There is no Hunlak conspiracy, there is just Hunlak

Jeff Veillette
December 14 2016 11:27AM

A month ago, Leafs fans were introduced to a defensive pairing that, well, sounded like a worst-case scenario. Matt Hunwick on the left side. Roman Polak on the right. All of Toronto's veteran presence on the point concentrated into a single deployment. What we knew heading into it wasn't encouraging. 

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Top to Bottom: Checking in with the standings after two months

Cam Lewis
December 14 2016 11:01AM

It's more of a 'Bottom to Top' but 'Top to Bottom' sounds better. This is an NHLNumbers monthly feature in which I'll do a dive into each team's underlying numbers to see if they match up with where they currently sit in the standings. Here's last month for reference. Stats via Hockey Analysis and Hockey Reference as of Dec. 12, 2016. 

It's been two months. At this point, for the most part, if you're bad, you're bad, and if you're good, you're good. We know that Colorado and Arizona are terrible, and we know that Washington and Pittsburgh are good. But what about Columbus and Philadelphia? Are those hot streaks just a bunch of nonsense? How about Dallas and the Islanders? Are they going to go back to where they were last year? Since we live in a world where more than half of the teams in the league make the playoffs and losing can still earn you a point, we have a very muddy playoff picture loaded with teams that are difficult to differentiate. 

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Watch The Game Episode 18: The One Quarter Mark with Travis Hughes

Watch The Game Podcast
December 13 2016 05:59PM

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Sam welcomed Travis Hughes of SBNation NHL to the show, they talk about the quarter season mark and who are the big surprises this year. Afterwards, Cam joins the show to talk about the Avalanche, Canadiens and Senators.

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Looking at the Calgary Flames' improving special teams

Ryan Pike
December 13 2016 02:00PM

When the season began, the Calgary Flames had a problem. A big problem. Their power play was powerless. In short? It was awful. It took them 22 games to score seven power play goals. For comparison's sake, they have seven power play goals through five games in December.

Prior to Saturday's Flames game against Winnipeg, head coach Glen Gulutzan had a simple assessment of what's different with the power play's recent success:

It's confidence, when they start to go in they go in in bunches. Even if you go beyond the four games or back past, we were creating some good chances they just weren't going in. When we look at it, our stats, we haven't created as good of chances, but they're going in. So that's why we're going to try to keep pushing on the power play, so we don't get complacent. But they're just going in right now.

We ran the numbers.

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Evaluating Willie Desjardins' Lineup Decisions

Jackson McDonald
December 13 2016 01:00PM

Ice time isn't given. It's earned. That's an adage that's been repeated across the hockey world, and Vancouver is no exception. 

It pertains especially to younger players, and Canucks' President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden repeated the common refrain earlier this year pertaining to sophomore forward Jake Virtanen: 

"As long as I've been part of the game, especially at the pro level, there's an element of earning your time... I think a lot of players would say, "Give me more time and I'll play better', and the coach would say 'Play better, and I'll give you more time.'" 

That's a fair stance to take, especially with a young player. It's not as though the assessment isn't without merit, either. During his tenure with Vancouver, he was the team's wort forward by shot shares and struggled to produce offence, even in a limited role.

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