Maven’s Ravin’: 34 Thoughts On the Stanley Cup Playoffs And More


1. Proof that NHL Awards should include playoffs is the fact that Mike Sullivan so far has out-coached Jack Adams candidate Barry Trotz by a Pennsylvania Mile. But Trotz is en route to a comeback.

2. My Adams Award — right now at least — goes to Ken Hitchcock for re-creating the Blues from underachievers to overachievers in one easy season.

3. If you’re wondering why decisions by the NHL Player Safety agency are continually challenged, compare the following: A.Brooks Orpik gets three games for whacking Olli Maata; B. Kris Letang gets off for one game after a hammer job on Marcus Johansson.

4. Meanwhile, Brian Boyle bloodies Thomas Hickey with an elbow, Hickey slumps to the ice while the two refs do Act One of “Heaven Can Wait”, apparently believing that Boyles will be Boyles.

5. The Oilers need another promising, young forward like a moose needs a hatrack. What Edmonton fans are crying for is one, half-decent defenseman — maybe five.

6. There’s no doubt about it, but Edmonton’s general manager, Peter Chiarelli is on the hunt for that back liner and he’d better have a basketful of goodies for Marc Bergevin when he tries to extract P.K. Subban from the Habs’ boss.

7. Edmonton’s number four pick in June’s draft will be a starter in any deal for Subban. After that, it depends on whether Leon Draisaitl would clinch the deal. Me thinks Bergie would want more. That is unless he’s planning on being run out of Montreal.

8. Jaromir Jagr is listed at 44 but plays like 34 and talks like he’s 24. If the bionic Czech has a good first half next season, you can be sure he’ll start thinking about yet another contract extension.

9. No kidding, but I can see Jags skating for the new NHL Las Vegas Wranglers couple years from now.

10. I asked Hofstra grad-Lightning coach Jon Cooper whether he’s superstitious. After all, so many coaches and managers are. His answer: “I don’t know; I don’t know what the levels are.”  Frankly, I expected better from this eloquent fellow.

11. This from my man in Pittsburgh, Vince Comunale, on what coach Sullivan is doing so right: “Sully came in with a plan to play to the team’s strengths, mainly speed and offensive skill. He also inserted youth into the lineup in Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Byran Rust, Scott Wilson and Matt Murray. The youthful enthusiasm has rejuvenated Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, et al. The Penguins are also rolling four lines consistently, something they never used to do.”

12. Vince says these Pens remind him of the 2009 Champs. “I haven’t seen a Penguins team this focused and business-like since 2009 — or maybe ever — at least in the Crosby-Malkin era. They are never fazed by being down one or two goals, this is also the deepest Penguins team since 2009. They’ve already used two goaltenders, eight defensemen and 13 forwards.”

13. Since everyone and his Uncle Dudley is gaga over Auston Matthews going number one in June’s Entry Draft and Patrik Laine second, who do you think is favored to go third? That would be right wing Finn (Karpat) Jesse Puljuvai. ‘Tis said he’s also NHL ready starting next fall.

14. For the past two years, the Oilers have been trying to peddle erstwhile number one pick (2012) Nail Yakupov, the disaster’s disaster. The Edmonton Journal‘s Jim Matheson figures that Carolina might want him. But why would the Canes want a proven failure like Nail in the Coffin Yakupov?

15. Answer: General manager, Ron Francis figures Yakupov has star potential. Matheson notes: “Canes have a 19-year-old right-shooting center — six-foot-four, 195-pound Nicolas Roy, who had 48 goals and 90 points in 63 games this past season in the QMJHL. Roy is only 19 but while his skating was a little suspect when he was drafted in the fourth round last June, it’s improved. He’s a horse, according to a number of scouts. He’s exactly what the Oilers should be looking at.” (Sounds like a deal to me.)

15. Nothing pleases me more than goalies wearing the Number 1, as any Numero Uno puck-stopper should.

16. Looking backward at the Isles-Bolts series, Jack Capuano‘s skaters had it too easy in Game 1 and that backfired. They took their foot off the gas in Game 2 and wound up in catch-up gear thereafter.

Jack Capuano says the Islanders must find a way to generate more offense against the Lightning in Game 5 after suffering a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 4.

17. If NHL players’ sticks — Calvin de Haan‘s for instance — are so awfully expensive, how come they keep breaking in critical situations?

18. When a defenseman’s stick breaks and costs his club a pivotal playoff game, I say the stick company should give the team double its money back.

19. The Department of Bad Playoff Moustaches urges Malkin to hurry to the nearest barber. It would help if his buddy Crosby went along and had the beard zipped.

20. Pardon my minority opinion, but I would have included Jagr on the Hart Trophy list.

21. And, no, I don’t like Connor-Come-Lately McDavid on the Calder Trophy grouping.

22. In case you missed it, McDavid was about as helpful getting Edmonton in the playoffs as Andrew Ference. The Oilers were lousy with McDavid and lousy without him.

23. Just about every media type I consulted — including the New York Times’ man, Allan Kreda — agrees that the two referees looking at Jason Garrison’s blatant high stick against Kyle Okposo late in Game 4 was worth a penalty.

24. The referees’ alibi — as passed on to the Islanders — was that the zebras “didn’t see it.” Bettman, Inc. is paying these refs good money to see infractions; especially when they are looking directly at them.

25. Then there are four other eyes available for consultation; otherwise belonging to the linesmen. Guess they were too busy looking for offsides instead of high sticks in the mug.

26. If Matt Martin isn’t the best, consistent, continuous body checker in the NHL, then I’d like to know who is; and don’t tell me Bill Moe. He ain’t on the Rangers anymore. But when he was — right after World War II — he was snake hips.

27. Logic and arithmetic — otherwise known as best NHL coaching record — dictated that the Ducks never should have fired Bruce Boudreau.

28. But it happened and good for Bruce and the Wild now that Minnesota has gifted Cousin Brucie with the head coaching gig.

29. Since the Ducks apparently are viewing the next coach in the younger realm, an interview with Travis Green should be in order.

30. Betcha didn’t know that realistic table hockey games date back to 1932. Now there’s a book out about the original Munro game authored by Don Munro whose family built the classic items.

31. Marc-Andre Fleury’s time will come if Pittsburgh gets past Washington and into Round Three. It will be his long-range audition to become Las Vegas goalie in the expansion draft.

32. Best Goalie Playoff beard prize goes to Braden Holtby. Judge Brent Burns will approve.

33. Advice from T.J. Oshie: “Try not to sit back.” The Capitals didn’t and that’s why they’re still alive.

34. On a scale of one to 10, when Alex Ovechkin plays against Sidney Crosby, I give it to the Caps’ captain, 9-8.