A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and silly, and rolling four lines deep.
1. As the Toronto Maple Leafs’ dirty snowball of errors and losses rolled along, the music has stopped playing in the dressing room. Coach Randy Carlyle pointed this out Monday as a sign things are getting dire.
But when all goes quiet for good on the Leafs’ 2013-14 campaign, we expect to see some musical chairs among the players and coaches.
If GM Dave Nonis decides to fire Carlyle (perhaps with a little pressure from Tim Leiweke), and he hasn’t played his fire-a-coach card yet, that might give James Reimer a second (third?) life as a Maple Leaf. A new coach coming in could wipe the slate clean. If Carlyle stays, well, then Reimer and his agent will no doubt be looking for a trade out of town.
The irony here is the same landing spot is a possible destination for either Carlyle or Reimer: The ‘Peg.
After a hot start, the Jets under interim coach Paul Maurice have cooled off faster than that one beer you put directly in the freezer. Maurice has won just three of his past 14 games, including Monday’s five-goal collapse in Anaheim. Ted Nolan is looking more and more like the the only guy who’ll get his NHL interim tag lifted this season. The Jets, 22nd in goals allowed, can’t be thrilled with Ondrej Pavelec (.901 save percentage).
If Reimer, a Manitoba native, and/or Carlyle, a Jets legend on the blueline, become available, expect the Jets to be interested in one (but, please, not both).
2. We have long written off the New Jersey Devils as a serious threat to make the playoffs but what if Peter DeBoer’s club was decent in the shootout?
The Devils lead the league in overtime/shootout losses with 15, and the team has dropped 14 straight in the skills contest. Translate half of those into wins and they’d have 86 points and would be tied with Philadelphia for third in the Metropolitan Division.
Devils shooters are a pathetic 3.3 percent in the shootout, putting them on pace for the worst team shootout performance in NHL history, surpassing the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes who went 1-for-17 (5.9 percent).
For all the good reasons Devils fans have to curse Ilya Kovalchuk this season, the sniper might be most missed after overtime.
3. Sticking with the Devils for a minute, a curious thing happened Tuesday night.
Cory Schneider stopped all 13 shots he faced and played the final 33:21 of the Devils’ 6-3 victory over Florida. Yet starter Martin Brodeur, who allowed three goals on just nine shots and was yanked early in the second period, was awarded the W — because when DeBoer pulled the veteran, New Jersey had a 4-3 lead. According to NHL rules, a goaltender receives a win if he is on the ice when his team scores the game-winning goal.
So if Schneider had played worse — allowing one or two goals — he would’ve been rewarded with a win. Instead, he essentially pitched a save.
(If you’re curious why I nerded out on this, yes, I do have Schneider in my fantasy pool.)
4. Baseball season is upon us, so Montreal Canadiens P.K. Subban and Brendan Gallagher had themselves a little home run derby:
5. Just as Sean Monahan is making tracks towards being the second coming in Calgary — the kid became the first Flames rookie forward to score 20 goals since Iginla accomplished the feat in 1996-97 — the 36-year-old Iginla is proving that he’s far from done.
March’s NHL Player of the Month leads arguably the best team in the league in scoring. Consistently a more productive player late in the season, Iggy had four multi-goal games and five game-winners last month, reaching the 30-goal plateau for the 12th time in his career. Only 11 other NHL players have done this: Mike Gartner (17 30-goal seasons), Jaromir Jagr (15), Marcel Dionne (14), Wayne Gretzky (14), Gordie Howe (14), Phil Esposito (13), Bobby Hull (13), Brett Hull (13), Mats Sundin (13), Luc Robitaille (12), Brendan Shanahan (12).
All of this production for the cost of a $1.8 million cap hit. Take a bow, Peter Chiarelli.
Because Iginla’s contract with the Bruins is so bonus-heavy ($4.2 million) — ditto Jaromir Jagr’s with the Devils ($2 million bonus, $2 million salary) — we can’t see any reason why these UFAs-in-waiting don’t strike similar deals in July.
This bonus-first model could quickly become a contract trend, especially for veterans. No one would dare accuse Iginla or Jagr of coasting into the sunset here.
6. Sweet Sittler, Jonathan Quick. Save some highlights for the rest of us, will ya?
7. The poor Pittsburgh Penguins social media force launched an innocent little initiative to engage fans with star forward James Neal last week.
When Philadelphia Flyers fans hijacked the #AskNeal hashtag, it backfired in the most hilarious way possible:
James, do you get the biggest thrill out of kneeing someone in the head or cross checking them in the head? #AskNeal
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) March 24, 2014
— Alex Sheltman (@AlexSheltman) March 25, 2014
#AskNeal what part of the stick should I be holding to really lay a good cross check to someone's head?
— Hamuel Solcomb (@Ham_Solcomb) March 24, 2014
Again, if there is a higher power, She will grant us a Pens-Flyers series in Round 2.
8. Unlikely Chirp of the Week: During Phoenix’s 3-1 loss to the Wild on Saturday, the home team went 23 minutes without registering a shot on net. Minnesota ended up out-shooting the Coyotes 30-24, but who really cares?
“The guy running that score clock, he’s gotta be better than that,” said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, sounding ticked off. “We don’t take into consideration what he does because sometimes it’s questionable.”
9. An extra skater might want to help Alex Ovechkin hoist the Rocket Richard Trophy this June. Nearly half of Ovechkin’s goals (22 of 48) have come on the power-play, and two snipers – Corey Perry and Phil Kessel – have more even-strength goals than Ovie, who failed to score five-on-five in March.
Even crazier? Ovie might accomplish the unthinkable and finish with the most goals but the worst plus/minus in the NHL. Ovechkin’s minus-34 was one worse than Nail Yakupov’s minus-33 heading into Tuesday’s action.
10. Vancouver Canucks forward David Booth, one of only a handful of NHLers (we’re guessing) who can lay claim to hunting down a giant mountain goat, kissed a grizzly bear on the mouth in Abbotsford, B.C., on Sunday. Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy also tells us that Booth played with a polar bear. Booth does all of this, of course, in an effort to make coach Tortorella appear less intimidating.
This love is difficult but it's real. Don't be afraid, we'll make it out of this mess. It's a love story pic.twitter.com/VHUcj05DAu
— David Booth (@D_Booth7) March 31, 2014
12. Krefeld Pingue linemates Kevin Clark and Adam Courchaine (both Canadians) executed this nifty stick-flip stunt in a German league game a few weeks ago. We just stumbled upon it now, but it’s worth a look (via Reddit):