How much have we already forgotten about everything that has happened this season already? Scoring has been up league wide by a pretty big amount. Lots of emerging young stars like Chabot and Pettersson, plus new breakout seasons by Marner, Rantanen, Point, and more. Then even established stars finding a whole new gear, like Kucherov’s ridiculous run. We’ve had the emergence of a few good looking young goalies too, such as Mackenzie Blackwood, Carter Hart, and Jordan Binnington.
Speaking of goalies, we’ve also had a few teams in an absolute mess as far as their goalie position... the Flyers have used approximately 10,000 goalies this year, the Canucks got into such a tight spot with injuries they had to do an emergency recall of an OHL player, and Carolina’s season is being carried on the back of a career journeyman and backup goalie in Curtis McElhinney. Arizona has gone through several goalies, so have Chicago and St. Louis.
We’ve had a few coaching changes and two GMs fired mid-season, which I can’t even remember the last time that happened. You’ve had a few very surprising teams like the Islanders, Canadiens and Flames holding playoff spots all year. You’ve seen a few huge winning streaks from teams like Buffalo, Philadelphia, St Louis and Chicago plus some epic losing streaks from Buffalo (heh), Anaheim, Colorado and Edmonton.
Speaking of bad teams, let’s talk about the bottom of the standings and just how silly this season has been. Here is a list of teams who have been in the bottom 5 of the entire NHL at some point this season:
- Vegas Golden Knights
- St. Louis Blues
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Vancouver Canucks
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Arizona Coyotes
What’s interesting about these teams is that two of them (Blues and Knights) are now in a playoff spot, and the rest are on the edge. Vancouver is one point out of the final wild card spot, Chicago is three points back, and Arizona is 5 points back with a game in hand. In the East, Carolina is only one point back of Pittsburgh for the final wild card spot, and while the Flyers are 8 points back they’ve been on a heck of a surge up the standings.
St. Louis was, I think, at some point dead last in the league. They fired their coach, and rumours were swirling that they were listening on anyone on their roster. Tarasenko, Pietrangelo, Parayko, you name it. Then they called upJordan Binnington, their new coach turned them into a possession monster, and they’ve taken off.
Carolina is similar. They went through Mrazek and Darling, they poached McElhinney from Toronto and he’s somehow become their #1 goalie while their great possession numbers started turning into actual goals thanks to the trade that brought them Nino Niederreiter.
Chicago has been missing Crawford for most of the season and somehow a tandem of Cam fucking Ward and someone named Colin Delia have picked up the slack. Their offense that had no depth whatsoever has started getting a lot of production from young guys like 21-year-old DeBrincat (54 points in 58 games), the newly-traded-for 21-year-old Dylan Strome (31 points in 34 games with Chicago), and 26-year-old defenseman Erik Gustafsson (37 points in 55 games in his first full season in the NHL. and a former Edmonton Oilers draft pick... go figure!).
As of February 8th, the Western Conference had only four points separating the last wild card holder (St. Louis — 55 points) and the last place team (Anaheim — 51 points) as teams like Edmonton, Colorado and Anaheim fell out of playoff spots and teams like St. Louis, Chicago and Arizona closed the gap.
And somehow, Tampa fucking Bay fucking Lightning are FIFTEEN POINTS ahead of the next best team in the entire league, in a division that has 4 of the 10 best teams in the league. HOW?!?!?!
ONTO THE LINKS
Trying To Magic Away The Patrick Marleau Contract | by Acting the Fulemin
Speaking of, we got an update about Johnsson’s injury:
Mike Babcock said today that Andreas Johnsson will not play tomorrow at Arizona, but his condition (leg) isn't considered to be too serious.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 15, 2019
So, Tyler Ennis will step back into the lineup for the first time since breaking his ankle on Dec. 22.
Speaking of Tyler Ennis... How Tyler Ennis became beloved in the Maple Leafs’ dressing room | by Joshua Kloke at The Athletic.
Speaking of injuries! Timothy Liljegren returned to the Marlies last night. That was the good news. The bad news is that he showed some.... rust.
The Bruins score a shorthanded goal to tie it up.— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) February 16, 2019
Liljegren was a little bit too care-free here, and he got beat. pic.twitter.com/r8mkKilmOg
To steal a line from Kevin on Twitter, when you see a former top-5 draft pick like Dylan Strome that struggled early in his career but has finally had a breakout year at age 21, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe the Oilers should be thinking long and hard about what they want to do with Puljujarvi. Then again, their hand might have been finally forced.
Jesse Puljujarvi's agent, Markus Lehto, tells Sportset he is unsure if staying with Edmonton is best for his client.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) February 16, 2019
Column to come shortly. pic.twitter.com/QtSFGI00M6
Carolina out there having fun and pissing off old hockey grumps like Brian Burke... loving it.
And then, right after the clock struck midnight, WE HAVE A TRADE TO ANNOUNCE!
This is very important because it seems like the Flyers will make history this season... remember how I said they’ve been using a lot of goalies?
Once Talbot plays for PHI, Flyers will set an NHL record using 8 goalies in one season— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 16, 2019