Other than men turned out in top hats scaring the crap out some mangy rodents, we have a few other Groundhog Day observations.
1) It’s certainly Groundhog Day for the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks are suffering another late season swoon that could soon see them looking up at a playoff spot. They’re playing a bland, boring style of hockey that sees them having great difficult scoring and, oddly enough, they’re much better on the road than at home. The Leafs, of course, are doing their annual face plant and, they’re goal scoring is even worse than the Canucks. Meanwhile, the Oilers are playing a little better but, as in years past, only when it doesn’t matter.
2) Speaking of the Oilers…Elliotte Friedman was on a Calgary radio station this morning with some thoughts on Taylor Hall and why the Oilers can’t win.
“And those guys in Edmonton, they don’t know how to win. And again, some of it is their own fault because when you’re the best players, you have to be the ones who say, ‘We’re going to do whatever it takes to get there.’ And I don’t think those guys have. But when you lose and you lose and you lose, nobody teaches you how to get there either. And that’s what I see with this team. They don’t know what it takes to be winners in this league.”
3) The trade deadline is exactly 1 month away and there is lot’s of smoke but, so far, no fire. Don Maloney was on several radio shows over the weekend telling everyone who would listen that he has hung out the For Sale sign on his Arizona Coyotes roster with the only untouchable being Shane Doan. Antoine Vermette, Martin Hanzal, Z. Michalek, Keith Yandle, Martin Erat and, presumably Oliver Ekman-Larsson may find new homes by the 1st of March and Maloney should be sitting with a fistful of picks or young prospects. Since I also expect Arizona to win the lottery, they can then start building around Connor McDavid.
4) One GM who should have Maloney on speed dial is Craig MacTavish. If the Oilers are ever going to turn the ship around, they absolutely have to find a top pairing D and the only way they’re going to get one is to move at least one of their “core pieces”. Since the Oilers have no forward prospects of note, I would consider Taylor Hall for OEL and call it a day.
5) With both the price of oil and the Canadian dollar in free fall, it’s entirely possible the salary cap next season could be flat and that’s going to be a major problem for several teams. Jonathan Willis has a piece up at Bleacher Report which details how a low cap will affect the Chicago Blackhawks. But the issue will also have a major impact on teams like the Bruins, Rangers and Kings.
6) As I’ve mentioned several times, the Calgary Flames have the lowest payroll and the most cap space available in the offseason so are perfectly poised to take advantage of teams that have to offload salary. Imagine what the Flames D would look like if they were able to add Brent Seabrook and Keith Yandle in one off season. Jeebus!
7) Had a chance to watch the Dallas/Winnipeg game on Saturday and came away even more impressed with young (22 years old) defenseman John Klingberg. Klingberg, who was chosen as the NHL Rookie of the Month for January, was dominant, scoring 2G 2A and now has 9 goals and 24 points on the season in only 35GP. The 5th round pick in 2010 is very much like Erik Karlsson although Klingberg appears to be better defensively.
8) No surprise that Alex Ovechkin has taken over the goal scoring lead with 31…exceeding the 30 goal mark for the 10th straight season. Rick Nash (29) Tyler Seguin (28), Steven Stamkos (27), Patrick Kane (25), Vladimir Tarasenko (25) and Joe Pavelski would seem like the only players who could challenge for the lead.
9) Interestingly enough, the only Oiler player who protects to score 20 this season is Jordan Eberle who is on pace to score 21. Since David Perron was traded to Pittsburgh he has been on a predictable tear, recording 6 goals and 9 points 12GP. At that rate, he will easily score 20 while his replacement in Edmonton (Benoit Pouliot) won’t come close.
10) The flip side of that coin is that the Calgary Flames have 4 players on pace to score 20+, Gaudreau, Hudler, Monahan and Wideman with Giordano also having a decent shot at 20.