A Closer Look At: Coaching

By:
McLellan-homepage-061709

Since this years playoffs have begun, the teams that have found themselves on the outside looking in suddenly find themselves with a host of questions that need answering.  Invariably, the question that usually gets asked first is, “Do we continue with the current head coach?”  Now I’m sure we all are used to the usual media tropes surrounding coaches.  Such nuggets like; “He has lost the room.”  “He wasn’t a players coach.” Etc.  Further to that, you ultimately cannot replace an entire team (yes I know another cliche), especially in a salary cap league like the NHL.  The thing I’m wondering is, how can a coach be so valuable and expendable at the exact same time?

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A Closer Look At: League Parity

By:
hi-res-171596192_crop_north

The race to the Playoffs has been undeniably interesting this year.  As we enter into the waning days of this season, fans of the NHL are being treated to a photo finish.  I can’t remember the last time that there have been this many teams in play for the final spots in the post-season tournament.  As of this writing, there are 8 teams fighting for the final spots in the East (5 teams) and West (3 Teams).  The ramifications that these final games will have on their respective markets is significant.  Especially when you consider that some of the ‘Big Boys’ of the league now find their season in peril.

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A Closer Look At: Races to Watch

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NHL Scoring Race

Well here we are, little more than a week and half until the culmination of the 2014-15 NHL season. It has been an interesting season to say the least.  Some teams and players have emerged, while others have taken a step back.  While not every team or player are playing for the Playoffs down the stretch, there are still some interesting and tight races.

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A Closer Look At: NHL Events

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NHL Events

The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone again.  If you look at the month leading into the Trade Deadline this year there were a total of 47 trades made with 89 NHL and AHL players moved (some of them moved twice in that month) along with 50 draft picks (roughly, because some of them were listed as the dubious “future considerations”).  That is a lot of movement, and considering the caliber of some of the players being moved, one could argue one of the more interesting and exciting Trade Deadlines in recent history.  The only thing is, much of that movement happened in the weeks leading up to the Deadline, and not actually at the Deadline.  Although you want to leave GMs to do their job as they see fit, I can’t help but think of the lost entertainment value here.

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A Closer Look At: Media Responsibility

By:
Kessel

Yesterday, before the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Florida Panthers, Phil Kessel unleashed a rant unto the masses.  At around 11:30 am he apparently called over the media and said,  “I’m disappointed today, I think the way the media treats Dion Phaneuf in this city is embarrassing. A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves. I’m embarrassed for them. I don’t think anyone deserves to be treated like that.”  There was much more to it than that, but these couple of sentences really do sum up what was on Kessel’s mind.  Many of the sports talk show’s were all over this topic today.  At the heart of the argument was the notion that the media is really starting to go too far in its analysis of players.  I admit that as a fan, I started to question just what it is that I am looking for from the media in terms of hockey analysis.

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Are the Washington Capitals This Decades Red Wings?

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2015-02-16 11_39_31-A Closer Look At_ Are the Washington Capitals This Decades Red Wings_ _ Beer Lea

I was recently watching the Washington Capitals, and the experience was considerably different than it has been the last couple of years.  While the Capitals are a similar team in the sense of personnel, they have clearly experienced a shift in organizational philosophy.  They are a team that has become much more defensively responsible.  I’m sure this has a lot to do with the additions of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, as well as the coaching of Barry Trotz.  Nonetheless, I thought I would look a little deeper into Washington’s recent performance, in comparison to seasons’ past.

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The Ramblings of a Delusional Fan

By:
Delusional Fan

In terms of how the Flyers season has gone, the team has genuinely turned a corner.  They have won eight of their last twelve and have won four in a row.  On top of that they have been playing a much better brand of hockey lately.  They seem to either finally understand, or have at least bought into the systems that Coach Craig Berube has them playing.  As well, they have been hanging with some of the NHL’s better teams (Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington).  That certainly sounds like a recipe for success.  So I have found myself suddenly optimistic about the stretch drive to the end of the season.  The question is, am I being realistic?

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At the NHL Halfway Mark: If the season ended today…

By:
The Stanley Cup NHL

Writer’s Note:  This article is going to focus on the League at the completion of 41 games.  Technically, that was achieved about a week and a half ago, but I figured the All-Star Break was a good a time as any to focus on and make these predictions.  Enjoy!

Well here we are, the All-Star Break.  A good a time as any to look back and reflect upon the season we have had thus far.  About a month and a half ago, I wrote an article focusing on what teams would be in the NHL playoffs at that point in the season (after each team had completed 20 games).  Well here we are, 21 games later, the NHL halfway mark. Within the first article, I discussed how much the hockey media seemed to set the American Thanksgiving as an unofficial D-Day for the teams inside and out of the playoff picture.  Although there seems to be quite a bit of truth to that assertion (75% of the teams have returned), the fact that there is now 4 new teams included in the dance makes for an interesting race down the stretch.  Well, here are the standings at the Halfway Mark:

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A Closer Look At: The Holiday Roster Freeze

By:
Fan dressed up as Santa at Hockey Game

The NHL season has a number of checkpoints every.  I would like to think that they are creations of the Fan Engagement Department (not an actual department) to help drum up publicity and headlines every year.  Some of the events have a significant effect on the league, and more or less drive the league and each of its teams in various directions (the Entry Draft and Free Agency).  While others seem to be creations to help along the hockey media (The Trade Deadline and the Holiday Roster Freeze).  For those of us that follow hockey on a day to day basis, the “rumours” that begin shortly thereafter American Thanksgiving are as much a hallmark of the Christmas Season as Christmas Carols being played in department stores on November 1 (if you live in Canada).  The Holiday Roster Freeze has always struck me as a fascinating anomaly in during the NHL season.

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A Closer Look At: Winning and Losing Streaks

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Predators v. Leafs Score

On Tuesday November 18, 2014 the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Nashville Predators 9-2.  I know this because I live in the GTA.  The next day, the sports media in the area was almost unlistenable.  “Carlyle likely to be fired after this weekend.” “Carlyle has lost the room.”  “What kind of Captain is Phaneuf?” yadda….yadda…yadda.  Admittedly losing 9-2 to any team in hockey is an embarrassing situation.  One of the more common idioms for a blowout of that sort is that the team, “lost by a touchdown.”  It was a fantastic loss in every sense, but one without the benefit of a crystal ball.  If anyone would have known then what they know now, would anyone have really been so upset.  As of Sunday December 14, 2014, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on the hottest winning streak in the NHL at 8-1-1.  Funny how a month changes things.

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