Someone is going to have to alert the parity police at NHL headquarters that the model is broken and there are more bottom feeders than ever since the salary cap was enacted in 2005-06.
For the first time this era, there are three teams hitting .326 or lower, those particular cellar dwellers existing in Columbus, Chicago and Anaheim. For the second time and second straight, five teams are playing under a .400 clip.
Through 2021-22, there have been just two cap seasons in which three clubs have failed to hit the .400 mark. Indeed, in 13 of 14 seasons from 2006-07 through 2019-20, no more than one team fit under that mark.
The Blackhawks, as tainted an organization as has ever existed in the NHL, are in last place in the draft due to management’s twisted intent to dive as deep into the tank as possible. The Ducks actually spent some money in the offseason to add some vets that could have made the club a more presentable outfit, but that didn’t work out. The Blue Jackets didn’t sign Johnny Gaudreau with any idea that they would not only be running for Connor Bedard, but also in the pole position, just getting past the halfway mark.
The hat had to smooth out the extremes. The NHL should have been the Any Given Sunday League. Instead, the league is heading into its second straight season with a subset of historically bad teams.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Bruins (32-5-4 before Saturday’s game) are hitting at an .829 pace, which would eclipse the legendary 1976-77 Canadiens’ .825 mark, which represents the NHL’s highest winning percentage. modern era that began with the introduction of the central red line in 1944-45. It was a Canadiens team that went 60-8-12 to win the second of its four straight Stanley Cups to end the decade.
1977-78 The Habs, who went 59-10-11 (.806), are the only other modern team to hit. 800 for the entire season, though the 2012-13 Blackhawks finished .802 in a star-studded 48-game schedule shortened by Owners’ Lockout III.
It’s safe to say the Devils are the league’s biggest pleasant surprise. But the Bruins, who were without Brad Marchand or Charlie McAvoy for only the first month of the season, are a very close second.
At this point, the only award more certain than Connor McDavid’s presumptive Hart Trophy would be Jim Montgomery’s presumptive Adams as B’s Coach of the Year.
The all-time winning percentage record seems elusive. The Bruins must go the equivalent of 36-1-4 the rest of the way to reach 144 points and .878 to eclipse their forefathers’ 1929-30 marks. record of .875, which came with a 38-5-1 season.
It was the Boston team that included Eddie Shore, Diet Klepper, Tiny Thompson, Cooney Weiland and Lionel Hitchman. All but Hitchman are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. By the way, those B’s did not win the Stanley Cup. They were beaten by the decidedly ordinary 21-14-9 (.579) Canadiens in two straight best-of-three finals.
No, the history lesson is not over.
I came across a video on YouTube of a 1935-36 Rangers-Canadiens game where the players lined up east-west facing the boards to face off.
It amazed me. I had no idea such a thing ever existed, especially when the league directed players to line up north-south for draws. So I asked for help from the NHL, whose staff was initially confused before finding helpful information; and from Stan Fischler, who turned to the famous historian Eric Zweig.
According to the league and Zweig, the change was made before the 1942-43 season. Zweig mentioned the 1996 book “The Rules of Hockey” by James Duplass with Dan Diamond.
This is from pages 116-117. “A major change to the striking out rule affected the position of the draw players and coincided with the introduction of the red line in 1942-43. Prior to that season, tiebreakers lined up facing the sideboards. Many coaches employed a strategy that required opposing players to actually ignore the board and instead face the person on the outside, allowing a teammate to step in and take the puck. Under the modified rules, faceoff players rotated 90 degrees so that they faced the ends of the rink with their backs to their own goal. The purpose of this legislation was to speed up the game by placing greater emphasis on a clean draw.”
There is a slight discrepancy here, given that the red line was introduced a year later, in 1943-44. Thus, it seems that the face change was not in 1942-43, but in 1943-44.
An article sent by Zweig from the August 17, 1943 edition of the Montreal Gazette written by Owen Griffith states:
“Until the baseline was on the two-inch red line at center ice … players must face their opponent’s goal, not their left side toward the opponent’s net, for face-offs.”
Now you can take this information to a bar and win a bet or be smart like Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting.
In recognition of Jake Leschyshyn’s anticipated Rangers debut at the Garden Sunday, we rate the top five of our three teams at No.15.
1. John McLean, Devils (and Ranger); 2. Jim Neilson, Rangers; 3. Billy Harris, Islanders; 4. Anders Hedberg, Rangers; 5. Jamie Langenbrunner, Devils. Honorable mention. Cal Clutterbuck, Islanders; Note: Jeff Taffe, Rangers.
Finally, it’s just a shame, isn’t it, how quickly Henrik Lundqvist fell into obscurity in his retirement.