1) Winnipeg Free Press writer Gary Lawless has an interesting post up about the disposability of NHL head coaches and has some particularly harsh comments about the Edmonton Oilers.
Dallas Eakins, Pete DeBoer and Paul MacLean have all been fired this season by organizations with either no plan or the lack of strength to support one.
The Oilers hired Eakins to be part of building a winning program in Edmonton, but fired him after little more than one season. GM Craig MacTavish stood in front of the media following the firing and claimed to have “blood all over his hands,” for his role in assembling a terrible lineup.
MacTavish hired a rookie head coach to work with a young team but panicked when the growing pains became too much.
Everything that transpired in Edmonton was predictable, from a meddling owner to a GM submitting to pressure and casting aside his top lieutenant. Edmonton isn’t a coaching-change away from improvement. MacTavish knows this and firing Eakins was disingenuous. Oilers fans should have been insulted at the flimsy ruse.
Most GM’s get only two head coaches in their tenure so it will be interesting to see how much rope Craig MacTavish has in Edmonton.
2) The Florida Panthers continue their march up the EC standings, going 6-2-2 in their last 10 GP and now sit only 2 points behind the Maple Leafs with 3 games in hand. They have a positive shot differential and are getting all star level goaltending from Roberto Luongo (.923) while emerging star Nick Bjugstad is on pace for a 33 goal season and appears to be gaining confidence with every game. Rookie Defenseman Aaron Ekblad has been noting short of a revelation….the 18 year old has 5 goals, 21 points and leads the team in plus/minus at +8.
3) The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently the highest scoring team in the league at 3.23 G/G. If they ever figure out that defense thing, they could be dangerous.
4) The same might apply to the Dallas Stars who are 28th in the league in GA/G. The Stars, though, are on an 8-2-0 run in their past 10 are are making a belated push for the playoffs. GM Jin Nill continues to try and shore up his D, picking David Schlemko off waivers this morning but I doubt that will be enough to stem the tide.
5) Speaking of the Stars…Tyler Seguin has cooled off a bit of late but remains on pace for a 57 goal 100 point season. In the meantime, it appears Taylor Hall has become “indifferent” in Edmonton and is on pace for 23 goals 53 points.
6) 5 years on from the 2010 draft, things are starting to get a little clearer. Seguin has passed Hall in GP, goals and points, despite playing his first 2 seasons in a sport role in Boston while Hall was top dog in Edmonton. But, to me, one of the most fascinating stories of that draft is Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. The Russian, picked 16th in the draft by the St. Louis Blues, is in his 3rd NHL season and is on pace for 47 goals.
7) Before the season began, I predicted the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks would be battling for a wild card spot at the end of the season and that certainly looks like a good bet. They’re currently tied with 45 points apiece and will likely have company in that battle with the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames.
8) As the season winds down, teams’ record against their own conference becomes more and more important as they wrap up their season series against the other conference. Some notables in the WC vs. WC:
Vancouver – 13-7-2
San Jose – 13-6-3
Calgary – 15-7-1
Nashville – 17-5-1
9) Since Edmonton will have to climb over at least 7 teams to get to the playoffs, how deep is the hole they’ve dug? I don’t think you can even see the bottom from here.
10) And finally, how ’bout them Nashville Predators? As of this writing they are leading the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 mid way through the second period. And, worth noting, Mark Arcobello who was traded by Edmonton to Nashville for spare centre Derek Roy, just scored his 8th goal of the season…Roy has 1 goal on the season and only 1 assist in his 3 games as an Oiler. Of course, Roy is 1 inch taller than Arcobello so there is that 🙂