Jason Brough

Canadian Dollar Advances To Highest Level Since March 2008

The Canadian dollar isn’t doing Quebec City any favors

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Here’s something to keep in mind as the NHL Board of Governors meets today and tomorrow in Pebble Beach, where expansion and the 2016-17 salary cap are, among other things, expected to be discussed.

From the Financial Post:

The Canadian dollar fell more than half a U.S. cent Monday morning to levels not seen in 11 years as crude oil futures traded below US$39 a barrel.

The loonie traded at 74.13 cents U.S. shortly after North American stock markets opened after falling 0.63 cents from Friday’s close.

This is not good news for Quebec City hockey fans. If the NHL is going to expand, it’s going to want teams that can be drivers of revenue, and the loonie at these current levels makes it a lot harder for Canadian teams to do that.

And it could get even harder. Morgan Stanley has predicted the Canadian dollar could slide all the way to 69 cents next year. Hence, the speculation that the league may be stalling in order to see if Seattle can figure out a way to build, or renovate, an arena.

The strength of the loonie, of course, has an impact beyond just the Canadian teams. Its precipitous fall is a big reason there’s a “cap squeeze” right now.

Just to give you a sense of how quickly things have changed, here’s a chart of the loonie’s value over the past five years:

dollar

As you can see, it wasn’t that long ago that it was actually worth more than the greenback.

Related: Why NHL fans — no matter where they live — should care about the plunging Canadian dollar

What if we took one-goal games out of the equation?

Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter
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If you don’t subscribe to the theory– and never will, no matter how much the stats geeks annoyingly insist you should — that the best way to judge a team is its record in games that aren’t decided by one goal, this post probably isn’t for you.

However, if you’re open to the idea that a team’s record in one-goal games is somewhat dependent on luck and, therefore, has the potential to distort things, then read on.

Here are the records of all 30 NHL teams in games that have been decided by two or more goals, sorted by most wins to least:

Montreal Canadiens: 15-2
Dallas Stars: 13-4
Washington Capitals: 11-3
New York Rangers: 11-4
Boston Bruins: 9-6
Winnipeg Jets: 9-11
New York Islanders: 9-5
San Jose Sharks: 8-8
St. Louis Blues: 7-6
Ottawa Senators: 7-6
Chicago Blackhawks: 7-5
Colorado Avalanche: 7-7
Anaheim Ducks: 7-8
Los Angeles Kings: 6-4
Arizona Coyotes: 6-8
Nashville Predators: 6-6
Vancouver Canucks: 6-4
Columbus Blue Jackets: 5-12
Florida Panthers: 5-6
Tampa Bay Lightning: 5-6
Buffalo Sabres: 5-6
Toronto Maple Leafs: 5-9
Detroit Red Wings: 4-7
Pittsburgh Penguins: 4-5
New Jersey Devils: 4-6
Philadelphia Flyers: 4-9
Edmonton Oilers: 4-9
Minnesota Wild: 3-3
Carolina Hurricanes: 3-9
Calgary Flames: 1-12

Now, for purposes of identifying teams that maybe (promise not to freak out, OK?) aren’t as good as their overall records suggest, the ones that stick out are Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The first three are currently in a playoff spot, while the Devils are just barely out of one. All four have, obviously, been excellent in one-goal games, but they haven’t exactly been running roughshod over the league.

On the flip-side, you look at a team like the Canucks and wonder what they did to anger the hockey gods. (Besides just being the Canucks, which has historically angered the hockey gods, not to mention everyone else.) After 27 games, Vancouver is a league-worst 3-6-8 in one-goal games. Last year, the Canucks went 22-4-5 in one-goal games. Sure, the roster is a bit different, but it’s not that different.

Of course, it goes without saying that you have to delve deeper into each team’s situation before drawing any conclusions. Take the Red Wings. Pavel Datsyuk missed the first 15 games, and he’s quite good, so I’m gonna need a bit more time with him in the lineup before I pass any judgment. But for the record, even they admit they’re pushing it with all these overtime games.

For me, the most interesting team might be Winnipeg. The Jets have only been involved in six one-goal decisions all season. They’ve won by scores like 6-2 and 6-1, yet they’ve lost by scores of 5-1 and 7-0. Bit of a consistency issue there.

Minnesota, meanwhile, is basically the opposite of the Jets. All the Wild seem to do is play close games. On the one hand, they don’t blow teams out very often. But on the other, almost every single game they’ve given themselves a chance to get a point or two.

So, is it better to be like the Jets or the Wild? What a good, nerdy debate!

In conclusion, I didn’t write this post because I hate the Red Wings or Wild or Penguins or Devils or Jets. That’s just not the case. At the end of the day, I hate all teams equally. Especially the Rangers.

The Coyotes had a tough time last night

Dave Tippett
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The Arizona Coyotes could use a good performance tonight in Buffalo, because their last two outings have been anything but confidence-inspiring.

Last night in Detroit, the Coyotes were outshot 44-27 and lost 5-1. That came on the heels of Tuesday’s defeat in Nashville, where they were outshot 41-15 and lost 5-2.

“I mean, the mistakes we’re making are just inexcusable,” coach Dave Tippett told the Arizona Republic after the Red Wings game.

To illustrate, here was last night’s opening goal, which came after a giveaway by Oliver Ekman-Larsson:

And here was the goal that made it 2-0:

That was young Max Domi getting stepped around by Niklas Kronwall. (Note to Mikkel Boedker: that’s why you never turn your back on the puck.)

Seconds later, the Red Wings made it 3-0:

That one got Mike Smith pulled.

Which gave Anders Lindback the opportunity to make his own blunder in the third:

So yeah, tough night for the Coyotes.

On the bright side, they’re still in a playoff spot. And with the Ducks stuck in neutral and the Canucks seemingly on the verge of collapse, there’s no reason to get too discouraged. Third place in the Pacific Division remains very much up for grabs.

The Coyotes play tonight in Buffalo, Sunday in Carolina and wrap up their five-game road trip Tuesday in St. Louis.

Lightning sign coach Cooper to multi-year extension

Jon Cooper

The Tampa Bay Lightning have given head coach Jon Cooper a multi-year contract extension.

The club announced it today with a press release:

Cooper, a native of Prince George, British Columbia, has led the Lightning to 112-70-23 record and a .602 winning percentage in 205 games. He has guided the Bolts to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his two full seasons since coming to Tampa Bay, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015. On April 11, 2015, Cooper earned his 100th career victory, making him the fifth-fastest coach to do so among those who debuted in the league since 2000. He was also named a finalist for the 2014 Jack Adams Award, given annually to the NHL’s top bench boss.

The Lightning didn’t say how long Cooper’s contract was extended, but it’s “believed to be two years,” according to the Tampa Bay TimesHe was reportedly in the final year of his current deal. 

Cooper’s team is in the midst of a three-game California road trip. The Lightning beat Anaheim Wednesday. They play in San Jose and Los Angeles this weekend.

Bruins focused on themselves, not Dougie Hamilton, who admits it’s been ‘frustrating’

Dougie Hamilton
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Dougie Hamilton will suit up against his old team tonight, after a trying first 25 games with his new one.

Hamilton, 22, has just three goals and three assists for the Flames, who’ve won just three times in regulation all season.

Yep, you read that right. Twenty-five games. Three regulation wins.

“It’s a little bit frustrating,” Hamilton told NHL.com. “It’s not the start I wanted and maybe it’s more of an adjustment than I thought it would be. With how we’re doing as a team, it’s frustrating as well.”

Not that everything has been roses for the Bruins. They lost in a shootout Wednesday in Edmonton. Though their 13-8-2 record is respectable enough — and they did string together five straight wins before falling to the Oilers — the holdovers from the powerhouse teams of years past know what good, structured hockey looks like, and too often this season the B’s have been lacking in that area.

“If you think about playing successful hockey it’s playing solid, it’s playing strong and playing good defensively,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg told CSN New England yesterday.

“It’s nice to win games, and it’s nice to be getting points,” captain Zdeno Chara said prior to the Oilers loss. “But I think we also want to improve our play systems-wise, and be better in certain areas.”

So while most of the stories you’ll read ahead of tonight’s game will understandably focus on one player — a talented, young defenseman whose trade to Calgary was one of the biggest stories of the offseason — for the two teams involved, they’ve got more important things to worry about.

“We’ll have to be aware of him,” said Boston’s Adam McQuaid. “But aside from that, when it comes time to play you put all of the other stuff aside and focus on what you’re doing.”

Related: Jack Edwards says the Bruins’ blue line ‘is in a crisis right now’