R.I.P 2020-2021 Edmonton Oilers

With all of the Canadian teams joining together to be one whole division, the Oilers looked to challenge for the top spot in that division. A once struggling team finally looked to prove it had turned a corner. With a fairly decent supporting cast surrounding Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, things were looking good for the Oilers, but a surprise defeat at the hand of the Winnipeg Jets in the first round continues to raise questions about this team.

Where is the disconnect? What is this teams issue? In a season where your captain scores over 100 points in a shortened 56-game season, how do you get swept in the first round to a divisional team? Was it a lack of depth? Was it goaltending? Was it just the pure ability of keeping the seasons Art Ross trophy winner off the scoresheet?

Honestly to me, there are a lot of reasons why Edmonton had a early exit.

So where do the Oilers go from here? Take this one on the chin and retool the line up? Blow it up? I think at this point priorities should shift to defensive depth. I think keeping Tyson Barrie needs to be top of the list. Losing Oskar Kelfbom this whole season was huge, but they still were able to overcome during the regular season. Barrie was a reason for that. Keep Barrie on the team and add in the blossoming play of young defender Darnell Nurse, this blue line could be set. Though, rumblings seem Barrie will test free agency, looking for a longer term than Edmonton might be willing to offer.

Adam Larsson actually looked pretty consistent on the ice as well, he might be able to fill that empty spot if Barrie departs. That brings Nurse into the Barrie role and Ethan Bear starts taking a larger role as well. But this lack of depth beyond there still showed an issue later in the post-season. You cannot blame a goalie when your team gives up a 3 goal lead with under half a period to play. That falls back on your defensive play and the ability to close.

Mike Smith looked great in net at times this season, but having no help in front will kill a team. Offensively, things could get scary. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is another must for Edmonton. But him leaving could create a void at the wing. But looking at any of their wingers not named Jesse Puljujarvi, that is basically a contributing factor that has got Edmonton in this situation, the inability to contribute. In goal, I think you are okay with this tandem of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, just help them out in front. It takes a lot of pressure off your goalies when the rest of your team is consistent.

But as we dry our eyes, looking at what we thought might be a step forward for the Oilers, has proved to be a catastrophic side step. Nor forward or backwards, but in the same state of mediocrity that we know and love for the Oilers. Will they continue to disappoint? Will this have a effect on their stars who are carrying the load causing them to look else where to call a home? Only time will tell. But one thing we love that time gives us is Edmonton blowing three-goal leads. Thank you Edmonton. That game 3 will go down in history and join the ranks of the “Comeback on Katella.”

R.I.P to the 2020-2021 Edmonton Oilers.

Written by @TheFrostback

R.I.P 2020-2021 Pittsburgh Penguins

For the last few years, I’ve never seen a team continue to keep making competitive rosters when things look bleak like the Pittsburgh Penguins have. A lot of big departures from their last cup in 2017 when they were repeat cup champions, but this team has continued to retool correctly bringing them to the playoffs again and again, A streak lasting from 2007. This year brought this a 1st round exit to a battle tested Islanders team.

So what can the Pens look back on with kind eyes this season? Well, I’ll be honest. There isn’t much. Sidney Crosby is up for another Ted Lindsey award, the MVP as voted by the players. Youngster Jake Guentzel had another solid season for the Pens, tallying 57 points and a 20-goal season. Cody Ceci seemed to step into the  Pens Top-4 well, and Kasperi Kapanen seemed to play well in the top-6 spot next to Evgeni Malkin.

Which leads me to this, I won’t lie, it was kind of difficult to find positives to this squad barring what is looming. Looking ahead, you’ve got one season left of Malkin, two seasons of Jason Zucker, two of Bryan Rust and two of mentioned Kasperi Kapanen. Not to mention, one more of blueliner staple Kris Letang. Now, I’m no GM, but I don’t see scenario where the Pens hang on to all of those players. Likely a scenario of an extending Malkin and Letang could come at the extent of most of the listed forwards. Kapanen is a coming RFA, I think the Pens will find a way to keep him with Malkin. Now, looking at Malkin, the 34 year old center will likely finish his career in the organization. Comments made by Hextall leads me to believe these two will be on the roster in the future. But this might come at the cost of one Rust, Kapanen, or Zucker.

The biggest question mark might be the play in net. After dealing Matt Murray before the season, the Penguins decided to go fourth with Tristian Jarry. In his first season, Jarry had a SV% .909, but his GAA was almost a 3, sitting at 2.75. Now it’s hard to decide the young goalies fate now off one season of being a starter, but I definitely think he is a step down from Murray. Pens Fans are all over the idea of a possible blockbuster for Anaheim’s John Gibson, which would bring Gibson home to where he was born and raised. But, in no timeline do I see that move becoming real. Though, there is a possibility of Jarry not being protected with the coming expansion draft, but I believe the net is the weak point of this team.

As we say goodbye to the 2020-2021 Penguins who ended up winning the East Division, we should smile. This might be the last run of these Pens that we know and love (to hate). This season we thank you for highlight real Crosby goals. The emergence of Bryan Rust, the possibility of a solid line-mate for Evgeni Malkin, and of course, another season of seeing the Pens getting knocked out in the playoffs. R.I.P to the 2020-2021 Pittsburgh Penguins.


Written by @TheFrostback

R.I.P 2020-2021 St. Louis Blues

The Blues enter the season as one of my top 5 teams. Even with the departure of Alex Pietrangelo in the offseason, the St. Louis Blues made the strong moves to fill the void left behind. But alas, they were not good enough, as the Blues fell in the first round in a sweep.

But was this the Blues fault? Or did it just come down the meeting of a unstoppable force in the Avs?

To me, the Blues made the correct moves to stay in cup window. Which is where I want to start. They signed Torey Krug long term. The stud blue-liner contributed 32 points and provided a much needed fill after the void was left by Pietrangelo. They also saw a lot of production from 2019’s blue-line acquisition, Justin Faulk. Faulk was second in points for defenseman with 25. The emergence of Vince Dunn, was also a high point. A young blueliner that the Blues need to hang on to as he is an upcoming RFA. I confidently believe they will make a deal. These 3 are a solid block to build on moving forward for the Blues. Jordan Kyrou emerged offensively as well for the Blues this year, and is coming up as a RFA.

Though they will likely loose the talents of Mike Hoffman, that should give some room to sign winger Jaden Schwartz at the ripe age of 28. Though, this season showed holes in the armor that was Jordan Binnington. The goalie was huge for them on the cup run in 2019. But this season showed how easily it was to frustrate him and get him off his game. Binnington had 108 goals scored against him this season in 42 starts. Which lands him at 4th in “Goals Against” this season with zero shutouts.

With a sturdy group of defensemen for the Blues, being behind teams like Winnipeg, Calgary, and Chicago, who are teams with struggling defensive corps, makes me raise an eyebrow at what could possibly be the blame for this season in St Louis. All in all, this is team has a solid foundation to start with, but the approach to the offensive depth chart must be tread carefully to keep this team in the cup window looking on past this season.

But let us not shed a tear for our fallen Blues. Let us smile. For this team out of St. Louis still has given us plenty. Including the many freak outs of your young, short fused goaltender that we love to see. We will see you again next year. Remember to bring plenty of sticks for Jordan Binnington to break over his post. R.I.P.

Written by @TheFrostBack

R.I.P 2020-2021 Washington Capitals

What looked like a steady pick going into the the playoffs, the Washington Capitals did what the Washington Capitals have done for the last three postseasons, lose in the first round. But what can the Caps smile about looking back at the 2020-2021 season?

Well a few things, starting with goaltending. With the departure of former goalkeeper staple Braden Holtby in the offseason, The Caps looked to two young goalies waiting in the wings. Enter, Illy Samsonov, the 22nd overall pick by the Capitals in 2015. The Russian was poised to be the starter entering the season and proved to be a difference maker in net, when he was actually able to play, that is. Samsonov unfortunately fell victim to the injury bug and the Covid-19 list multiple times this season while still posting a 19-4 record, including 2 shutouts, and ended the season with a .904 SV% and a GAA of 2.69. Nice season baring his setbacks.

On the other hand, the Caps also had goalie, Vitek Vanecek, a young tendy from the Czech Republic. He also proved his worth in times without Samsonov, posting a similar stat line. In 31 games, he kept a better SV% of .908 and also had a GAA of 2.69, while winning 21 games. Another nice season for a young tendy in a Caps uniform. Another bright spot, is captain Alexander Ovechkin. In 45 games, the 35 year old Russian Machine scored 42 points for the Caps. Granted he missed 11 games in a 56 game season, surprisingly this was his lowest season of production to date. This was also his lowest goal count, ending the season with 24. This stat column is something everyone has been keeping an eye on since he broke into the league in 05-06. Ovechkin is inching closer and closer to Wayne Gretzky’s All Time Goals Scored record. Ovechkin sits at 730 goals in 16 season, while The Great One stands atop that list with 894.

To me, I don’t think it’s a question if he will, I think it truly is a question of when. But will it be in a Capitals uniform? As good comes with bad, the bad is this season ends his contract he signed way back in 2008, as he is an upcoming UFA. Now, Ovechkin has stated multiple times he wants to stay with the Caps. That combined with how productive he has been for his time in Washington, I believe there will be a deal done. With him winning the Cup in 2018 with the franchise that drafted him, I see there is no reason for him to chase it somewhere else. The team still has a competitive roster that with a few tweaks can get back on the post-season winning ways. I don’t see a scenario where money can take him from the franchise he has done so much for and the Captain will remain in DC.

So let us bow our heads and say our goodbyes as we lay the 2020-2021 Washington Capitals to rest. Thank you for giving Zdeno Chára another run at a cup. Thank you for the unmasked Russian hotel parties. Thank you for another year of Coach Laviolette. And most of all, thank you for proving the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is a huge joke. Rest Easy, we will see you next season. R.I.P.

Written by @TheFrostBack