NHLN Notebook: Leastern Conference no more, Doughty Norris Speculation, and Girgensons Trade Rumours

Christian Pagnani
December 12 2016 12:36PM

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The Eastern conference may no longer be the Leastern conference. Four out of the top five teams in the league come from the East, and that becomes all five if you sort by winning percentage. The Metropolitan division is leading the way with five teams projected to either come close or break the 100-point threshold. Both Wild Card spots will likely be occupied by Metropolitan teams and the East will feature some of the league's strongest teams come playoff time. Pittsburgh doesn't look like its missed a beat and Philadelphia and Columbus look like new threats. 

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Learning how to Dougie

Ryan Pike
December 12 2016 10:00AM

An important part of being an analyst or commentator is admitting when you're wrong. I'll flat out admit it: when Glen Gulutzan shook up the defensive pairings following Calgary's Dec. 10 loss to the Dallas Stars, I thought it was a bad idea. Heck, I wrote about it and pronounced it as such. My thought process was that the Flames had one defensive pairing that worked really well (Deryk Engelland and Brett Kulak) and it would be silly to break them up to gamble on finding chemistry elsewhere.

Now that Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton have gelled this well together, making such a fuss about the third pairing sure seems silly in hindsight. In particular, the solidifying of Hamilton's role on the team and a consistent partner have unlocked a ton of really good things in his game.

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What's Up With The Islanders?

Scott Maxwell
December 11 2016 12:00PM

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

It seemed like just yesterday we were praising this team for how well they were set for the future. In 2014-15, they finished a season where they made the playoffs, and fought a valiant seven games, while being seventh in the league in possession. Sure, they lucked out by getting Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, but they were a competitive team, and they still had some decent prospects in the minors.

Even at the 2015 draft they lucked out, as they swapped draft bust Griffin Reinhart for a 1st and a 2nd, and managed to get Matthew Barzal after Boston whiffed on him with three straight picks. Garth Snow was a genius.

But here they are, two seasons later, and now with very little hope in sight. The team sits in 14th in the East, and they have the second worst possession team to only the Arizona Coyotes at 45.42%. Their offense is mediocre, but their shot suppression is terrible, allowing 64.98 even strength shot attempts against per 60 minutes. Oh, and they just screwed themselves in the cap by locking up a fourth liner long term yesterday.

So, what happened? How did Garth Snow suddenly become dumb, after building such a great team?

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Diamonds in the Rough: Alex DeBrincat Edition

Megan Kim
December 11 2016 10:00AM

Here's a hot take for you: The best pure goal-scorer in the 2016 Draft not named Patrik Laine wasn't taken until the second round. For as much as we bemoan how the Chicago Blackhawks somehow always seem to find ways to win, maybe it's time to acknowledge the fact that the rest of the league seems to let them get away with things like: Drafting a first round-calibre player despite not having a first round pick because Alex DeBrincat got passed over 38 times before the Hawks finally had their first pick of the 2016 Draft. 

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I Used to Be an Adventurer Like You. Then I Took a Skate to the Head.

Curtis LeBlanc
December 10 2016 11:04AM

Players from the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils surprised no one on Tuesday night when they responded to a hit by the Devils’ Taylor Hall on an unsuspecting Philip Larsen.

The hit looks like a clean one—if we’re talking about the NHL rule book. Judgement beyond that depends on how you feel about a player ploughing into an oblivious, deer-like opponent in the area of the ice I like to refer to as Raffi Torres’ playpen.

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