Obviously this week I’m starting with the Stanley Cup playoffs. Is it just me, or have these playoffs flat out sucked to this point?! Sure, there have been some good games, but even the best series to this point is now 3-0, and has only produced nine goals total in three games. Two series are 2-1, and out of the six games combined those two series have played, only one game out of the six was close. And frankly that game wasn’t very good despite being 3-2 (game one Jets/Wild). Here’s hoping things get better in a hurry.
The one mistake I badly regret isn’t disrespecting the Golden Knights so much. I probably respect what they’ve done this season more than it seems in my writing. But where I made such a bad mistake was thinking the Kings would beat them. They’re better than the Kings. No lie, five minutes into game one I could tell I made a massive mistake on the Kings. Watching the Kings in this series really pisses me off that the Oilers didn’t get in, because if the Oilers just play decent this season they’re a better team than the Kings. They have been getting beat to every single puck so far this series. They’re easily the slowest in the playoffs, they lived off their great start, and I really believe that we won’t see this team back in the playoffs next season barring a pretty large overhaul of the roster. Even amongst their young guys, they don’t even have one guy who is a real burner up front, and outside of Doughty I personally don’t believe they move the puck very well on the blueline. I made mention at one point this season that they reminded me of the 2015 Vancouver Canucks who had a big start to their season, and comfortably made the playoffs. But you knew that Canucks team was far from a threat, and most had the Flames (ironically another team who were playing way over their heads) to win that series and of course they did.
I’d say I made another mistake on the Leafs. But A) I think we’ll see a team with a lot more intensity at home tonight, and B) I mentioned when picking them that I didn’t know how they’d react to playing a gritty team. Clearly, it’s been very poor. Now, if they don’t respond tonight or in game four, it’s going to be interesting how the organization responds. All of a sudden they’re a team with a lot of holes (blueline, size, toughness). And I know that those last two things are basically swear words for analytics people, and I’m not suggesting they go drastically overpay for a guy like Lucic like one awful organization once did, but they might need to address the lack of team toughness if things keep up like this because they’ve been BADLY pushed around. I was texting with a buddy on Saturday night and said the response they had to it reminded me a lot of the 2009-2013 Canucks teams. Anything they did in response felt like it was more for show than actual push back.
Now that the SJHL final has got going, I don’t think there is anyone who has any problem with how the league handled things. I still believe they should have done the first two games in Humboldt with each team wearing a set of Broncos jerseys, but perhaps that couldn’t have been organized on such short notice. I’m certain the league is going to do everything and more to pay tribute to the 2018 Broncos moving forward, so it’s definitely not something I’m too worried about. Bill Chow, through all this, has done a PHENOMENAL job. That can’t be emphasized enough. Good luck to both the Bruins and the Hawks in the series which is now down to a best of five after splitting the first two games in Nipawin over the weekend.
I won’t lie, I have an urge to keep paying tribute to the Broncos on here. I still can’t see something on the team without getting choked up, it’s ridiculous. I’m sure someone is reading this and rolling their eyes or calling me a pussy, whatever. Anyway, I don’t know how to keep paying tribute other than to keep those sticks out, wear your green and gold ribbons if you can get one, and keep donating to their Go Fund Me page, now up to $11.627 million. And as amazing as that number is, that doesn’t include all the money that NHL teams, other pro sports teams, and other businesses in general will donate separately to the team.
As for the Oilers who as you know I always include in this piece, I’ve got a separate piece on the decisions and what not coming out tomorrow (and I believe it’s going to be well worth a read). Around the trade deadline I wrote about how I would fix them, and I covered every move they could do, and really believe they do need to overhaul things. But that’s not realistic with the GM they have who is now coming back for some awful reason. I ran some numbers this week though, and as long as he doesn’t look for the disgusting overpays just to patch a temporary hole, I believe he could fix things. He needs to make the blueline more mobile and add at least two pure puck movers, one of which has to be a RH shooting puck mover. So you’re looking at Justin Faulk, Rasmus Ristolainen, Tyson Barrie, and maybe Ryan Ellis who is a UFA after next season. Out of these four, I believe Barrie has the best chance of happening, though it’s not as sure of thing that the Avs will move him as it looked like it would be with the news that Cale Makar is going back to school next season. Up front, Max Domi would be such a perfect fit. I don’t think he’d be cheap, but I believe the Oilers have pieces which would be of big interest to the Coyotes. And I really believe that Domi would thrive in a Canadian market. He’s a highly emotional and intense player when at his best, and I’m sure that is being sucked right out of him playing in Glendale 41 nights a season, not to mention that he’s being used as a third line centre there instead of on the wing where he belongs. Just those two additions I believe would be massive to next years roster. I liked the Ty Rattie signing a lot, he was actually 50k cheaper than I believed he’d be, and they really need him to be a value deal next season.
One thing I’ve been adamant about though is how well this organization is drafting under Chiarelli. If you’re looking to defend him as a GM, one thing you could say is that he hasn’t had the organizational depth and there for needed to use his bigger assets to make deals. That would be fair, however that wouldn’t explain getting beaten to a pulp on so many of his big trades. Anyway, while it’s not a pick, it’s all about the amateur scouting when it comes to Cooper Marody who looks like a hell of a player. I’m at a loss as to why the Flyers gave him up, but perhaps it was a Justin Schultz type situation where he just wasn’t interested in signing with the Flyers? Obviously we’ve only got to see him play three AHL games to this point, but oh wow is this kid smooth with the puck. And I really love the idea of the Oilers becoming a high IQ team that can really throw the puck around. You saw how well Nuge and McDavid clicked down the stretch. Now they have Marody and Benson starting next season in Bakersfield together who can both really dish, and Yamamoto either joining the Oilers or Condors in the fall. I really believe all three of these kids are going to be on the Oilers before too long, and in my mind you can never have too many playmakers on the team.
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