There have been a lot of different stories floating around the NHL today, but some of them might be more like a kernel and less like a fluffy, delicious piece of popcorn. While you contemplate smelling up your break room or kitchen by microwaving some popcorn, I’ll throw out a few quick hits from the league.
Reverend Nathan Horton’s heat
After yet another failed season, things got a little testy between Florida Panthers forward Nathan Horton and assistant coach Mike Kitchen. Horton and Kitchen reportedly got into a screaming match during the team’s pre-game skate, according to TSN. The two apparently had to be separated by Peter DeBoer and Horton smashed his stick before he left.
One bright side: the two have last names tailor-made for puns. One might joke that Kitchen riled Horton up by saying “you moved a lot faster when we were at Tim Horton’s, donut boy.” Or perhaps some inventive headline writer came up with a line like, “If Horton can’t handle the heat, he should stay out of Mike’s Kitchen.” ( … sorry about that.)
Jamie Langenbrunner = long in the last name, long in the face
While most of the Devils’ spotlight is likely on Brodeur seeking win number 600 and Ilya Kovalchuk’s awkward return to Atlanta, the most puck-relevant story could be the crisis facing captain Langenbrunner. The Fire & Ice blog reports that Langenbrunner refused to speak with the media for two straight days after Jacques Lemaire sat him out during New Jersey’s last game. Perhaps this will end up being a mere blip on the radar, but it’s a story to watch for the time being.
The hottest second-half teams
A lot has been made of Pierre LeBrun’s piece on second-half numbers and he makes a good point that both Detroit and Pittsburgh finished hot last season. Washington, Vancouver, Phoenix and Detroit were the top four teams in the study. While I think that finishing strong is a nice indicator of future success, the truth is that there is more than one way to skin that playoff cat. Ultimately, it comes down to willpower, matchups, bounces, goalies … basically everything that normally decides hockey games. Here’s the good news, though: Behind the Net’s numbers indicate that the games won’t be decided by refs. Don’t tell that to Angry Jilted Fan of the Moment during the playoffs, though, unless you want a lot of hot angry nacho breath directed your way.