Greetings once again. This is THN’s online mailbag, where we do our best to (a) refer to ourselves with the royal “we” on occasion; and (b) answer a selection of your questions. Thanks to all who submitted one.
Hi Adam, What do you think of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ chance to win the Stanley Cup this year as opposed to recent years? And what sort of season do you think we'll see from Sidney Crosby next year? 150 points?
River Keewaykapow, Cat Lake, Ont.
Any time you have the best player in the game (Crosby), another superstar forward (Evgeni Malkin), a Norris Trophy candidate (Kris Letang), productive secondary players (Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis) and a goalie who, when hot, can steal you a game or two (Marc-Andre Fleury), you have to be seen as one of the biggest threats to win an NHL championship.
Yes, the play of Fleury (and veteran backup Tomas Vokoun) will be of paramount importance if the Pens are to enjoy any playoff success, but I think Pittsburgh is right up there with Boston as the current favorites to come out of the East. However, anything can happen in the next few weeks to alter Pittsburgh’s odds of another Cup victory – and we should know after watching the Kings get hot at the right time last season that other teams (including Montreal and Ottawa) could wind up winning it all.
What’s up, Adam? I have more of a statement than a question. The way NHL players are handling the shootout is starting to bug me. For example, Patrick Kane. I feel the shootout is basically a penalty shot or a break away. I don’t like the way players, especially Kane, almost come to a complete stop and stickhandle until the goalie moves. To me, a player should skate in like he's on a real breakaway and skate all the way through the play. It’s a big disadvantage for the goalie if the player is barely moving. The shooter should skate like it’s actually a game situation.
Bill Donovan, Boston
What’s up, Bill? As for what’s up with me, I’ve got a vacation from this coming Tuesday to the following Monday.
As for your question/statement: you’re certainly not alone in believing that NHLers are allowed too much leeway in the way they participate in the shootout, but there’s a reason why the league hasn’t tightened up regulations in that regard. The grey area is such that it would be nearly impossible to enforce rules based on a loosely constructed idea of continuous motion.
How would you objectively gauge whether a player is moving fast enough for you? Would someone have to sit behind the net with a radar gun focused on the shooter? Or would a high-tech motion detector give a better indication? Do you see how these questions make a crackdown on shootout styles a non-starter in NHL headquarters?
So long as the player’s body doesn’t come to a complete halt at any point, speed and the angle of the shot will come at the sole discretion of the shooter. Like many things in sports, it’s not perfect, but it’s the best under the circumstances.
Adam, should Brendan Gallagher be in consideration for the Calder Trophy? He sits third in points among rookies and has the second best plus/minus. Why has his name never been in the mix?
Martin McKenzie-Jodoin, Montreal
Oh, I think Gallagher is in consideration. He’s just not a frontrunner. And that’s no slight to him. It’s about the caliber of rookie talent he’s competing against, including Jonathan Huberdeau, Justin Schultz and Cory Conacher.
Besides, if you’re going to roll out stats to argue for Gallagher, you have to look at the bigger picture, including his time on ice average of 13:16 per game. That’s not nearly as complimentary – he’s ranked 51st among rookies – and shows you that his game has room to grow. I’m sure Gallagher will get Calder votes, but he’s still a long shot to win it.
Adam, true or false – Carolina makes the playoffs?
Eamon Korbler, Galax, Va.
True – and I’m not some bandwagon-jumper. In fact, picking the Canes to make the playoffs looks like one of the few things I’ll have gotten right (at least, in the Eastern Conference) in my pre-season picks.
Now, I didn’t think Winnipeg would be ahead of them in the standings as they are right now, but the caliber of top-end offensive talent in Carolina always signaled to me that they should be in the post-season mix. That said, I’d expect them to make a move or two before the April 3 trade deadline to bolster their mediocre defense corps. GM Jim Rutherford usually likes to make his moves in advance of deadline day, so those moves could come sooner than later.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.