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.
This could be thought of two ways – the NHL has reached the 80th percentile on their way through the regular season… or the NHL is really playing at about 80% overall right now.
In truth, it’s both.
This article was all set to run Monday morning… as in Monday the 19th of April. Sunday the 18th was supposed to be Colorado Avalanche game number 45, the benchmark for roughly 80% through the regular season.
The Avalanche finally reached the 50% mark, actually a game over as they dominated the Wild yesterday afternoon with a 6-0 victory. Yes it is half the season – even if the Stars have only played 26 games and a few teams are at game 34. The Stars are in Dallas which is in Texas which believes COVID is a Democratic conspiracy done in conjunction with China.
Halftime. You sure? Those of who are observant of hockey, there is no halftime in a game. I once took a date to a Blackhawks game and at the end of the first period, she asked me “Is it halftime?” In hindsight it would have been easy to explain to her the game is divided up in thirds, but I just stared at her. Thusly the conversation went as such: “Is this halftime?”
“It is, right? Let’s go get snacks.”
“Actually, it’s the end of the first period. There is no halftime in hockey.”
“You’re an asshole.”
Couldn’t blame her. The stare was a little harsh. But the date was not going well anyway. Let’s move along, much as I did after that date.
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.
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?
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.
Life is complicated enough right now. COVID is nowhere near slowing down, mostly thanks to the minions who believe it’s a hoax. There are more than 150,000 people who would love to debate those residents of Idiocracy if they could but they can’t, as they died.
Now we have sports making a comeback… of sorts. In a quick breeze let’s rush through what’s up before we get into the nitty gritty dirt band of details for the NHL playoff system.
Eastern Conference teams in the playoffs if the season were to end today (in order seeds 1-8): Boston Bruins, Tamp Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets.
Western Conference teams in the playoffs if the season were to end today (in order seeds 1-8): St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators.
It is superficial, all of it. As you know by now, the season has ended… or at least halted… due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. There are no sports – none. NBA? Done. Premier League? Over. XFL? No. MLB spring training? Terminated.
And while we are lamenting the loss, the potential loss of small businesses is alarming.
Hey motherpuckers, we are back! The NHL All-Star game has come and gone, and each team’s odd seven-to-ten-day break is over. This is the time of the season when the NBA catches up to the NHL in terms of games played. It’s not weird, it’s just a matter of activity. Basketball has a lot of running, but the uniforms don’t carry weight. An NHL player is loaded with game armor, plus skating takes more effort than running, therefore they have more time between games. NHL season starts earlier, but the NBA always catches up.
Now that your February sports lesson is over, let’s take a look at where the NHL stands at their two-tirds mark in the season. Finally, my yard marker team, the Colorado Avalanche and you know well by now, has reached game 55, posting a magnificent shut-out 3-0 win against the Senators… then losing to the Capitals last night – FUUDDGE.. Where does that leave them in the standings? No, no, no my skate-loving friends, we check out the Eastern conference first.
Shall we take a look at who won’t make the playoffs first? Let’s do that. As predicted at the halfway point, the Detroit Red Wings are not disappointing me in their failure to do anything this season. They’re fortunate they can remember how to lace up skates, let alone play hockey. The others? We have the New Jersey Devils, who used to be the Colorado Rockies… and may as well have been the baseball Colorado Rockies the way they’re playing… and the aforementioned Ottawa Senators… who the Colorado Avalanche just shut out. To complete this trifecta of tenuous relationships between the bottom three and the Avalanche, let’s harken back to when the Dead Wings were good and the Avalanche cared enough to hate them. Sit back, have a Stroh’s or a Coors, and enjoy this clip. If the link doesn’t work, just type in ‘Patrick Roy vs Mike Vernon” and that’ll get you there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7LZbJhi6Fo
Oh and BTW, we are going to add one more team. I believe it is time to knock on the arena door of the Buffalo Sabres and let them know the climb to get into the playoffs is too steep for them at this point so forget about it. They’ve sunk like a rock since the halfway point, going from the 8th spot down to 13th. Zoinks, Scoob! As for the rest…
Hello hockey fans! We’re now sitting – more for some teams, less for others – at the halfway point of the season as the Avalanche, my yard marker team, has just played their 41st game. They beat the pants off the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues, BTW. A 7-3 iceberg crasher.
I’ll try to build upon the Tirty Tree and a Tird Percentage report and see where how our playoff teams would be set up if we were to end the season right now.
OK, let’s toss a wrench in this. Before we actually look at current playoff teams, let’s cut out the ones that – unless there’s a huge ice floe having never occurred before in this league – have no chance of making the playoffs. Buh-bye any teams under 40 points for the season: Ottawa, New Jersey and the team that, if there were such a thing as being bumped into a lesser league ought to be – the Detroit Red Wings. Good Lord of the two-line pass they are awful. Normally a team stands a chance of making the playoffs if they can get to 90 points. At the 50% mark, the Dead Wings are at 23 points. Historically awful.
On to the playoff-making teams. Last time we checked in, the Eastern Conference playoff teams at the third mark stood at: Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and the Buffalo Sabres.
Well, hockey fans, let me tell you, at the halfway point the Easter Conference leaders are: