For whatever reason, it seems like the big questions on everyone’s mind this week revolve around coaching and coaches and who is good at coaching and maybe who is so very bad at coaching?
We’re getting to the end of October, so it makes sense. Teams that aren’t already rolling around this time of year will usually need a miracle to get themselves back into it. Playing at 100-plus point paces and things of this nature. So coaching is a pretty natural area of interest when rosters aren’t likely to change much (or at all) anytime soon.
CJ asks: “How long for the world is David Quinn while he continues to give Brett Howden and Brendan Lemieux meaningful minutes over the Rangers’ young prospects?”
This is an area of seemingly ever-increasing frustration for Rangers fans, and for obvious reasons. I’m not sure Howden (21) or Lemieux (23) are the guys you should have a beef with, but Quinn is definitely treating Lias Andersson like he ran over Quinn’s dog; he’s playing less than 10 minutes a night.
The question should be more along the lines of Ryan Strome is getting the opportunities he has. Playing with Panarin is not where Strome should be unless you’re trying to pump-and-dump him before a trade. Likewise, Kaapo Kakko should not be playing fewer minutes than Jesper Fast.
Meanwhile, you can make real arguments that at least Filip Chytil (if not Vitali Kravtsov) should not be in the AHL in favor of some of these more dead-end mid- and late-20s forwards.
The argument, I guess, would be that you don’t want to throw a bunch of children to the wolves like, say, Ottawa is doing. Having a big chunk of your nice little farm system get caved in every night ain’t a great way to make them feel great about the organization, and Quinn only has so many options that are even passable NHLers to plug into those spots.
That said, you gotta give the kids SOME chance to succeed. Pretty easy to make the argument that rather than getting 9-12 minutes a night, an Andersson type would be better served in the AHL with Chytil, playing big minutes against guys who are still pro hockey players.
I don’t think there’s a good answer here for anyone. Quinn doesn’t decide who is or isn’t on the NHL roster, but he can certainly start giving Kakko more than two minutes a night on the power play by chipping away at Chris Kreider’s four.
Sam asks: “Who’s the next Giordano, a guy who has a career year in his mid-30s?”
Are we not counting Patrice Bergeron (32-47-79 in 65 games plus his usual two-way dominance at age 33 last season)? Probably also shouldn’t count goalies, because we all know how it goes with those guys.
Okay, so we’re talking about a guy who’s usually good but goes into world-class territory. Giordano probably should have already had two Norrises before this past season, and at least one for sure. But yeah, someone who could take that perceived step later in his career is maybe Alex Radulov.
He’s off to a slow start this year but he’s on two straight seasons of 70-plus points, and while he’s never going to be in the Hart conversation or anything like it for obvious reasons (cough he’s Russian cough cough). However, the idea that he can keeping putting up big numbers if Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are reliable is hardly out of the question.
Braden asks: “Do you fire DeBoer or keep him?”
On the one hand, you gotta say it’s not his fault about the goaltending. On the other, this team has a lot of talent and all the underlying numbers are really quite bad. Last year, they looked like the Harlem Globetrotters for long stretches of games.
This year, their 5-on-5 numbers are in “Senators and Rangers” territory. They’re among the worst in the league both offensively and defensively. They’re underperforming their expected-goals numbers (largely because of the goaltending, which again, is no one’s fault but Doug Wilson’s) but the way they’re playing is no way to produce wins.
That’s coaching. And I think unless you want to wait until it’s potentially too late, you gotta bring in someone else. The problem is — and it’s a problem we’ve also seen when talking about this with New Jersey and Minnesota — who?
Mike asks: “Avs have the highest PDO in the league. How good vs. lucky are they?”
It won’t surprise you to learn they have some serious forward talent that makes their offensive success sustainable above expected, though not to the they’ve enjoyed so far. Through Tuesday night, they were plus-12.25 goals, more than 50 percent better than their xGF total. That’ll happen when you shoot almost 13.5 percent as a team, and the per-game goal output is going to come down, especially with Mikko Rantanen out for a month-plus (and, of course, even if he weren’t).
In their own end, though? They’re getting very good goaltending relative to the league average, but that actually looks sustainable. The team defense has been pretty high up in the league rankings for most of the young season, and the thing is, neither goalie is even outperforming expected-goals against, which is to say they’ve given up more than they should have and the save percentage is still one of the highest in the league. That’s the benefit of having the puck constantly, I guess.
Hunter asks: “Is Babcock a Cup winner because of his stacked Detroit team and not because he’s some incredible coach?”
It’s never gonna hurt to have good players, and Babcock is a coach who particularly seems to fall into the category of “sees what he wants to see” in terms of rolling out the Cody Cecis of the world for big minutes, and so on.
I think the fairest thing you can say here is that he’s a very good coach who has benefited from a lot of great situations and has some real holes in how he sees the game. Like, he is not Randy Carlyle, who won a Cup because he had to remember to tell one of Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer to go on the ice when the other one was coming off it. I wouldn’t blame many of the Leafs’ problems on Babcock, either. Some of them, absolutely.
My overall view of Babcock has certainly dimmed in recent years. I no longer consider him an absolute elite coach. But is he still in my top 10? Yeah, for sure he is.
Shepard asks: “Precisely how dumb is it that Winnipeg claimed Sbisa? Is there any argument for it being a good move?”
I mean, he costs nothing but a roster spot and they just need bodies back there. He’s a replacement-level player and it doesn’t hurt to have those lying around, especially if they have NHL experience and he’s either your first call-up or your 23rd-man-on-the-roster guy.
That’s the argument for it being a good move: He’s a warm body who isn’t going to take his own goalie’s head off.
Of course, if you’re relying on him to do anything but eat 10 minutes against low-end competition, you’re gonna get yourself into trouble. So I guess your mileage may vary.
Brodie asks: “Who finishes with more points, Edmonton or Buffalo?”
I gotta go with Buffalo. They at least have more than four NHL-quality wingers and defensemen. A winning combination.
Some questions in the mailbag are edited for clarity or to remove swear words, which are illegal to use.
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