1. Jaromir Jagr, “The World’s Youngest Old Hockey Player” visits the Islanders at Barclays Center on Monday (6:30 PM, MSG+); and meanwhile, people wonder how he continues scoring like a hyperactive goal machine.
2. It’s the training, folks, the training. Plus, Jagr truly loves hockey more than anyone I know in the civilized world.
3. When I originally interviewed Double J — he was a raw rookie — Jaromir first had to run up and down — bottom to top — all the stairs at the Meadowlands arena a dozen times. His training regimen has never braked.
4. Watch Chris Kreider‘s focus improve to 20-20 at playoff time. He’s my choice as “sleeper” star for the postseason.
5. Pavel Datsyuk, plus Henrik Zetterberg — year in and year out — are the NHL’s two most under-played-by-the-media superstars. (And if you don’t believe me, ask Henrik Lundqvist. Or check the tapes of Saturday’s game in Detroit.)
6. Jaroslav Halak‘s injury gives Thomas Greiss a chance to make good on the opportunity many Islanders fans have suggested; that the German-born back-up has the goods to be Goalie 1A rather than second string. He can underline the point Monday against the upstart Panthers.
7. At the time that the injury forced Halak to be removed from the crease, it meant that Halak, Henrik Lundqvist and Cory Schneider all were simultaneously sidelined. Three Met Area teams minus their starting goalies; when did that ever happen before?
8. Just a thought but I wonder whether the widespread use of the “Butterfly” goaltending technique is more injury-inducing than Martin Brodeur‘s traditional, stand-up puck-blocking style, which he called a “hybrid?”
9. That Ray (Hero) Shero is something else. He unloads disappointing Stefan (His Father Was Better) Matteau for Devante Smith-Pelly. Poof! Just like that Smith-Pelly is scoring Devils goals as if his name was Lee Stempniak.
10. You’d better believe that the late Fred Shero’s son will make every effort to re-sign Temporary Beantowner Stempniak this summer. (Notice how the Bruins are better with Lee.)
11. Last September The Hockey News picked Carey Price, Jonathan Toews and Alex Ovechkin, one, two, three as the NHL’s best players. My choices today are 1. Ovechkin; 2. Patrick Kane and 3. Sidney Crosby.
12. The toughest award this spring has to be the Calder. You look at the rookies and have to wonder whether either short-seasoned Connor McDavid or Shayne Gostisbehere should get it on sheer ability alone. Or that Chicago’s Artemi Panarin wins on points, plus skill and ability to survive the whole season.
13. I wouldn’t vote for McDavid because he’s starring for the no-pressure-out-of-the-playoffs Oilers. But if surging, pressure-packed Philly makes the post-season, my vote goes with Shanye. (How can you not love a lad who learned his hockey in South Florida? Yikes!)
14. Analytics are just fine because they provide for more hockey jobs but I want to know exactly when and how they help a team win. Somebody, please prove it to me.
15. Good Question Department: Would the Devils be a playoff team had Micheal Cammalleri andPatrik Elias been healthy all season? Answer: Yessiree, Bob!
16. If there’s a better puck-carrying defenseman than Nick Leddy, his name is….??? Sorry, I can’t think of one.
17. Hall of Famer and former Ranger Bill Gadsby, who died last week, was the warrior’s warrior. Playing hockey Gadsby had his nose broken 11 times while having 650 stitches embroidered in him over his career.
18. Didja know that in the past four years the Rangers have played in a dozen playoff rounds? Only one other team can make that statement; the Cup champ Blackhawks.
19. Talk about parity among the elite teams, right now any one of six could win the Stanley Cup. The Rangers should not have a problem with Washington.
20. Sure the Caps have been wonderful but their defense still is suspect and Braden Holtby has yet to demonstrate that he can win postseason biggies.
21. Since no team takes two Cups in a row anymore, the Blackhawks must be inserted in the Longest of Longshots category. A Chicago Stanley triumph would amount to a hockey miracle.
22. You have to believe that the Lightning soon will promote Jonathan Drouin from Syracuse for two reasons: 1. Playoff insurance; 2. To showcase him for a potential trade this summer.
23. Drouin’s teammates on the Bolts may not have been tickled with the kid going AWOL but that’s ancient history. Ask Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. “If Jonathan puts in his work at Syracuse,” says BB, “and he’s back in Tampa Bay, he’ll be welcomed with open arms.”
Of The Week: “I worry about today and tomorrow. I’m not worried about next week, yet.”
26. What’s compelling about center Austin Matthews — projected to go first overall in the June Draft — is that he thrived in Switzerland’s top league against men.
27. You’d better believe that the NHL and Players’ Association will nix the next Winter Olympics in South Korea. Co-sponsored by the league and union, the World Cup will be Bettman, Inc.’s answer to the International Olympic Committee which refuses to cut NHL players and the league into profits.
28. Readers Write: Leo Scaglione, Jr. of Staten Island offers this note: “Despite call-ups of top players on the Albany (AHL) Devils, they have continued to win. Ray Shero’s moves have worked magic Upstate. Ironically, the only American League club better than Albany is Lou Lamoriello’s Toronto Marlies!”
29. If you’re wondering why Detroit is hellbent for yet another playoff berth, consider that rookie coach Jeff Blashill is a virtual clone of his predecessor, Mike Babcock.