Hockey coverage is often so negative. We look at why things aren’t going to happen or why a team is actually significantly worse than they appear to be. So to celebrate American Thanksgiving, let’s look at a reason fans of every NHL team have to feel thankful.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) November 17, 2016
The Anaheim Ducks should be thankful that they play in a bad division. When the Oilers are their best competition, you know it’s easy. And they should be thankful for Mike Trout. — Scott Maxwell
The Erie Otters are certainly thankful to have Dylan Strome back, as he bolsters a lineup that frankly doesn’t need that much – wait, pardon? Oh, you wanted to know what the Coyotes have to be thankful for? Oh. Hmm. Give me a second.
Wait, I got it. While the Canucks and Islanders are really making a push, the Coyotes are still a strong candidate in the Nolan Patrick sweepstakes. And on a more serious note, the other thing they can be thankful for is their talented youth. The list of young players exempt from the Vegas expansion draft includes: Max Domi, Jakob Chychrun, the aforementioned Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, and Lawson Crouse. And that doesn’t even include 2016 first round pick Clayton Keller, who’s at Boston University and hasn’t yet signed his ELC. The future is bright, and we can all toast to that as we sit around our Thanksgiving tables. — Megan Kim
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) November 22, 2016
Bruins fans should be thankful for Brad Marchand and his new long-term contract, Patrice Bergeron being healthy, and Zdeno Chara finding the fountain of youth. — Cam Lewis
SAVE OF THE NIGHT!
Robin Lehner with a HUGE desperation save on Jean-Gabriel Pageau on a one on one right in front of the net. pic.twitter.com/q8WuzBjvcx
— NHL 365 (@NHLDaily365) November 6, 2016
With Jack Eichel injured, the Sabres are having a hell of a time scoring goals. That said, thanks to excellent play from Anders Nilsson and Robin Lehner in net, the team’s season hasn’t completely imploded just yet! Sabres fans should be thankful that Lehner is finally healthy, and Nilsson is this year’s example of random, high-performance goalie voodoo, because without them, they’d already be looking towards the draft lottery. (And we all know that isn’t something Sabres fans like to think about.) — Cam Lewis
Come gather ye’ children it’s high time ye’ learned about a heroic line named the 3M line and a villain named the Calgary Flames’ disappointing 2016-17 season. There is literally – maybe four or five – acceptable things about the Calgary Flames right now.
Named after rookie Matthew Tkachuk, centre Mikael Backlund, and winger Michael Frolik’s first initials; the line has been the only consistent line this season. And in every ounce of justifiable reason, Glen Gulutzan has kept them together. It’s one of the rare things ol’ Glen has done correctly this year. Prior to last night’s win over Columbus, the line has played together for 127.34 at 5v5.
In that time they’ve amassed the following statistical outputs:
– 57.44% CF (65.49 CF60, 48.53 CA60)
– 55.19% FF (47.59 CF60, 38.64 FA60)
– 57.94% SF (34.4 SF60, 24.97 SA60)
This whole 3M Line + Gio/Dougie is the only thing that is keeping this team in the game.
Buffalo answers with: CLOG EVERY LANE pic.twitter.com/PWS92CUpvz
— AOL Keyword: Mike (@mikeFAIL) November 22, 2016
From a pure shot metric standpoint, they’re dominating competition most nights. All while an 18-year-old rookie who plays like he’s about to drink the blood of his enemies keeps up with two of the league’s better two-way forwards in Backlund and Frolik. The line has legitimate chemistry, they feed off each other’s individual skills/attributes, and it’s a nice sight for fans.
It’s almost like the two European veterans are raising this young boy to play the NHL game before our very eyes.
Did I mention they’re also scoring goals, producing a very nice goal differential, AND doing it in significantly more difficult starts than their teammates? In the aforementioned time together – along with the other metrics – they’ve done the following: 54.69% xGF (2.82 xGF, 2.34 xGA) – 66.67% GF (3.77 GF60, 1.88 GA60) – 22.37 OZS%, 40.79% DZS, and 36.84% NZS
— AOL Keyword: Mike (@mikeFAIL) November 22, 2016
— AOL Keyword: Mike (@mikeFAIL) November 24, 2016
They’re Gulutzan’s atypical shutdown line, a line that spends a lot of time handcuffing the opposition, breaking out of their own zone, and wrecking havoc in the offensive zone. The fact that with their starts being much more difficult relative to their peers AND sporting a ZFR (zone finish rate) of 51.06 is impressive.
Their PDO might regress to mean a bit (prior to the Columbus win: 103.41, xPDO of 99.88) due to their SH% being around 10.96% at 5v5, but I feel confident in this line to continue to be effective. Tkachuk is always involved in the play, even if it’s Backlund and Frolik doing their thing.
This line gives me hope and it’s why I still watch this team who seemingly can be circling the drain most games until this line is on the ice. — Mike FAIL
— SLAM! Sports (@SlamSports) November 19, 2016
Quebec City? Hartford again? Who knows, but they’re still in Raleigh right now, and for that, Canes fans should be thankful. They’ve got a good, young team loaded with a ridiculous amount of talent on the blue line, and it would be a shame if their fans didn’t get to watch them come into their own.
There’s a lot of reasons for fans of Hawks to be thankful. The team is good, yet again, with a group of random, young players you’ve never heard of filling their roster behind that same core of Kane, Toews, Keith, and Crawford. But if there’s one guy to feel especially thankful for, it’s the underrated Marian Hossa, who’s having one of the best seasons of his career at the age of 37. — Cam Lewis
Career goal 510 for Hossa wins it in OT. https://t.co/XomQ7hLHel
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) November 20, 2016
Roy: “The part I don’t like about Corsi is you could shoot from the redline or… from a terrible angle and your Corsi will look good.”
— Jason Brough (@JasonPHT) October 20, 2015
Avs fans can be thankful that this guy isn’t around to make roster and in-game decisions. The team may be in seventh in the loaded Central Division, but their underlying numbers suggest things are looking up for them. If only they hadn’t wasted all of their PDO luck for the decade in 2013-14. — Cam Lewis
Columbus Blue Jackets
NHL amends its 100th anniversary logo. pic.twitter.com/cfxpThjLLK
— Earl Sleek (@earlsleek) November 5, 2016
If you’re a Blue Jackets fan, there’s plenty to be thankful for at this time of year.
They have the second best goal differential in the Metropolitan Division. They are occupying a playoff spot. The cannon has sounded off 41 times at home. And they’re currently on pace for 255 goals this season, 42 more than last year and potentially the most ever since entering the National Hockey League in 2000-01. More importantly, they’re off to one of their best starts in franchise history. Eighteen games in and Columbus has racked up 23 points, boasting a record of 10-5-3. The last time they were this hot was in 2010-11 when they went 12-6-0 out of the gate.
But don’t take my word for it. In reflecting on what today means, Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno had this to say, “I guess I’m most thankful for the opportunity to play the sport I love for a living and for all that it provides me and my family. We meet so many great people who become good friends and I get another family at the rink. It’s really quite special what the game provides on so many levels. So I’m most thankful for that.” — Mike Commito
Things Dallas can be thankful for: Well… Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are healthy. Unfortunately, they’re basically the only ones. The Stars probably haven’t iced their optimal lineup a single time this season. Part of that is due to Lindy Ruff’s weird tendency to inexplicably scratch young defenseman Stephen Johns, but the main reason for their wonky lineups is the slew of injuries they’ve suffered. Like, guys who have missed time this year include (BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO): Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Cody Eakin, and Mattias Janmark. At one point, the team was about 40% Texas Stars call-ups. But wait, I’m getting off track. Here’s what the Stars can be thankful for: More or less league-average goaltending! Started from the bottom, now we above the bottom. Still not at the top, but not at the bottom. Baby steps, right? At least until we figure out what Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are doing with their goalies, eh? — Megan Kim
Detroit Red Wings
— theScore (@theScore) November 15, 2016
In a few months, they’ll get to go back to watching players from that incredible dynasty that saw multiple Stanley Cup victories, never-ending playoff appearances, and Hall of Fame careers. You know, the one that ultimately left them in this hideous mess of trying to be a competitive team but not actually being good? Yeah, that one! For one day, Wings fans can remember the good old days and forget about the corpse being dangled in front of them. — Cam Lewis
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) October 29, 2016
On behalf of the Oilers organization and Edmonton fans everywhere, I’d like to thank the 2014-2015 Arizona Coyotes.
Arizona, you were terrible in that fateful 2014-2015 season. You finished with 56 points on the year—a miraculous six fewer than the terrible Edmonton Oilers. Even more miraculous is that you, the Arizona Coyotes of 2014-2015, swept the Oilers five-games-to-none that season. As one of the only two Western Conference teams seriously contending in the Connor McDavid basement sweepstakes, your five decisive victories over the Oilers (three of which were earned on the back of single-goal-against efforts by former Oiler Devan Dubnyk) stole from Edmonton nine potentially fate-altering points. While the Oilers managed to best the Buffalo Sabres in both of their 2014-2015 meetings, they could not manage a single victory against you, O Coyotes, when only two (in addition to that single overtime pity-point) would have irrevocably altered the standings.
O Coyotes, you all but assured the Edmonton Oilers their place in history as the 28th overall team in the 2014-2015 season. The rest, as they say, is written on the golden card of history… — Curtis LeBlanc
Because they employ a social media guy who isn’t afraid to drop a tweet like this:
THE SITUATION HAS BEEN YANDLED.
Keith’s first with the club ties it up! ???? pic.twitter.com/EIDd0b6oRT
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) November 21, 2016
That, and, y’know, the team is actually good for the first time in, well, ever. Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov… When has Florida ever had a collection of young talent like this? — Cam Lewis
Los Angeles Kings
— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) April 10, 2015
Things aren’t going as well as the Kings would like, and the team is getting old and is slowing down. But thankfully, unlike many other teams, they have memories of two Stanley Cups in recent memory. Kings fans can be thankful that even when times are rough, they can throw on a 2012 Kings playoff run YouTube clip, start to feel warm inside, and not feel embarrassed that they’re feeling that way over something that happened decades ago. — Cam Lewis
The Minnesota Wild should be thankful that people forget that they exist — Scott Maxwell
What do the Habs have to be thankful for? Well, for one thing, Marc Bergevin’s foxhole seems to be a less tense place than it was last season, although to be fair, we haven’t made it through December yet. So I guess I’ll get back to you on the state of the foxhole. In all seriousness, though, the one thing they should be thankful for above all else? Carey Price’s health. And because that answer seems too easy: Here are a few other things to appreciate: Alex Galchenyuk has been producing, and he’s doing so consistently. He’s only been held off the score sheet four times this year, and as of Tuesday evening, sits fifth in the league with 21 points. Shea Weber has been a bright spot with seven power play goals on the season already. Oh, and Alex Radulov has been something of a revelation. Life is good for the Canadiens right now, and as soon as Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher get going, they’ll have even more to be thankful for. — Megan Kim
I’m sure it’s been kinda difficult to watch Shea Weber
have tremendous luck carry him to very positive results tear the world on fire in his first season since being dealt to Montreal. But despite their slower-than-expected start to the season, they still have P.K. Subban on their team making slick plays like this:
— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) November 24, 2016
And celebrating like this:
*blesses your timeline with PK Subban celly* pic.twitter.com/paObexIsdh
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) November 22, 2016
Throwing the numbers, contracts, and everything out the window, that Subban for Weber deal was perfect for both teams. Montreal got the captain serious they craved, and Nashville got an exciting personality to help continue to grow the game in a non-traditional market. — Cam Lewis
New Jersey Devils
Chia: We want Larsson
Shero: Then I want Hall, haha!
Chia: Let me think about it
Shero: [Presses mute] EVERYBODY GET OVER HERE HE’S SERIOUS
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) June 29, 2016
Hall’s injured right now, but when he was healthy, he was involved in roughly half of the team’s goals scored in some capacity. — Cam Lewis
New York Islanders
— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) November 15, 2016
The new arena is…. Uhh… Andrew Ladd only has…. Uhhh… At least John Tavares is signed for two more years…? This is a tough one. — Cam Lewis
— PumperNicholl (@PumperNicholl) November 24, 2016
New York Rangers
This year, as in all years, the Rangers are thankful for Henrik Lundqvist. It should go without saying that he’s one of the best goaltenders in the league and has been for the better part of a decade, but I said it for you just in case. Beyond that, the Rangers are thankful for their forward depth. Michael Grabner as the Carl Hagelin who can actually score, Brandon Pirri for generating tons of shots, Pavel Buchnevich for being the nice and good Russian boy that he is, and JT Miller/Chris Kreider for being their usual dominant selves. I just realized I left out Kevin Hayes, he’s like a baby Joe Thornton and I love watching him play. The Rangers are also thankful for Henrik Lundqvist. Happy Thanksgiving! — Pat Keogh
— Jesus Jones (@masterYisuz) October 19, 2016
The Ottawa Senators should be thankful for the fact that Erik Karlsson hasn’t left the team. — Scott Maxwell
Flyers goaltending this season pic.twitter.com/PSpUxmwMmv
— Flyers Nerd (@FlyersNerd) November 24, 2016
Flyers fans should be thankful that despite the fact their goalies, Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, have posted 0.893 and 0.857 save percentages respectively, the team is still right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference. I guess they can be thankful that more than half of the teams in the league make the playoffs? — Cam Lewis
— Jack Han (@ml_han) November 16, 2016
SID-NEY CROS-BY *clap clap clap-clap-clap* The Penguins have a lot to be thankful for, but that guy mentioned above is at the top of the list. Other things on that list include: A really forward-thinking coach, cool media coverage from stats-savvy guys like Bill West of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, an inexpensive but effective supporting cast (Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, etc.), this video of Phil Kessel that frankly, we should all be thankful for, two good goaltenders (although that’s maybe a complicated thing to be thankful about), and oh, right, 34.5 pounds of silver and nickel alloy in the shape of hockey’s Holy Grail. You know, these guys have so much to be thankful for it’s almost annoying. — Megan Kim
San Jose Sharks
Brent Burns is a bad, bad man. pic.twitter.com/WwBjppqJDx
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) November 16, 2016
Eight more years! Eight more years! Say what you want about how ugly that contract is going to look four or five years from now, but Brent Burns is priceless. The Sharks are lucky to have not only an elite talent that helps them win games and go on deep playoff runs, but a unique one that’s incredibly exciting to watch. Throughout their history, the Sharks have been blessed with a pretty damn incredible group of talent, none more so than the team they have right now. Sharks fans should be thankful for Brent Burns, for Joe Thornton, for Martin Jones, and for that whole group that could easily challenge for the Stanley Cup again this spring. — Cam Lewis
St. Louis Blues
It might not be completely represented by their record right now, but the Blues are still a damn good team. Their fans should be thankful for that. Also, beyond that, their Winter Classic jerseys are gorgeous. These things are about as hit and miss as they come, but the Blues killed it. — Cam Lewis
— Sports Squatch (@SportsSquatch) November 9, 2016
Tampa Bay Lightning
OH MY GOD! STEVEN STAMKOS HAS A RIDICULOUS SHOT! pic.twitter.com/9qHftBgp2x
— Jake (@Skjeisus) November 20, 2016
Coming into the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning had a lot of things for which to be thankful.
Victor Hedman and Steven Stamos signing long term extension at a little below market value. Nikita Kucherov signing a bridge deal that will be one of the best contracts in the league over the next three years. Todd Richards joining the coaching staff to help fix the power play.
But above all of that, the organization and its fans are most thankful for the organizational depth that is allowing them to survive injuries to both Stamos and number two defender Anton Stralman as well as Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Kucherov at various times.
The emergence of 19 year old dynamo Brayden point as a winger who can play anywhere in the lineup has been the most surprising development. But he hasn’t been the only one to make a bigger than expected impact. Vladislav Namestnikov has emerged as a legitimate first line forward thriving alongside Kucherov and Stamos when both were healthy.
Defender Nikita Nesterov is showing major improvement over where he was at this time last year and Slater Koekkoek is showing that he’s ready to be an every day NHLer as well. Without these players, the Lightning would not be able to keep pace in the Atlantic Division amidst all of the injuries.
Steve Yzerman and the rest of the front office staff have done an impressive job of building a deep organization that can remain competitive even without some of its best players. — Loserpoints
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs head into American Thanksgiving playing .500 hockey and will probably finish in the neighbourhood of 80 points while missing the post-season. It’s an improvement, sure, but isn’t much for which to be thankful. Instead, Leafs (and Leafs fans) should be thankful for Brooks Laich in the AHL.
Though a seasoned vet known for grit and leadership, the Leafs acted boldly in favour of a new team direction when they demoted Laich. Instead of playing a game suited to safe, old, reliable types like Laich, the Leafs have embraced “pace” – that is, speed and shot attempts. The Leafs are playing an exciting brand of fast-paced hockey that is tailored to the skill set in the team’s youth movement.
The Leafs get their chances. Their opponents do too:
Pace (in the simplest sense).
There’s lots to watch when TOR is playing.
In FLA and CHI, a little less so. pic.twitter.com/7qdTWRsyh2
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) November 19, 2016
It’s been a long time since it’s been fun to watch the Leafs. This season, it’s fun again. And for that, the Leafs and their fans should be thankful. — Sean Tierney
The Canucks have a lot to be thankful for right now. Willie Desjardins probably won’t be their coach for much longer. They’re headed towards getting another top five pick. And if the spirit of giving really shines down on them, Jim Benning’s job may even be in danger. — Shawn Reis
I would say that the Capitals should be thankful for their good health, especially among their top six, but then TJ Oshie had to go and throw a hit and take himself out of the Caps’ lineup for a few weeks. So… Thanks a lot, TJ. But honestly, the Capitals have plenty to be thankful for even though the injury bug is starting to catch them.
They’re basically the same team they were last year, when they boasted the best regular season record in the league before running into the eventual Stanley Cup winners in the second round of the playoffs. In fact, they may very well be better: Lars Eller has been steady for them down the middle (if a little penalty-prone), and the biggest difference might be that Brooks Orpik is… Not detrimental to the Capitals’ efforts this year? Huh. Look at that.
And you know what else they can be thankful for? Nicklas Backstrom’s incredibly adorable new baby. Just look at that face! He’ll still be little enough to put into the Stanley Cup in the spring… hint, hint. — Megan Kim
Trouba at $3M per year. He’s paid less annually than Kris Russell, Clayton Stoner, Luca Sbisa, Kevin Bieksa, Radko Gudas, and many more.
— NHLnumbers (@NHLnumbers) November 7, 2016
The Winnipeg Jets should be thankful that Cheveldayoff hypnotized Trouba to return. — Scott Maxwell