December 12, 2018

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Dump & Chase

Of teddy bear tosses and Seattle Sasquatches

The division of labour was a bit uneven this week for the production of D & C.

No one’s to blame, really — well, maybe the NHL schedule-maker, who packed in three games in four nights for the Winnipeg Jets in the one of the world’s greatest playgrounds.

Jay (alias Chase) has been in Manhattan, Soho actually, for the better part of a week covering the club’s successful sweep of the Devils, Rangers and Islanders. During that time, he’s used just about every Seinfeld reference he could think of, including but not limited to:

“Soup’s not a meal.” “I love the black and white cookie.” “We are taking the armoire and that’s all there is to it.” “Love the Drake; hate the Drake.”

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The division of labour was a bit uneven this week for the production of D & C.

No one’s to blame, really — well, maybe the NHL schedule-maker, who packed in three games in four nights for the Winnipeg Jets in the one of the world’s greatest playgrounds.

Jay (alias Chase) has been in Manhattan, Soho actually, for the better part of a week covering the club’s successful sweep of the Devils, Rangers and Islanders. During that time, he’s used just about every Seinfeld reference he could think of, including but not limited to:

  • “Soup’s not a meal.”
  • “I love the black and white cookie.”
  • “We are taking the armoire and that’s all there is to it.”
  • “Love the Drake; hate the Drake.”

Other NYC highlights included his first tour inside Madison Square Garden, any and all bagels, piano bar karaoke, shaking NHL legend Jean Ratelle’s hand, Strawberry Fields in Central Park, and a chat with Islanders defenceman Ryan Pulock, the pride of Grandview.

All that, plus several 16-hour days in succession, left him little time to contribute to this edition of our online interactive hockey magazine.

Mike (alias Dump) was Home Alone — pun most definitely intended — and left to carry the load himself.

That might be the way it goes for the rest of the season. A high-ranking member of the Jets’ hockey department instructed Jay to make every effort to cover the rest of the road trips following Winnipeg’s 3-1 win in Brooklyn over the Islanders.

Apparently, forward Patrik Laine — who sticks with the same snazzy suit when he’s on a goal-scoring streak — isn’t the only superstitious one in the bunch.

Pre-game warmup

'Tis the season for teddy bear tosses!

One of our favourite traditions in all of hockey is the effort made teams at all levels of the game, from the NHL right down to Junior B, to collect toys for children through an organized theme night.

The most popular involves fans bringing either their own stuffed animals, or purchasing one at the game, and then tossing it on the ice in one massive co-ordinated intermission effort.

The Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League have this down to an art form. And their annual night this year was bigger and better than ever, creating a terrific spectacle that quickly went viral.

Apparently the final count was just under 35,000, which is phenomenal.

By the way, the Manitoba Moose have their annual Teddy Bear Toss game on Dec. 15, and it's apparently nearing a sellout with only a limited number of tickets still available. Let's see if local fans can come close to matching Hershey's production.

First period

The big NHL news this week is the looming expansion to Seattle for the start of the 2021-22 season, which no doubt has hockey beat writers across the land excited about adding a great new stop to the annual tour. 

Not so for Mike and Jay, who are 110 per cent business when they hit the road. No time to sightsee, no siree. All work, no play!

It wasn't long before the jokes started flowing as freely as the coffee does in the popular West Coast city. The always-funny Down Goes Brown provided some insight on what the Board of Governors vote likely sounded like, with an ode to the previous mess the Florida Panthers made of the expansion draft with Vegas. (Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith say Hello from Sin City!)

Debate began almost immediately about what the new franchise would be called. We're partial to Sasquatches, although it honestly sounds like Krakens might be the odds-on favourite. Although this is a pretty clever suggestion. 

Finally, political figures in Vancouver and Seattle waded into the waters by firing the first shots in what is expected to be a pretty intense cross-border rivalry.

Things got pretty heated. Ugly, even. Downright disrespectful. 

You sure you're ready for this? We warned you.

Woah, woah, woah! Language people. Let's try to keep it civil now. And bring the temperature down a few degrees.


Put Scott Oake and Ryan Reaves on television together and you've got an instant hit.

It never fails.

These two Winnipeggers have tremendous chemistry, no doubt owing to the fact their families have been close for years.

And so there they were again last weekend on Hockey Night In Canada when Oake forced Reaves to watch one of his wife's Twitter videos and then explain to a national audience just what the heck was going on.

As expected, hilarity ensued. 

Seriously, these two need their own show together.

Reaves made some highlights earlier this week when he was kicked out of a game for a late hit against notorious Washington forward Tom Wilson. He also produced a memorable post-game quote when he gave his thoughts on the controversial play, which didn't result in any further league discipline.

Second period

We've passed American Thanksgiving and the action is starting to heat up even as the temperature dips outside.

And with all NHL clubs nearing the 30-game mark, we're beginning to see some separation.

A handful of early-season surprises are beginning to fade, while some unexpected slow starters are showing signs of coming on strong.

And then there's a handful of expected powerhouses which are exactly where most pundits figured they would be.

Without further ado, here's our latest monthly NHL power rankings. We've included last month's spot in brackets for easy reference.

1. Toronto (3)

2. Tampa (T1)

3. Nashville (T1)

T4. Colorado (8)

T4. Winnipeg (6)

T6. Buffalo (T18)

T6. Calgary (7)

(Watch out for that cannon, Johnny Hockey!)

T6. Washington (T11)

9. San Jose (4)

T10. Dallas  (T14)

T10. Boston (5)

T10. Columbus (16)

13. Minnesota (10)

14. Vegas (27)

15. NY Islanders (9)

T16. Pittsburgh (T11)

T16. Anaheim (28)

18. Carolina (T22)

T19. Montreal (T14)

T19. Edmonton (17)

T19. NY Rangers (T22)

22. Arizona (T18)

23. Detroit (30)

T24. Florida (31)

T24. Philadelphia (T18)

26. Ottawa (26)

27. New Jersey (21)

28. Vancouver (T11)

29. St. Louis (25)

(At least their service dog is adorable!)

T30. Chicago (T22)

T30. Los Angeles (29)

Biggest risers: Vegas, Buffalo, Anaheim, Columbus, Washington

Biggest droppers: Vancouver, Chicago, New Jersey, Philadelphia, NY Islanders


The ultra-talented Jillian Fisher came out with her latest video this week — no doubt in conjunction with our power rankings! — in which he details how exactly your favourite team is going to disappoint you in the coming months.

As always, she knocks it out of the park. Or rink, in this case.

Third period

Let's face it, not every NHL game is a Picasso.

Some are more like a child's finger painting, although even that may have been more interesting than the first two periods of Tuesday night's snorefest between the Jets and New York Islanders.

So during the second intermission, with neither team having lit the lamp yet, Mike turned to his Twitter followers in an attempt to solve an age-old question.

As you can see, nearly three-quarters of the 214 folks who voted declared the game scoreless. I'm sure we all can sleep a bit better with some clarity on the situation.

And for the 26 per cent who felt otherwise? Well, we'll give the bombastic Brian Burke the final word on that.


Pricer. Tuna. Pecs. KK. Gally.

These are just some of the names being sported on the back of Montreal Canadiens sweaters earlier this week as part of a unique pre-game warmup "nickname" promotion, all in the name of charity.

It's a great idea, and something we wouldn't mind seeing the Jets partake in.

Now, some of the nicknames on the team are pretty obvious and not all that original.

Wheels. Scheif. Troubs. Helly. Patty. Copper. Litts. Buff. You get the picture.

But a handful are at least slightly more creative, with more of a story behind them. 

For example, Brandon Tanev is "Rusty", which was given to him by Dustin Byfuglien in his first season as an ode to the beat-up skates he had brought with him from college.

And then there's Marko Dano (currently with the Manitoba Moose), affectionately known to teammates as "Snacks," which is apparently a play on his love of things salty and sweet. 


Speaking of Helly, there's no doubt Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck has picked up his play of late following a bit of a tough stretch.

We're not sure what's behind the turnaround, but perhaps the Vezina Trophy finalist from last season turned to this young puckstopper for some of her terrific advice.

Overtime:

Bruce Boudreau often gets painted as the angry, screaming coach on the Minnesota Wild bench, because he does tend to do a lot of that, but he's also got a wicked, dry sense of humour, which was on display the other day.

First, Boudreau was asked about his team having the fire alarm go off at their hotel in Vancouver at 2 a.m. Boudreau mentioned that while all the players woke up and filed down to the lobby, he stayed in his bed because didn't want to walk down 15 flights of stairs.

"I didn't smell any smoke. I said 'I'm chancing it,'" he told reporters.

Boudreau also had a media horde in stitches when he was asked about the William Nylander contract stalemate moments before it ended prior to Saturday afternoon's deadline.

Remind someone to ask Bruce about his New Year's resoluted, er, resolutions.


So your team has just tried to mount a valiant comeback, only to have it fall short as your opponent fires a puck into your empty net.

Frustrating, right? Sure is.

But as one Austrian League player showed this week, frustration can quickly give way to complete and total embarrassment.

Yeah, he's not living that down any time soon.

Shootout

You have to love when players can battle it out on the ice between whistles, then show tremendous sportsmanship once the play is blown dead. It's one of the reasons we love the traditional playoff handshake line so much.

But there's good sportsmanship, and then there's.... well, this gesture extended the other day from New York Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk towards Boston's David Krejci.

Everyone at once now: Ewwwwwwwwwww


Got a suggestion for a future edition of Dump & Chase? Let us know about it.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca and jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

And follow "Dump" and "Chase" — a.k.a. Mike and Jason — on Twitter.

Mike is @mikemcintyrewpg, while Jason can be found @WFPJasonBell

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