Tag: NHL playoffs 2019

Five Teams That Could Use Jake Muzzin

Aside from the fact that most if not all teams in the NHL (besides Nashville) would benefit from a Jake Muzzin type of player. Muzzin will more than likely end up on a contending team, a team in the market for a top-three defenseman, therefore the list is not too big but looking at what Muzzin brings to the table. These five teams could use him.

Pittsburgh Penguins: This team cannot make a playoff run again with their number one defenseman being Brain Dumoulin, therefore Kris Letang needs to stay healthy and the Penguins need to add a d-man. In comes Muzzin, a defenseman who can play the penalty kill, power play, move the puck, contribute in the offensive end and play sound defense. Muzzin has 20 points in 46 games played this year, that is not chump numbers. In his career he has 493 games played with 212 points (.43 points per game). He has been a 40+ point defenseman in three seasons of his five and a half years in the NHL so far. The Penguins are always on the hunt for back end talent and Muzzin could be there guy.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs have been longing for another defenseman for two years now, with the Norris like play of Morgan Reilly their blue has been a little better this year but the Leafs still have some holes back there. With Jake Gardiner being a little more offensive minded, Ron Hainsey aging and having younger talent picking up the slack. Jake Muzzin and his playoff/Stanley Cup experience plus his defensive mind would be perfect for Toronto. The Leafs also said their first round pick was up for grabs therefore that is available and they have the best prospect pool out there. It would be foolish not to try for Muzzin.

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers need a d-man, they are not contenders but they have been asking for a defenseman for nearly a decade it seems like. Plus they have more than a first round pick to give up. The Flyers could easily throw Wayne Simmonds name in the conversation, a name the Los Angeles Kings are familiar with. I’m sure the Kings would not be opposed to seeing Simmonds back in Kings colors. Muzzin is a good fit for the Flyers too, tough, defensive-minded, posses some offense to his game and he comes with no learning curve and can be throw right into the fire. Again it would be asinine for the Flyers not to kick the can around with L.A.

Vegas Golden Knights: The Knights are again contenders this year and their General Manager has come forward and said he is not going to sit tight and be content with his current roster he is always planning and always looking to the future. Muzzin would definitely help that Vegas back end, one of the more so unexperienced blue lines in the NHL right now. Vegas has some decent forward but more importantly a ton of draft picks. Muzzin would definitely be a top-four defenseman on this team and I’m sure Vegas would feel a little more comfortable with Muzzin back there rather than Jon Merrill. It would be a smart move for this possible Cup contending team to make a move for a veteran defenseman like Muzzin.

Colorado Avalanche: With two defenseman ready to hit free-agency the Avalanche could easily fix that issue with Jake Muzzin. The Avalanche have one very important guy to worry about in the off-season which is Mikko Rantanen but they have also 13 million in cap space plus with the cap raise the Av’s should be fine. The Avalanche are a contending team right now that could use some help on the back end, on both the defensive side and offensive side. The Av’s also have two first round picks this year and some decent prospects to throw in the pool. I would not be surprised to see this team take a stab at Muzzin.

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With Elias Pettersson eyeing return do the Canucks make a push for the playoffs?

The Canucks have been quite the surprise this year and no one is covering it. They are ONE point out of a wild card spot but do have a game up on every other team. The Canucks are fifth in the Pacific division despite a 11 point difference with them and Vegas the third place team in that division. They are tenth in the Western Conference and 20th in the NHL. They have a record of 21-21-6 at the moment and just before the All-Star break, they finish January with three home games vs Buffalo, Detroit and Carolina.

The Canucks are ranked 16th in the NHL in goals for with 137, 9th in goals against with 148. Nineteenth in goals per game (2.85), tenth in goals against per game (3.08), twenty-first in power play percentage (17.3), twenty-third in penalty kill (78.3) and finally 26th in shots for per game (29.0).

The Canucks have missed Pettersson for 10 games now and are still in a playoff spot, have not even come close to seeing Brock Boeser’s best this season yet and again are still in the hunt. The Canucks have been a mildly successful team this season due to Bo Horvat consistency, Elias Pettersson taking the league by storm, depth guys chiming in when needed and Jacob Markstrom standing strong in net.

The Canucks are seeing a decent amount of production from Nikolay Goldobin (23 in 44), Loui Eriksson (19 in 48), Jake Virtanen (18 in 48), Antoine Roussel (18 in 43) but more importantly their defense has been pretty involved in the scoring. Alexander Edler has 19 points in 33 games, Ben Hutton has 17 points in 46 games and Try Stecher has 14 points in 44 games.

If the Canucks are to get back Pettersson healthy and back to his normal production, Horvat keeps his game up, Boeser increases his goal-scoring, Virtanen and Granlund step up and Markstrom stands strong they have a chance to squeak into the playoffs. Emphasis on when saying squeak hold the “k” for 2-3 seconds, because there only chance to make it is by squeaking in.

 

My Top Three Picks To Be Crowned Stanley Cup Champions 2018-2019

Based off the odds of Vegas, what teams have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup?

Tampa Bay Lightning +300

Toronto Maple Leafs +550

Calgary Flames: +1000

Nashville Predators:  +1200

San Jose Sharks: +1200

Winnipeg Jets +1200

Washington Capitals +1400

Pittsburgh Penguins +1700

Boston Bruins +1700

Columbus Blue Jackets: +1800

New York Islanders +2200

All betting odds aside, my top three choices for a Stanley Cup this season.

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Is there any need to get into much of a discussion about this? From line one to four they produce, their back end is strong with plenty of experience and mobility and the icing on the cake. A healthy, solid number one goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning are 34-8-2 with 70 points, they lost a combination of 10 games all year and only EIGHT in regulation. With a +67 goal differential.
  2. Calgary Flames: In all honesty the Western Conference does not look to difficult this year. The Flames have played well in their division and if the season were to end today they would have to go through Minnesota, Vegas or San Jose then Nashville or Winnipeg. The Flames have been a great team on both sides of the puck if they can figure out their goaltending, between Mike Smith and David Rittich they are a top-pick for the West Conference finals. The Flames are 28-13-4 with 60 points but a point ahead of San Jose for the divisional lead.
  3. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets have to get through the Predators again one more time to get to the Conference finals and from there if you come out alive in the West it is a possibility. The Jets will need Connor Hellebuyck to wake up and play a big role in their success from here until June. The Jets will need to see Patrik Laine step up big time as well, along with more depth players and a solid game from their backend.

Those are my top-three choices for the Stanley Cup Champions 2018-2019, what are yours?

 

Dallas Stars ownerships credits Stars poor play to “f*cking horeshit play” by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin per Sean Shapiro

Well talk about a headline for you here. The Stars general manager and ownership seem very unpleased with their two superstars, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. The Stars are one point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks and two ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Stars are three points behind Colorado for the three seed in the Central division and five behind Nashville for the second seed in the Central. They are in a playoff spot and very close to a top-three spot in their division. Yet the Stars ownership seems to still be very unpleased with how Seguin and Benn are playing.

Seguin and Benn performances

Seguin has recorded 3 goals and 4 assists over the last 12 games, he went four-games with zero points and is currently on a three-game drought. On the year Seguin has just 11 goals but also 21 assists making that 32 points in 38 games. A 0.84 point per game average which by NHL superstar standards that is certainly a “horse shit” performance. Looking around the top players, in which Seguin gets paid like one and is one, he should be in the top-15 or higher for scoring in the NHL. Now looking at Benn who has 5 goals and 4 assists in the last 12 games. On the year Benn has 15 goals and 15 assists on the year which is 30 points in 38 games. Again by superstar standards that is even worse than Seguin’s point per game average where Benn is at 0.79, the Stars two superstars are surely underperforming. By the NHL superstar standards the Seguin-Benn tandem combine for just 62 points in 38 games is probably worthy for the owner to call their game “f*cking horse shit” at the moment.

What this outburst from Stars ownership means…

On the bright side, the Stars are still within a playoff spot and very close to a divisional top-three spot with Seguin-Benn playing poorly. The Stars ownership certainly came out and said this for two reasons. (1) To rile up the superstar players for the Stars, this was most definitely aired out there for the public to see so Seguin and Benn take a look in the mirror and go, “well yeah we do need to pick it up”. (2) To show the Dallas Stars other players that the ownership has a certain standard for these guys and if they are not performing or not playing well night in and night out it cannot just be the Stars coach and ownership speaking up to these guys, other veterans and leaders need to speak up and say something as well.

I think with this recent out burst from the Stars ownership will propel Seguin and Benn to go on a tear and the Stars to play a lot better. For now let’s wait and see… it will be interesting to see what the reporters say to Seguin and Benn tomorrow during the morning skate and after their game Saturday night vs Detroit.

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions; Metropolitan, Atlantic and Wild Card Teams…

This may be the year the Eastern Conference is officially weaker than the Western Conference. For years the Rangers, Canadiens and Islanders were top 15 teams in the NHL, but this year the Western Conference seems to be a little tougher and tighter in terms of the playoff race.

Taking a look at the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division it is heavily dominated by three teams the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals. It has been a major shock to the East that the Pittsburgh Penguins are a non playoff team right now as well as the Flyers being out of contention and struggling this season. Another big surprise is the Canadiens start, coming out now 35 games into the season and being in the second wild card spot and six points out from the three seed in the Atlantic.

The Atlantic division playoff teams 

The Buffalo Sabres are off to a surprising start, yet after going on their win streak, they dropped six straight and now are 3-4-3 in their last ten. Are we sure the Sabres are legitimate playoff contenders? Or will they be out of the race come March? Personally after seeing what the Sabres have done and are capable of, they can easily be a playoff team. Realistically they need to stay above .500 for the next month or so to stay in the race and when it continues to tighten up and get closer, they will pull a few games out of their back pocket and make a push. With that, I don’t think they stay #3 in the Atlantic though, the Bruins are five points behind and have yet to hit their full stride this season. If the Bruins get healthy soon, they will knock the Sabres out of three, but this means Bruins stay three and Leafs stay two it will be another Bruins vs Leafs first round match up. The Leafs are not catching the Lighting (54), the Lightning have essentially clinched first place and will have an easier first round than other teams. Out of the Atlantic I think we see Lightning (1), Leafs (2), Bruins (3), Sabres (4), Canadiens get bumped out of the playoffs by either the Penguins or Islanders. Which brings me to the second part of this article.

The weak Metropolitan playoff teams

The Metropolitan is extremely weak, of the four divisions in the NHL the Metropolitan is by far the weakest. The Capitals with 43 points lead the Metro, yet in any other division would be third in the division. The Metro is basically run by the Capitals who lead the division by just four points but I do not see the Capitals dropping out of that one spot. The Blue Jackets come in at number two (39 points) and they have been very inconsistent this season, they struggle to stay consistent and string together wins over multiple games and number three is the Islanders (38 points) who are on  three-game win streak and surprising a lot of people right now. Based off what we have in front of us right now, I would have to assume the Islanders get knocked out of three by the Penguins and top three in the Metropolitan are Capitals (1), Penguins (2), Blue Jackets (3), the Metro is so weak that the Penguins can start of the season below .500 and still be in contention for a playoff spot. Out of the Metro it will probably be Capitals (1), Penguins (2), Blue Jackets (3), Islanders (4).

Playoff prediction in the Eastern Conference: 

Tampa Bay Lightning (1) vs New York Islanders (WC2) 

Washington Capitals (1) vs Buffalo Sabres (WC1) 

Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (3) 

Toronto Maple Leafs (2) vs Boston Bruins (3) 

NHL News: Is it to early to jump the gun on the Buffalo Sabres?

I am ready to throw off a knee-jerk reaction, the Sabres are legit. They are making the playoffs, the wild card or three seed in the Atlantic. Going to lose in the first round, get back to the drawing board. Cup Champions in 2020. Well, that escalated quickly.

Buffalo Sabres team stats

In all reality though the Sabres have looked exceptional this season. They rank FIFTH in the NHL in points right now with 24 points. They sit 18th in the NHL in goals for(55), 18th in goals against(54). Only average 2.89 goals for per game(21st), allow just 2.84 goals against per game. Have the 20th ranked power play(18.5), 9th ranked penalty kill(82.1). As you can tell by the numbers they are a middle of the pack team performing at a crazy rate. In my eyes this is a HUGE step forward for the Sabres. They allow just 2.84 goals against, they used to be one of the worst ranked teams in the league. Last year they allowed 3.39 goals per game and only scored 2.41 goals for.

It is still early in the year but the Sabres newly formed blue line of Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe, a healthy Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella and a third line of Rasmus Dahlin and Nathan Beaulieu this blue line is deep and it is because of two reasons. The addition of Dahlin and emergence of McCabe. Not to mention , Carter Huttons 2.48 goals against and the Sabres forward line one of Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart can have some credit to. The Sabres have not seen this much production from a line since maybe coach Phil Housley was on the team. 

Sabres second/third line depth

We can also mention that the Sabres have three forward lines that can score and no line is ever a liability out there. With Casey Mittelstadt, Conor Sheary, James Pominville, Kyle Okposo, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka. The Sabres do not need to worry about line one doing all the work anymore. When you have 10 players with 6+ points and Jack Eichel is not your only guy with 20+ points on the year it makes it a lot easier to win games. 

The Sabres took two games from the best teams in the league, the Lightning Tuesday night and Winnipeg Friday night. They have Minnesota Friday night and the remaining of their November schedule looks like the Penguins, Red Wings, Flyers, Canadiens, Sharks, Lightning and Panthers. They play four road games in the remainder of November but the Sabres can very well come out of November into December with some confidence and a serious shot at the wildcard/postseason play.