MythBusters: Predictable Truths and Hypotheses From the NHL Universe

————————————————————

by Kolby Solinsky

Editor, White Cover Magazine

————————————————————

1. The Winnipeg Jets Will Make the Playoffs…

It all seems like it’s in place. The Jets are certainly good enough on their own, but then again almost every team looks good enough on its own (except for Calgary or Vancouver) right now. Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane have been two of the better all-around player in the league this year, while the timely tending of Ondrej Pavelec has made all but the Manitoba RCMP forget about last summer’s DUI charge. (Yeah.)

Andrew Ladd Winnipeg JEts
(Photo “courtesy” of The Globe and Mail)

The only problem?

This really comes down to the other teams in their division, not the Jets themselves. If the standings were based on points alone (and not division seedings, like it is in the NFL or the MLB, kind of) then the Jets would be in a three-way tie for fifth and only one point ahead of Carolina, who sits in 8th place and second in the Southeast Division behind the Jets.

Tampa Bay and Washington are only seven points back, and neither has been able to figure out every part of their squad yet.

If the Lightning can protect their goaltenders — who have been unfairly blamed for struggling on a team that has never — not once — cared about defense — and if Washington can connect the dots between Mike Green and everyone else in D.C., then the Jets are in trouble.

Andrew LAdd against Buffalo Sabres
(Photo “courtesy” of the CBC)
Andrew Ladd with Ondrej Pavelec
(Photo “courtesy” of the Winnipeg Sun)

Then again, it would be a great story, and I’m not the kinda’ guy who likes to ruin anyone’s day.

Myth: PLAUSIBLE.

————————————————————

2. The Chicago Blackhawks Will Win the Stanley Cup…

Let me explain something to you, if you’re the kind of guy who actually believes what Stephen A. Smith saysthe NHL has greater parity than the NBA.

There’s a reason there hasn’t been a three-peat Stanley Cup winner since 1983, while the Lakers and Bulls (twice) have done it since then, and Miami might still by 2014.

There’s a reason the Blackhawks had to go on an unbeaten streak and not a winning streak (like the Heat are currently on). A winning streak eclipsing 20 games in today’s NHL is impossible. Yes, I said impossible.

The Blackhawks had to start all over after their run was busted. The Heat will just carry on, because they’re by far the best team in the country and they have the greatest player since Jordan and before Jordan in LeBron James.

Is Chicago the favourite?

Well, I’d hope so, but then that’s not giving enough credit to Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, or Boston, each of whom has played like they could win their second Cup since 2009, 2012, and 2011, respectively.

There are still folks waiting for Detroit and Vancouver to figure their sh*t out, but only the first of those will. Still, who’s to say the Canucks couldn’t beat Chicago in a seven-game playoff series?

The NHL is all parity and nothing but.

Chicago is certainly a step ahead of most, but that doesn’t really matter in March.

For the time being…

Myth: BUSTED.

Patrick Kane - Winter Classic
(Photo “courtesy” of The Province Blogs)

————————————————————

3. TSN is Canada’s Sports Leader…

Nope.

CBC?

Nah.

Sportsnet.

Don’t laugh, okay?

Katie Baker’s coverage is exquisite, but she’s not her own website. Same with Bruce Arthur. Ditto for Mark Spector. (Rick Reilly could probably write a good hockey column, too, unless he starts blaming the CN Tower for Toronto’s 45-year Cup drought.)

Oddly enough, I’m going with Deadspin. Their thumb is constantly on the buzzer, and the sports blog is the legitimizing factor in Gawker Media’s Mean Girl-inspired wit factory that others confused for “journalism”.

Of course, the site often proves them right and wrong at the same time. It is journalism, but it’s also better than those who believe they have a right to the badge.

“Brad Friedel once said that ‘for a goalkeeper, there is no hiding place,'” wrote Reuben Fischer-Baum, on Friday, March 15. “As the last line of defense, the goalie’s mistakes are as obvious as they are costly. These players are expected to defy basic survival instincts and try to get in the way of fast-moving projectiles, meaning the position takes a certain kind of mental toughness. Or maybe just a functional insanity.”

The photo from that article is just below. These kinds of cleverly designed, catchy graphics are delivered dime-a-dozen from A.J. Daulerio’s Manhattan cockpit.

The Last Line of Defense - Deadspin Photo
(Photo “courtesy” of Deadspin.com)

Myth: BUSTED.

————————————————————

4. The Blackhawks/Canucks Thing is Still the Best Rivalry in the NHL…

Yes. The Hawks’ elevation to another level of insanely awesome in 2013 hasn’t changed the competition between the two teams, and it’s one of those rare rivalries that seems to only escalate when you think it’s winding down.

In the words of Leonard from Community, “I was in Korea… I knew the sound of crap when it was about to hit the fan. You know what it sounded like? That’s right, Jackson… Silence.”

Last year, the rivalry had pretty much hit its denouement, what with the Canucks having just tumbled off the mountain that all teams do after they lose a Cup Final in seven games and the Hawks crawling up slowly from eighth place in 2011 to sixth in 2012.

Then, Duncan Keith shanked Daniel Sedin in the face and David Bolland tried his hand at the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

This year, the teams have traded shootout wins, with each Vancouver and Chicago going 1-0-1 against the other in the only two games they’ve played.

It seemed like the franchises had built up a level of mutual respect this year, if only because Roberto Luongo is not the all-powerful goalie he was when Chicago first euthanized him in 2009 and because Patrick Kane has started scoring and stopped talking and abusing cab drivers.

But, yeah, then this happened:

I’d always wondered whether it would become awkward that Vancouver has an AHL farm team in Chicago. Turns out, it is.

Myth: PLAUSIBLE.

————————————————————

5. Ryan Miller is Polite

Ryan Miller is that kind of guy who has the ability to go from victim to child by simply speaking. When Milan Lucic ran him in 2011, you wouldn’t have found a guy outside of Jeremy Renner’s character from The Town who thought Looch shouldn’t have been suspended.

Then, Miller opened his mouth and suddenly nobody cared.

The Spring before, when Philly’s Mike Richards tattooed Tim Connolly into the boards and then told reporters post-game that Buffalo was “getting away with murder” (because of what he thought we a bunch of missed calls by the referees), Miller responded with the very uncreative line, “If Mike Richards thinks we got away with murder, I have no idea what he just got away with… mass murder? Unbelievable.”

Good one.

Now, he’s turned his focus to his own team, which is nice for Niagara’s faithful.

“He’s being dramatic,” Miller told the Buffalo News. He was speaking about Patrick Kaleta, his own forward who was suspended for tapping Brad Richards into the boards a couple weeks ago and is still watching from the sidelines. “We’re not discussing what he says to you guys because that’s just drama and he needs to just grow up.

“He had a stupid play in a game. He sat, he was punished. He has to get over it and move on.”

To be fair, Miller’s actually in the right on this one. And, he was in the right on the last couple examples, too.

I think it’s just his face. It’s wiry. His hair is kind of scraggly. He’s a tattle tail. A faker. A diver. A constant victim. He’s the Tierra of the National Hockey League.

If he wasn’t a terrific goalie — and, if he wasn’t the first such player Buffalo’s had like this — then I’d say there’s more to this story.

But, no. It’s just funny. And, he’s not polite.

Myth: BUSTED.