Prior to advancing to the first all-Pacific Western Conference final in league history, Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney took some time to rep his division.
From an email to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
“Unlike every other division in the NHL, there are no weak teams in the Pacific. Look at the two Pacific Division clubs who missed the playoffs: after a poor start to the season, Anaheim had one of the best records in the league for 3-4 months and only faded at the very end of the season. Dallas won 11 games in a row in March and barely missed the postseason.
“You could certainly argue the Atlantic and Central divisions were strong this year. However, top to bottom, you never go into a game against a Pacific Division opponent expecting an easy night, which speaks volumes to the division’s strength and depth.”
Maloney’s got a point…sorta.
Balance was a big part of the Pacific this year. It was the only division to have three 90-plus point teams and none with less than 80, though the Atlantic came awfully close (the Rangers, Pens, Flyers and Devils all were 100-plus and the Isles had 79.)
Of course, head-to-head matchups tell a different story.
Atlantic vs. Pacific this year: 18-8-6
Pacific vs. Atlantic: 14-10-8
Central vs. Pacific this year: 56-39-5
Pacific vs. Central: 44-47-9
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.