EXCLUSIVE: FACEOFFS MATTER
In every issue, Bluelines and The Fischler Report will bring you a special, in-depth report by David Kolb, whose scouting career dates back to the early 2000s working for the Tampa Bay Lightning. As you will see by the following, this is an in-depth, no-nonsense evaluation of specific tactical success. An exclusive from Friday night. The Washington Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes -- But how? Here's our hot off the presses reason why.
Sometimes, it's not worth the risk to try and win a faceoff. Of course, that sounds strange, but hear me out... In Friday's Washington-Carolina contest, one of those situations came about late in the third period.
The Hurricanes led 3-2 with 5:08 to play, but forward Vincent Trocheck was sent to the penalty box, just called for interference, and the Caps had their chance to tie the game with the extra man.
The big guns were on the ice for Washington, including Niclas Backstrom, who was set to take the faceoff (on the left side of the ice) and Alex Ovechkin behind him at the point, in the Carolina end of the ice.
This faceoff mattered!
Derek Stepan stepped into the faceoff dot to take the draw against Backstrom, and with Brett Pesce, a defenseman, lined up to his right, against the boards, no forward would be rushing to the point to cover Ovi after the puck was dropped. Jordan Staal, the second 'Canes forward was lined up inside, all the way to the left in the slot.
With full knowledge, no Hurricanes skater could get out to the point to defend No. 8 and prevent a shot, I question why Stepan, a seasoned vet, would try and win the (what I call a 50-50) draw back, instead of just focusing on getting his stick under Backstrom's stick shaft, impeding a clean win back to the point. Stepan went for the win, and lost the draw cleanly -- Ovechkin wristed the tying goal past Antti Raanta!
That led to the Ovechkin shootout winner!
So often this scenario plays out, but hardly ever do you see a center in his defensive zone simply strategically look for a faceoff tie. I've always wondered why. You have a nearly 100% chance of tying up the opposing center, instead of a 50% chance of winning it. Nursing a lead late, and the No. 3 all-time NHL goal scorer waiting at the point - is certainly one of those times!
RANDOM TRADE DEADLINE THOUGHTS:
1. RANGERS RULE: All things considered, the Blueshirts emerge in better overall strength than any club. Already Frankie Vatrano is paying off and Kreider will finish stronger than Ovie, and the Toronto Whiz Brothers. R's last two wins convinced me.
2. GIORDANO HONORED: The old boy played his 1,000th game, got a Silver Stick, Rolex watch and a gift lift to a playoff team. The Leafs now have a bloated backline but what about the creepy crease situation? Musical goalies in Hogtown.
3. GOOD FOR GIROUX: Like Giordano, Claude played his 1,000th, got gifts and a tix to playoffs. He'll give Florida -- as if they need it -- more offense and leadership.
What he doesn't do is make MVP D-man Aaron Ekblad healthy.
4. G&G PARALLELS: Panthers have not won a playoff in this century. The Leafs last won a playoff round in 2004; whenever that was. Expect Giroux's team to go farther than Giordano's. (Thanks to gregarious Glenn Dreyfuss for the many items above.)
5. NOT HARI-KARI: Toronto's signing of 2022 Olympic champ goalie Harri Sateri reminds me of New Jersey's grabbing stopper Sean Burke off the 1988 Canadian Olympic team after the Calgary games. Burke spearheaded the Devils to amazing playoff wins.
6. UNDER THE RADAR: Good move by Dallas importing underrated goalie Scott Wedgewood from the Yotes for a conditional fourth-rounder.
A bushel of trade deadline conclusions:
* Giroux deal should take Florida past the second round.
* If Claude could do that, he'll pave a turnpike to the final.
* Less is more with Nashville, a genuine playoff sleeper.
* Kyle Dubas is the GM whose job is most on the line based on today's moves.
* Yes, Lindholm will fortify the bruins d; but, no, not enough to compensate for "eh" goaltending.
* Hagel makes the defending champs almost -- but not quite -- as imposing as last year. ergo: not quite enough.
* Vatrano to rangers is low-key but -- you shall see -- high rewards. Frankie is the poor man's Barclay Goodrow.
* Manson to colorado has some 'experts' raving about the avs' super-duper get. (but, not me!)
* Nico Sturm to colorado; Tyson Jost to Minny: it's a tie; both fellas need a change of scenery.
* Calle Jarnkrok from Seattle to Calgary: more depth for the Flames.
WHAT EVERYONE HAS FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE TRADE DEADLINE DEALS THAT WON 4 CUPS
He belongs in the Hall of Fame because when he arrived on Long Island he helped Al Arbour's crew win the 1980 Stanley Cup. And three more after that
Full credit to Bill Torrey who made the deal and to Butch for following through as no trade deadline acquisition ever had before or, for that matter, since.
But overlooked by all is the fact that the Islanders dynasty never could have happened without two previous deals made by Bow Tie Bill.
What the Nassaumen badly needed -- in addition to a Grade A center to relieve Bryan Trottier -- were two defensemen of totally different style and disposition.
One had to be as mean as a humongous dragon -- sort of a T-Rex on skates -- and the other clean-tough, smart and totally clutch on offense and defense.
Sadly forgotten for their huge contributions were snarly Gord Lane and ultra-efficient Ken Morrow.
"When we got Gordie," said 1980 Cup winner goalie Glenn (Chico) Resch, "it was said that he was so mean, he'd spear his grandmother if she came skating down his side."
That's a slight exaggeration, of course -- good for a laugh -- but there was nothing funny about Lane. Torrey never had been such an intimidating force. But there was more work to be done, by Torrey's sidekick, Jim Devellano.
"For us to get Goring," Jimmy D told me, "we had to give L.A. a forward (Billy Harris) and a defenseman (Dave Lewis) so we knew we had to plug Davey's spot with another D-man or two. And we knew that besides Lane, there was Morrow."
Bulwark of the 1980 Miracle On Ice Olympic Gold Medalists, Morrow stepped in to become the club's best two-way defender -- totally fearless and nasty when necessary -- after Denis Potvin.
Devellano: "We've never forgotten that Kenny got big goals from us starting with our first playoff series in 1980 to our fourth Cup-clinching in Game Four against Edmonton in 1983 and into 1984 when he beat the Rangers in overtime."
In fairness, to the Dynasty, the equation should read: Goring plus Lane, plus Morrow were the difference-makers!
In a few months, we'll know if any today's -- and this past week's -- trades will come close to the Torrey Trifecta that ignited a team that won an unprecedented 19 straight playoff series.
DON'T IGNORE THE KINGS
That hockey team in Tinseltown is easy to forget. They've missed the playoffs five times in the past seven seasons and were not given much of a nod this semester. I suggest that you not sell them short.
Good things are happening under coach Todd McLellan's baton. Namely, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown for starters and Jonathan Quick and Cal Peterson in the crease. Adrian Kempe is enjoying a breakout season and Vic Arvidsoon is playing like he really means it.
What I most like is the manner in which Petersen has moved from Quick's understudy to leading man in goal. Let's not forget that the Waterloo, Iowa -- yes, can you believe Waterloo, Iowa -- native helped Uncle Sam to a Bronze Medal at the World Championship. The Quick-Petersen Act is one helluva strong one-two punch in the nets.
Writing in The Hockey News Annual, Doug Ward noted, "The Kings have a solid bridge to the next generation." That starts with large center Quinton Byfield.
Frankly, for the moment GM Rob Blake is more interested in the now rather than the next.
I'M JUST SAYIN':
* Were I in Chris Drury's chair, I would have made a single deal neither yesterday nor today. No need to mess with perfect chemistry and ideal roster balance.
* Nothing -- and I do mean absolutely nothing -- is nutsier than this season's goaltending follies where puck-stoppers keep dropping like droplets in the Amazon Rain Forest.
* You think that's crazy; how the Nobodys have become overnight Somebodys and in position to turn their creases into a fortress.
* Those flying Leafs plucked a 6-foot-3, 198-pound monster from the Vaxjo sextet in Sweden named Erik Kallgren and nobody could even spell his name.
* But when Toronto sent out a big S.O.S., Kallgren put on the Royal Blue and White last week and merely allowed two goals in his first two starts.
* Next came a loss to Nashville and -- Splat! -- the bubble burst.
* Out in Vegas, the fans petitioned for the canning of coach Peter DeBoer. Pistol Pete ignored the front-runners and found a fourth-stringer ready to stop the bleeding.
* So, I ask you; have you ever heard of a Calgary kid named Logan Thompson? Not me!* Facing the sizzling Panthers last Thursday, he made DeBoer look more secure with a 5-3 victory. Thompson's 33 saves stopped the Knights five-game losing streak.
* I love Bill Zito because when the Cats' GM talks it's like listening to a verbal rhapsody.
* After Billy The Kid nabbed Ben (Benny The Dip) Chiarot, he talked about the monster (6-foot-3, 234) from Hamilton, Ontario as a Five-Way Wonder.
* "Chiarot crunches big minutes; he can move the puck; he can handle the defensive pressure; he's a warrior and he brings out team energy with his competitiveness."
* Some clever Sunrise musicologist should do a take-off on the spiritual, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." After a Ben hip check, how about "Swing Low, Sweet Chiarot."
* My Seattle buddy, Glenn Dreyfuss wonders whether I've been putting down the "Insiders." Quite the contrary; I admire their endless ferreting out of scoops.
* What amazed me -- maybe even puzzled me -- was that competing "Insiders" came up with the identical scoop on the Giroux deal.
* Both Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Pierre LeBrun filed their "beats" at exactly 11:58 p.m. Saturday night.
* Just wondering how such a photo finish is possible.
* The big issue is deciding on the true "Insider Emperor." Darren Dreger's still right up there.
* I'm still tryin' to decide whether top pick Alexis Lafreniere is a bust or just needs one more year, a la Jean Beliveau in the early 1950's. (I give him a year.)
* Slowly -- ever so slowly -- I'm becoming a Spencer Knight fan.
* Hockey People Care Department: It was sweet of the Capitals to honor their Cup-winning goalie, Braden Holtby, and thoughtful of the Rangers to do a moment of silence at MSG for the passing of Islanders defenseman Jean Potvin.
* The scout who found Red Wings whiz kid Moritz Seider deserves a big raise. Perhaps, assistant to the assistant GM.
WHO SAID IT?
"When he goes by my bench, I turn away so I won't have to watch."(Answer below.)
APPLESAUCE OR NOT?
After losing 2-1 to the Islanders last Thursday night, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant described Kyle Palmieri's late game-winning goal as the result of "A funny rush."
Applesauce, or not? Sorry, Gerry, that's applesauce. There was nothing "funny" about it; you lost!
Seattle Kraken TV voice John Forslund has celebrated his 30th anniversary behind an NHL mike by granting our crack Northwest reporter-editor Glenn Dreyfuss exclusive stories related to John's distinguished career in the hockey business. In this last [art of a four-part series, Forslund reveals why one booth partner said he should appear on "Dancing With The Stars."
Take it away, John, and many thanks for your time with Glenn.
When I broadcast a game, I have to stand rather than sit as most play-by-play do. Also, I have to use my hands. I dance with the "music" coming off the ice. I feel the game and while all this is going on, my head is moving as well. Of course, there have to be a few exceptions; and San Jose is one of them.
The Sharks' arena, SAP Center, locates us in an area where -- if I were standing -- my view would be obstructed. I don't that it that way but in that case I have to adjust -- and sit while doing the games.
The last few years have been unusual not only for me but everyone in the NHL broadcasting game because of the effects imposed on us by the Pandemic.
For example, Studio remote broadcasts that I've both seen and have been a part of are not the same. Part of our job is to gain the trust of the fans and, frankly, I don't know how the fans can really trust you if you're not there. (And I don't think that that's real broadcasting.
On top of that, at the end of the 2020 season and the entire 2021 season, I never saw a practice. To me -- and my colleagues in the play-by-play business -- practice days for us are just as important as the games themselves.
That's where I take what I see and communicate it to the fans because I know that they can't be there and I can. One last comment, if I may and it has to do with the very challenging job of officiating.
I don't wear "orange armbands." I don't pretend to be a referee -- or linesman for that matter. I'm not going to berate the officials. However, I might say something like "That was a tough call where they missed one." I have a high level of respect for those officials.
Yes, I know that some announcers might say, "The refereeing is so bad" and some fans enjoy hearing that. It actually reminds me that when one of us hockey broadcasters do a national network telecast, each fan base is convinced that we hate them. Actually, that means that you're doing a good job!
(Thank you again, John, and Glenn. This worthwhile segment is much appreciated).
ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT?
Four-time Cup-winning Leafs coach Punch Imlach, commenting on Bruins' ace Bobby Orr carrying the puck on offense.