Lace Them Up – The 2021 NHL Season Preview

Apparently the Zambonis have all been finally fixed and are able to smooth the ice so the NHL can begin their season January 13th. Luckily the 13th is not a Friday, but it may as well be. Yeah I know, it’s not the Zambonis’ fault they haven’t started the season. It was NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s fault. Fine, it was COVID… or how best to navigate COVID. But, Bettman is such an awful commissioner he’s always the person to point at for NHL problems.

Last year, as you may recall it since the season just ended in the middle of September, the Tampa Bay Lightning took home Lord Stanley’s Cup. It’s so 2020 to have a team that never has any ice outside of its arena claim the Cup.

Yeah, I know. That was so last Fall. So who’s going to hoist the Cup this year… whenever the season ends given the specter of COVID? The season is slated for 56 games, roughly 2/3rds of a normal season. But for the NHL, 56 games is enough to determine who should make the playoffs and who shouldn’t since nearly every team makes the playoffs anyway. A full 16 out of 31 teams make the playoffs. Next year it’ll be a full 50% as the Seattle Kraken are coming. Damn it I love that name.

A side note: before we get into the deep chasms of ice and hand out predictions easier than a dirty carny hands out tainted sno-cones, we have a couple rule changes to go over.

Number 1 – Offsides is now determined to not occur until the offensive players last skate completely crosses the blue line. Ergo, if a skater’s foot is in the air, but still behind or above the line when the puck completely crosses the blue line, he is onside. I am dubbing this the “phantom foot” as I can envision a lot of extended time being allotted while the NHL replay monitors in Toronto spend minutes drinking Labatt’s and deciding if the foot was or wasn’t over as it hovers in frozen time threatening to cross it.

Number 2 – the Colorado Avalanche are allowed to play with an extra attacker the entire season.

Fine, the second one doesn’t exist. It should though. It’s only fair as their goalie situation is still as shaky as spring pond hockey. That’s the reason why they didn’t make it to the final and soundly whip that team from the south. Should I go on with my predictions? Isn’t that enough?

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Miss – Won’t Miss – a list for the Prairie State

Three quick notes before I get on a roll here. One, I’ll miss a lot of people and there are so many I won’t name them. Note two? Well, COVID took a lot of what I’ll miss and that’s fucking sad. Note three – oh yeah, I moved to Colorado, hence the list.

MISS

Going to Art Galleries, especially Tony Fitzpatrick’s The Dime. Those were some nice nights and Saturdays – fuck COVID.

Driving to Rockford, etc with Steve Marshall to Open Mics even when he can’t fucking see half the time at night and he’s a prop comic who’s got an apartment full of stuff to take. Goddamn funny though.

Meeting at 6AM at Cesaroni’s Deli in Woodstock to watch the Tottenham Hotspur – the brothers Cesaroni open up, we buy lots of coffee and sammiches and yell at the TV.

Theatre and being a reviewer for the Northwest Herald – I got paid in tickets and that was perfectly fine… until COVID shit all over that. FU COVID. Speaking of theater…

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NHL Playoffs are on and now I Love Them

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.

And what teams are not remaining?

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NHL: The Tirty-Tree & a Tird report

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.

I’ll try to build upon the 20 percent report and see where how our playoff teams would be set up if we were to end the season right now. Continue reading “NHL: The Tirty-Tree & a Tird report”

NHL: The 20% report

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:

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The NHL at 10%

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.

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