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Help Me Understand… NHL, Hot Takes and More…

Welcome to another edition of Help Me Understand.

Sports, hot takes and narratives. Some make sense, others perplex me.

1. Help me understand how the combination of chocolate, caramel, creamy nougat and hazelnut can sound so good, but when they become one in the candy Toffifee it doesn’t taste good. I love sweets, and my wife will attest I eat almost anything sweet, but Toffifee is the Christmas candy I avoid. I don’t understand how those ingredients taste so meh.

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2. Help me understand what direction the Vegas Golden Knights are going. They added Alex Pietrangelo, who is a great defender, but essentially gave away Nate Schmidt and Paul Stastny. Add in Frank Seravalli’s report they were shopping Max Pacioretty and it seems they are going in circles. They acquired Pacioretty two years ago for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a second round pick (Samuel Fagemo). Two years later they are considering moving Pacioretty, who led them in scoring last year with 66 points…? Vegas lacks an offensive difference maker. Pacioretty and Mark Stone are very good players, but not elite producers. Moving Pacioretty won’t land them a better offensive player.

They also acquired goalie Robin Lehner last year, which individually is a smart move, but now Vegas has Marc-Andre Fleury as a backup making $7 million. And he has two years remaining on his contract. Having $12 million dollars in goaltending, when only one can play, isn’t great salary cap management. Vegas will be competitive this season, but there doesn’t seem to be a well-thought-out direction on where they are going.

3. Help me understand why many — like Nation commenter, Bear Stokes yesterday — feel this way. He wrote:

“Oil goals against sure to go up with the addition of Barrie over Klef.”

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He is not the first person to mention this. I realize Barrie is not Rod Langway, and won’t be a dynamic shutdown defender, but when he’s on the ice his team scores more than they give up. In his career his GF-GA is +2, and it is only that low because of the 2017 season when the Avalanche were the worst NHL team in decades. He was -28 at 5×5. In his other seven seasons he is +26. Klefbom is -61. Take out his worst year, 2015, and he is -41 GF-GA.

And Barrie plays against elite players as much as Klefbom does. Thanks to PuckIQ.com we can see which opponents players are facing. Over the past three seasons, I looked at how Barrie and Klefbom fared against “Elite” and “Middle” opposition.

Barrie played a total of 2,528 TOI, and was outscored 100-106 (48.5 GF%).
Klefbom played 2,378 TOI and was outscored 85-100 (45.9 GF%).

Their goals against P/60 were very similar, because they played against those types more. It was interesting to note the significant difference between the two when they faced “gritensity” players as PuckIQ classifies them.

In 1,264 of TOI, Barrie outscored them 70-56 (55.9 GF%).
Klefbom played 978 TOI and was outscored 33-51 (39.2 GF%).

Barrie’s goals against P/60 was much better, while his GF/60 was significantly higher. We have to consider quality of linemates as a factor, but the suggestion that Barrie will leak way more goals than Klefbom doesn’t match with what’s actually occurred on the ice.

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And in the past three years, Barrie has 78 points at 5×5 (sixth most among NHL D-men), while Klefbom had 38. It would be great if both were playing for the Oilers, but I don’t see the addition of Barrie leading to an increase in goals against.

4. I don’t understand how he did this, but I’ve watched it 50 times and I laugh every time.

5. Help me understand how the Alberta Junior Hockey League was willing to play games in October, but the Western Hockey League wasn’t. The AJHL became a “pay-to-play” league due to having only 100 fans per game, and in some places no fans. The registration costs went to billet families and covered busing etc. The WHL said they didn’t want to ask their players to play. However, many of these WHL players and their families ended up either paying to play in the AJHL, or having to pay trainers and ice time rentals while they tried to stay in shape and be on the ice. So they still paid money.

If the WHL’s main concern was health and safety, then they could have said that, and I can understand that, but I don’t think it was. Minor hockey was going on. The AJHL was playing. The AJFHL played and so did Junior B leagues. Only the WHL didn’t play, and it seems they cared the least about player development. These kids and their families still paid money just to get ice and keep their sons in shape.

6. In John Chayka’s four seasons as GM of the Arizona Coyotes they had the worst record in the western conference. Help me understand why he was hired in the first place. He had very little hockey experience, and zero NHL experience. Under his watch, the Coyotes also violated the NHL’s combine testing policy. They were penalized only for what they did with WHL players, but I know for a fact they also tested some AJHL players right after they finished playing games. Completely unprofessional. The Coyotes had to forfeit a second round pick in 2020 and their first round pick in 2021.

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Chayka resigned as GM in late July. He had just signed a three-year extension nine months earlier. According to many reports, Chayka’s relationship with Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo was damaged when he lied about having a job interview with the New Jersey Devils. After Chayka resigned the Coyotes released a rather hostile statement.

“The Club is disappointed in his actions and his timing, as the Coyotes prepare to enter the NHL’s hub city of Edmonton, where the team will begin postseason play for the first time since 2012. Chayka has chosen to quit on a strong and competitive team, a dedicated staff, and the Arizona Coyotes fans, the greatest fans in the NHL,” it said. (Please also help me understand why all teams feel the need to tell their fans they are the greatest. But I digress.)

What boggles my mind is the Devils wanted to interview him. Why? What had Chayka done in Arizona that would make an opposing NHL team feel he is the right person to lead their organization? I’m often perplexed at how the NHL will constantly recycle people who haven’t had success.

7. Help me understand how Zack Kassian has the lowest block shot rate on the Oilers. After the Oilers qualifying round loss to Chicago, my co-host, Jason Strudwick pointed out to me Kassian needs to be more dedicated at getting in the shooting lane. He spoke about the tying goal in game four.

He said blocking shots is mainly about a willingness to get in the shooting lane. It made sense, but yesterday I stumbled upon a stat that really enforced what Struds was saying. Kassian had a total of eight blocked in 59 games. Only Tyler Ennis (4), Colby Cave, Tomas Jurco and Andreas Athanasiou (3) and Tyler Benson (1) had fewer, and Jurco played the most games (12) among those five. Kassian’s blocked shot/60 was the lowest on the team at 0.51. In 2019 only Ty Rattie (0.74) was lower than Kassian’s 0.76.

Kassian needs to work on getting in the shooting lane more. He doesn’t need to become Kelly Buchberger and block shots with his face, but as Struds pointed out, you need to show a willingness and desire to do it.

8. I don’t understand why some NHL writers still compare salaries of NHL stars to starts in the NBA. The two leagues are not remotely comparable. The NBA salary cap is $125 million and the tax level is $151 million. Teams pay their top players huge money because most stars average between 32-37 minutes a game in the regular season, and then in the playoffs it jumps up to 40 minutes. Their star players are on the floor for 75-83% of the game. Connor McDavid plays 36%.  Thomas Chabot lead the NHL playing 26 minutes/game, meaning he was on the ice 43% of the time.

The NHL needs to fill out a 20-man roster, and last year each NHL team had an average of 13 players (goalies included) who played over 15 minutes/game. The stars in the NHL don’t have the ability to impact the games as often, or as much, as NBA stars. Plus, the NBA has way more money in the pot and it goes to a much smaller group of players. Comparing the finances of star players in each league is odd to me.

9. Help me understand how people can play in five or more fantasy football leagues. It is impressive. I’m in one and I feel stressed, which is ridiculously funny, but I can’t imagine how those diehards find the time to manage multiple leagues. I respect it. I could never do it, but I respect it. Good luck to all of you entering your semi-final matchups this weekend. Except Andy. He’s a great guy, but we are playing each other so I hope his players all soil the sheets.

10. This is difficult to watch.

Help me understand how a human being thinks this is okay. If this is what he is doing on the field, imagine how he acts in private. This is revolting. But I also wonder why the assistant coaches did nothing. Why did no parents do anything? We need to stand up for those who are vulnerable. And to just allow him some weak-ass apology that only said, “I shouldn’t have disciplined him in public, I should done it in private,” is disgusting. The original statement from the Savannah Gators team was, “Gerrel Williams is a good guy that just took it a little to far.” Of course that wasn’t received well and eventually he was expelled from coaching. This happened during the National Championship Peewee game.

The challenge we have as a society is this type of violence happens in many areas. We need to come together and be willing to speak up when we see abuse whether it be physical, mental or sexual. It is one of the biggest problems in society. I know we usually talk about sports here, but we can’t keep ignoring these types of events. Williams was expelled from coaching and lost his job at Chatham County Sheriff’s Office in Savannah, Georgia, where he was a detention center counselor, but the damage to that child has already been done. And if we don’t speak up other children and men and women will suffer. Enough is enough. More of us need to speak up.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Thanks to Michelle and Vince for their generous bids on the Brick TV package and Mondo Mechanical’s air purifier. Thank you.

Day 12, Package #1: A home Lighting Package from Astoria Lighting.

The winning bidder will receive Gemstone Lights supplied and installed for the front face of your home up to 250 feet. This is an example of how much 250 feet of lights will cover. It is a lot.

  • These are year-round permanent LED Lighting.
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  • Limitless patterns and colours, holidays, special events, sports teams, and more.
  • Create your own patterns.
  • True Warm White.
  • Cloud-enabled, control from anywhere from your apple or android device

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 between 2-6 p.m. today and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260. All money raised will help out Santas Anonymous. Thanks in advance.

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