November 18, 2018

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Dump & Chase

Back from Helsinki

Reunited, and it feels so good…

After about 10 days away, Jay (a.k.a. Chase) has returned to the land from whence he came. Chronicling the Winnipeg Jets' journey to Finland for the 2018 Global Series was a career highlight for the veteran scribe, but he’s glad to be back in the Manitoba capital.

Mike (a.k.a. Dump), meanwhile, spent much of the past week pining for the return of his pal while monitoring the happenings of the Central Division squad in Helsinki.

A few takeaways from the Jets’ junket?

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Reunited, and it feels so good…

After about 10 days away, Jay (a.k.a. Chase) has returned to the land from whence he came. Chronicling the Winnipeg Jets' journey to Finland for the 2018 Global Series was a career highlight for the veteran scribe, but he’s glad to be back in the Manitoba capital.

Mike (a.k.a. Dump), meanwhile, spent much of the past week pining for the return of his pal while monitoring the happenings of the Central Division squad in Helsinki.

A few takeaways from the Jets’ junket?

1) The media circus surrounding Jets winger Patrik Laine, before, during and after he scored four times in a split with the Florida Panthers.

2) The humorous press conferences with Laine, Panthers centre Aleksander Barkov and Jets coach Paul Maurice.

3) The lack of discipline shown by Winnipeg forward Brendan Lemieux — who begins serving a two-game suspension Friday when the Colorado Avalanche stop by Bell MTS Place.

4) The number of mistakes made by two teams struggling with jet lag and drastic alterations to normal routine.

The Jets have had a week to reset their internal clocks and prepare for Friday night's matchup with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog and the rest of a very good Colorado lineup.

It will be interesting to see how Maurice’s team responds as it kicks off a four-game home stand that also includes visits by three Eastern Conference clubs: the New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres.

It’s always a treat to watch Laine and Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin share the same stage. But that’s next week. For now, we’re reminiscing about the week that was in the hockey world.

Pregame warmup

Plenty has changed since we last took the temperature of all 31 NHL clubs a month ago. And that's reflected in our latest power rankings.

While some familiar franchises are still hanging around near the top, some other expected hockey heavyweights have taken big drops while a handful of surprises are making some serious early-season noise.

Agree or disagree? Who do we have too high, or too low? Let us know in the comments below. (Last month's ranking is in brackets.)

T1. Nashville (3)

T1. Tampa (1)

3. Toronto (2)

4. San Jose (6)

5. Boston (T9)

6. Winnipeg (T4)

7. Calgary (18)

8. Colorado (T13)

9. NY Islanders (21)

10. Minnesota (T22)

T11. Washington (T4)

T11. Pittsburgh (7)

T11. Vancouver (29)

T14. Montreal (26)

T14. Dallas (T9)

16. Columbus (12)

17. Edmonton (25)

T18. Buffalo (T22)

T18. Philadelphia (T22)

T18. Arizona (30)

21. New Jersey (17)

T22. Carolina (11)

T22. Chicago (T15)

T22. NY Rangers (T27)

25. St. Louis (19)

26. Ottawa (31)

27. Vegas (8)

28. Anaheim (T13)

29. Los Angeles (T15)

30. Detroit (T27)

31. Florida (20)

BIGGEST RISERS: Vancouver, NY Islanders, Montreal, Minnesota, Calgary.

BIGGEST DROPPERS: Vegas, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Carolina, Florida.

First period

Taking Uber is a natural part of the job when you cover an NHL team. And while Mike and Jay have spent plenty of time in the backseat of stranger's vehicles going from the airport to the hotel to the rink and back, they'd both like to put on the record that they've never had a single bad word to say about their most excellent and handsome and intelligent boss, Steve Lyons.

Ahem.

There's no question the Ottawa Senators/Uber "scandal" which has made headlines across North America is quite the salacious tale.

But Jets coach Maurice stepped in the other day to say he doesn't think it's a big deal, offering up the kind of interesting take we've come to expect from the bench boss.

Of course, this story is far from over, with various parties checking into their legal options and the Ottawa organization furious with the local newspaper that broke the story. Good times in the nation's capital.

Leave it to the always funny Down Goes Brown to come up with a real zinger to sum up this entire mess.

***

There's nothing like some home cooking, which the Jets are no doubt looking forward to after a couple weeks on the road in Detroit, Toronto and then Helsinki.

But for nine NHL teams earlier this week, they took those comforts to near-unprecedented territory.

Prior to Tuesday night, there had only been four occasions in league history when home teams swept at least a nine-game schedule.

Then Toronto, the New York Rangers, Columbus, Ottawa, Detroit, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Los Angeles and San Jose all came up with two points in front of their fans for a perfect 9-0-0 record.

You can now add Nov. 6, 2018 to the hockey history books along with Feb. 28, 2004, Nov. 20, 2003, Oct. 9, 2003 and March 17, 1996. Teams on those nights also went nine-for-nine, so perhaps the next big achievement is seeing home teams go a perfect 10 one night in the near future.

Second period

Many local hockey fans no doubt remember the name.

Cody Hodgson was a hot-shot prospect with the Vancouver Canucks who played 52 games with the Manitoba Moose in his rookie pro season in 2010-11.

That was the season prior to the return of the Jets, of course, and back when the Moose were still the AHL affiliate for the Canucks.

Hodgson, the 10th-overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, put up 17 goals and 13 assists in 52 AHL games that year.

It was supposed to be the launch pad of much greater things for the skilled forward, but Hodgson's NHL career never panned out as most figured it would.

Hodgson dressed for 328 big league games with Vancouver, Buffalo and Nashville, with just 64 goals and 78 assists to show for it until he announced his surprise retirement two years ago.

There were plenty of rumours and speculation about what went wrong. But now Hodgson is set to go public in a big way with what derailed his career.

In an upcoming documentary, Hodgson discusses the genetic disorder that hampered his development and ultimately forced him to the sidelines. It looks like quite a story.

HODGSON TRAILER from Jason Kaminsky on Vimeo.

***

Both of us are both huge baseball fans who root, root, root for the Blue Jays. Of course, there hasn't been a lot to cheer about recently.

However, you can imagine our collective excitement this week when a clever designer came up with a concept of what every MLB team would look like if their uniform were converted into hockey threads.

Some of these are extremely sharp and, frankly, a lot better than some of the current duds being sported by NHL clubs.

Among our favourites are the Oakland A's, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees...and, of course, the Blue Jays.

How about you?

Third period

When played right, hockey can be the most graceful sport in the world, a beautiful mix of speed and skill that leaves you shaking your head in amazement.

For example, this video of Patrick Kane stickhandling is pretty much a work of art.

Unfortunately, most of us who try to do that end up looking more like this guy than Kane.


And as we all know, hockey can be painful to play, and watch. We got another reminder of the hazards this week.


Hope he remembered to wear a cup!

***

Fortunately, our faith in the game was restored by this unreal goal from Germany's top pro league.

With Krefeld Pinguine and Dusseldorf of Deutsche Eishockey Liga deadlocked through regulation, overtime was required to settle the score.

And that's when Sweden's Greger Hanson took the matter into his own hands, quite literally, with a dazzling end-to-end rush that will be on highlight reels for years to come.


We're not sure what the excited broadcaster said in his call, but we couldn't agree more!

Overtime

Another thing we are big fans of? Athletes who don't give bland, cookie-cutter answers.

Fortunately we have a few good ones to cover on the local club, as players like Patrik Laine and Mathieu Perreault, and coach Maurice often come up with gems.

So we got a real kick out of his post-game chat with Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin following a game in Boston against his former team.

***

Size isn't everything.

Sure, it helps to be big and tall when it comes to imposing your will on a hockey rink. But there are plenty of "little guys" in the game these days who are making a huge difference.

That being said, it was hard to believe the disparity between Zdeno Chara — the NHL's tallest player at 6'9 — and Rocco Grimaldi — the NHL's shortest player at 5'6.

The pair squared off last week in a game and were great sports for a photo opp that became an instant hit.

For some reason, this classic cartoon instantly came to mind.

Shootout

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the... ice?

Yes, that was the case this past week when a college hockey player broke out a pretty unusual celebration following his goal.

Johnny Walker, which is already a super cool hockey name that instantly makes you think of fun times, led his team to a big upset win over Penn State by scoring the overtime winner.

As cool as that was, the Carolina Hurricanes quickly topped it when the ENTIRE TEAM got in on the act after a recent win.

We're totally on board if players and teams decide to emulate other popular nursery rhymes going forward. Perhaps the Hurricanes can find a unique spin on Humpty Dumpty next game?

Your weekly trip around the world of hockey.

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