I’ll start this week’s piece off by bitching about my picks and how garbage my luck is right now. Did I seriously go 2-3 for the second straight week, third straight losing week, thanks to a fluky empty net goal with two seconds left in a game?! When it rains it pours. Last night I got a great tip from one of the World’s best football bettors on twitter about taking the under in the New England/Denver game, so I bet it hard (for me), and of course it went WAY over. Again…when it rains, it pours.
Something I intended to bring up last week, man the NHL is a well run league. I’m not sure if I’ve ever brought this up, but yeah, it’s an awfully run league. Exhibit A flew under the radar thanks to game seven of the World Series being played on the same night. But that night, Wednesday night hockey on NBCSN, their nationally televised game, was Flyers vs Hawks. Good game. But you know what other game was played that night? Pens vs Oilers. I get that it’s a Canadian market, but if you’re EVER going to market your game, showcase your two best players, you MIGHT want to put Crosby vs McDavid on national TV in the States!!! How are you going to know if you won’t even make the FUCKING EFFORT to market McDavid and market that matchup?!?! What a joke.
Speaking of the Oilers….of course this piece will normally have something about the Oilers….my exact words last week were “This team needs a 2-1-1 road trip or better this week.” Mission accomplished. BUT, something I ripped the Flames in half for the last two seasons was that they seemed to just look to get games to three on three which they’re built to play. It’s getting clear that this is the strategy of the Oilers right now. Get it to OT, run McDavid and Draisaitl out every second shift. I ripped on McLellan’s coaching job to this point last week, and he did nothing this week for me to not continue to wonder what he’s doing. McDavid and Draisaitl five on five weren’t producing all week, yet he continued to roll them out together. Oscar Klefbom is struggling bad right now, and yet he continues to use him a ton. Patrick Maroon has been terrible outside of maybe four games all season, yet he continues to play him on the top line. Mark Letestu is looking like a shell of what he was last year, yet first unit PK, first unit PP. Make some damn adjustments already!! If you had told me that Nugent-Hopkins and Nurse would look this good, and now Puljujarvi has come up and played as well as he has, I’d guess this team is around where Tampa is right now. I really find myself digging in on this being a coaching problem above all else. And I’m not saying McLellan needs to go, but he is doing an awful job of utilizing the talent he has.
One suggestion I tossed at a buddy this past week to help out the Oilers: Letestu out, Bozak in? Not a straight up deal, doubt the Leafs would do that. But I’d start looking at cutting bait with Letestu, who just looks awful thus far, and then bringing in Bozak who has been demoted to the fourth line in Toronto and is really in Mike Babcock’s doghouse. Bozak is still capable of playing up in a lineup, he has better size and much better wheels than Letestu, both righty shots, both great in the dot, and both UFA’s. Letestu might fetch you a 4th rounder, so maybe you turn around and offer the Leafs a 3rd and that same 4th for Bozak at 3 mil instead of the full cap hit of 4.2? Just a thought, could make a massive difference to the Oilers PK specifically.
Ok, that’s my Oilers talk for the week. Basically three paragraphs on them, close to calling this “Oilers Hot Takes”!
One team that caught my eye thanks to playing the Oilers were the Rangers. How has this team won five in a row?! How are they not the worst team in the East?! They have a lot of overage, a lot of average, and yet they’ve now won five straight and are going to be in the hunt for a playoff spot. So can we start giving Alain Vigneault the credit he deserves as one of the top coaches in this league? This guy just constantly gets the absolute most out of his squads. No Cup ring is likely the reason why, but it really seems baffling that a guy has done this great of a job coaching the Rangers and still isn’t seen in the same light as coaches like Ken Hitchcock and Claude Julien. Not in the same league as Mike Babcock and Joel Quennville, but not far off.
I didn’t have the Arizona Coyotes to make the playoffs or anything along those lines, but I figured they were on the right track and would be competitive. Wow. Just wow. They’re now 19 games into their season and still don’t have a regulation win. Seven points total, a win in OT and a win in a shootout. It’s just an absolute shit show. A part of me wants to smile, because they’re all in on analytics, and they lost guys like Shane Doan and Mike Smith who were looked down upon by the analytics community. I’m far from anti analytics, but I do enjoy those guys getting proven wrong after so many of them act like numbers will tell us everything and things such as psychology don’t mean anything. But back to the Coyotes for a minute. We all thought they were doomed in Phoenix when they were good. Now they’re the laughing stock of the league, and Tilman Fertitta is making noise about wanting to bring an NHL team to Houston. You’d think/hope that they’re on their last legs in that joke of a market.
Then at the opposite end of the spectrum you have the Lightning who are simply abusing the rest of the league. Man, that beat down in L.A. this week against the Kings couldn’t have been more of a statement. I had them to be the top regular season team and win the East, so I’m not real shocked, but I don’t know if I believed that they would just simply boat race everyone. But they’re so loaded top to bottom, and they have a lot of trade chips to make any moves they need or want to down the stretch. Steve Yzerman was looking like one of the worst GM’s in the league when Steven Stamkos was about to walk for nothing and Jonathan Drouin was demanding a trade, and you’d look at his draft record in the first round…I wrote about it! I laid out all that stuff. Not now man. Top team in the league and at this point nobody looks like they can compete with them, at least this season. Tampa’s league, and 30 other teams are just playing in it.
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