Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau has a close eye on the ECHL playoffs because his son, Ben, is an assistant coach with the Fort Wayne Komets. (Journal Gazette)
• Former Notre Dame captain and Canadiens prospect Jake Evans underwent sports hernia surgery. He’s expected to miss 12 weeks. (Montreal Gazette)
• Now that the Stars GM Jim Nill has hired a head coach, there’s a few things he needs to sort out. He’ll need to help Jim Montgomery find new assistant coaches, he has to look for a backup goalie, he’ll have to decide what he wants to do with Jason Spezza and more. (Dallas News)
• Why is the series between the Sharks and Golden Knights tied up at two after four games? (NBC Sports Bay Area)
• One reason why the Lightning are up in their series against the Bruins is because they’ve been so effective on the forecheck. (NHL.com)
• Despite the fact that a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993, they still manage to bring in more revenue than most American teams. (Financial Post)
• As you’re probably aware, Brad Marchand isn’t very popular with opposing players and fans, and there’s a number of reasons for that. ESPN looks at Marchand’s top 20 heel moments. Slew-footing, clotheslining, elbowing, it’s all there! (ESPN)
The Vegas Golden Knights probably couldn’t have clinched the Pacific Division in a more fitting way: on a dramatic, shorthanded goal by William Karlsson. Karlsson scored his 42nd goal of 2017-18 with incredible style, confounding Martin Jones with a ridiculous between-the-legs shot. See that goal in the highlight of the night section.
Nashville wasn’t able to clinch the Central Division, but the Winnipeg Jets will finish no worse than second after winning against Toronto. So, a franchise without a single playoff win will get at least one round of home-ice advantage.
Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The Stars kept their slim odds alive.
“Take care of your sticks and they’ll take care of you.”
That’s the advice that Marc Savard stresses to viewers in his YouTube videos where he recreates how various NHL players tape their hockey sticks.
The long-time NHLer, who announced his retirement in January, is obsessed with the finer details of a tape job and was known to retape the sticks of teammates if he was displeased with how they prepared it for games.
There was plenty of interest, and “Taping Twigs with Savvy” was born.
“It’s amazing. We had no idea how this would ever go,” Savard told Pro Hockey Talk on Thursday. “Me and my wife just went upstairs in our game room one night and shot a video and 40,000 viewers later we decided to do another one. Now people are writing in what they want to see.
“It’s just kind of taken off. We’re having a lot of fun with it. We’re going to keep doing it until it runs out of steam, but right now there’s plenty more tape jobs to do so we’re looking forward to it.”
As of Friday, Savard has over 4,500 subscribers to his channel and has made eight videos featuring the tape jobs of current players like Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak and William Nylander, and ex-NHLers like Mario Lemieux and his former New York Rangers teammate Wayne Gretzky. The sticks used are from his personal collection, which were acquired during his career or through connections he still has in the hockey world. The McDavid, for example, he received from Milan Lucic and there’s an incoming John Tavares stick, thanks to Johnny Boychuk.
The increase in popularity has also earned Savard a sponsor in Howie’s Tape, who hopped onboard with the latest installment.
The videos are simple. Savard takes the viewer through every roll of the tape job, from the knob to the shaft to the blade, and explains in detail the how and why of it all. The obsession dates back to his youth street hockey days when he would play goal. It wasn’t odd to find him in the basement painting his pads to get the right look. He’d focus on every aspect of his equipment, and eventually that attention shifted to his sticks, which continued as his hockey career took him to the NHL.
(He’s so passionate about it that he used to tape the sticks of every kid on his son’s hockey team.)
Savard has two simple rules for a great tape job:
• Keep the tape nice and tight — a phrase you’ll hear him say often — as you go around the stick. Make sure there are no crevices or wrinkles.
• When you find yourself with excess tape around the toe, trim it neatly with sharp scissors. That can make or break a tape job, he stresses.
Some of the tape jobs Savard saw up close and in person, like the Gretzky or Phil Kessel. Others are based off what he sees from watching a game on television. He picks up the finer details and is then able to recreate it as close as possible on the sticks in his collection. “I’m not always bang on but I’m definitely always very close if you ask players,” he says.
It’s not just fans who are watching. Players check out Savard’s videos as well, according to some notes he’s received since his first video hit Jan. 29. The entire process is also a family affair. His wife films each episode while his son runs the YouTube channel.
Which ones drive him crazy? For one, David Pastrnak’s — just look at it:
Then there’s McDavid. “His tape job is not that bad it’s just that he continues to do the same tape job throughout the whole game, which is amazing to me how he doesn’t in-between periods to retape it because it starts peeling up at the bottom. I don’t know how he uses it, but he does it.”
When Savard announced his retirement in January, he also announced his desire to get into coaching, with junior hockey being his preferred starting point. There weren’t many gigs available in the middle of the season, so in the meantime he’s entered the world of broadcasting having appeared on Hockey Central at Noon on Sportsnet, Fan590 radio and he has a weekly spot on SirusXM’s The Power Play every Wednesday.
“I’m kind of going in the broadcast direction right now in hoping that something jumps up for me in the coaching area,” he said.
For now, Savard will continue answering requests and tape sticks in the fashion of current and former NHL stars. Maybe down the line he’ll get into other hockey gear-related topics, but he’s happy to share this passion with others and educate players and fans on the dos and don’ts of a fine tape job.
Between September and the end of January, the National Hockey League Players’ Association polled its members on a number of topics, from best player to worst arena ice to best referee.
Over 500 players participated and some results are what you’d expect while there were a few surprises along the way. Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, as you’d expect, dominated such categories as “Fastest Skater,” “Most Difficult Player to Play Against” and “Which player would you select to start a franchise?” But there were a few other topics of interest.
Which goalie is the most difficult to score on? Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens won this handily with 41 percent of the vote, and when he’s healthy, it’s tough to argue.
Who is the toughest player?Ryan Reaves, now of the Vegas Golden Knights, was a big vote-getter, earning 44.7 percent of support. He beat out the likes of Milan Lucic (14.8 percent) and Zdeno Chara (4 percent). Reaves is certainly a tough SOB, but it’s hard to imagine Chara not winning this title every year until he retires.
Who is the most underrated player? There was a time when the prevailing thought was that Loui Eriksson was the guy here. But for a long time many in the hockey world agreed with the players this year and chose Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom (8.6 percent). Playing under the shadow of Alex Ovechkin will do that, but maybe this will be the thing to give him a bit more love around the league. Right behind Backstrom was Jaden Schwartz of the St. Louis Blues (6.8 percent).
Do you like the way points are currently awarded for a win or a loss in the regular season? A whopping 77.7 percent of players said yes, which makes sense when you think about it. As the league loves to promote parity in the standings, if you’re a player, you should be happy that the loser point exists because it keeps your playoff hopes alive a little longer than the old way of two points for a win and zero points for any loss did.
Who is the best referee? The viral referee, Wes McCauley, was a big winner with 47.8 percent of votes. A willingness to conduct a calm dialogue on the ice during tense times and the ability to let players vent at the right time goes a long way to earning respect. McCauley is one of those officials. (Tim Peel at 4.4 percent, eh?)
Which rink has the worst ice? While Bell Centre earned the title of “best rink to play” in and “best ice,” among players, the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida wins worst ice (16.8 percent), followed up by Gila River Arena in Arizona (10.7 percent). In third place, and no real surprise, is Barclays Center in Brooklyn. We imagine most of the New York Islanders chose their own rink considering some oftheir quotesover the last few seasons.
• Some teams give capes or hats to the player of the game, but the Capitals have decided to hand out a motorcycle helmet with LED lights. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)
• It’s been a tough ride back from neck surgery, but Kris Letang finally seems to be rounding into form. (NHL.com)
• Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks will be part of NBC’s hockey broadcast tonight. He’ll be standing inside the glass with hockey analyst Pierre McGuire during the first period of tonight’s game between the Flyers and Penguins. (Philly.com)