Stan's Java Jive: 1/21/21
Pastrnak skating again; Mackinnon gains his 500th point; Tracking pucks shelved - for now; Another set of yays and boos...
HEADLINE: PASTRNAK SKATING; BRUINS LAUGHING
THE JIVE: In Beantown they're still trying to blueprint a play that will produce a 5-on-5 goal. It could happen as soon as tonight when the B's host Philly. While the B's are waiting, there's a blinking light at the end of the practice rink. None other than David (The Destroyer) Pastrnak showed up in a "NO CONTACT" sweater. His surgically repaired hip is healing faster than imagined. We're talking about a 24-year-old who's scored double his age. Now the question: who'll score the first 5-on-5 for the B's? My roving reporter, Mike Rubin, predicts Charlie Coyle. I like Charlie McAvoy. Either way, my man Rubin says that the moment Pastrnak stepped on the ice "It became a beautiful day in the North End." That and the Bruins were laughing!
HEADLINE: MACKINNON GETS 500TH NHL POINT
THE JIVE: Don't laugh; this guy could beat out Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl. The Avs premier pivot has been a force in the regular season and, as The Hockey News put it, "a beast in the playoffs." He's parlayed speed, power and skill into a blend that suggests Hart Trophy.
HEADLINE: OILERS BOSS FROM 'UNHAPPY' TO 'HAPPY'
THE JIVE: Before his team jetted to Toronto Ken Holland was asked if he finds the current state of the under-.500 Oilers "disturbing." Edmonton's hockey boss seemed disturbed about "disturbing." His counter comment, "I'd say I'm 'unhappy.' Take your pick, "disturbing" or "unhappy," canny Kenny knows that it's too soon to panic the way one Edmonton newspaper (OILERS UN-RAVELING) did prior to last night's 3-1 triumph over the Leafs. The much-reviled Miko Koskinen's 25 saves out-goaled Fred Andersen while Leon Drasaitl finally awakened to score his first goal of the season. The third period red light proved to be the tie-breaker. Coach Dave Tippett's (2-3-0) outfit could reach the .500 mark tomorrow night in Hogtown."We had a lot more energy," says Dauntless Dave. "But we're still trying to figure this team out." (Another win and it's all figured.)
HEADLINE: NHL REVERTS TO NON-TECH PUCKS
THE JIVE: Credit Bettman, Inc for relentless attempts to make The Game more appealing to fans, media and your Uncle Dudley. But the recent use of micro-chipped "tracking pucks" to aid the advanced tracking system has to be tweaked for better performance. For one thing, they bounced a bit and for another, stars such as the Leafs' Austen Matthews urged a return -- at least for a while -- to the non-tech disks. (Smart move by the league,responding to the players. P.S. They'll fix the problem.)
HEADLINE: KINGS HOPEFUL ABOUT COMEBACK KID
THE JIVE: Gabe Vilardi was the 11th overall pick for L.A. in the 2017 Entry Draft. He was valued for his puck skills and skating range. Unfortunately major league back problems so bedeviled him that the kid couldn't show his real worth for the Kings. However the ten-month layoff enabled him to improve his endurance, build strength and work with the Kings coaches. The onetime prodigy is back in the lineup and ready to write what could be a heartwarming comeback story.
HEADLINE: LUCKY SEVEN GET WINGS FLYING
THE JIVE: Assorted NHL geniuses are trying to discern why the Red Wings aren't the Dead Wings. There are seven reasons: all Stevie Yzerman additions: Mathias Brome, Marc Staal, Bobby Ryan, Jon Merrill, Thomas Greiss -- he'll be fine -- Troy Stecher and Vlad Namestnikov. Of course, Detroit News beat man, Ted Kulfan, offers a sane, cautionary point: "It's only four games!"
CAPS MISSING THE KING: When Henrik Lundqvist revealed his need for heart surgery it seemed as if the Capitals would be able to compensate for the goaltending loss. But now Washington is in trouble with Ilya Samsonov being one of four Caps "unavailable" because of Covid protocol issues.
A PANTHER DEAL, OR NOT? The sun is shining in Sunrise and the Panthers are sun-hot. Yet rumors still circulate that the Cats may deal Aleksander Barkov and Keith Yandle. (Advice from The Maven: When it ain't broke, don't fix it!)
CANADIAN TEAMS FLY ONE-THIRD FEWER MILES THAN OTHERS: That's the good news. The bad news, they lose their mileage discounts.
A THORN IN THORNTON: Jumbo Joe didn't trip over his beard last night but he was crushed into the boards and never returned to action. Ergo: The word is that he'll be out for "some time." I'm not sure the equation for "some time." Figure a month. (I hope it's not more. Everybody loves Joe.)
BULLET POINTS FROM LAST NIGHT:
SHARKS 2-1 OVER ST. LOU: Good, not-so-old Tomas Hertl wins it in the Shootout.
WILD 3-2 OVER ANAHEIM: You gotta love Joel Eriksson if you love Minny. A goal and an assist keys my buddy, Bill Guerin's six.
CANUCKS 6-5 OVER HABS: Glad Pal Travis Green's got 'em back on track. But what about Elias Pettersson? No points in four games. Ugh!
VEGAS 5-2 OVER YOTES: Mark my word we have another all-the-way-to-the-Final --very scary -- Knights team.
OILERS 3-1 OVER LEAFS: Toronto strategy was to win by "forcing Connor McDavid to take 'longer routes.'" (They forgot about Leon D!)
YAYS AND BOOS
YAY TO THE RED WINGS' Ilitch Holdings for committing $1 million to part-time employes. It's a nice bit of Pandemic relief.
BOO: This business of a "quick-whistle" when refs "lose sight of the puck" drives me nuts. So, what if the puck is "missing" for two or three seconds. Patience, zebras, patience. The puck always shows up a half-second after the whistle. It inevitably ruins a good play.
ALL-TIME QUOTE DEPARTMENT
FRED SHERO: They didn't call him "The Fog" for nothing. Here's why, straight from Shero's molars: "I don't live in the fast lane; I live on the off ramp!