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.
What did Michael Jordan once say? “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.”
There’s not much basketball and hockey have in common, other than the fact they both have nets. But that statement from basketball’s greatest player ever is just the right balm for the battered and bruised pride of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who would do well to memorize that advice verbatim, because their future has success written all over it.
Come crunch time, these are guys who find that extra gear when the pressure gets ramped up in the
post-season. Here are the top 10 skaters you can count on to come through in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Playoff pressure. Players feel it. Coaches try to control it. Fans freak out over it. And according to a recent study, referees can crack under it.
Michael Lopez, a doctoral student in biostatistics at Brown University, and Kevin Snyder, an assistant professor of sport management at Southern New Hampshire University, assessed the frequency of even-up calls in their paper, “Biased Impartiality among National Hockey League Referees,” published in the International Journal of Sport Finance. Lopez and Snyder found that referees exhibit what they call “biased impartiality.” Meaning, referees subconsciously try to make games as balanced as possible to achieve a perception of fairness.
Nothing nefarious there. The problem is referees may make even-up calls that unfairly balance the number of penalties between teams, and this can actually affect who wins. So despite their best attempts otherwise, refs often have a huge impact on playoff games.
Here’s an easy way for the NHL to make even more money: hold a post-season tournament for all non-playoff teams to determine the Stanley Cup of Hope.
The inspiration for the idea comes from the Kontinental League, which started the Nadezhda Cup (a.k.a. Cup of Hope) last season for teams that missed the playoffs. The, er, “winner” takes home around $600,000 and gets a top pick in the KHL draft.
It’s an out-there idea, for sure, and I’m not necessarily endorsing it, but let’s indulge it for a moment.
As I posted on Twitter Monday, I’m picking two series sweeps in Round 1. But there’s a chance two more go the minimum.
Sweeps are killjoys, though, so let’s hope for longer, and therefore much more exciting, series. But the possibility remains that at least one team, or more, will be on the links within a week.
Here are the most likely series sweeps in Round 1:
Parsing prognostications is always a fun yet humbling and (with some picks) humiliating experience.
I had a glance at my regular season predictions around American Thanksgiving, when teams traditionally take stock of where they think they’re at, and I was fairing pretty well. I had another peek at them during the Sochi Games, and I was looking a little better.
But the last month of the season hit my picks hard. For the most part, I was nearly bang-on for the majority of my predictions. My problem was that when I missed, I swung and missed like Pedro Cerrano on a curve ball.
According to at least one report, Paul Byron may avoid suspension after ending the NHL regular season on an ugly note.
There have been worse hits, for sure, but that shouldn’t lessen any disciplinary action he receives for his hit on Daniel Sedin Sunday evening.
That’s because an injury caused by a penalty should be the primary factor when determining a suspension.
You already know the name Bruce Bennett. If you’ve ever perused the pages of The Hockey News or clicked through THN.com, you’ve seen the name. It’s there in the fine print, crediting some of the most memorable photos in the history of hockey.
Bennett, 58, is an icon of ice imagery. He has photographed hockey for nearly 40 years, with an estimated 40,000-plus images printed in major newspapers and magazines around the world. He has seen his profession go from film to Photoshop, the darkroom to the digital era, while the game went from the old-time hockey of the 1970s to the new-school NHL of today. The players have gotten faster and his equipment more high tech, yet his eye for what makes a photo so indelible, and louder than the accompanying words, remains the same.
“When I cover a hockey game, I’m not just looking for a guy scoring a goal,” he says. “I want the whole picture: I want close-ups of faces, I want to see the tension in a player’s face – I want to see the competitiveness.”