With 72 points in 73 games, Erik Karlsson has a 23-point lead in the NHL defensemen scoring race. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
I’m back from vacation and ready to get to the questions that have been piling up in my mailbag. But I saw a couple inquiries from folks wondering why their question hasn’t been answered, so I feel the need to stress the fact I can’t get to each and every question readers submit. But I do my best to answer them here on THN.com, as well as in our magazine and on THN Radio. So, if you don’t see your question here, check those two platforms. And if I didn’t get to it at all, don’t be shy about trying again! Now, on to this week’s answers:
Adam, do you think Calgary will make the playoffs?
Mike Bell, Calgary
The short answer: no, I don’t. The longer answer: I’ve not thought much of the Flames for a few years now and reiterate that stance regularly. They (and their Eastern Conference equivalent Maple Leafs) have become the epitome of what it is to be an NHL team just bad enough to miss the playoffs year after year and just good enough to finish ahead of the league’s worst franchises who wind up rewarded for bottoming out with a top-five draft pick.
That’s why it has been apparent to many people that Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff need to be traded at the first opportunity to put the Flames into a proper, needed rebuild. But because Calgary ownership and management have been unwilling to be the ones taking the initiative in that regard, the team has made patchwork, Band-Aid solutions that have gotten them exactly nowhere. And if the past week – featuring losses to the league’s dregs in Edmonton, Columbus and Minnesota – doesn’t drive home the truth about this team and its all-but-closed window in which to be a bona fide Stanley Cup contender, nothing will.
If I were a Flames fan, I’d be incensed enough by the fact the team is on course to miss the playoffs for the third straight year. But if GM Jay Feaster and/or team president Ken King attempt to put more lipstick on this pig in the off-season, I’d be ready to start picketing outside the Saddledome.
Adam, you’ve bashed on the Panthers before the season and throughout the season. Every time someone mentions the Panthers and playoffs, you'd say something like, “I'm not buying it, not happening, they are just better because you can’t get worse and predicting them to sink at the bottom.” I just want to ask, what are your thoughts now, Adam?
David Buritica, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
I’ve never bashed the Panthers. I merely expressed the fact a team that had made a tradition of mismanagement and not making the playoffs would have to prove to me it could do so first. I say that about most teams with a history resembling Florida’s.
That said, I was indeed skeptical GM Dale Tallon’s mix-and-match off-season acquisitions would come together as well as they have. But full credit is due to Tallon (my pick for GM of the year), coach Kevin Dineen and the Panthers players themselves. They remind me in some ways of the Ottawa Senators – a group of veteran players who took previous disappointing seasons personally and raised their game to stop that from happening again. We’ll see how their youngsters and depth hold up in the post-season, but there is no denying the franchise looks to have brighter days ahead of it in the near future. If you want me to praise them more than that, they’ll have to continue winning as the importance of games increases. And that goes for every team, not just the one in South Florida.
Hey Adam. I know this is a bit late, but now that Rogers and Bell own the majority of the Maple Leafs, do you think that will help bring about the end of Hockey Night in Canada and all the NHL’s games will be broadcast on Sportsnet and TSN?
Eric Duncan, Toronto
There is no shortage of speculation among industry observers that Canada’s two private sports media giants will be making a concerted effort to wrest away NHL games from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. However, I wouldn’t put all the nails in the coffin of the publicly funded network just yet.
The CBC derives a huge amount of money from advertising associated with HNIC and money that is redirected into its news budget. It would represent a crushing blow to have those funds disappear, so you can expect CBC brass to bend over backward to maintain its present relationship with the NHL.
That said, it has become public knowledge some NHL teams and/or executives haven’t been overly pleased with the coverage and commentary the CBC provides. And now that you’ve got Canadian broadcasters getting into bed with the league as team owners, it is only natural to presume their approach to broadcasting games would be more league-friendly.
The bottom line is nobody can say with complete certainty what will happen to HNIC. But the battle lines are definitely becoming clearer with each passing day.
Adam, the MVP talk has circled mostly around Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos as of late, but I want to know why no one is really talking about Senators D-man Erik Karlsson as an MVP candidate. He is on a point-per-game pace, has the second-highest plus-minus among Senators players and is tied for fourth in the NHL in power play points. As far as offensive defensemen go, he's having one of the biggest seasons in quite a while. Do you think Karlsson should be in the MVP race?
Nolan Tallmadge, Lyndonville, Vt.
There’s no question Karlsson deserves to be in the debate for the Norris Trophy this season, but for my money, Malkin and Henrik Lundqvist are the two horses worth watching in the Hart Trophy race. With due respect to Karlsson, if you took him off the team, I think the collective efforts of Sens players such as Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Filip Kuba and others were as important to Ottawa’s success as the young star blueliner’s were.
Now, you can make the argument Malkin and the Pens have been helped by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and a deep Pittsburgh team, but I think the Russian star has been a force unto himself. And if you take Lundqvist off the Rangers and put a lesser goalie in his place, I doubt the Blueshirts are anywhere close to the top of the NHL standings.
None of this is to demean Karlsson’s impressive achievements this year. However, Lundqvist and Malkin have been better and carried their teams in a more all-around manner than Karlsson.