I thought I’d take a big giant step onto a frozen pond and take a look into the NHL playoffs. After all, they started two days go. Perfect timing… except the NHL, while starting Round 1 of the playoffs is STILL MAKING TEAMS FINISH THE SEASON WHO DIDN’T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS.
Seriously, CAPS is the only way I can make a statement here. This is so blindingly stupid I cannot even put it into words other than MAKING THEM ALL CAPS. The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, two teams who haven’t been in any contention whatsoever to snag any playoff spot in the Scotia North division since, I don’t know, mid-March, have two regular season games left. The play tonight and tomorrow. This is going on DURING ROUND 1 OF THE PLAYOFFS.
Does this make any sense? Is it me? Have the NHL brass been playing pond hockey without helmets again? Traditionally – well hell let’s just throw tradition right out the window into a snowdrift shall we – the playoffs begin when the season ends. Every single major sport does it this way. Why you may ask? So the entire focus is on the playoffs and not wondering how the bottom tier teams are going to do tonight and what impact it has on their draft slot. WHO CARES?! NO ONE!
By the time the season ends for the Flames and Canucks, four of the first-round matchups will be done with Game 2 of their respective series. This is so incomprehensibly stupid I cannot get my head around it SO I JUST HAVE TO USE CAPS.
Sigh. Deep breath. STUPID. Try again,. Sigh. Deep breath. Meditate. Don’t think. Let it go. Frozen. Frozen. Canada. Flames. Canucks. DAMMIT. I’ll be back.
I probably should have divided up like periods and done thirds, but as promised I waited until the Avalanche reached game 12, aka 25%ish, to file a report on how the NHL season is going. Twelve games. The season started in early January so my math would have the Avalanche playing game 12 on February 4th. Nope – make that February 14th.
Why the delay? COVID. Five games postponed. I guess since they played Game 12 on Valentine’s Day COVID now stands for Colorado Valentine’s Isolation Day.
On another aspect, isolation made sense. The morning temperature on V-Day was a whopping -6˚F at my place. Deep freeze people, deep freeze. COVID has thrown the whole schedule into a blizzard. I wish it were a Dairy Queen one which actually sounds kind of good and my local DQ stays open until midnight and is the size of a Culver’s which is crazy, but alas that is a negative. How is the schedule playing out you ask? Bwa, Ha and Ha. The Vancouver Canucks have played 18 games, the Avalanche 12. The New Jersey Devils? 9.
Perhaps the word ‘love’ is a bit of a stretch. It wasn’t as if I hated the concocted “pre-playoffs” like she was a girlfriend who married the next person they dated after me. The playoffs, COVID-delayed or not, are perpetual. I have only had the woman I dated marry the next person they dated six times, and one of them decided to ‘curve their stick’ and shoot a bit differently, if you know what I mean.
Now the hoopla and fanfare, yes both occurred in the past couple weeks, of both the ‘Round Robin’ and the ‘Pre-Qualifying Round’ has officially exited the ice. Ergo we now have legit playoffs, so let’s take a look at who’s left for the next round. Apparently the NHL has now decided to call the next round the First Round, and I am okay with that. Essentially this means the NHL is now officially smarter than those college guys at the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament (hey remember that? It’s like nostalgia at this point). They convince themselves the play-in games are actually the first round. DUMB.
Did I say “let’s take a look at who’s left?’ I did. Not yet. Just a solid reminder the NHL teams are going nowhere. The Eastern Conference is still playing their games in Toronto at the venerable Scotiabank Arena. The Scotiabank Arena is like the United Center of the North. It’s nice, relatively new, but not a legendary place like Madison Square Garden (which BTW is not a square shape – who knew?). The Western Conference teams are still stuck in Edmonton and play their games at Rogers Place. Same deal. Nice, and kind of like an Olive Garden of arenas… without the breadsticks.
A full third of the way through the 2019-2020 season. I waited as patiently as a Zamboni smoothing ice for the Colorado Avalanche to get to game 27 of the season. Yes, technically game 27 is 32.9 percent of the season, but game 28 leaves you at 34.1 percent so as that mediocre politician and awful (I assume) hockey player Mick Mulvaney stated, ‘deal with it.’
Plus, a lot of the other teams have reached game 28. The Red Wings have reached game 30, a blessing for them to get this season as far in their past as possible as fast as they can. Good St. Joseph the Crosschecker they are awful.
Okay, so we are 20% through the season. Yes, as of this writing there are a few stragglers who have yet to reach the 20% mark… and there are a few teams over it. That’s scheduling for you. Hockey players need well-deserved breaks between games. It’s a brutal sport on one’s body, yet of course there is majesty to watching men on ice dazzle with their skating skills but still be able to smoke an opponent into the boards for merely sneering at them.
You may recall, well I am sure you will because EVERYONE READS this well-put together report, and my hockey knowledge is nearly as good as the Bantum-level hockey kid across the street, that the 10% report went sort of like this:
Hockey is violent ballet; grace and guts. And yes, if you’re skating on the same thin ice I am, The Nutcracker would sell more tickets if we knew sometime during the Sugar Plum Fairy one of the dancers would get crosschecked.
Okay, we’re around the 10% mark of the season. No, there was not a 0% report as a) zero means no games have been played, and b) no one wants to be a zero. What you’re going to see here is a breakdown of each team so far by conference and who’s going to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup based upon the current standings. Let’s go East first.