With the Canucks taking the joy out of hockey these days, I figured it would be a good time to start up a brand new feature: Hump Day Hockey.
Hump Day Hockey is our chance to look at the good, the bad, and the bizarre of the NHL.
So let’s take a look at hockey in other cities, you know, places where hockey is still fun.
When you start watching this video, your eyes are locked on the dancing astronaut fan in Tampa. That is, until you realize that Jonathan Bernier accidentally spits on an ice cleaner.
This wasn’t exactly a Roberto Alomar-style spit, as Bernier clearly felt bad about it.
— Christine Simpson (@SNChrisSimpson) March 29, 2016
He recovered nicely from it.
You know who isn’t classy? Duncan Keith.
Last night, Keith was up to his old tricks, slashing Minnesota Wild centre Charlie Coyle in the face.
Remarkably, it was the second time Keith has purposely swung a stick at an opponent’s face. He did something similar to Jeff Carter of the LA Kings less than three years ago.
While both of these incidents did not result in a serious injury, clearly it’s something that the NHL should look at seriously. Call me old fashioned, but swinging sticks at an opponent’s face is something the league should get out of the game.
He did seriously hurt someone in 2012 though, as Canucks fans remember vividly.
Keith got just one game for his slash in 2013. He (laughably) got just five games for concussing Daniel Sedin. What will he get this time?
Either way, I hope people around the league finally look at Keith for what who he is: a talented player that commits vicious cheap shots.
Wes McCauley added a little spice to his announcement of a reviewed goal in San Jose on Monday night.
Now, it may seem a little out of place given the dry nature of NHL reviews, but I for one feel that refs should embrace a little drama in their calls. Have some fun with it.
If baseball umpires can add some razzle dazzle to every strikeout call, why can’t refs do a little of the same?
I absolutely loved this from Patrick Maroon on Monday.
Maroon, who played parts of four seasons with the Ducks, was traded to the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline. Is he bitter about being traded from a Stanley Cup contender to a team at the bottom of the standings?
Maroon grabbed the game puck after the Ducks beat his Oilers, 2-1. The Ducks have a ritual of putting the game puck on the wall after victories, so Maroon figured he would mess with them a little bit.
Now, the Oilers don’t play the Ducks any more times this season, and the game was over, so this has zero value to Maroon. He just felt like being a jerk. Love it.
Ever wonder where Hunter Shinkaruk gets his smile? Wonder no longer.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 29, 2016
Shinkaruk may or may not become an excellent NHL player, although I happen to think he will. But if he becomes a star, it will be extra difficult to see given his personality and the fact that he plays in Calgary.
One thing that most people don’t pay much attention to when an NHL team is calling up a lot of players from the minors is the affect that it has on their AHL affiliate!
@UticaComets have had 47 different players in uniform this season.
— Don Laible (@CometsTales) March 29, 2016
Can you imagine trying to follow a team that used 47 players in one season? That’s like following two teams.
One side effect of the new divisional playoff format is less drama regarding playoff positioning down the stretch. With a week and a half left in the regular season, there are six teams that are virtually locked into their position.
Take a team like the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re six points behind the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars for first in the Central Division. At the same time, they’re four points clear of the Nashville Predators.
Under the old format, the Hawks would be fighting tooth and nail for home ice advantage with the Kings and Ducks. Instead? It’s cruise control.
The only really good race concerns the Detroit Red Wings with the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins. The Wings are tied with the Flyers for the last wild card spot and one point behind the Bruins for the last spot in the Atlantic.
The new divisional format should give us some good playoff series, although the first round could be a little light on traditional rivalries. If the playoffs started today, these would be the matchups:
Washington vs Philadelphia
NY Rangers vs Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay vs NY Islanders
Florida vs Boston
Dallas vs Minnesota
St. Louis vs Chicago
Los Angeles vs Nashville
Anaheim vs San Jose
Either way, the NHL playoffs are the best time of the year. Just two weeks to go.