7. The Leafs
“Losers of four straight,” doesn’t exactly flatter them, though two were in overtime and all were on the road.
The good enws is the Leafs’ old problems — i.e. giving up 40 shots every night, maybe taking some nights off — aren’t really an issue any more. They only did it once, in Tampa, and hey, Tampa’s really good.
But regardless, this isn’t the time of year you want to be losing four straight, even if Auston Matthews is still out. The good news, I guess, is that the cushion the top-three in the Atlantic is such that even with the Leafs slumping and the Panthers getting insanely hot, they still ended that Sabres loss with a FIFTEEN-point lead for third in the division.
We’ve known it was gonna be a Leafs/Bruins series in the first round since, what, November? Now it increasingly looks like the Bruins are gonna have home ice in it, even despite their injury situation, which we’ll get to in a minute.
I mean, that series is gonna be great. Sign me up for it. But still, this is maybe a bigger point of concern. Something to monitor anyway.
6. Cap management
How about this one: Brock Boeser is probably done for the year, meaning it will be virtually impossible for him not to max out his bonuses this season.
But I mean, who cares? This is a rebuilding team that doesn’t have to worry about salary cap issues and…. what’s that? Boeser hitting these bonuses is for-sure going to push them over the salary cap? And that means they’ll carry a cap penalty into next season of whatever the overage is? And the Canucks are only eight points up on the worst team in the league this season?
Pretty cool. I would love to be a Canucks fan, for sure. But hey, maybe the Sedins will retire and it really and truly won’t matter. That, in turn, might actually kickstart the rebuild in earnest. And only three years too late!
5. A letter from Eugene
I mentioned this in the Power Feelings yesterday and got a couple emails about it, so here are the highlights from Eugene Melnyk’s open letter to the fans, who he 100000 percent thinks are dumbasses and suckers who don’t see through him.
You can tell because in the letters opening like, he calls the fans “valued,” which is what some ghoulish telecom calls you when you’ve been on hold for 45 minutes when the repairman didn’t show up to fix your cable during the six-hour window you had to be home on a Tuesday afternoon.
Then he was like “sure our team sucks, but remember when we almost made it to the Cup Final? Pretty cool, huh?”
But this line is totally baffling: “We have had Canada’s most successful NHL on-ice performance over the past 15 years.” I immediately wondered, by what metric could this possibly be true? Ottawa’s record in the past 15 years — which, I guess what happened in 2002-03 matters? — is 11th in the NHL. But they’re behind the ninth-place Canucks by 12 wins.
They’ve certainly played the most playoff games of any Canadian team in that stretch (107), which also gives them the most wins (55), but that also only puts them three games above .500. This has to be what Melnyk is talking about, but like, the reason he said “15 years” is because if you go back “14 years,” oops, they get passed by Montreal in playoff games played. And that’s also true if you go back “12 years” to the start of the cap era.
The general thrust of the letter was something along the lines of “We’re looking to rebuild, but not to the point that you won’t still want me as an owner or to the point that it would endanger my chances of building an arena downtown so I can cash out big time when I finally sell this team.”
I will say this for Melnyk, though: “I have demonstrated my commitment to giving you the best possible team over and over again,” is the funniest sentence ever written.
4. Goalless streaks
Milan Lucic scored on Monday. First time since before Christmas. That’s a 29-game goalless streak for a guy who was brought in at the same salary as Taylor Hall, and who is signed for a few years to come and only going to get worse.
In the same game, Oscar Klefbom also scored, ending his 33-game goalless drought. But that left two more defensemen with futile streaks of 33 and 32 games (Matt Benning and Andrej Sekera, respectively). Plus Mike Cammalleri is at 28 games without a goal, Pontus Aberg hasn’t scored since Dec. 14 when he was still a Predator (22 games), and Darnell Nurse hasn’t scored in 20.
It’s almost unbelievable that a team would have so many guys go so long without scoring, but this is what happens when you trade almost all your good forwards I guess.
3. Trading Pacioretty
Speaking of which, I guess there’s some question as to whether the Habs will trade Max Pacioretty this summer if they can find the right price (I bet they could if they lowered their ask). And honestly I think they should do it, because that would mean they’ve changed their GM, which is what they really need to do.
Pacioretty can play, obviously, but few on this team also fall into that category. Getting out from under any expensive long-term contracts would be a good idea since they need to have an actual rebuild. I get the argument that you gotta pay someone to hit the cap floor, but that’s what Carey Price and Shea Weber are for, is it not?
Anyway, trade him at the draft. Preferably to Nashville after they make PK Subban the captain.
2. Charlie and Patrice?
The fact that the Bruins’ No. 1 center and No. 1 defenseman are now both officially out weeks is scary, and might be something that keeps the Leafs in the race for a first-round home ice slot for longer than they should.
But honestly, the way these guys are playing, you might really only start to see deterioration of their game toward the end of this run. Man, this team has a lot of guys who can flat-out play. It’s crazy.
1. Taylor Hall?
Yeah he’s scoring a lot, but the team is losing almost as much. Doesn’t seem very valuable to me!!!
Nathan MacKinnon, on the other hand……..
(Not ranked this week: Goalie interference.
I saw where the NHL is gonna try to fix goalie interference rules before the start of the playoffs. Is there any other league that enacts rule changes midseason this regularly? The NHL changed goalie pad dimensions in like January last year. Everyone hates all this stuff. How does it keep happening? Amazing.)
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)