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Everyone’s favourite interactive hockey column – at least in our minds – is finally back in business after a couple of company-mandated bye weeks – at least in our minds. That is to say we both enjoyed the holiday season, Jay (aka Chase) then headed to the tropics while Mike (aka Dump) ventured out on a trio of road trips covering the Winnipeg Jets.
It’s no great secret the NHL club is struggling mightily lately, losing four consecutive games and registering just three triumphs in January (3-7-1) to fall south of the playoff line in the Western Conference.
The Central Division squad – players, coaches and management, alike -- has the All-Star break plus the bye week (a total of eight days off) to figure out a way to right the ship and generate some victories. A daunting challenge, considering the Jets host the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators followed by a quick trip to St. Louis their first week back.
Indeed, the season could hang in the balance during that stretch of games Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, and that’s heavy burden for the organization and its fan base. So, we’re keeping it relatively light in this installment of D & C. Enjoy the respite.
Some of the best stories from on the road covering the Winnipeg Jets happen in Ubers. Mike and Jay are frequent users of the ride sharing service, and they have met all sorts of interesting characters along the way.
There was the woman in Vegas who openly shared how she got banned from a Caribbean island for a drunken theft. The guy in St. Louis who was blasting music videos on a huge monitor set up inside his vehicle – Nickelback "How You Remind Me" was first up. The strange character in Chicago who admitted to just coming straight from "Two-dollar Tuesday" at the local strip club.
But just when we think we’ve pretty much heard and seen it all, along comes this gem in Columbus the other day.
The best part of this, which I didn’t catch on video, was when we arrived at my hotel from the Columbus airport. Cookie Monster says "Ahhh we made it. Good driving. Let’s celebrate with cookie nom nom nom nom nom". Amazing.— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) January 22, 2020
No, things haven’t been going very well lately for the Jets. But it’s nice to see the frustrated players still remember what it’s all about – entertaining the fans.
Case in point, the always kid-friendly Patrik Laine taking some time out of his pre-game warm-up to have a little fun with a pint-sized fan.
Pregame rock, paper, scissors is the best. �� pic.twitter.com/kqvlytd9LB— NHL (@NHL) January 12, 2020
The contenders have started separating themselves from the pretenders. And we now have a pretty good idea of what each team in the NHL is all about, with everyone at or near the 50-game mark.
In our latest power rankings, the haves and the have-nots are becoming quite clear. And it’s also obvious the Eastern Conference is carrying the balance of power right now, with 5 of the top 6 teams, 7 of the top 9, and 9 of the top 12 coming from out that way.
As always, Mike and Jay compiled their own lists, then averaged them out together for a consensus ranking, which you can see below. Who do we have too high? Who do we have too low? Let us know in the comments:
Mikol Sartor has already made a name for himself as a bona fide star in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and now the secret’s getting out in Canada and across Twitter-sphere.
The Winnipegger, who play up front for the Blues, is second in the MJHL scoring race with 22 tallies and 37 helpers in 43 contests, however, the goal he potted earlier this week at the MJHL / SJHL Showcase in Regina really demonstrated the nifty hands this kid possesses.
What a spectacular inside-outside move from Sartor, who was killing a penalty at the time. As the broadcasters suggest, it’s McDavid-like magic.
It’s not too early to start thinking about NHL award season. And, as members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, Mike and Jay were asked to contribute to mid-season balloting in a number of categories.
We believe in transparency, so here are our ballots, along with who got the nod. Let the second-guessing begin!
HART TROPHY (Most Valuable Player):
Mike: David Pastrnak, Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid
Jay: Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Brad Marchand
Results: Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak
NORRIS TROPHY (Best Defenceman):
Mike: John Carlson, Dougie Hamilton, Roman Josi
Jay: John Carlson, Roman Josi, Victor Hedman
Results: John Carlson, Roman Josi, Dougie Hamilton
CALDER TROPHY (Best Rookie):
Mike: Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, Dominik Kubalik
Jay: Cale Makar, Dominik Kubalik, Victor Olofsson
Results: Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, Victor Olofsson
LADY BYNG (Most Sportsmanlike):
Mike: Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O’Reilly
Jay: Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan O’Reilly, Auston Matthews
Results: Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Ryan O’Reilly
SELKE TROPHY (Best Defensive Forward):
Mike: Patrice Bergeron, Sean Couturier, Mark Stone
Jay: Ryan O’Reilly, Mark Stone, Patrice Bergeron
Results: Sean Couturier, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O’Reilly
VEZINA TROPHY (Best Goaltender):
Mike: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jordan Binnington, Ben Bishop
Jay: Jordan Binnington, Darcy Kuemper, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Results: Connor Hellebuyck, Ben Bishop, Darcy Kuemper
JACK ADAMS (Best Head Coach):
Mike: Mike Sullivan, Craig Berube, John Tortorella
Jay: Craig Berube, Sheldon Keefe, Barry Trotz
Results: Mike Sullivan, John Tortorella, Craig Berube
GM OF THE YEAR:
Mike: Brian MacLellan, Dale Tallon, Joe Sakic
Jay: Doug Armstrong, John Chayka, Lou Lamoriello
Results: Joe Sakic, John Chayka, Doug Armstrong
ROD LANGWAY AWARD (Best Defensive Defenceman):
Mike: Ryan Graves, Jaccob Slavin, Zdeno Chara
Jay: Victor Hedman, Shea Weber, Colton Parayko
Results: Jaccob Slavin, Victor Hedman, Roman Josi
Mike: William Nylander, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Strome
Jay: Anthony Duclair, William Nylander, David Perron
Results: William Nylander, Anthony Duclair, Max Pacioretty
We’re at the tail end of January and NHL teams are heading into the dog days of the 2019-20 NHL season – with the trade deadline just a month away and the pressure-packed stretch run to the playoffs looming. But players get a reprieve this weekend as the annual All-Star Game takes centre stage in St. Louis.
While the skills competition is a huge part of the weekend, someone manning the NHL’s twitter page came up with a new category sure to fire up the animal lovers out there.
Trust us, these loveable mutts get perfect scores!
You're not gonna want to snooze through this one! Longest Nap is your next #NHLAllStar Skills (but with Team Dogs) category.— NHL (@NHL) January 23, 2020
Catch the 2020 #NHLAllStar Skills presented by @NewAmsterdam on Jan. 24 at 8 ET on @NHLonNBCSports and @Sportsnet. pic.twitter.com/6MBTynQCQF
Still on the subject of our four-legged friends, check out this brilliant idea from a woman’s hockey league to help instantly pick up the spirits of a penalized player.
We’d be in favour of seeing this idea take off in hockey games of all levels. Just one question, however: Did she get call for ruff-ing?
Yeah, we’ll show ourselves out.
You probably either love it, or hate it – there likely isn’t any middle ground.
We’re talking about Carolina’s now infamous "Storm Surge" victory celebration, in which players gather at centre ice for a well-choreographed routine.
Mike witnessed the latest one first-hand the other night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, after the Hurricanes downed the Jets 4-1.
And, as big fans of having fun, we can’t help but say this is one of the best ones yet.
Remember the 5 D's of dodgeball: Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. pic.twitter.com/CAbt2Qfudu— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 22, 2020
Of course, the one a couple games before it wasn’t too shabby either.
Two men enter— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) January 8, 2020
One man leaves pic.twitter.com/FSJkGtRXOm
We’ll play this one straight because there’s an allegation a youth was from Philadelphia was hurt, and that’s no laughing matter.
The Flyers’ weird but popular furry mascot, Gritty, is under investigation by police in that city after the family of a 13-year-old boy accused the orange, bearded beast of punching the teen during a fan event in November.
We are not making this up. And while there’s no video to strengthen the family’s claim, the police are taking the accusation seriously and are looking into which person was wearing the wacky costume on the day in question.
Here’s the story from the local paper:
A father took his son to a meet and greet event in November, where he claims Gritty punched his son in the back. https://t.co/SejStvdbFW— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@PhillyInquirer) January 22, 2020
However, on the lighter side of Gritty, he did a master troll job last week after Brad Marchand had perhaps the worst shootout attempt in history, whiffing on the puck at centre ice to end the game and give the Flyers a victory over the Bruins.
Just barely licked it.— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) January 14, 2020
We’ll never stop being impressed by the incredible hand-eye coordination that the best hockey players in the world possess.
And two recent examples were on jaw-dropping display – one in a warm-up, and one in a game situation that might have produced one of the best goals in history had it gone in.
Unreal timing on the commentary pic.twitter.com/6dtz9mLYuZ— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) January 8, 2020
Jared McCann almost scored the goal of the year �� pic.twitter.com/udF5gOyxl8— Gino Hard (@Ginohard_) January 6, 2020
Finally, a tip of the cap to Steve Barton for going above and beyond in being dedicated to his craft.
The veteran NHL linesman wasn’t going to let a little wipeout stop him from seeing an icing call through to the end.
The dedication to making the call. pic.twitter.com/552ctAoJj5— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) January 10, 2020
We especially loved the cameo appearance from Calgary’s Brady Tkachuk, who helped Barton to his feet. We hardly recognized the feisty Flames forward not being at the bottom of a pile involving Zack Kassian.
Got a suggestion for a future edition of Dump & Chase? Let us know about it.
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