Monday, January 23, 2017

The 100 Greatest Players in NHL History: A new ebook from DGB and friends

Later this week, the NHL will unveil it's list of the Top 100 players in league history. But they're not actually ranking it, which seems to take half the fun out of the whole thing.

Well, I can't do much about the loser point or low-scoring games or most of the other things I complain about. But with the help of a few friends, I can do something about this.

Biscuits co-host Dave Lozo and I have teamed with Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski to present The 100 Greatest Player in NHL History (And Other Stuff): An Arbitrary Collection of Arbitrary Lists. It's an ebook that you can purchase from Amazon and iTunes, with other sources to come.

For the cost of a magazine -- $8 Canadian/$6 American -- you get:

  • Our Top 100, counted down from 100 to 1.
  • Writeups for each player -- you're pretty much guaranteed to learn something you didn't know about hockey history.
  • Other arbitrary lists, including Gary Bettman's worst decisions, and my predictions for what the NHL will look like when it turns 125.
  • A dissenter's section, in which the three of us rip into each other's worst rankings.
  • Your personal favorite player, who is guaranteed to not be ranked high enough.
  • The list Dave Lozo was born to write: 100 NHL players whose names sound vaguely dirty.

Download it today from:
- iTunes

Once you own it, feel free to contact Dave, Greg and I directly to tell us which specific rankings were our biggest mistakes.

And as always, thanks for your continued support. This was a fun project to work on, and I hope you enjoy it.

Weekend wrap: Cursing a Blues streak

We knew this was going to be a weird year for the St. Louis Blues. Their coach quit, but still stuck around for one more year. Next year’s coach has already been hired. They traded their best goaltender to a conference rival, but didn’t move the defenceman we all assumed would be moved.

So sure, nobody went into this season thinking it was business as usual in St. Louis. But we all thought they’d be good, right? Maybe not win-the-division good, or another-conference-final-appearance good. But they’d be in the mix, at least. At a bare minimum, they’d definitely be in the playoffs.

And early on, it looked like we'd all be right. Over the season's first half, the Blues were just fine, even if they looked like they weren't quite hitting on all cylinders. That may even have been a positive; after years of following up solid regular seasons with disappointing playoffs, maybe the Blues had learned to pace themselves, the way the Blackhawks and Kings always seem to.

Or maybe not. Maybe the Blues aren't a good team after all. They sure haven't looked like one recently.

After dropping a 5–3 decision to the Jets on Saturday, the Blues have now lost three straight. They've won just five of 12 since the Christmas break. And since a three-game win streak that had them at 14-7-3 on Dec. 1, they've only managed to string together back-to-back wins once.

So what's the problem? These days, the big issue is goaltending, as Jake Allen seems to be imploding in his first year as undisputed starter. The Blues have lost his last four starts and 10 of his last 14, and he's given up three goals or more in six of seven. He hasn't made it through a full game since Jan. 5, and things got so bad on Thursday that he was pulled twice in the same game.

That was the last we've seen of Allen; the Blues took the highly unusual step of leaving him behind when they headed to Winnipeg, citing a need to "get him unlocked." The team insists that Allen is still their guy, but it's clear that his current struggles aren't just a typical cold streak.

It all adds up to a Blues team that's just barely clinging to a Western wild-card spot, just one point up on the ninth-place Canucks. Even the Predators, all but written off after an awful first half, passed them over the weekend, bumping them out of the Central's top three.

The Blues' struggles may be shifting the league's trading landscape heading into the final weeks before the deadline. It had long been assumed that they'd hold onto Kevin Shattenkirk for a deep playoff run, but with that run now looking unlikely, he's back in play. It had also seemed like the market for goaltending was thin, with only the Stars and maybe the Flames or Islanders really in the hunt, but that changes if the Blues decide that Allen can't cut it. (Remember, this is a franchise with a history of making mid-season goaltending moves that are aggressive or even downright strange.)

Of course, that's led to speculation that the team might try to kill two birds with one stone by moving Shattenkirk for a goalie; more than a few observers have wondered if a Ben Bishop deal could be a fit. But there are other options, including shaking up the lineup or even pulling the trigger on Ken Hitchcock a few months early.

Or maybe they stand pat, turn things around and get back into the race. That's certainly a possibility. But the schedule won't do them any favors heading into the all-star break; they'll visit two of the best teams in the league this week, with stops in Pittsburgh tomorrow and Minnesota on Thursday.

Road to the Cup

The five teams that look like they're headed towards Stanley Cup favorite status.

5. San Jose Sharks (29-16-2, +16 true goals differential*): They make their first appearance in the top five since early December thanks to four straight wins.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets (32-10-4, +48): Yesterday's 7–6 win over the Senators was all sorts of fun. But more importantly, they may have dodged a bullet when Zach Werenski left the game after being hit with a shot. It looked bad, but he returned later in the period.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

Friday, January 20, 2017

Podcast: New York state of mind

In this week's episode of Biscuits, the Vice Sports hockey podcast:
- The NHL had a bunch of high-scoring games this week and they were great
- With Henrik Lundqvist struggling, are the Rangers a team in crisis?
- How is Garth Snow still employed? (Dave has an intriguing theory.)
- Reader questions
- More debate over the NHL's top 100
- More hints about something interesting that's happening next week
... and lots more.

>> Stream it now on Vice Sports

>> Or, subscribe on iTunes.

Grab bag: Let's go Canes

In the Friday Grab Bag:
- The NHL royally screws up an intent-to-blow call that more people should be talking about
- Introducing "the Skate of Shame", and why every defenseman should fear it
- An obscure Donald who went to Washington but didn't stay for four years because that would have been too long
- The week's three comedy stars
- And a musical tribute to your new favorite underdog, the Carolina Hurricanes

>> Read the full post at Vice Sports

Auston Matthews' letter to his younger self

If you spend much time reading about sports online, you’ve no doubt encountered The Players’ Tribune, a website that features articles written by athletes. That unique hook, paired with a smart social media strategy, means that the site’s content tends to be unavoidable.

That’s never more true that when the site produces its signature piece: the “Letter To My Younger Self”, in which an athlete sits down to pen some words of wisdom to themselves from days gone by. It’s a fascinating feature that gives us valuable insight into the lives of professional athletes, such as the fact that they all write in exactly the same voice. Even Brendan Shanahan did one.

Apparently, he’s not alone. Top secret sources inform me that Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews has been asked to contribute a letter of his own for an upcoming edition. And as luck would have it, DGB spies were able to get their hands on the first draft…


Dear younger Auston,

Man, it seems like it was only a year ago that you were just a wide-eyed kid, sitting around dreaming about going first overall in the entry draft and wondering where your NHL journey would begin.

That’s because it was only a year ago. Look, don’t be a wiseass. This is why nobody likes teenagers.

Anyway, the point is that I’m your older and wiser self, and I’m here to give you some good news. It all works out pretty well.

It turns out you do go first overall at the draft, just like you’d always hoped. And that means you end up playing for the team that wins the lottery: The Toronto Maple Leafs. I know that comes as a surprise because you assumed that the whole thing was rigged so that only the Edmonton Oilers ever won, since that’s what Connor McDavid told you that one time you met him and he shook your hand while blinking “help me” in morse code.

But nope… you’re going to be a Maple Leaf.

That means you get to move to Toronto, which is a cool place. As best you can tell, the city’s baseball, basketball and soccer teams have always been really good, so there’s a lot of pressure on you to help the Maple Leafs get there too. But the whole town is really behind you. Everyone offers advice, from the cab drivers to the waiters to the hot dog vendors. Well, one hot dog vendor in particular. He keeps trying to hand you a note that he says is from “a friend” and which just has the word “RUN!” finger-painted in mustard. Still, I think that counts as being helpful.

>> Read the full post at TheAthletic