NHL Picks – Dec. 23rd, 2017

I flat out forgot to do these last week.  No reason, no excuse, it just completely slipped my mind.  Now, maybe I should quit!  2-3 the last time out, 2-2-1 the week before that, and then a run of 6-15-1 is what proceeded that.  So I’m not that great at picking NHL games the last six weeks or so!  But, either I’m an idiot or stubborn….maybe it’s both.  Anyway, 21-24-2 on the season, which as much as I play the victim here it’s actually not that bad.  One good night and I’m .500 again….just like the Oilers.

 

Minnesota at Tampa Bay

Over 6 (+105)

The Lightning are one of those teams where it’s just always wise to take the over.  You have Alex Stalock coming back down to earth after a few good starts and he’s on the second half of a back to back, obviously the rest of the squad is as well, and the Wild aren’t playing too buttoned up of late allowing four goals in each of their last three games.  So at +105, I love the over here.

 

Ottawa at Florida

Senators +110

Something called a Harri Sateri will start in goal tonight for the Panthers.  I’m not sure if that’s the same as a shooter tutor, but we’ll soon find out.  I’m not trusting a Harri Sateri to win me a hockey game, especially if my team is on the second half of back to backs as the Panthers are.  And the Sens are on their last legs before Pierre Dorian blows it all up.  They’re pretty much in must win mode from here until the trade deadline.  I feel the Sens are the better team, and will have the better goaltender tonight, so I like them to take this one.

 

Nashville at Dallas

Predators +115

Preds have lost two straight, but the fact of the matter remains that this is the best club in the West right now, and I’m getting them at +115 against a Stars club which has been very inconsistent all season?  Earlier in the month the Preds walked into Dallas and smoked the Stars 5-2.  It’s just too good of odds to not take the Preds in this spot.

 

St. Louis at Vancouver

Blues -1.5 (+215)

BIG odds here, but I really like it.  The Canucks are lost without Bo Horvat in the lineup.  They were already banged up pretty good with him, now without him it’s 90 year old Henrik Sedin and nothing else down the middle.  Then you have the Blues coming off three straight loses on the Canadian prairies, so you have to think they’ll be the more desperate team tonight.  So you got a desperate and more talented team, I really like rolling the dice here and picking the Blues to triple your money.

 

St. Louis at Vancouver

Over 5.5 (+105)

The Canucks are bleeding goals right now.  In regulation time in their last six games they’ve given up five, seven, three, six, seven, and four.  That’s what they’ve given up, and to win this one at better than doubling your money the over is only six.  They’ve hit six or more in seven straight games.  So definitely take the over here.

 

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Hot Takes – Dec. 11th, 2017

Last week was all Canadian, so this week I’ll sort through some of the U.S. teams who are making some noise one way or another (and of course I’ll get to the Oilers as I always do), and I’ll start in Vegas where I’m waiving the white flag and saying that the Golden Knights are for real and are going to make the playoffs….how’s that for a hot take?

 

It’s not because I feel this team is THAT good, I don’t feel like this team is that good.  I’m guessing next season it all comes crashing down for them.  But it’s becoming clear to me that this season they’re now buying their own BS.  And I said this when I did my picks on Saturday, when that starts to happen with these teams who are having season’s which are unattainable, you can simply throw the analytics on them out the window.  Because they start playing so confidently that they’re difficult to beat!  If a guy fucks up, who cares!?  They feel like they’ll get a bounce to make up for it.  Guys aren’t ever gripping their sticks, they’re buying everything the coaches are preaching, it just all starts coming together.  I don’t believe Marc-Andre Fleury returning this week is going to have much of an impact on the team one way or another, because this team just simply has a belief now that it’s going to bounce their way.  I like analytics, but I’m more of a believer in psychology.  Once teams have this kind of psychological advantage that the Golden Knights have, it just doesn’t seem to let up.

 

Perhaps the exact opposite of the Golden Knights are the Carolina Hurricanes.  Coming into the season, I was sky high on the Canes.  Most people were, they were the darling of the pre-season prognostications.  And it just hasn’t happened for them.  You can do everything right as an organization, but if you don’t have a few guys a team can rally around then it’s tough to win consistently.  Jacob Slavin, real nice young D-man, same with Noah Hanifin, but neither of these guys can carry a team just yet.  Scott Darling was a smart pickup, but mentally it’s just a big difference when the pressure is on to be the number one guy for a team.  In Chicago, even in the 2015 playoffs when he filled in for Corey Crawford, he really didn’t have much pressure on him.  Up front, they lack any kind of big offensive threats.  A lot of real good forwards, but none of them are stars.  Ron Francis is easily the most underrated GM in the league right now, but he’s going to have to get after it on the trade front and turn some of that ridiculous depth into a few big time players.

 

How is it that the Hurricanes are unequivocally staying in Raleigh?!  In markets like Miami and Phoenix, I get it.  They’re among the biggest TV markets in the United States, and you pray that someday both of those organizations get their shit together and they can put not only winners on the ice, but entertaining winners on the ice.  That would be huge for the league.  But Gary Bettman comes out this week and declares that the Hurricanes won’t be leaving Raleigh?!?  I just do not get it in the slightest.  And I’m not intending to shit on the fans who showed up for their playoff runs in 02, 06 and 09 at all.  Those were great crowds, but the reality is that those crowds only show up for the playoffs.  Most nights it’s bleak crowds, and with the team struggling yet again I just don’t know how long the league can justify this to the NHLPA.  The Hurricanes in Quebec would make a lot of money, even at their worst.  Now I do believe that the league is going to put a team in Quebec City, because I don’t believe Quebec City would have green lit their arena without some sort of guarantee that they’ll receive a franchise within a certain time frame.  Remember, Winnipeg rumours first started up in 2004, and they didn’t get a team until 2011.  So it could be a while yet, but I really believe they’ll be getting one eventually.

 

Meanwhile, it’s a guarantee a team is going to Seattle.  I laugh at the fact that the league tries to claim that it’s no guarantee.  They have to say that, I get it, but oh hell yes it’s a guarantee.  The league wants Seattle more than Seattle wants the league!  The 20-21 season is when the Key Arena will be ready?  Then that’s when the Seattle Emeralds (credit goes to Walter McLaughlin for that one with his piece on potential Seattle team nicknames which you can read here: https://thehockeywriters.com/10-names-new-seattle-nhl-franchise ) will enter the NHL.  I’m guessing it’ll be tougher for them to win out of the gate like the Golden Knights have.  Second time around, GM’s will be planning for the 2020 expansion draft beginning this off-season, and you won’t see nearly as many teams unprepared as were for that one.  The only question left for the league is what to do with Houston?  I don’t see how the league can turn Houston down.  I mean, they can, but we all know Bettman.  No chance they’ll look the other way!  Is it as easy as moving the Coyotes there?  Or will they continue to force feed hockey to the people of Phoenix while moving a team like the Islanders to Houston?

 

Getting back to the on ice stuff, and I spoke earlier about the Hurricanes having disappointed this season.  If they have disappointed, then I’m not sure what you’d say the Buffalo Sabres have done.  I mean, they haven’t disappointed me, I thought Jason Botterill did an awful job this past off-season and didn’t see them going anywhere.  Didn’t like their draft despite Casey Mittelstadt looking good, Jack Eichel really seems like a total jack ass (pardon the pun), they’ve got nothing that great on the blueline after Rasmus Ristolainen, and while they’re going to have a lot of cap space this off-season, who wants to go there?  Even if Jack Eichel is playing to his potential nobody is going to want to play with that kid.  It is what Edmonton would have been had they not won McDavid.  Scary.  And it’s a damn shame too because Buffalo is one of the few good American markets.  When they’re good, their fans are out in full force and that building is tough to play in.

 

Does anyone SERIOUSLY buy the St.Louis Blues?  A 6-1 win Saturday afternoon in Detroit, then a win last night at home against the aforementioned Sabres, and they’re the top team in the West with 44 points (tied with Tampa for first overall but the Lightning have a couple games in hand), but it is the exact same feel with them that I had last season with Columbus and Minnesota.  Everything looks good, but you just know that they aren’t going anywhere this season.  Brayden Schenn, great story, but he’s not a number one centre.  He’s having a “Shawn Horcoff” type run where he’s a good two way centre who is thriving because of who his wingers are.  Horcoff had Ales Hemsky, and those of you who aren’t Oilers fans might forget just how great Hemsky was.  Schenn has Vladdy Tarasenko, and all of you know just how great Tarasenko is.  It’s a team without a hole on the roster, but I don’t like any of their high end guys to take them anywhere, they have a lot of good but nothing great.  Jake Allen, he’s fine.  I don’t think he’s an elite goaltender.  Alex Pietrangelo, I’ve always been a big fan.  But he’s not an elite D-man.  Tarasenko, one of the best wingers in hockey.  But teams built around wingers never win.  Mike Yeo?  He’s just a middle of the road coach despite what the media will currently tell you that he all of a sudden has become Scotty Bowman 2.0.  So while it’s cute that they’re battle for top spot in the Central…and the West…and the league, I’d be really surprised if they went passed the 2nd round of the playoffs barring acquiring a John Tavares or someone else elite like that.  I’ll take Nashville, I’d still take Chicago, and I would maybe even take Winnipeg over them in a playoff series.

 

And from the top of the West, to damn near the bottom of the West as the clock ticks down on the Edmonton Oilers season.  They played great this weekend, but the Toronto games are why you can’t walk away from playing teams like Buffalo and Philly without even a point, nor an effort.  Four times this season this hockey club very clearly had the attitude of “this will be a layup”, and those were games against Detroit, Philly, Buffalo and Arizona.  They lost three of them, and only by a massive fluke did they get two points from the Coyotes.  Look, at worse I still think they’re going to be in the midst of the race before this season is done.  The only question for me is how seriously they’ll be in the race.  Four points out at the trade deadline?  As much as that may look ok, that’s not really that serious.  Hell, that would only be making up four points from now until the end of February!  It’s just such a tough league to gain ground in.  But I’ve said this lots lately and I’ll say it again, the one thing to hang your hat on as an Oilers fan is that they haven’t played much against the West, and especially against the Pacific division, and the Pacific division is awful.  I know I just wrote about how the Golden Knights are making the playoffs, but if I’m in the Oilers room, I’m not buying into them.  Now with Bo Horvat out in Vancouver, expect them to start coming back down to earth.  The Ducks still won’t have Getzlaf or Kesler for a few more weeks, and once they’re back I’m still not sure how much of an impact they’ll have.  The Kings are looking terrific, but the Oilers matchup great against them, and the same goes for the Sharks.  So when you start adding up all the four point swing games they have, and when you look at their division record from last year, I still don’t think you can say they’re done.  Don’t get me wrong, if I’m given 50/50 odds, I’m betting against them missing the playoffs.  And this is the week which could finish them off.  At Columbus, home to Nashville and at Minnesota.  They aren’t good against any of these teams.  Glass half full?  The Preds will be on the second half of a back to back, and the Wild could very well start Alex Stalock on Saturday saving Dubnyk for a bigger game against the Blackhawks the next night in Chicago.  Columbus?  Well, I really believe that’s an L.  Even if they play the way they did over the weekend, they just don’t matchup well at all with the Blue Jacekets, and the goaltending matchup in particular won’t be remotely close.

 

I’m going to add this part on because I don’t know if it’s worth a whole blog, but while I’m talking Oilers, one thing nobody wants to hear…but it’s really true, is that this team is so very well setup moving forward.  And I know, if you’ve read my stuff just about every season I talk about how well setup the Oilers are, because they have been!  It’s not my fault that management has pissed so many years of that away, but it still remains the case.  No doubt, this will go down as the most disappointing season in Edmonton Oilers history should they miss the playoffs.  But it’s not like the decade of darkness and in particular 2010-2016 where they were a laughing stock.  The cap going up next season will allow Peter Chiarelli to keep all the key pieces in place.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is of course the main piece we are really speaking of when talking about keeping all the key pieces in place.  He is looking like the high end centre we all knew he was, and I still firmly believe he’s not done growing as a player.  He’s just now getting his offensive confidence back.  Once it’s all the way there I believe he’ll go to yet another level.  Darnell Nurse as I hit on in a blog last week is developing into a legitimate number one defenceman.  It’s too early to call him that just yet, but he’s been playing like one for much of the season to date.  With Jesse Puljujarvi it’s the same thing.  All that potential and since he’s been called up you can just see his game and confidence growing at a rapid rate.  He’s got Rick Nash type upside, so even hitting half of that is going to be huge for this club.  Before the season began, these were three of the kids I wrote about being vital for this organization and all three look to be on the exact path the team needs them to be on.  And it’s not just those three, the prospect pool is rich too.  I don’t know if many of the kids have a ton of trade value just yet, but guys like Tyler Benson, Ostap Safin, and especially Kirill Maksimov are thriving, and I don’t need to tell anyone how badly this club is going to need help on the wings moving forward.  Maksimov in particular, man that kid has a bullet of a shot.  Whether you’re talking about his one timer or his wrist shot which has almost no back swing.  That kid is a pure sniper, and should he make it, he’s going to live off McDavid feeds on the PP.  Point being here, it’s so very far from a bleak situation, it’s just a very shitty and extremely disappointing season to this point.  I don’t think it would stun anyone if they miss the playoffs this year, and then in the spring of 2019 they’re in the Stanley Cup final.  It’s just a damn shame that we all have to go through this season after it looked so damn promising entering the year.  This fan base sure doesn’t deserve it YET AGAIN.

 

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NHL Picks – Dec. 9th, 2017

By my standards, a .500 week.  2-2-1.  But technically I had a winning week in that if you bet those games you would have walked away with more money, thanks to Tampa at -1.5 being +170 odds.  So that puts my record this season at 19-21-2.  Lots of time to get well back over .500, and with these picks so many of them you’re winning over double, so had someone used all of these picks this season they likely wouldn’t be down much at all, and makes me feel a lot less shitty at doing this!  I use the term “smart bet” in I believe every write up today, so you’re warned.  I know it’s annoying.  Not as annoying as the fact that the girlfriend wants to go Christmas shopping today.  It’s Saturday, let’s not go places where it’ll be a zoo!  That sounds like the absolute worst.  Maybe if I go, karma will make sure these picks are great, so I’ll take one for the team and go shop.

 

Colorado at Florida

Over 6 (-110)

The Avs went on a run for a bit where they were going under every game.  Five straight games, under 5.5 goals a game.  This was after a 12 game run where they hit seven or more.  Lately, they’re back to that.  Three straight where they’ve hit six or more.  And with James Reimer in net at the other end I believe the smart money has to be on the over here.

 

Edmonton at Montreal

Oilers +135

Oh man, I’m CRINGING at this one!  I cannot stand betting an Oilers game, especially these days.  But I have a rule that I’ve developed which is take teams coming off embarrassments.  The Oilers got humiliated at home to the Flyers, and at least should be desperate.  I stress should be, because this team has their collective heads up their asses most of the time.  The Habs were a hot team since Carey Price returned, but they did lose at home to the Blues, then in OT to the Flames.  The Oilers matchup very well with the Habs too as the Habs don’t have the kind of speed which often gives the Oilers trouble.  I see this one going to OT, and if the Oilers do one thing right it is three on three.  Another little tidbit for this game is the Oilers have played surprisingly well in Montreal.  5-1 in their last six at the Bell Centre.  The Oilers often win in Montreal, and the Habs often win in Edmonton it seems.  So with all that factored into a +135, I HATE calling the Oilers to win, but it is a smart bet to make.

 

NY Islanders at Boston

Over 6 (+100)

I knew this, but didn’t pay attention to it while making my picks until now: The Islanders go over.  Six games into the season, the Islanders were scuffling, and not really scoring.  Since their seventh game of the season, they’ve gone 18-3-1 if the over is six.  18 of 22 games seven goals or more have been scored.  So how can you go against that?  The Bruins are a tighter team defensively, but they can be scored on.  Tuukka Rask is getting the start tonight and he’s not having a great season.  Halak is at the other end, and he’s far from lights out anymore, and then you have the better odds on the over here for some reason.  It seems like so many picks I make these days I lay out a shit load of reasons just like this as to why things should go this way, and then the opposite happens.  Still, theme today is smart money and the smart money here has to be the over.

 

Toronto at Pittsburgh

Under 6 (+110)

YEP!  I believe this is the first time I’ve taken the under in a Leafs game, at least while making my picks.  It’s natural to look at this game and think “over 6, guaranteed”.  The Leafs though have really buttoned it up defensively in the last month.  If you were taking the over at six in their last 12 you’d be 2-8-2.  This is why you have to roll with the punches as the kids say.  The Pens don’t have Matt Murray right now, they’re playing Tristan Jarry, and they’ve hit seven in four of their last five at home, but again I stress that when you’re betting you’re looking for the best odds, not being right.  The under is paying out over double, and the Leafs are playing much tougher defensively these days and not lighting up goaltenders at near the rate they were, so the under is the smart bet to take here.

 

Vegas at Dallas

Stars -1.5 (+155)

I’m almost ready to tap on calling Vegas a fluke.  And they likely will be that come next season, but when you go into Nashville, and comeback from 3-2 down in the third to win, this team is now believing their own BS.  It’s like in 2015 you could see that happen with the Flames.  There just comes a point where it doesn’t matter how much of a fluke the team is (by the numbers), once they start believing they’re going to get the bounces, everyone on the team just starts playing a lot more loose and you start seeing career years all over the place.  Having said all this….they just played in Nashville last night while the Stars are waiting for them.  And the Stars will be ready to go, having lost back to back games to division rivals this week.  On top of all this, it’s Ben Bishop who is lights out at home (awful on the road, but awesome at home) against Maxime Legace in goal.  Smart bet here is definitely the Stars -1.5 paying out at double and a half.

 

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Wake Up Call to Oilers Fans: Darnell Nurse is Going to get PAIIIIID

WARNING: Today’s blog start’s out with a ton of gloating, back patting, and also contains a lot of “F bombs”.  With that being said, let’s begin with me emphatically saying “I TOLD YOU SO”.  People love a guy who announces that he’s told you so.  If I know people, and obviously I do, then the one thing they love is having someone repeatedly throw it in their faces that they were right about something.  The people who didn’t disagree, they love it, and the people who did, they love it even more so.  At least in my dealings with people that has been the case……….

 

Best to put a lot of dots there to enhance the notion that I’m being very sarcastic before someone doesn’t get the joke and sucker punches me the next time they see me.

 

This is from my 2013 mock draft, June 29th, 2013 (remember, the draft was late that season because of the lockout).

 

I see a kid who in 5-10 years could be the best d-man to come out of this 1st round.  Better than Jones and that isn’t a knock on Jones at all, I just think Nurse has THAT much going for him.  High IQ, love that.  Effortless skater, he simply looks like he is gliding around the ice.  Obviously he has the size and will likely be 210-220 once he fills out.  Incredible work ethic as was shown on Sports Centre earlier this week, and while I just made the case for not needing the mean streak fans crave in d-men…Nurse has it.  Scouts worry about his offence, but with his skating and shot I don’t see how it doesn’t come.  Jeff Marek said in an interview with Dan Tencer on Wednesday night that Nurse’s offensive growth was stunted because he hardly saw any PP time this past season.  I really believe this kid has it all and will be a legit number one, a guy you build your team around.

 

He’s been my boy for a long time now.  The first head turner moment for me with Nurse was the Coaches Corner hit from the Stanley Cup final that year.  Until then, I didn’t pay all that much attention to him.  Not that I disliked him at all, but no more than any other draft prospect.  He was the first kid who I noticed doing that segment who had zero nerves while doing it.  He was joking around, giving very well thought out answers to everything Grapes would ask, it legitimately turned me into a massive fan (and you might ask “why is that anything to get excited over?”  Have you seen the kids when they’re doing that segment?  They’re completely terrified 98% of the time).  Because I knew he had all the raw tools already.  But now it was clear he had the IQ to figure out how to improve on any short comings he may have.  And it was after that, when I discovered that he was the OHL scholastic player of the year, so now I’m even higher on him than before, and was all about the Oilers hanging onto that 7th pick that year (which everyone basically was demanding they trade) to take who they ended up taking.

 

And in the years between, I admit I started to have doubts that he could get his game to another level.  I’m going to rip on some analytics guys later in this piece, but I fully respect and pay close attention to the work they do.  It’s not the analytics I dislike, it’s the people who live for them.  But one guy who seems like a beauty and knows his stuff AND also knows the game well is Darcy McLeod.  So when he speaks, I pay close attention.  And for a few years now he hadn’t been as high on Nurse and said he wasn’t tracking like a top pairing defenceman.  So I lowered my expectations on him because of that, but I constantly kept coming back to “how many of those guys who didn’t track like a number one had the combination of IQ, skating ability, size, toughness, mean streak, and work ethic that Nurse has?”

 

And this isn’t to say that Nurse has established himself as a stud number one defenceman just yet.  He still needs to improve his vision maybe more than anything.  It doesn’t need to get to an elite level, but it would drastically improve his breakout passes and when he’s able to gain the zone on the rush we would see a lot more scoring chances created.  But oh man, has he shown a lot of flashes of becoming a legitimate number one this season.  And thanks to that, his pay day is going to be a lot more lucrative then most people seem to realize.

 

I was wanting to write this piece about a week or so ago.  Then I seen a little bit of chat about this on Twitter this week.  One guy, who I used to follow until his work really fell off this season, was talking about Darnell Nurse getting a bridge deal.  Another guy, who I’ve come across on Twitter before and doesn’t really have the insight he seems to believe he has on most things puck, said something to the effect of “on a long term deal, 4.5 per season isn’t out of the question for Nurse”.  Oh, it’s out of the question my man.  Of course, that guy meant it to be that he could possibly get upwards of 4.5 per season.  No no bud.  He’s already passed 4.5.

 

If you want numbers on Nurse, you have to dig a little deeper than straight up stats.  For example, he’s on pace for 30 points this season.  That’s ok, but on pace for 30 points while averaging four seconds of PP time a game.  And while I like analytics, I’m not the best at tracking them so forgive me if this is wrong, but I believe Nurse is 9th for defencemen in CF% at 55.68 (minimum 200 minutes).  He’s 5th for defencemen who have played over 400 minutes this season.  Pretty impressive.

 

Nurse has two comparisons right now that his camp will without a doubt be looking at, and that is Mike Matheson, who just got 8×4.875 per.  The other is Jacob Slavin, who just got 7×5.3 per.  Oilers fans are praying for another Oscar Klefbom deal, and I know that would be oh so sweet.  But it ain’t happening guys, not unless Nurse all of a sudden completely falls apart sometime soon.

 

This guy is playing like a legitimate number one defenceman this season, he’s made an astronomical leap, and still has a ridiculous amount of room to keep growing!  Wait until he starts seeing time on the top PP unit.  I very honestly wonder if McLellan has been asked to try to keep Nurse off the top PP unit in hopes of keeping the guys contract demands a little lower, because I’m pretty surprised he has yet to see time on that top unit with how poor Klefbom has been.  Nurse doesn’t yet have an accurate shot, but he can rip it.  I mentioned his vision earlier which has gotten better already, he’s getting more confident with the puck, and he can REALLY walk the line (go check out the third Oilers goal from Saturday night, head up, moving effortlessly, granted the Flames aren’t pressuring him but you can see how great he’s eventually going to be doing it).  30 points could easily go to over 40 if he ends up stealing the point duties on the top PP unit from Klefbom.

 

As for the idea of bridging him…don’t be an idiot.  At this point, a bridge deal is going to be at least 3.5 per.  What are you going to do by saving about 1.5-2 million over the next two seasons?  Bring Jussi Jokinen back?  Short term pain for long term gain.  It’s unlikely we will ever see a GM try that again with a young stud defenceman after how it completely blew up in the Habs face with Subban.  Plus, Nurse is a prototypical Peter Chiarelli guy.  He’s getting at least seven, and likely eight years.

 

My prediction as of this time: 8×5.5 per.  It may still go higher than that with how great he’s played, but it would take a massive drop off at this point for him to go back down to the “Klebom/Larsson” range in my opinion.

 

Something else I’ll touch on in this piece was what started this conversation between these guys who’ll remain nameless.  They were discussing the Oilers moving out one of Klefbom or Nurse because they somehow came to the conclusion that Ryan Rishaug was hinting at that.  Oh dear lord.  You FINALLY have a talented blueline, with the very real potential once Klefbom gets back to form of being one of the best bluelines in the entire league, and these guys actually think that Chiarelli is going to dump one of the two pillars of this blueline for a forward?!  Clearly, these are people who don’t understand the value of certain things in the NHL.  You can find wingers, they are a dime a dozen.  You literally can’t find defencemen, and these two, who both have quite a few followers and at least the one guy for sure has quite a bit of respect in the Oilers analytics community, actually believe Chiarelli is going to dump one of them?!?  If Nurse gets what I believe he will, combined they won’t even be 10 mil a season!!!  Yet he should move one of these guys, to get a damn winger.  Man, I’m a nice guy, but the sentence “don’t be a FUCKING MORON” comes to mind.

 

And this is increasingly becoming my issue with guys, especially the analytics guys, who rip Peter Chiarelli to shreds.  And I’ve done it too, but I seem to have a better grip on player value then most of these guys do (and hey, I’m wrong on it a lot myself).  If you’re going to rip on Chiarelli’s moves, cool.  I’m with you most of the time!  But then present alternatives!  Explain what else he could have done!  It is so mother fucking easy to pile on, for some reason people in today’s society get off on it and it’s absolutely disgusting, whether it be sports, politics, pop culture, etc.  Why don’t some of these guys grab some actual balls, quit trying to be “Twitter tough” and suggest, in the moment what the better alternative was?  That’s all I ask.  Don’t just say “well he’s tossed away all their secondary scoring and he should have got something better than what he did yada yada yada” shut the fuck up and say what the better alternative was.  I didn’t like the Eberle deal, but he needed the cap space at the time.  Was he supposed to hang on to a guy who was two million dollars overpaid?!  I’m not a big Ryan Strome fan, but his deal is up after this season, you can walk away from him after the season.  The point of the Eberle deal was to shed an inflated contract.

 

Everyone is freaked out about Russell’s contract, as was I.  But with Nurse emerging, Klefbom, the possibility of Davidson getting things back on track and giving him a new deal, a kid like Caleb Jones not far away from making it to the show, and Sekera with a NTC, chances are that Russell gets moved out after the season.  And maybe they’ll have to take some salary back, but teams are desperate for defencemen.  You don’t think the Avs for example would see Kris Russell as an upgrade on what they have?!  And it’s three more years and manageable money with the cap rising, not six more years with the cap flat-lining.  Most (not all) analytics guys don’t like Russell, but the majority of this league is still “hockey guys”, and “hockey guys” adore Kris Russell.

 

Anyway, this piece is supposed to be about how right I’ve always been on Darnell Nurse and how he’s going to get a bigger contract this summer that anyone is expecting at the moment.

 

Actually, I don’t have that much to add!  A bit of a cluster fuck write up, I know.  And I apologize for all the swearing, but I’m leaving it in this time because I’m legitimately fired up about some of the stuff I hit on.  Sometimes you just feel like getting things off your chest.  But make no mistake, Darnell Nurse, at best (or worse in his case), is getting the equivalent of what Mike Matheson got from the Panthers, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got even more than what Jacob Slavin got from the Hurricanes.  Guaranteed.

 

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Hot Takes – Dec. 4th, 2017

It’s an all Canadian version of the Hot Takes this week.  But how about I don’t start off with Oilers talk today?!  I could, and will get to them later.  But there is another team on the Canadian prairie’s in the NHL who deserve a lot of love right now.  MUCH more love than the national media has been giving them, although I expect that to change today, and that’s the Winnipeg Jets.

 

All they needed was goaltending, yet they still felt so far away because Kevin Cheveldayoff refused to really go out and address his goaltending.  But luckily, and thankfully for those of us who love to see the Jets thrive, Connor Hellebuyck got his career back on track this season and this team is now on freaking fire thanks to it, sitting first in the West, and tied for first overall in the league with the Lightning (Tampa has a game in hand).  This team is very talented, and very deep, and while I don’t think they’re going to end up as the best team in the West come spring, playoffs look to be a sure thing barring big injury issues.  I don’t believe Oliver Ekman-Larsson is going anywhere, but if John Chayka decides to pull the trigger then you should keep your eye firmly on the Jets.  This team not only is three lines deep, and have a quality top four on the blueline, but their farm system is LOADED!  About the only thing this team lacks is that legitimate number one defenceman.  And if you’re Chevy, how do you not look at the Oilers last season and say “they should have pushed their chips to the middle while they could” and still do nothing?  Again though, I don’t expect that.  But what I’m saying is that if the Jets keep rolling I’d watch for them to be very aggressive at the trade deadline.  Great to see the Jets thriving.  The playoffs are better with the Jets, and the playoffs would be tremendous with a deep run by the Jets.  And they’re built for the playoffs.

 

Meanwhile you had the Jets latest victim hitting their low point last night.  Who could have guessed that pissing away three assets to barely upgrade at centre hasn’t done anything to help the Sens.  WEIRRRRRRRRRRD.  The Ottawa media seemed to love the trade, and the rationale was so ridiculous.  You heard things like “they didn’t give up Chabot, White or Brown, what a win”.  Wait, so you should grossly overpay for players as long as you don’t give up your top prospects?!  That might be as absurd as the logic I always used to bitch about which was when a top player would come available and people would try to make the argument that other teams would have to give up their top players rather than simply make the best offer, whatever that would be.  Again I’ll go to this example, if the Arizona Coyotes end up moving Ekman-Larsson at the trade deadline, they are moving him to get something for him before losing him for nothing.  There for, nobody is giving the Coyotes a top player.  The Edmonton Oilers won’t have to give up Leon Draisaitl or Darnell Nurse if they want to pursue him.  You won’t see the Leafs offering Auston Matthews or Morgan Rielly.  It’s such stupid logic, yet others just can’t figure it out.  Anyway, the logic the Ottawa media had in all this was along those same lines and it’s ridiculous.  I’m all for bringing in an upgrade on a player and a guy who is a lot more likely to sign in Ottawa long term.  But Duchene wasn’t worth Shane Bowers, a 1st and a 3rd more than Turris.  Good thing that 1st was top 10 protected because right now it appears to be a serious threat to end up in the top 10.  Now, having said ALL this, it’s not because of Matt Duchene that the Sens have fallen apart.  What it could be though….players tuning out Guy Boucher?  This is the exact same pattern as his Tampa team had.  Conference finals game 7 in his first season, started falling apart the next season.  Oh, and if this keeps up, the Erik Karlsson watch could begin….

 

While I’m hitting on Canadian teams, I want to hit on the Flames.  And I’m pretty damn fair to the Flames on here.  I don’t deny or hide that I’m an Oilers fan, but I try damn hard, maybe too hard sometimes, to keep things objective with the Flames.  I hope the Flames are the second best team in hockey every year!  However something that bothers me is that the national media slurps them pretty good.  Is that a Brian Burke influence?  Ken King?  I don’t know, but I really do get the feeling it’s coming from somewhere, because nobody says shit about them!  So can we be honest?  Right at the moment, they aren’t in a playoff spot, and they just lost their sixth straight to the Oilers.  They don’t have a pick in this upcoming draft until the fourth round, and while it’s a relatively deep system, they don’t have any elite prospects.  Does nobody else believe this is an issue?!  Does nobody else believe that the Flames had damn well not only get in the playoffs but do some damage when they’ve mortgaged the large majority of their damn draft?!  Seriously, who trades their draft to not improve and be a borderline playoff team?!  I’ve been a huge fan of the job Brad Treliving has done, but that Travis Hamonic deal is looking like a train wreck.  They in no way needed him as they already had a great blueline, and he came with a lot of risk, and he’s been awful to this point.  I’m not sitting here wishing the worst for the Flames and looking over my shoulder at every move they’re doing (fans and media who do that are pretty douchey, wouldn’t you agree Ryan Pinder?….), but can the national media please just discuss the Flames fairly?!  For whatever reason they can do no wrong.  And that’s horse shit, they’ve done a ton wrong of late, and the franchise is in no man’s land.  They aren’t built to win a Cup, they’re built to be what the Minnesota Wild have been over the last five years.  They aren’t garbage, and they won’t be garbage, but they aren’t that good either.  Time to take the blinders off.

 

Obviously the most natural segue here is from the Flames to the Oilers.  Quite the game Saturday night wasn’t it?  I’m not sure the Flames comeback was that great as much as it was Laurent Brossoit imploding, but it sure made for an entertaining game in the end!  And once again this week I’m going to say….the Oilers aren’t done.  And as I’ve said before, it’s mainly because the Pacific division is terrible.  It feels like the season is on the line every night at the moment, and had they blown that game to the Flames I do believe that would have been it.  But they didn’t, and what it feels like is that they’re clearing a lot of hurdles in their last four games.  In the game against Boston, they played a very solid and complete game, full value win.  Against Arizona they won a game they really didn’t deserve to win, which I believe can be huge for a team with no confidence.  Then against the Leafs, despite the Russell own goal that cost them at least a point, they battled back when it looked like they were going to get run right out of the building.  Without Talbot and Larsson, they ended up outplaying one of the best teams in the league.  And I know one of my buddies said it, a few others have said, I really believe with Russell being such a well liked guy in the dressing room that the own goal could end up being a turning point for the Oilers season, something that could bring the team closer together.  Then against Calgary they owned the Flames for two periods, and then survived the comeback.  So you’re seeing these steps, and Ryan Rishaug said the same on Twitter yesterday.  Right now they really don’t look pretty because it’s still a team with shaken confidence, but it’s coming.  They have to put a bigger dent in the deficit this month though as they’ve got a relatively soft schedule.  Even when you look at some of the more difficult games they have, some of those teams are on the second half of back to backs.  They are catching Philly at the right time this week, they matchup well with Montreal, and then the Leafs will likely be starting Curtis McElhinney on Sunday seeing that they play a more important game Saturday night in Pittsburgh.  It’s a big week, but they all are going to be from here on.  Finally, LOVE the Brandon Davidson pickup.  He was great for the Oilers in 2016, really had injury problems derail his 2017, and then never seemed to get much of a chance in Montreal.  He’s capable of being a number five guy in this league, so he’s a great guy to have as your number seven and should mean the end of Eric Gryba’s time with the Oilers who seems like a tremendous dude, but simply can’t play in this league anymore.

 

Speaking of the Habs….WOW!  That’s the turnaround that Oilers fans are praying for!  10-1, on the 22nd anniversary of Roy’s last game with the franchise, against the team who drove him out of town.  That is some kind of irony.  Obviously it helps that the Atlantic division is worse than the Pacific (which again is why I don’t think the Oilers are done), but this team was left for dead.  Now?  Well, technically they’re in a playoff spot, though the Bruins have four games in hand.  Still, they’re now back into it.  And with Price healthy they have a chance to win on any night.

 

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NHL Picks – Dec. 2nd, 2017

That actually happened?  1-6.  That ACTUALLY happened?!  You can’t go 1-6 if you try, yet I went 1-6 the last time out.  It is unreal how shitty my luck has been for the entire month of November.  Shitty betting hockey, shitty betting football, shitty with other things too.  It’s a new month, so MAYBE my luck can turn?!  And hey, four straight weeks of losing, maybe you’d say it’s not bad luck, but great luck that I went 11-4 in the first three weeks of doing these picks.  But hell no.  The last three times out, I’ve honestly felt GREAT about the picks I’ve made.  That’s why I lay out why I’m making the pick I’m making, and everything has gone wrong.  I’ve gone 6-15-1 the last four times I’ve made picks!!  It’s the WORST.  Now sitting at 17-19-1 on the season, which considering the run I’ve had isn’t that bad, but make no mistake, I’ve lost all faith at this point.

 

Buffalo at Pittsburgh

Over 6 (-105)

We got the Pens against probably the worst team in the league.  You have to believe the Pens fill the net.  They put four past Lehner last night (on just 21 shots), and he shouldn’t be starting the second half of a back to back yet he’s listed as the starter as of writing this.  So expect another four at that end.  Then at the other end the Pens are going with Casey DeSmith who hasn’t made a start yet, but the one game he got into he got lit right up.  Add to that, if the Sabres have any pride then you’d assume they play desperate.  Seeing they’re coming off a shutout, you have to believe they’re going to be a lot more desperate around the Pens net tonight.

 

Florida at Carolina

Hurricanes -1.5 (+190)

In their first matchup this season, the Canes won 3-1.  Neither team has performed up to my expectations to this point as I had the Canes to be the league’s breakout team this season, and the Panthers to rebound and get back to the playoffs.  But I still believe that Carolina is a better, more well rounded team.  But the biggest reason for this is the Canes should be a really pissed off group tonight after having their asses handed to them by the Rangers (again) last night 5-1.  Panthers lost last night as well (2-1 against the Sharks), but coming off another embarrassment to the Rangers and being at home, have to like the Canes here even at -1.5.

 

Florida at Carolina

Over 5.5 (-115)

This is REAL simple.  I already hit on how awful James Reimer has been this season, well Cam Ward is at the other end.  And Ward has played better than Reimer (.907 Sv%), but his G.A.A. is over 3.00.  So I have to believe that these two teams are combining for six or more tonight.

 

San Jose at Tampa Bay

Lightning -1.5 (+170)

One thing I’ve done a lot of in the last few weeks is look for teams who are rolling and teams who are struggling, and I seem to be getting burned doing that.  So now I’m doing the same, but switching it up.  Tampa have lost three of four coming into this, while the Sharks are 4-0-1 in their last five.  Sharks are on the second half of a back to back which doesn’t hurt this bet either, but I’m more so thinking that Tampa comes out fired up, and the Sharks can’t hang with them when the Lightning are at their best, so I like Tampa -1.5 here.

 

New Jersey at Arizona

Coyotes -110

The Yotes are playing a lot better of late.  They just might be turning things around.  Now, it won’t help, their season is already done, but it’s good to see because you never want to see a team go through that kind of misery, I don’t care how much we hate the market.  So with the Devils coming off a hard fought game in Denver last night, and Keith Kinkaid starting in goal, and Scott Wedgewood having the motivation of starting against his former team (and playing really well), with it being -110 both ways I like the Coyotes here.

 

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