Ronnie Shuker is an associate editor with The Hockey News. He brought his philosophy and journalism graduate degrees to THN in 2011 and has been living the dream since. By day he mans his desk, crushing copy and weaving yarns for the magazine. By night he’s either at home or in the press box watching dump-truck loads of hockey.
The great thing about working at The Hockey News is that dissenting opinions aren’t only allowed, they’re encouraged. Just like there’s a wonderland of differing takes on the game among fans, there are a kaleidoscope of views within THN. And few things are better than a good old-fashioned back-and-forth debate about hockey.
This editor is currently engaged in a barnstormer with the majority of his colleagues over THN’s Stanley Cup prediction. When they assembled to make the selection, he was in Thailand eating delicious food and enjoying the delightful weather, so imagine his surprise when he returned to find out his colleagues had chosen…
…the Tampa Bay Lightning?
On the surface, Tampa Bay is a sexy pick, especially in Corsi and Fenwick, but dig deeper and even the analytics, along with some other salient points, make their Stanley Cup chances look slim.
Here are five points that weigh heavily against the Lightning being able to win the East, much less defeat whoever comes out of the West.
Before any Pittsburgh fans go and get their jerseys in a jumble, just pause for a second, take a deep breath and think about it: if the Penguins fail to get back to the Stanley Cup final for the sixth straight season, what else is left for the franchise to do but blow up the core?
After an off-season of upheaval in which Pittsburgh brought in a new coach, a new GM and a new supporting cast for Sidney Crosby, there would be few options left but to raze the roster to the ground and begin anew. Sure, the Penguins could use Marc-Andre Fleury as a scapegoat and try using the same roster again next season with a different goalie, but that would only be putting off the inevitable. (Just ask the San Jose Sharks, who are years behind on the rebuilding schedule after sticking with their core despite perennial playoff failures, including their first-round faceplant last year.)
The best thing for the Penguins to do would be to try to trade Crosby for the next Crosby.
Question: Have you ever read an analytics article that turned your brain into mashed potatoes? You’re not alone.
They bring to mind this quote from the German philosopher Walter Kaufmann:
“There is nothing like obscurity to make shallowness look profound.”
The Nashville Predators have been one of the NHL’s biggest surprises this season, right alongside the New York Islanders. They’ve led the Central Division most of the way and have been going back-and-forth with the Anaheim Ducks for first in the Western Conference.
For all their hard work, however, the Predators could conceivably end up as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and face the Los Angeles Kings as the No. 8 seed.
That’s right, in the NHL, the reward for finishing first in your conference could be the right to play the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round.
Would anyone be surprised if the Kings “upset” the Predators in a seven-game series?
It wasn’t too long ago that a fan could expect to see his or her favorite NHL superstar play more than 20 minutes per game.
Actually, it was just last season.
In 2013-14, 29 forwards averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time per game. This season, all of eight are above that mark.
Americans love their underdogs. Even more so, perhaps, because America so rarely plays the role of the underdog. That’s why the United States’ victory over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., remains one of the country’s greatest sports stories ever told.
For every underdog story, however, there is the favorite’s tragedy. Of Miracles and Men, the latest documentary in ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series, takes the Miracle on Ice tale and tells it from the other side. Like the recently released Red Army, it humanizes the supposed robots of the Big Red Machine that were upset by a group of college kids on a Friday night in February some 35 years ago. Read more
It was late March and Chicago was in Pittsburgh to face the Penguins. Jason Comyn arrived at the arena early to watch his beloved Blackhawks warm up, just as he’d done every game he’d gone to since October. Patrick Sharp was gliding toward him with his stick on his knees and saw Comyn talking with an attractive woman in the stands.
Sharp had first noticed the travelling Hawks superfan back in October when Comyn was just beginning his epic road trip. Since then, Comyn would usually rap on the glass during the warmup, and Sharp would respond with a head nod. When Comyn saw Sharp coming toward him in Pittsburgh, he flashed him a sly look from the stands, and Sharp responded in kind, which caught the woman’s attention. “Did he just wink at you?” she said.
Indeed he did. That’s the kind of connection a fan can make with a player after following his favorite team around for a season. Read more
The rivalry between Toronto and Montreal extends well beyond the ice. As the London and Paris of North America, the two cities have long respectfully despised one another, mirroring on the municipal level their hockey teams’ mutual dislike. And like any long-standing conflict, this civic feud is filled with stereotypes from both sides.
Torontonians look at Montreal and see a city of European lassitude and lax morals with a fashion sense that falls somewhere between hipster and homeless. Montrealers, meanwhile, think Toronto is the third-largest city in the United States filled with stuck-up suits and anal urban tree-huggers who could all use a little cultural proctology.
For two weeks over the holidays, however, Toronto and Montreal will kiss and make up to co-host the 2015 World Junior Championship, putting the WJC hype machine on its biggest stage ever. Read more