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.
Well, that post-season was underwhelming. Come to think of it, so was the regular season. At 5.03 and 5.32 goals per game, respectively, the two parts of 2014-15 combined to create another low-scoring season for goal-starved fans.
Immediately after that dud of a Stanley Cup final, in which just 23 goals (3.83 per game) were scored, suggestions started flying on ways to fix the dearth of goals and the downtick in excitement. TSN’s Dave Naylor threw his support behind making the nets bigger, a move the NHL should embrace.
Failing that, however, perhaps there’s another way to boost scoring.
Prior to the playoffs, this editor floated an idea by Kris King, vice-president of hockey operations, and Stephen Walkom, senior vice-president and director of officiating, at the NHL. Neither offered any feedback, but at least they were willing to hear it out.
“We have a lot of ‘interesting’ GMs,” King said. “So your idea might not be as crazy as you think.”
That crazy idea targets the suffocating defensive strategies of coaches – the real culprits behind low-scoring games – by making this rule change:
Fighting is better suited for the ring, not the rink, and that’s where it’ll be tonight, when boxing’s two biggest superstars, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, face off in the biggest fight in, well, all of human history.
Two boxers of this stature rarely step in the ring together, but it’s a significantly more frequent occurrence among the NHL’s elite players.
Here are the top 10 fights between NHL superstars since the 2004-05 lockout*:
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