Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. The Metropolitan Division standings are as funky as a monkey – and where the Rangers have the best funk in all of the league too!
Since the great Elliotte Friedman has already trademarked-and-patented the phrase/title “32 Thoughts” for both his column and podcast over on SportsNet; tonight, and in an homage and tribute, the main event segment for this blog is entitled “33 Notions.”
After all, 33 is better than 32!
But before looking at the rest of the league, and as all 32-teams approach the 30% mark of the season, up first, the past three-days in Rangerstown, USA.
Following the Rangers’ worst loss of the season from this past Tuesday night (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/12523-2/ ), “Lavy’s Lot” received a well-deserved day off on Wednesday.
As previously brought up on this site, once returned from their wacky scheduled five-day break on November 18th, the Blueshirts then played ten-games in an insane time-span of just seventeen-days.
Despite not many nights in their own beds, and with several back-to-back sets too (home-and-away back-to-back games to boot), the first-place Rangers ultimately went 7-3 in those ten-games.
Not too shabby!
But yeah – the Rangers definitely needed some time to reset following Tuesday’s tilt in Ottawa – and even with three days without games scheduled – I’m sure that they would’ve appreciated some extra time off too!
After all, while the Rangers were idle on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – the latter two days were practice days, while Friday was a travel day.
So to simply say that “they had off for three days” isn’t necessarily true either.
After the Blueshirts regained their bearings and caught up on their home lives on Wednesday; a day later, Thursday, the team reconvened at their practice facility in Tarrytown, NY – and where limiting odd-man rushes was the focus.
There were two notable absences from the practice, as the Rangers were missing two of their 895756785 million alternate captains, Barclay Goodrow and Chris Kreider.
Since the NHL treats their fans as fools, Goodrow is currently listed out with an “upper-body injury” – and despite everyone and their mother knowing what he’s going through.
And as you’ll soon see below, there’s a chance that Goodrow may miss Saturday’s game in Washington, as oral surgeons try to repair his grill.
No joke: There have been thousands-upon-thousands of teeth-meeting-the-ice incidents in NHL history, but without a shadow of a doubt, what happened to Goodrow was one of the worst. (Gordie Howe’s rearrangement of Lou Fontinato’s face receives top honors from me.)
And for a tough guy like Goodrow to miss any time, then it tells you how bad this accident truly was – and hell – it looked pretty sickening in real-time too.
When it comes to Kreider, during the game with the Senators, CK20, and as he always does, was trying to screen and deflect a puck past the opposing goaltender. On one of these countless plays from his career, he took some friendly-fire to his left leg, following a shot from Artemi Panarin.
Since Kreider has already returned to practice, then we can ascertain that he had some minor swelling and/or bruising following this play, and that it wasn’t worth the risk to have him practice on Thursday.
In other words – Kreider’s one-day absence is just a nothing burger.
Following the practice, Peter Laviolette hosted another episode of “LAVY’S LOUNGE.”
Here it is – and if you haven’t done so already – then it’s worth checking out for yourself:
On his 59th birthday, and where this turning-of-the-year moment wasn’t brought up during this episode of “LAVY’S LOUNGE,” the head coach acknowledged some recent weaknesses with his club and how he’d address them.
Obviously, every team in the league has areas that need improvement, so these comments were par for the course.
There were two interesting things that came out of this press conference – and where neither Lavy reply garnered a follow-up question.
Laviolette was asked about his time in Washington, as Saturday will mark his return to D.C. ever since “mutually parting ways” with the Capitals at the end of the 2022-23 season.
As Laviolette said that he wanted the challenge and honor of coaching an Original Six team in New York, two topics that I have brought up on this site weren’t followed upon (and you can check the archives of this site for the full stories).
The first omission was in regards to what his former player, Evgeny Kuznetsov, had said about him, as the mercurial Russian blamed his previous bench boss for a lot of the team’s troubles from last season.
For whatever reason, the Blueshirt beat reporters have decided that no one wants to hear Lavy’s opinion and/or side about this. Maybe a real reporter in Washington (hard to find these days) will ask Lavy about this on Saturday.
The second “no-no” follow-up question pertains to Lavy’s role in “The Tom Wilson Game” from the 2020-21 season – you know, the game that led to the removal of one front-office regime – and then the creation of another.
(Again, for more on this topic, check the archives of this site – or just read my new book, “The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” as this story is covered in full there too.)
Back then, and while the Rangers did get some modicum of revenge in the match following “The Tom Wilson Game,” at the same time, the amount of modicum was minuscule. In fact, while admirable, what Wilson did was never erased and despite fighting six-times in the rematch – at the end of the day, “the revenge” was nothing more than a rung below of a “last-ditch effort.”
Fast-forward to today, and ironically, Lavy will be seeking revenge against his former club – as you’d have to think that he’s well-aware of what has been said about him by his former players.
I think Lavy will have his day in the sun – and his revenge too – on Saturday night in Washington, D.C.
After all, these 2023-24 Blueshirts haven’t dropped back-to-back games this season yet – and why start now?
Furthermore, we do know that this team plays for this head coach – and respects him too – and as is evident by what they say in their own press conferences, and where team captain, Jacob Trouba, continues to shower high praise upon the new sheriff in town.
Let’s now get into the other topic that didn’t receive a follow-up question.
When asked about the potential return of Filip Chytil, Laviolette said, “I think he’s moving in the right direction and I think he’ll return.”
The response from the Blueshirt beat reporters?
I understand that there are boundaries and that these reporters are both “ball-less” and a “dime-a-dozen” – but really, not one of them could have followed-up by asking, “This week? This year?” “This season?”
In addition, I also understand that Laviolette doesn’t want to give time-tables on player injuries, but at the very least, get him on record about this.
After all, Chytil is $4.4M cap-hit for the Blueshirts and Ranger fans want clarity about both the future of the player and the team.
I don’t think that this would’ve been too much to ask.
As far as anything else from Thursday, two more things – and with neither having to do with follow-up questions either!
During Thursday’s practice, CZAR IGOR was wearing new gear – and where he let it be known that he was breaking in his new equipment in advance of the team wearing the new third jersey this Sunday (against Los Angeles).
What we know right now is that either Jonathan Quick or CZAR IGOR will be starting in Washington on Saturday, and that the goalie who rides the bench during that contest will then start on Sunday at M$G.
But if you were to believe the promotional materials (or perhaps “propaganda”) that the organization’s social media accounts were sending out, then you were led to believe that Quick would start against the Capitals, while CZAR IGOR takes the home game against the Kings.
Fortunately, I am to believe that Laviolette doesn’t allow marketing to influence his coaching decisions.
CZAR IGOR has to play the road game against a divisional opponent.
Granted, while the Kings are stronger than the Capitals, I’d rather the win over a rival above all.
And while I’m keenly aware of what happened in 2014 (Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti will never let you forget about it, especially whenever Quick starts) – the Kings aren’t a Rangers’ rival at all.
Furthermore, and similar to Lavy wanting his win against his former team – don’t you think that Quick wants to do the same on Sunday night against the club that discarded him last season?
While admittedly, it did work out for Quick (he won his third Stanley Cup – but not in Columbus where L.A. sent him – but in Las Vegas instead), you know that it had to be tough for the goaltender, who had spent sixteen-years (743 games played) when he was traded away by the only organization that he had ever known.
I only bring this up because if you see Quick in net on Saturday, then CZAR IGOR between the pipes on Sunday, then you’ll know (and yes – this is a conspiracy theory – but rooted in facts) that Laviolette was influenced by the team’s marketing department – via TEAM PRESIDENT (and not in his general manager role), Chris Drury.
Following all of the news from Thursday, at around 5PM later that day, the Blueshirts announced the following:
UPDATE: The Rangers have recalled Riley Nash from the Hartford Wolf Pack.
— NY Rangers PR (@NYR_PR) December 7, 2023
We can only hope that Riley wears #61 – so that fans with Rick Nash jerseys get one more chance to wear them!
The recall of Nash told us that Goodrow could possibly miss Saturday’s game – and maybe a few games after that too.
I should note, and this is just a gut-feeling, that had this injury occurred in the playoffs, then Goodrow wouldn’t miss any time. But since it’s the regular season, and despite the other multiple injuries sustained by the club, why take any risks?
Since Goodrow should eventually return in due time, this also means that this isn’t a Jonny Brodzinski/Kaapo Kakko situation for Nash.
But for “Nash 2.0,” of course, and should he get the opportunity to play, then he should come out guns blazin’, as he tries to work his way back to an NHL roster.
On Friday morning, and prior to their trip to the nation’s capital, the Rangers held one more practice.
It was reported that both Blake Wheeler (lost an edge and went hard into the boards) and Chris Kreider (hit by K’Andre Miller – and a MILLER TIME who needs to be aware of where his teammates are on the ice these days) had near-scares, but come the end of practice, both forwards were fine.
And just imagine anymore injuries to this team!
In fact, perish the thought!
Here is the Friday edition of “LAVY’S LOUNGE”:
Since Lavy had spoken for a lengthy amount of time the day prior – he didn’t really say much here.
The biggest talk of the day, outside of the head coach confirming that both Kreider and Wheeler were a-okay, was the status of Goodrow.
Laviolette wouldn’t confirm if Goodrow would be playing this weekend, much less confirm if #21 was taking the trip down to D.C. with the club.
We’ll find out on Saturday – but with no confirmation about Goodrow – I think “Nash 2.0” makes his Rangers’ debut.
Before moving on, and getting into my “33 Notions,” here’s what the expected line-up for Saturday looks like:
FIRST LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere
SECOND LINE: Kreider/Zibanejad/Brodzinski
THIRD LINE: Cuylle/Bonino/Wheeler
FOURTH LINE: Vesey/Nash/Pitlick
FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox
SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba
THIRD PAIR: Gustafsson/Schneider
STARTER: CZAR IGOR
HEALTHY SCRATCH: Jones
LONG TERM INJURED RESERVE: Chytil and Kakko
Since I haven’t had the time to look at the rest of the league on this site in recent weeks, and with the Rangers having off the past three nights – I just wanted to use this time to go around the league and share some opinions and notions.
(And yes – “thoughts” too!)
Of note Part I: All comments reflect all games played through Thursday, 12/7.
Of note Part II: Instead of going alphabetically, I am looking at every team in the order of where they are in the standings.
1) The Boston Bruins haven’t lost a step.
Despite the recent retirements in Beantown, the black-and-gold, who once again, and for what feels like the fifth-consecutive year too, have not felt any drop-off or fall from grace. Along with the Rangers and Golden Knights, the Bruins, who just roll with every punch, have suffered the least amount of regulation losses in the league (5).
While who knows what happens come the playoffs, as their upset loss to the Florida Panthers won’t be forgotten about any time soon; for right now, and when you consider the off-seasons that the other teams from this division had, what the Bruins are doing today is truly impressive.
2) The Florida Panthers aren’t experiencing any “championship hangover.”
While they didn’t win the Stanley Cup last season, and where injuries pretty much derailed their chances against the (power) House in Vegas too – I think many expected some drop-off for the residents of Sunrise, FL, an Eastern Conference champion “hangover” if you will, especially due to the rotating door that they experienced over the summer.
As of right now, they trail the Bruins by five-points, but most importantly above else, the Cats, now experienced, should be back in the playoffs come the Spring of ’24 – and just like last year, who knows what they’ll do once there?
3) Are the Red Wings for real?
Apparently, Patrick Kane thinks they are – but then again – he does have an out clause in his contract should the Wings not be in the playoff hunt come the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline.
If there’s one phrase in hockey that’s been beaten like a dead horse, then it’s “THE YZERPLAN.”
The Wings, following over twenty-five consecutive years of perennial playoff outings, have missed the playoffs in their last seven.
To snap the drought, Kane can’t only be it, as goaltending is a huge area of concern in Motown.
4) What’s going on in Leaf Land?
While I don’t think that the Leafs are in any real danger of missing the playoffs (they presently have the top wild card seed and only trail the Wings by two-points); but for a team this stacked, so talented and where it’s been “Cup or Bust” ever since 1967 – the Leafs have been very disappointing – but of course – blue-and-white fans are used to that.
I really thought the Leafs would streamroll their way through this division, perhaps in some redemption and with all of the news that they made this summer, but that hasn’t been the case.
What’s the case?
Once again, and similar to the Oilers, this high-powered offensively-gifted team can not find any consistent goaltending at all.
5) Does the salary cap finally defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning?
We’ve been talking about this for some time now – the NHL does not want repeat winners, and for that matter – they aren’t a fan of dynasties either.
I think what Gary Bettman and his cronies often forget is that <SHOCK> – dynasties are good for business.
Similar to any big prize fight, and whether it be Conor McGregor today, Floyd Mayweather recently or Muhammad Ali long before them, people watch – and pay too – in order to see a big-time favorite lose.
And heck – was Tom Brady and his Patriots bad for the NFL’s business?
Tampa fans would say no to this too!
The Bolts, after doing everything right, are now feeling the NHL salary cap hammer – punishment for not doing anything wrong besides drafting well, developing players and signing key talent.
If only this organization had sexually molested someone, then they would have received the top pick of this year’s NHL draft, ala the Chicago Blackhawks.
6) Is Montreal “on track” with their rebuild?
For the Habs, expected to be at the bottom of the league, at least they aren’t the next two teams on this list of notions!
7) What is going on in Buffalo?
Presently, the Sabres seem hellbent on extending their playoff drought to thirteen consecutive seasons.
While maybe it will happen one day, goalie Devon Levi, who many projected to have a strong season this year, is currently in the AHL.
But while goaltending is an issue (91 GA, bottom-five in the league), this team, at least on paper, shouldn’t be seventh-place in the division.
But of course, the games are played on the ice – and the Sabres haven’t had much luck there either.
Worse luck than the swordsmen? The Senators.
8) Do the Senators blow it up – again?
Remember the Summer of ’22, when everyone was raving about GM Pierre Dorion’s off-season?
Fast-forward to today, and Dorion is gone – and you have to wonder who will be following him out the door next – including head coach D.J. Smith.
With a bunch of expiring or near-expiring contracts on the team, players who were thought to help this young core – what the Senators do at the deadline will be watched around the league. (A Rangers’ return of Vladimir Tarasenko anyone?)
Between new ownership, trying to get a new arena somewhere close to civilization, the hypocritical Shane Pinto suspension and everything else near and in-between – the Sens – who many expected to clinch a playoff berth this Spring, will instead be watching ping-pong balls at the Draft Lottery.
9) Are the New York Rangers, tops in the league (winning percentage, as other teams have played two or more games than them) for real?
Since all I do is talk about the Rangers on this site, then I think I can give you my season long daily disclaimer on my beloved Blueshirts and then move on:
“WHATEVER THE RANGERS DO IN THE REGULAR SEASON DOESN’T MATTER. THEY CAN ONLY BE JUDGED BY WHATEVER THEY DO IN THE 2024 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS!”
10) Is John Tortorella going to win the Jack Adams this season?
No one, and I mean no one – and including the fans who bleed the most orange-and-black in Philly – had the Flyers sitting in second-place just a few weeks shy of Christmas.
Everyone, and I mean everyone – and including the fans who bleed the most-orange-and-black in Philly – expected Torts’ team at the bottom of the division – and most likely – then go on to win the Draft Lottery.
But of course, there is no such thing as “tanking,” and as a result, the Flyers are “ranking” very high right now.
When the Flyers got off to their hot start (and just as they did last year), I think many expected the bottom to eventually fall out. That hasn’t happened yet – and with this coach – he’s not going to allow it either.
While the Rangers’ Laviolette will draw some Jack Adams’ votes should he keep up what he’s doing in New York; Torts, now in Year 2 in the City of Brotherly Love, deserves top consideration should his Flyers nab one of the eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
11) Does Lou Lamoriello have one last splash in him?
Between the age of his roster, years of many battles, a summer where only Julien Gauthier was gained, injuries and an Ilya Sorokin who has had his off nights – the Islanders got off to a horrendous start, a start so bad, that fans at the IBS Arena at Belmont were demanding for both Lou Lamoriello and head coach Lane Lambert to be fired.
While some of that chatter still exists, it’s also been toned down.
After all, winning changes everything, and after spending most of October and November toiling around at the bottom of the division – the Isles are now one-point back of the second-place Flyers.
While the Isles have been racking up points lately, I’m not so sure how much of this is sustainable – especially since the team’s biggest weakness from the past few seasons – scoring – still remains.
But perhaps a trade can be made with the next team on this list.
12) Are we witnessing the “End of an Error” in Raleigh?
It’s a one-two race for the biggest disappointment in the division right now, as the two teams that 99.9% of all “experts” had projected to win this division, the Hurricanes and the Devils, are currently experiencing down seasons.
For the Hurricanes, who have been knock-knock-knocking on Heaven’s door for so long now, the Stanley Cup, those knocks have not been answered.
Eventually, something will have to change.
Goaltending, and as it’s been for some time, remains as an issue – including injuries sustained.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in Carolina is Tony DeAngelo – and while you can understand why he left in the Summer of ’22 for the money, as he tried to recoup the funds lost following his debacle in New York – TDA is now a healthy scratch – and on the trade block too – and on a team that struggles to score and win games!
Presently, many are suggesting TDA to New Jersey, as a way to fill in the void for the recently lost Dougie Hamilton. However, a better fit for both Carolina and DeAngelo may be with the Islanders – especially if the preseason projections prove true – and the Canes & Devils see each other in the playoffs – again.
13) Does the old core in Washington have one last run in them?
Up until a few days ago, the Capitals, who many had written off like a Washington tax return, were second-place in the division – and where with another win or two – they’ll return to that status.
Despite all of the wear-and-tear, season-ending injuries and an Alex Ovechkin experiencing his worst season yet – the Caps remain in the thick of things.
Rather than Ovechkin chasing Gretzky’s goal record as the biggest draw; instead, the Caps chasing for a playoff berth is what’s moving the turnstiles in D.C. today.
14) Are the Devils experiencing playoff hangover?
Currently in sixth-place, the Devils, who were not only projected to finish at the top of this division, but win the Stanley Cup too – have been awful.
Granted, there have been injuries along the way, including one suffered by All-Star Jack Hughes, but even so – every team battles injuries, as it’s just part of the game.
Goaltending hasn’t exactly been the team’s biggest strength, as Akira “The Ranger Killer” Schmid hasn’t been able to capitalize off his playoff series against the Blueshirts.
With 89 goals allowed, only the last-place Blue Jackets have given up more goals among the eight teams within this division (99).
Worse for the red-and-black attack?
A (fickle) return of the “Fire Lindy” chants.
15) What does new general manager Kyle Dubas do with his Penguins?
With head coach Mike Sullivan and the three-headed beast known as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang under contract for several more years – you’d have to think that Dubas, formerly of Toronto, would rather contend for the Cup instead of seeking out a first-overall draft pick.
It’s been a weird season thus far for the black-and-yellow.
Along with the Rangers, the Penguins have surrendered the fewest goals this season (66). In other words, questions about the recently re-signed starter in Pittsburgh, Tristan Jarry, have somewhat been answered.
However, the Penguins, and despite the addition of the 2023 Norris Trophy winner, the minus-26 Erik Karlsson, have one of the worst power-play units in the world.
Despite the massive offensive weaponry in the Steel City; it feels like the last time that the Penguins scored a power-play goal was during the Mario Lemieux era.
With a subpar success rate of only 9.86%, only the Blues (9.46%) and Capitals (8.96%) are worse than what’s usually a Penguins’ staple – the power-play.
It will be interesting to see who Dubas goes after in order to address this issue.
16.) Is this the end of the line for team president John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen?
I mean, it has to be, right?
Then again, this organization have been complete cucks for J.D. in the past, even taking him back after he ditched them for (and then fired by) the Rangers.
But following the whole Mike Babcock debacle, it seems like this will be the last season for J.D. and J.K.
And had the head coaching incident not taken place right before the preseason, then it’s most likely that both men would have received their pink slips along with Babcock.
According to team owner John P. McConnell, he didn’t want to create any more organizational headaches and uproar at the start of the season.
In other words, and due to their projected last-place finish – it does feel like both Kekäläinen and Davidson are dead men walking.
17) Can Colorado stay the course?
In a word – yes – although the Dallas Stars will continue to nip at their heels.
For the Avalanche, the ’22 Cup champs but maligned by injuries the year after – and just like any other Stanley Cup contender – it’s all about staying healthy.
18) Will the “Stars” align in Dallas?
Somewhat similar to Carolina, but with a recent Stanley Cup Final appearance under their big buckled belts, the Stars have been threatening for the silver chalice for some time now – but haven’t found-a-way – yet.
What helps the Stars, and much like recent Cup champs such as Vegas, Colorado and Tampa – the Stars don’t have to worry about state income tax in Texas either. This should help them at the deadline, especially in a world where the salary-cap reigns supreme.
19) How about ‘dem Jets?
Notoriously known as one of the most depressing and most undesirable cities in the league, Winnipeg, following some tough decisions this off-season, are right in contention.
Granted, while this division is very top-heavy, as the teams below them are all rebuilding – at least they are playing up to expectations, and it all starts with the former Vezina Trophy winner, Connor Hellebuyck.
Presently, the Jets have only given up 68 goals, the least amount in the division.
20) Can the Coyotes force a playoff gate at the Mullet Arena?
If the season ended today, then these nomadic Desert Dogs, who play in front of 3,000-5,000 fans during every home game, would finish as the top wild-card of the “Wild West.”
For a league that’s built on its revenue sharing, I’d love to see the owners’ reaction when the Coyotes leave millions-and-millions of dollars on the table with at least two playoff home games played at a college arena.
I’m sure that Gary Bettman might be a bit shaky about this too – even if this franchise is one of his personal passion projects.
21) What does the new boss in Nashville, Barry Trotz, value more – a first-round exit or ping-pong balls?
Presently, the Predators have possession of the second-wild card, but should this team finish with this playoff berth – is another first-round sweep orchestrated by the hands of the Avalanche really worth it?
It’s common knowledge that the Predators planned to rebuild this season, while also trying to remain respectable.
But when you walk this tight-rope, where you’re flirting between finishing 16th- and 17th-overall in the league, then these are the risks you run – and questions you must answer too.
22) Are the Moody Blues already selling off?
On Friday, the Blues traded the soon-to-be 35-year-old rearguard, and a member of their 2019 Stanley Cup winning team too, Robert Bortuzzo, to the Islanders.
While Bortuzzo’s best days are behind him, and while he also had trouble staying in Craig Berube’s line-up – is this the first domino to fall?
Players currently set to become unrestricted free agents this summer include Sammy Blais, Marco Scandella, Oskar Sundqvist, Kasperi Kapanen and Jakub Vrana.
While none of these names really shout out at you; perhaps they could help a Cup contender’s depth issues – especially if injuries are a factor.
23) At least the Wild don’t have to worry about another first-round exit this season!
The Wild, always good enough to make the playoffs but not good enough to do anything once there, won’t have to worry about that this season.
Having already fired head coach Dean Evason earlier this season, GM Bill Guerin replaced him with the Son of Dracula himself, Count John Hynes.
I’d expect a pair of multiple-time Stanley Cup champions, players at the end of their careers too (and they are set to become UFA’s this summer as well), Pat Maroon and future Hall of Fame goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, to be dealt by the deadline – especially the latter – as many of the current teams in the playoff field could use a reliable goalie in their nets.
24) Will the NHL award another first-overall pick to the Chicago Blackhawks?
I wouldn’t be shocked!
And poor Connor “Corey Perry Is Not My Father” Bedard too.
25) Will the Golden Knights repeat?
Going into the season, the answer from the consensus was “yes.”
Presently, the Knights are neck-and-neck with the Rangers in the Presidents’ Trophy race.
And unlike recent Stanley Cup winners from this salary-cap era – the Knights weren’t decimated by dollars-and-cents this off-season, as they only lost original misfit, Reilly Smith (Pittsburgh).
The Knights and the Avalanche seem destined to determine who wins the Clarence Campbell Bowl this season – but not if the Stars, or the next team on our list, have anything to say about it.
26) Are the Kings one of the league’s regal teams again?
What more can I say about one of my favorite players, “THE GOALBUSTER,” Cam Talbot?
Having become a journeyman following his prime years with the Rangers and Oilers; Talbot, now at 36-years-of-age, is arguably having the best season of his career yet.
After the Kings had moved on from all of their goalies from last season, the Talbot and Pheonix Copley tandem have only allowed a league-low 53 goals thus far.
For a comparison, the Bruins, second-best in this department, and with Vezina winner Linus Ullmark in their net, have surrendered 62 goals.
If the season ended today, then Talbot would win the Vezina.
And with team in front of him, a collection of veterans and young players on the rise, he’ll get help when trying to attain this lofty goal.
27) Rick Tocchet, Jack Adams winner?
Just like Tortorella, what Tocchet is doing with the Canucks is nothing less than remarkable.
While the stats change day-by-day, at one point, the trio of Quinn Hughes, J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson were 1-2-3 in scoring – and not just in this division – but in the entire league.
And how about Brock Boeser, who presently leads the league in goals? (18)
I guess the Canucks don’t miss Vitali Kravtsov, eh?
28) How long before the Flames throw in the towel?
A new head coach, a new general manager and many players who no longer want to play in the rodeo city – and the Calgary Flames now feel like a franchise that’s burning down.
In a way, they have somewhat supplanted both Columbus and Winnipeg for the league’s most undesirable city.
And while “the roof, the roof, the roof ISN’T on fire,” this franchise also desires a new arena too, as they feel that their iconic Saddledome is no longer suitable.
What a mess.
29) How will the Kraken respond to reality?
It doesn’t seem like franchise #32, following their century-mark of points in the regular season and then playoff upset of the Colorado Avalanche last year, will be returning to the postseason this year.
And that’s okay.
At the end of the day, I think everyone realizes what franchise #31 did, the Vegas Golden Knights, was an anomaly – and where many learning lessons were learnt around the league.
For the Kraken, and despite their successful second season in existence, they have taken the brunt of those lessons – and as was evident from day one – when not one general manager made a trade with the new franchise during their inception draft.
While I do question a lot in Seattle (why they named Mark Giordano as captain was always silly to me – as everyone knew that he’d eventually be traded in-season), for the Krakheads, it’s all about building for the future – and not worrying about the now.
30) Will the Oilers make the playoffs?
Following a wretched start, both due to a Connor McDavid injury and the usual problem – shoddy goaltending (projected starter Jack Campbell is now in the AHL); head coach Jay Woodcroft became the first coach canned this season.
Woodcroft was then immediately replaced by a McDavid Man, Kris Knoblauch – and now formerly of the Hartford Wolfpack.
Presently, the Oilers are seven-points back of a playoff spot – but that’s not too much ground to make up when you consider that the Coyotes and Predators are the two wild-card teams.
And for a team like Edmonton, it’s all about what they do in the playoffs – and not what seed they enter the tournament with.
31) Why can’t the Ducks win?
At one point in the season, Frank Vatrano was leading the league in goals, while goaltender John Gibson was experiencing a renaissance in net.
But after that, and despite all of the young talent in Disneyland, this franchise, now under general manager Pat Verbeek, can’t win.
If it weren’t for the San Jose Sharks, who opened the season at 0-10-1, then the Ducks would be the worst team in this division.
This team has talent, but even with new head coach Greg Cronin, no one seems to have the answer on how to put it all together.
32) Will David Quinn ever coach a contender?
I don’t know if David Quinn was ever really on the hot-seat, but at 0-10-1 to open the season, and then flirting with becoming the worst team in NHL history – you’d have to think that general manager Mike Grier was considering such an idea.
Everyone knows that this is Year 2 in the Sharks’ plan to suck ass.
But following their horrific start, the Sharks have turned it around a bit – although really – how could they be any worse?
The only way it could be worse?
If the Sharks don’t land the first-overall pick during the 2024 Draft Lottery.
33) Who will be next?
If all of the rumors and scuttlebutt is true, then perhaps by this time next year, we’ll know who Team #33 is, as presently, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Quebec City and Kansas City have expressed interest.
Ditto Houston – although there is potential that the Coyotes may relocate there, should their never-ending attempts to find a home come up empty-handed – again.
Of the four cities above, all of them, sans Salt Lake City, are previously failed markets – and in the case of Atlanta – a two-time loser.
But of course, a lot has changed in the ATL ever since the Thrashers became the Jets 2.0 – and for what it’s worth, it’s been working in the ‘Peg.
Quebec City is the same old problem – you need a rich French-Canadian willing to incur major losses. Without such a person, then it’s hard to envision a return of the Nordiques.
Kansas City, devoid of a franchise ever since the Scouts eventually became the Devils (there was a stop-over in Colorado too), doesn’t seem realistic, especially since it’s been teased ever since the late 1990s (the money-losing Islanders were always one of the teams rumored to relocate to Missouri).
Salt Lake City has a ton of potential, especially with an owner willing to spend up to a billion bucks to get his franchise – and due to the city being a cold-weather city too.
But whatever city gets the next NHL franchise, you can take this to the bank:
We’ll see a thirty-third team soon enough, unbalanced divisions be damned – as even with the attendance problems in the sunbelt – Bettman and company will never say no to an expansion franchise fee.
See ya late Saturday night, with a Rangers vs Capitals GAME REVIEW.
PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)
My fourth title and tenth book is now available for preorder!
“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for preorder.
For complete information, please visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/rangerkillers/
My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”
As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:
For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.
My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.
To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/
To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”
The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!
“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.
All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.
To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com
To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
NYR/OTT 12/5 Review: Don’t Fret – Despite the FIRST-PLACE Rangers Losing Their Worst Game Yet, M$GN Broadcast A Complete Horror; Senator Sammy, Muzzle Micheletti and Sieve “I DID THIS HANK” Vagistat Worse Than the Loss; Rangers’ PP Issues, Lavy, Panarin Continues to Burn Toast; Mika The Ghost, Tarasenk-Show Reaudition, CZAR IGOR Flailing-and-Floundering & More
NYR/SJS 12/3 Review: The Bakery Is Open On Sundays! Breadman Bakes Hat Trick in the Rangers’ Latest “Find-A-Way” Victory; JONNY HOCKEY Maximizing His Minutes Too, MILLER TIME = GWG, Time for a “Breakaway” Coach, Cuylle Hand Luke, Conspiracy Theories, Fourth Line Beasts, M$GN, Kakko Who & More
NYR/NSH 12/2 Review: LAVY’S LINE BLENDER Produces a Four-Goal Concoction; Good Game in Nashville For the Eye-talians & Americans, The Non-Stop Hysteria Over Cash Grab Jerseys, Report Card, Quick Talks Allaire, Trocheck, Fox & Brodzinski Match Kakko’s Season Point Totals in Just One Period, “The Outsiders,” Diehard Jimmy Vesey Fan Susan Sarandon “Canceled” & More
The 2023-24 New York Rangers Quarter-Pole Report Card: The Most Impressive Report Card Yet! Detailed Grades & Reviews of Every Blueshirt, Thoughts at the 25% Mark of the Season, Pertinent League-Leading Stats, Laviolette, Drury & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Don’t forget to order my recently released four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”
If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com
For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Thanks for reading.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine