Results of the Mid-Season Coaches Poll

Every year TSN surveys the league’s coaches at the midway point on a variety of topics. Unlike awards voting, which is mostly in the hands of media members, the coach’s survey reveals the opinions of the minds actually working in hockey. They seem to like Chicago:

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Results of the Mid-Season Coaches Poll

Don’t Let Rules Stand in the Way of the Game

Tonight the Flyers scored on a play that may or may not have been offside. We don’t really know for sure because the refs ruled that it was inconclusive enough to justify not calling it as a violation of the offside rule.

The offside call was not designed to disrupt borderline plays like this one.

Another example I want to bring up is the Cogliano no-goal that went off his skate.

I understand that it is a technical violation of the rule, but can’t we be cool with a little grey area? Chaos is a major part of hockey, and every good NHL play has an element of chaos to it.

Some people let a “by the book” approach to hockey stand in the way of appreciating hockey. Refs should not determine the game, they should only make calls when they absolutely have to.

Don’t Let Rules Stand in the Way of the Game

Playable and non-playable factions in NHL

Everyone who has played a strategy game knows that some factions are playable and others are not playable. The French under Charlemagne are playable, but the Vichy French are unplayable. Joan of Arc’s resistance is playable, but the British who burned her are unplayable. Russians, Prussians and Turks are playable; Polish, post-classical Greeks and Belgians are all unplayable factions.

The NHL has its share of playable and unplayable factions. Today we will focus on the unplayable factions in the NHL.

Faction: San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are the AI controlled opponent who are in the game to make you falsely believe that the AI is quite powerful, while also giving you an easy path to success. They are like the first or second to last boss in any adventure or role-playing game. They are not the final challenge but they are a pretty serious threat.

AI difficulty: Medium

Are you bad at video games? Are you the Vancouver Canucks of 2013, are you the Detroit Red Wings when their player resigned and ceded control to an easy-level AI? You will lose the to the San Jose Sharks. If you are a player-controlled team like Chicago you will crush them, and you will have fun doing it because they scare you just a little bit.

Faction: St. Louis Blues

Have you ever played a game where there is some red target on the enemy boss, like all of the bosses in Twilight Princess? The St. Louis Blues are that boss, and the target is their shabby goaltending.

AI difficulty: Easy

If you are a serious noob you will attack the dragon with a big red circle on the back of its neck on its belly, or its wings, and you will be destroyed. If you are not a noob you will attack the target and feel guilt that you are still playing a game designed to teach children basic motor skills.

Faction: Vancouver Canucks

There are some opponents or bosses in games with no obvious weakness. In KOTOR, this is when you are put in a room after a dialogue exchange and forced to fight a ton of different enemies. There is no dangling red target or cut-scene to show a weakness.

AI difficulty: Hard

You play them the first time and you try to do what you always do. You lose and reload the game. You lose again and you smash your controller against the ground. You talk to your friend who tells you that the opponent is not that hard, which infuriates you more. After a few more tries you get the trick of very carefully thinking out what you are going to do before you begin the battle. Then you win easily

Remember kids, even AI with the hard difficulty look easily beatable in hindsight, just like the Vancouver Canucks.

Playable and non-playable factions in NHL

1/19 Kings – Stars *Great Game*

You can just tell when a major new rivalry is developing. When the Kings and the Canucks played back in 2009 and 2010, the games were competitive and ferocious. The Blackhawks use the Red Wings, the titans of the West, as their measuring stick. A similar pattern is emerging between the Stars and the Kings. The Stars are the highly energetic, offensive powerhouse and the Kings are the conservative defensive stalwarts.

The Kings came out like old men getting rushed by aggressive newcomers.

Hemsky got an early goal and the Stars forwards completely broke down the attempts of the Kings defensemen to break out, but temporary right winger Jeff Carter drove the net and drew a hooking penalty. All of a sudden the Kings looked a little more dialed in, but the first powerplay unit accomplished little. The second unit comes out and they get a short rhythm going. McBain feeds Lecavalier for a massive, massive slapshot that ties the game.

That’s Lecavalier, a large and highly talented 1st overall pick who lead the league in scoring nearly 10 years ago, scoring his third goal as a King.

The story stays the same for the next 40 minutes.

The game was basically even until the freshly created Toffoli-Kopitar-Lucic line set themselves up in the Dallas Stars zone. Eventually Muzzin finds Lucic in the top of the offensive zone and the game is 3-2. Incidentally this was Muzzin’s 8th straight game with a point, the longest streak for a Kings defenseman since Visnovsky accomplished this in 2005.

Seguin, Benn and Spezza probably paid 4-5 minutes of the final half of the 3rd period. Yes, they broke past the Kings defense. It turned into a shooting gallery from minute 4 to minute 2. Quick succeeded admirably as the last line of defense.

The Kings are notorious for showing fans mediocre performances at this point in the season. We saw this trend, quite frankly, the last 2 games. This was not a mediocre performance. The Dallas Stars are a emerging threat in the Western conference, but luckily it seems that the Kings are fully aware of this fact.

1/19 Kings – Stars *Great Game*

NHL Should have Stood Firm on Scott not Playing

Doing everything in their power to stop John Scott, the rightfully elected captain of the Pacific division, from playing was a bad decision. Despite the fact that it humiliated the concept of democracy, which is a good thing, the NHL promised that they would play nice this time and not pull the same crap they did in the “Vote for Rory” scandal.

The NHL did not make a specific announcement of the Eastern conference captain, and there is no clear procedure about what to do in the case of an NHL player switching teams. Because he is an AHL’er, and this is just a guess because I do not know the CBA rules regarding the all-star game, he should be ineligible to play in the game. It must be the case that the NHL specifically decreed that Scott should play.

Even though they made a mistake, caving to the fans was a bad move for the NHL. For one, anyone who was against Scott going to the all-star game is now alienated. Those who voted for Scott are not entirely pleased by this outcome. No one is happy with the NHL now because of this half-measure.

The bigger problem is that the NHL has admitted that trying to pull Scott was a mistake. This move is represented and understood as a rectification for a previous mistake. But why was keeping Scott out of the all-star game a misstep? The NHL created the all-star game, they should have the power to bend the rules that they themselves created. They are supposed to look out for what is best for the product, not what the majority of people think.

What if some day a bunch of people on the internet vote that they don’t like fighting? Will the NHL ban fighting just to cater to this audience? What if the fans voted that they would not watch the all-star game because of Kane’s alleged crimes – would the NHL pull Kane out of the game?

The opaque governance that the NHL endorsed in the past was not perfect. But it is much preferable to a league that caters to every whim of its loud and very stupid social media fans.

NHL Should have Stood Firm on Scott not Playing

Analysing The Lecavalier Trade

At first glance, the trade looks ridiculous.  The Flyers unload two bad contracts for a high scoring, if diminutive forward and a third round pick.  From a Flyers perspective, they make out like bandits.  Lecavalier possessed a 4.5 million cap-hit to essentially ride the bench.  Schenn was in and out of the lineup and his 1.6 million dollar cap-hit will be easily replaced by 33 year old rookie Evgeny Medvedev.  For essentially two liabilities, they get a decent prospect and a high draft pick

This doesn’t mean that the Kings didn’t do well here. First off, the Flyers had to retain fifty percent salary on both players making them considerably more valuable and less risky.  Vincent Lecavalier has also announced he will retire after the year is over guaranteeing that the Kings will not have to deal with his contract should the experiment be a failure.  With both contracts coming off the books after this season, the Kings essentially take on zero risk with this transaction.  Without a first round pick to throw around due to last year’s Sekera trade, this is the type of move that Dean Lombardi can do to improve his squad on the cheap.

This trade can be easily compared to the Gaborik to LA trade.  When Gaborik was acquired from the Jackets for Matt Frattin and two second round picks, Gaborik was essentially seen as a player on the decline.  And we all know how that worked out…Gaborik was a  key contributor in the Kings 2014 Cup Run.  Perhaps General Manager Dean Lombardi is looking to find that magic again.

Arguably the primary asset here for LA is Luke Schenn.  Clearly, the Kings want an upgrade on Christian Erhoff and Brayden McNabb.  The Kings have a history of turning stay-at-home defenseman (such as Luke Schenn) into serviceable members of the Kings.  Players such as Jeff Schultz, Sean O’Donnell, and Jamie McBain have come in and provided solid play in the bottom pairings.  Luke Schenn at less than a million dollars is certainly worth it.  At worst, he becomes an inexpensive depth defenseman.

Lecavalier is certainly on his last legs, but perhaps a legitimate chance at a Stanley Cup will motivate him to play at the higher level he is accustomed.  As with Schenn, the contract will end at the end of the season (due to retirement).   Perhaps Lecavalier will be the final offensive piece the Kings need to win it all again.

Even if neither of them work out in LA, the Kings can wash their hands of this trade.  When something literally has this little risk, why not take the chance and roll the dice?

Analysing The Lecavalier Trade

GBU: Jets @ Ducks 1-3-2016

Final Score: 4-1 Anaheim

Good: Rakell is truly emerging as a star in his own right.  The Ducks have put up rather stifling defense limiting the western Canadian teams to just 3 goals foraged in 4 games.

Bad: The Jets are still committed to hitting rather than playing the game of hockey.  Being physical is all well and good, but when it results in goals against and penalties the negatives far outweigh any potential benefits.

Ugly: This was a boring game.  The Ducks dominated the entire game and the end result was never really in doubt.  The third goal by Anaheim was the result of some of the worst Penalty Killing I have ever seen as a fan in ths entire league.  Why the Jets decided to send up three men in the second period on a shorthanded chance is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand.

The Jets came to Honda Center fresh off a 4-1 shellacking of the San Jose Sharks.  Unfortunately, they came face-to-face with a red hot John Gibson and a Ducks defense that has proved to be rather formidable in the last few games.   The Ducks got off to a quick two goal lead and never really looked back.  It did not help that the league’s worst PK allowed another two goals.  This statistic, combined with the penchant of the Jets to take a lot of penalties (they lead the league in this category as well) might doom the Jets this season.  Being in the brutally difficult Central Division certainly does not help.

Meanwhile, Anaheim has regained some of its swagger with a stifling trap game and fantastic goaltending.  The Jets only scored one goal and that was of a weird deflection.  Greatly aiding this defensive play is the improved play of Kevin Bieksa who has really simplified his game and has been very solid the last half dozen games.  Offense is obviously still a major issue, but if the Ducks keep playing at this level, the playoffs should be a realistic possibility.

Cliff Notes: Ducks dominate and easily dispatch a Jets team that is increasingly looking like it will be on the outside looking in.


GBU: Jets @ Ducks 1-3-2016