maybe Cheveldayoff’s hands are tied by Pavelec’s contract, which runs through 2017 with a cap hit of $3.9 million. Is he untradeable? Does ownership refuse to buy him out?

    Or maybe Cheveldayoff is just a devious genius, knowing that 60 starts for Ondrej Pavelec is 60 games closer to drafting Connor McDavid …

  • (Ed. Note: With its new playoff format, the NHL is seeking to create passion for fans and teams through forced, bracketed relationships. But hey, at first glance, the matchups are pretty sexy. All of this led to one ideal theme for our 2014 Playoff Preview: Tinder, the social media dating app. We hope you swipe right this postseason ...)

    The NHL’s new divisional playoff format has produced incredible matchups between long-time rivals, struggling to extend their playoff lives in what should be intense, passion-filled postseason wars.

    And also the Montreal Canadiens vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning ...

    This isn’t to say this series won’t be intense; to wit, it’s hard to imagine this battle between evenly matched teams not going to six or seven games. But from a history standpoint … well, it’s not exactly Rangers and Flyers.

    Who takes this series between Atlantic Division teams, one located nowhere near the Atlantic and the other on the Gulf of Mexico?

    Forwards

    Steven Stamkos was limited to 37 games, and scored 25 goals in them. He managed to lead the Lightning in power play goals (9) and game-winning goals (5) despite the time off. Which is ridiculous. His time away gave ice time, and responsibilities, to rookies Tyler Johnson (24-26-50) and Ondrej Palat (23-36-59), who now skate with Stamkos.

    Valtteri Filppula had 58 points in 75 games and is north of 53 percent on faceoffs. The St. Louis trade brought gritty Ryan Callahan to the mix, and he’s scored 11 points in 20 games. Montreal native Alex Killorn had 41 points in 82 games.

    Teddy Purcell, J.T. Brown, Nikita Kucherov, B.J. Crombeen, Nate Thompson and Richard Panik fill out the forward group. Then there’s Ryan Malone, who has his mind on other lines these days.

    Montreal has some legitimate pop in its lineup. The top line of Max Pacioretty (39 goals), David Desharnais (52 points) and Thomas Vanek (15 points in 18 games) is solid. Tomas Plekanec, always good in the postseason, centers Brian Gionta (40 points) and Brendan Gallagher (41 points). Speaking of playoff performers: That’s why Danny Briere has a contract with this team, with 109 points in 108 playoff games. He’ll likely skate with Lars Eller and/or Rene Bourque. Ryan White, Brandon Prust, George Parros, Travis Moen, Dale Weise and Michael Bournival round out the forward group.

    The Habs will miss Alex Galchenyuk, who could miss the first round with a lower body injury.

    ADVANTAGE: Canadiens

    Defense

    What a monster season out of Victor Hedman: 55 points, skating 22:26 per night and the team’s leader in corsi and corsi rel, a.k.a. they’re a much better possession team with him on the ice. He’s paired with veteran Sami Salo, who was a plus-11 in 71 games. The mighty beard of Radko Gudas skates with steady Matt Carle; Eric Brewer rounds out the top five, likely playing with Michael Kostka or Andrej Sustr.

    P.K. Subban leads the Habs defense, playing 24:36 per night and scoring 53 points, second most on the team. He should be paired with Josh Gorges, who stays at home while P.K. roams. Andrei Markov had 21 points in the power play and played 81 games, which is probably 41 more than you’d usually expect from Markov; he’s paired with hard-hitting Alexei Emelin; Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver round out the group.

    ADVANTAGE: Even

    Goalies

    Ben Bishop will miss Game 1. That much is clear. Which sucks for Tampa, because he’s their MVP: 2.33 GAA, .924 save percentage and 37 wins on the season. The backbone of so much of what they do, and who they are. They need him.

    Anders Lindback put together some decent games at the end of the season to calm fears that his putrid .891 save percentage would carry over to the postseason, but he’s without question a downgrade.

    Carey Price has a gold medal around his neck and immense expectations on his shoulders. His 2.32 GAA and .927 save percentage are Vezina quality numbers. But he’s been inconsistent since Sochi, nursing an injury and giving up three or more goals in six of 11 starts. Still, he allowed one or fewer goals three times in that stretch, too.

    ADVANTAGE: Canadiens is Bishop is hurt; even if he plays.

    Hotness

    Tampa Bay earned home ice with a 7-3-0 run at the end of the season, including four wins in a row.

    Montreal went 7-2-1 and finished a point behind the Lightning. But their top line is one of the hottest in hockey at the end of the season.

    ADVANTAGE: Even

    Coaches

    This is Jon Cooper’s first Stanley Cup Playoffs, but not his first playoffs. He led the Norfolk Admirals, and several of the current Lightning players, to the Calder Cup in 2012 and to the Finals the following season in Syracuse. He’s as much the reason the Bolts are here as anyone else.

    Michel Therrien is where he usually is: In the playoffs, with many fans believing the team is winning despite his meddling. Expect line combinations to be drawn out of a hat that's attached to a dart board by Game 2.

    ADVANTAGE: Lightning

    Special Teams

    The Lightning were 13th in the NHL on the power play (18.5) and 23rd on the kill (80.7).

    Montreal was 19th on the power play (17.2) and fourth on the kill (85.1). However, as the Tampa Tribune noted, “Montreal’s power play was 0-for-23 in the final eight games and 0-for-14 overall against the Lightning.” Still …

    ADVANTAGE: Canadiens

    Series Slow Jam

    “Age Ain't Nothing But A Number” by Aaliyah, in honor of the lack of playoff experience for several players on Tampa.


    Swipe left on... Bell Centre. If you’re looking for one clear, distinct advantage in this series, it’s the atmosphere for Games 3, 4 and potentially 6.

    Swipe right on... Teddy Purcell, who’s had an underwhelming season (42 points in 81 games) and has tumbled down the lineup. He hasn’t scored a goal in 11 games.

    Prediction

    Tampa Bay in seven. On paper, Montreal is the better team, but the Lightning play like the better team. This is the moment for two people with the Lightning: Stamkos and Cooper. The former is out of Marty St. Louis’ shadow and had six goals in 18 games in his last playoff run. The latter will try and build on his impressive resume this season with a playoff series win. I think he gets one … if Bishop comes back.

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