First off, did anyone else overdose on lackluster pre-season hockey? Thought so! Anyway, at least we know there isn’t going to be a lockout or other form of work-stoppage, and real hockey is just around the corner! That said, I won’t bore you with any real “game analysis” or the like, rather, let’s just peek at some highlights of the weekend.
So, Friday was pretty tame, with only anticipation of hockey to come. Dialed in some TV pre-season shows, and generally had a stress-free day (well, after I got back from the hospital for a checkup). Saturday is always hockey day in this Czech-Canadian household, so needless to say I was up at the crack of dawn, eager and ready to turn on the television and take in my heroine-like fix of the greatest game on ice!
The joke was on me, however, as I had completely forgotten that I had moved to the West coast, and that we were three hours behind the action. Even though it was only 4:30am, it meant I would have to shuffle my viewing schedule to omit some soccer. Not a big sacrifice, right? DONE! Now, come on time – please fly by and get me to my game of the day: Vegas at Vancouver.
I had watched an almost complete Canucks team play against an almost complete Kings team the night before (not really worth going into much detail about it), and it was nothing but a parade to the penalty box, as the officials are apparently going to crack down hard on faceoff infractions and stick taps around the hands (slashing?). The players, apparently, had not been properly informed or instructed or even told what the criteria for the call would be, and thus ended up really giving both coaching staffs a chance to view what might well end up being 8th liners at best.
But this would be different, right? Because it’s the first opportunity to see what the motley assortment Vegas GM George McPhee cobbled together in Sin City. To see how many defencemen one team could actually ice in a given game! So many new things!
It went pretty much as expected.
17 total power plays were called, and I would estimate about 65% of infractions would not have been called last season. The penalties were evenly doled out, with Vegas enjoying nine man-advantage situation’s to Vancouver’s eight. The Golden Knights converted three times, while the Canucks potted two.
The standout players were all on Vegas, as part of the Canucks was likely either packing or on their way to China (Boeser was good, with a goal and an assist, Jordan Subban was also solid). The biggest notable was likely Tyler Wong, an undrafted right winger, who is a tad undersized but very determined. He scored three goals and added a helper, but his tenacity and nose for the puck… The drive he showed (and the scoring touch) make me believe he has very good chance of breaking camp with the big club.
Another player who really showed some promise was right winger Tomas Hyka, who was drafted in 2012 by the Kings in the sixth round. He had a previous sniff in North America, but never found traction, went back to Europe to develop, and now wants back in to the NHL. I think Vegas presents just the perfect opportunity for him to play useful minutes, and entrench himself into a full-time NHL job.
Finally, only because I could blurb a bit about everyone which would be painfully uninteresting, Cody Glass is someone who is a high-risk/high-reward player that I think will emerge a masterstroke for McPhee. If he ever fills out his 6-foot-2 frame, he has the potential to become one of the cornerstones of this franchise moving forward. Great skating ability, good view of the game and smart decisions was all I saw from him. Scrappy, if not feisty at times during the game, we can only hope he develops into at least a second line center.
The game was borderline hockey, but it did the trick in terms of hearing the commentary, the arena sounds, the fans… At least you wouldn’t get looked at funny if you called it hockey in public.
Duh – Golden Knights win 9-4.
Sunday is always awkward, with football being another household religious affair.
Football won out the day (CFL first, then NFL), so I won’t bore you with anything but the fantastic news that the Falcons beat the Packers!
Monday is still going on, and I’m watching the “Battle Of Ontario“, part 0.1 (pre-season notation).
The Senators look really good, despite missing captain and defenceman supremo, Erik Karlsson, who is now expected to be out until possibly late November, early December. All eyes are on 20-year old defensive stud prospect Thomas Chabot, who looks solid, but unspectacular on a pairing with Dion Phaneuf. I think the reality is that Phaneuf is simply not the right fit, and we won’t be able to properly evaluate Chabot’s immediate role on the team until we see him with Karlsson. Shame that it won’t be until later in the season.
Among forwards, Mike Hoffman looked like he’s ready to go, with two nice goals. He had a comedic moment that you hope is only a preseason thing though… (Not posted to youtube yet, will update hopefully!)
The Leafs don’t look quite right, although they are icing a deep forward corps. Curtis McElhinney was a sieve, and is now in peril of losing the backup job to Garrett Sparks, who didn’t look much better. But this team isn’t going anywhere if Frederik Andersen goes down for any length of time.
Matthews seems like he’ll pick up where he left off last season, and I believe he will benefit from Patrick Marleau‘s presence on the powerplay, where he scored an astonishingly low eight goals last season. The rest of the contingent looks impressive, and I believe the Leafs may well win their division this season.
The Senators, once fully configured, will have a slight setback from last season. It is just my belief, but when a team over-achieves one season, they often come crashing back to EArth the following year, and that involves cratering – i.e going further down than the surface.
Anyways, one last thing to touch on is Joffrey Lupul‘s Instagram post insinuating that the Leafs are cheating the cap system by keeping him (and others in the same boat) buried on Injury Reserve, while he has declared himself fit to play.
First off, if he’s fit to play, he can go get that confirmed by his own doctor, and apply for reinstatement. Secondly, he should stop accepting paycheques to make a point. He wants to play, not just be paid. The Leafs, of course, don’t want his ridiculous contract on the books, in case they need to fill up at the trade deadline. $5.25 million is a deadline-type budget, so unless the Leafs can find a trade partner (Duchene?), Lupul should quit his bitchin’ and not make things worse for the NHL. You can’t have this type of discussion publicly as it detracts from both sides. First, the Leafs aren’t going to accommodate a trouble-maker. Do Lamoriello and Babcock strike anyone as the type of men who respond well to allegations of improper behaviour in the pubic eye? Me neither!
Secondly, Lupul is a veteran, and as such should know the basics of the business. If you want to be traded, make yourself an attractive commodity. Lupul’s actions do not accomplish that at all, again because teams don’t want to be part of the court of public opinion when it comes to cheating or circumventing the rules.
Next time slam a cheeseburger in your cyber mouth Joffrey!
See you all again next Monday! Enjoy your week!