October 15, 2013

Pucks On The 'Net: Dissecting Friedman's 30 Thoughts

Devan Dubnyk
Readership levels are strong so far this new season, with a lot of new readers coming and going, and hopefully coming back again soon. For the most part this forum will always be about hockey history. But I do like to cover the current game too, which you may have noticed this week.

For the uninitiated I introduce to you to a favorite feature of mine. It's called Pucks On The 'Net where I throw out some random thoughts on the game, be it historical or current in nature. Let's get to it.

Dissecting Friedman's 30 Thoughts

Elliotte Friedman's weekly 30 Thoughts is absolutely must read material for hockey fans. Let's take a look at this week's offering.
  • Friedman drops this amazing stat -From 2005-06 through 2011-12, just three of 32 teams who were four points out of a playoff position on November 1 recovered to make it. That is really amazing when you think about it. It really reinforces the theory that you can't make the playoffs in October, but you can miss them. Amazing
  • Friedman points out teams already in trouble - New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers. Friedman rightfully criticizes the Rangers unnecessar pre-season Western sojourn prior to such a lengthy road trip to open the season. Alain Vigneault really hasn't had much of a chance to let his team practice because they are always travelling. Renovations to Madison Square Gardens necessitate the road trip, but the decision - likely made well before Vigneault was hired - to have pre-season on the road too may really haunt the Rangers.
  • Friedman hints at who the Oilers may be eyeing as an upgrade in goal. He names Brian Elliot of the Blues as a prime target, with Ryan Miller as a rental option and Robin Lehner as a real long shot. I'm not sure any are very likely, which makes me wonder if Edmonton is watching Ilya Bryzgalov closely in the minor leagues. Its far from ideal - same goes for Jose Theodore and Rick Dipietro - but I do not see a lot of teams looking to move a goalie right now, though Pierre Lebrun wonders if Michal Neuvirth or even Jonas Hiller could be had.
  • Another player NHL teams - Carolina in particular - are watching in the minor leagues is Manny Malhotra. There is a lot of concern about his safety given his eye injury may leave him vulnerable on the left side. But the guy can win face-offs and is a great dressing room presence. If a team thinks Manny can fill kill enough penalties to fill a 4th line, face-off specialist role he might be worth the gamble. 
  • Watching Zac Dalpe and his 4 and 1/2 minutes per game in Vancouver makes me wonder if that is all the Canucks plan on using their 4th line, could Malhotra not have filled that role? Vancouver currently ranks middle of the pack in face-off percentage. When they were a power they ranked among the very best.
  • Friedman notes several teams are already sniffing around for help on the blue line. If Vancouver has trouble on their 7 game road trip, could they look to shake things up by moving a body?
  • Friedman notes that Jarome Iginla will achieve one of his bonus clauses shortly. He gets a $3.7 million bonus for appearing in 10 games. Silly performance bonuses like that should be targeted by the NHL in the next CBA negotiation. 
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