Spinorama Hockey


Can you imagine showing up at work one day and your boss tells you that we don’t like how our business is performing and we need to let you go.  You were great last year but this year isn’t working out.  Oh and by the way we are replacing you with your assistant.

It may be early in the NHL season, but already there are rumblings as to which current head coach might be close to being replaced. Last season was the first time since 1996-97 that a coach was not fired during the hockey season. However, there were a few teams that made changes in the offseason, including Calgary, Carolina, Dallas, and the New York Rangers.

It’s no secret that head coaches of professional sports teams have a limited life span. In the NHL, head coaches have one of the highest turnover rates in major sport, averaging about 3.4 years. With the high turnover, successful coaches can maybe get 3-4 chances of being hired by a new team (or even the same team that once fired them). One coach who has, until now, seemed to have bucked that trend is Joel Quenneville, who has been the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks since 2008. Also, the new up-and-coming coaches from other leagues like the AHL or college ranks put in their time and wait for their chance for a job in the major league. 


Granted teams that have recently hired a new coach will not likely be candidates for making any changes. It’s the teams who have had a coach for around three years or more and their team is not meeting expectations that may possibly be looking to make a change.

Teams that are more likely to make a coaching change during the season include: Chicago, Detroit, Edmonton, LA, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. If I were to choose dark horse team to make a change it would be Tampa Bay. Expectations are high for this team to win the Cup and with Julien BriseBois recently taking over from Steve Yzerman, he may want to bring in his own coach. 

Here are a list of some of the top coaching candidates that you might see behind an NHL team bench this coming season:

The Recycled

  1. Alain Vigneault – he’s had two strong runs with the Canucks and NY Rangers, coming within a game of winning the Stanley Cup with Vancouver. Excellent regular season track record with 648 wins and his teams have only missed the playoffs twice in his 12 seasons as head coach. Has to be considered the front-runner for teams looking for a replacement, but he won’t come cheap.
  2. Michel Therrien – in what seems like ages ago, Therrien led the Montreal Canadiens to a 50-win season back in the 2014-15 season.  Surprisingly, he was fired by the Habs when their record was 31-19, which they’ve had difficulty getting back to since his departure. You think that was rough, this is the same guy that got fired from the Pittsburgh Penguins only to see his team go on to win the Stanley Cup!  Currently a scout for Montreal, a proven winner,  he should get another shot at leading a team.
  3. Dave Tippett – the former longtime coach of the Arizona Coyotes is now working as a special advisor for the Seattle group looking to land the next NHL expansion team. Shrewd move by him, as this will likely land him a permanent job with Seattle either in management or as their first ever head coach. 
  4. Paul MacLean – while probably a dark horse, the former Jack Adams Trophy winner surprisingly has not been given another HC opportunity after his short stint with the Ottawa Senators. The long-time NHL assistant coach most recently worked in that position with the Anaheim Ducks could get one more shot at being head coach.
  5. Darryl Sutter – I know, I know, he’s retired. But the last I checked Stanley Cup winning coaches do not grow on trees. Two Stanley Cup wins and a great regular season track record may entice a team like the Edmonton Oilers, if they decide to move on from Todd McLellan. While often criticized for his tough coaching style, it very well could be what the Oilers need to get them back on track. The chance at coaching a player like Connor McDavid and with the team so close to home, might be the only job Sutter will ever consider.

The New Kids on the Block 

  1. Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Marlies (AHL) – has been a top candidate for head coaching jobs for about the last two seasons. Considered the Jon Gruden of hockey, putting in long hours in order to perfect his craft. Led Marlies to Calder Cup win last season.
  2. Pascal Vincent, MB Moose (AHL) – entering his third season as coach of the Moose, Vincent has been with the Jets as an assistant coach before that.  Led the Moose to a big turnaround last season and a playoff berth after team had third worst record in the AHL the season before. Has been talked about as one of the top up-and-comers in the coaching ranks.
  3. Jay Leach, Providence Bruins (AHL) – Leach is a fast rising young star in the coaching ranks. He has had success leading the Bruins both as an assistant and as their HC since the start of the 2017 season. Previous to that he was an assistant with Scranton-Barrie. 
  4. Nate Leaman, Providence Friars (NCAA) – odds are good that Leaman joins the growing list of college coaches making the jump to the NHL. He has spent the last 7 season as coach of the Providence Friars, winning the NCAA championship in the 2014-15 season, and his college head coaching career dates back to 2003.
  5. John Madden, Cleveland Monsters (AHL) – the former 3-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils has been the head coach of the Cleveland Monsters since 2016, after taking over from Jared Bednar.   Previous to that, Madden spent 3 seasons as an assistant for the Florida Panthers.

The Over-the-Shoulders 

  1. Dan Bylsma, DET – with Jeff Blashill entering his fourth season and with Red Wings continuing to struggle, he could be next in line if team decides to make a change.
  2. Kirk Muller, MON – also a former head coach of the Hurricanes, Muller has been an assistant with a couple of teams while waiting for his next opportunity.
  3. Jack Capuano, FLA – former Isles bench boss should get one more chance as a HC after a long tenure with the Islanders. In his previous two seasons before getting fired, Capuano led the Isles to 47 and 45 win seasons. He should get another shot.
  4. DJ Smith, TOR – like Keefe, Smith has been mentioned as possible HC candidate during the last round of coaching hires. With Mike Babcock entrenched behind the bench in Toronto, DJ will likely need to take his music elsewhere in order to become a head coach.
  5. Kevin Dineen, CHI – as an assistant coach with the Blackhawks, he might be in the perfect spot for an opportunity, due to Coach Q’s long and seemingly endless tenure. Rumors had Quenneville parting ways with the team during the 2017 draft, and being fired at end of last season. He could be a losing streak away of being replaced.
  6. Todd Nelson, DAL – spent a short stint as head coach of the Oilers, until Todd McLellan became available. Since then he’s had a successful run coaching in the AHL and now in his first year an assistant in Dallas. He will probably get another chance as head coach after having the plug pulled prematurely during his first season.
  7. Marc Crawford, OTT – veteran coach who previously had four NHL head coaching jobs and a stint overseas, he helped bring the Sens within one game of SC Final. This season, with seemingly nothing to work with, the team if off to a surprising start. Could be due for one more chance.
  8. Luke Richardson, MON – once considered the heir to the Ottawa Senators HC job, Richardson was snubbed and he left the organization for other opportunities. Currently, he is in his first season as an assistant in Montreal, he spent last season in same position with Isles. 
  9. Lane Lambert, NYI – Lambert has been a Barry Trotz mainstay since 2011 as an assistant coach with the Nashville Predators. He helped Trotz lead the Capitals to their Stanley Cup victory last season and has since followed him to the Island. His coaching career dates back to 2002 in the WHL. Lambert’s name has been brought up quite a bit as candidate for a HC job and he has definitely put in his time. 
  10. 10.Ian Laperriere, PHI – Ian’s career ended abruptly after suffering from concussion symptoms in 2010. Now entering his 6th season as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Flyers, he could be the future Flyers HC if the rumours of firing David Hakstol ever end up becoming true.

Coaching in any league is a tough business especially when everyone is gunning for your job in a results based environment.  Point of advice, if you things aren’t looking good the next morning, call in sick.




NHL 2018-2019 Spinorama Hockey Preview…

Glad the NHL is back?  So are we.  We thought we would start with our yearly predictions and things that we are most likely to see in this upcoming season:

Most overrated teams: Bruins, Blue Jackets, Vegas

Teams most likely to surprise: Sabres, Habs, Islanders

Best Offseason Acquisition: J Tavares – Leafs, M Pacioretty – Vegas, J Skinner – Sabres, E. Karlsson – Sharks (if he can hack the Western Conference), M. Hoffman – Panthers

Worst Offseason Overpay: Paul Stastny – Vegas

A Star is Born: M. Rantanen – Avs

Young players not being talked about enough:
T. Chabot – Sens, R Donato – Bruins, I Provorov – Flyers, T Jost – Avs

Breakthrough years: B. Horvat – Canucks, J Eichel – Sabres, A. Mantha – Wings, C. White – Sens, N Patrick – Flyers, PL Dubois – Blue Jackets

Most unlikely team goaltending to surprise: Wings – J Howard & J Bernier, Islanders – T Greiss & R Lehner

Stanley Cup Champion: Winnipeg defeats Toronto

Conference Semi Finalists: Winnipeg vs Los Angeles, Toronto vs Pittsburgh



Calder Trophy: E. Petterson – Canucks

Vezina Trophy:  F Andersen – Leafs, A. Vasilevskiy – TB, J Quick – Kings

Rocket Richard: Tie 48 Goals: A. Matthews – Leafs, P Laine – Jets

Art Ross: C McDavid – Oilers

Norris: J Carlson – Capitals

Hart: N McKinnon – Avs

Jack Adams: John Hynes – Devils, Honourable Mention: Travis Green – Canucks

Lady Byng: V Tarasenko – Blues

Frank J Selke: A. Barkov – Panthers


My 2018-19 NHL Standings Predictions:


Metropolitan Division

@frankzappia1:  New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, WC-Washington, Out: NYI Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, Carolina

@Mass_Insight:  Washington, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, WC-Philadelphia, Out: Columbus, NY Rangers, Carolina, NY Islanders

Atlantic Division

@frankzappia1:  Toronto, Tampa Bay, Boston WC-Florida Out: Montreal, Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa

@Mass_Insight:  Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, WC-Florida Out: Buffalo, Montreal, Detroit, Ottawa


Central Division

@frankzappia1:  Nashville, Colorado, Winnipeg, WC-St Louis Out: Dallas, Minnesota, Chicago

@Mass_Insight:  Winnipeg, Nashville, Colorado, WC-Dallas,  Out: Minnesota, St Louis, Chicago

Pacific Division

@frank@zappia1: LA, San Jose, Edmonton, WC- Calgary:  Out: Vegas, Vancouver, Anaheim, Arizona

@Mass_Insight:  San Jose, Vegas, Calgary, WC-LA, Out: Edmonton, Anaheim, Vancouver, Arizona


WINNIPEG JETS PREVIEW – Is it New Altitude, New Attitude?

When I first saw the “Rise Together” tag last year as the Winnipeg Jets theme slogan, I was thinking this is bold.  I guess they new something that we didn’t or maybe it just worked out better than they could have ever imagined.  There is nothing better than welcoming a new season, except welcoming a new season with actual expectations.  Great for the fans, maybe not so much for the team.  But if one actually wants to get to the next level (ex: winning the holy grail of hockey, Lord Stanley’s Cup), it will be something the team will eventually look forward to.  It’s called confidence.  Not cockiness but a confident attitude is a must.  It’s amazing what that can do for a team.  Jets 1.0 had a slogan one year and it was “New Attitude, New Altitude”.  Interesting as this may be what the Jets require this season except reversed “New Altitude, New Attitude”.  Some would say, act like you have been there before.  Well the Jets now have been there before.

Let’s dissect what we believe are the three key factors to the 2018-2019 NHL season that the Hockey News predicted would be the year your Winnipeg Jets would win the Stanley Cup!


Do you want to predict who will make the playoffs each year?  Just look at the goaltender.  If your goalie plays well so does your team.  How is your coach doing?  Or how is the team defence this year?  Ask your goaltender.  Unfair but reality.  I don’t think this area is talked about enough.  Connor Hellebuyck nearly won the Vezina trophy and the Jets finally made the playoffs with basically the same team they had the year before.  Yes, I realize everyone is a year older.  If your main man has a down season, an injury or maybe has a back up that can’t pick up the slack, your team will most likely find themselves in big trouble.  Ask Cam Talbot and the Edmonton Oilers who went from everyone’s pick to contend for the cup to not making the playoffs last year.  Even with the best player in the world on your roster, Connor McDavid.  If this doesn’t tell you how important your goalie is, I’m not sure what does.  No pressure Connor, Laurent Brossoit or Eric Comrie is your back up.  Though we predict that Chevy knows something about Brossoit that we don’t.  Highly touted goalies that don’t pan out immediately are a dime a dozen in the NHL.  Though, there are many examples of this working out.  Look at Mike Smith or Devan Dubnyk.  Sometimes the right situation means everything.  Especially when you play in front of a confident team.


One More Year Experience:

Generally one more year of experience for a roster like the Jets (young, fast and strong) is a good thing.  I can’t imagine what another year for the likes of J. Roslovic, K. Connor, A. Copp, J. Morrissey and many others will do for this team.  Unless of course there is, the dreaded sophomore jinx or the, I have signed a new contract and can’t live up to expectations curse.  I really believe the way the NHL is going, by players getting younger each and every year, the Jets should be fine in this area.  Remember when you are on a good “confident” team bringing in young players is a hell of a lot easier for them to develop and thrive in this type of environment.  Confidence breeds confidence.  We expect Roslovic in particular to step up and work that 3rd line centre role to his advantage.  I thought when Paul Maurice inserted him in the Las Vegas playoff series last year, he may have been the Jet’s most dangerous player.  As we said numerous times last year, centre ice and goaltending is a must to win in this league.  No one needs to step up more than Jack Roslovic this year.  It wouldn’t hurt either if Brian Little has a comeback season, most specifically in the offensive stats area.

Opening Day Roster Depth:

Forward Depth:

Connor, Sheifele, Wheeler

Ehlers, Little, Laine

Vesalainen, Roslovic, Perrealt

Copp, Lowry, Tanev

Dano, Petan, Lemieux

Defensive Depth:


Morrow, Buff

Kulikov, Myers


Goalie Depth:

Hellebuyck, Brossoit, Comrie

The Winnipeg Jets may have the most talented roster in the NHL with so many choices to make.  The easy choice is to send Niku, and Poolman and either Lemieux or Vesalainen to the AHL and you don’t lose anyone to waivers.  I have a feeling that Vesalainen will be pushed to make the team.  If this happens, Lemieux gets sent down and neither Dano or Petan will face waivers. If Lemieux is feisty enough to make the team a trade or more likely an injury to Petan or Dano will surface. All good problems to have.  A team does not win the cup without depth.  Vesalainen’s interesting clause option to go back to Finland in year one of his contract may not be good for the team as he would need to be convinced to join the Moose.  In my opinion, joining the AHL’s Moose would be the better option for his development. Though I’m sure the Finish Elite League (Liiga) would be close to being just as effective.  As for goaltending Eric Comrie is waiver exempt and most likely will be sent down to the Moose at least to start the season.

The only question left in this category is, do the Jets need anything else?  Team toughness is there but at the very minimum last year they had Matt Hendericks to drop the gloves just in case a message needed to be sent or Laine was being attacked.  Yeah, I know the NHL is not like that anymore but that isn’t entirely true as long as this element is allowed to be in the game.  You still don’t want the likes of Buff, Lowry or Wheeler dropping their mitts or taking roughing penalties when someone takes a run at Ehlers.  Most likely player in this category would be on the border of the roster and that is Brendan Lemieux.  The kid can score and drop them if he has to.  I’m a fan.  He needs an injury to get a sustained opportunity in this line up.  I think Lemieux’s time will come at some point this season and could be a key ingredient for a possible playoff run.  Even though I was certain the Jets wanted Morrissey (who had no rights except to sit out) signed to a long term contract, they worked themselves some much needed cap space for potential playoff run additions by having him sign a low AVV bridge contract.  If all stays the same, a depth center, a gritty scoring winger, some lunch pale grit forwards and a veteran back up goalie may be some of the items required to put the icing on this roster’s cake.  Assuming that they actually make the playoffs.  But if we learned anything from last year, the Jets are ready.  And just like last season the team will need to play confident as I noticed that for most of the season they were playing with a chip on their collective shoulders, lead by their captain Blake Wheeler.

Veteran Coach: 

Coach Paul Maurice went from one of the most likely coaches to be fired in the media, to hero & genius in the span of a few months.   There is no one smarter in the organization than this man.  If you think that this isn’t true you are not paying attention.  No one has his experience nor the pulse of this organization more than him.  Until he arrived, the organization was spinning.  He has brought much to the Jets organization but NHL legitimacy and professionalism to hockey operations has to be at the top of the list.  Not saying the Chevy or Chipper has not done this as well.  Actually, I don’t think there is a better trio of coach, GM & owner in the league.  Just that it’s different from the guy that interacts with all the players in the organization on a daily basis.

Now in the matter of coaching this is a different subject and not necessarily related.  Maurice has been with the Jets as head coach for what is deemed in professional sports, a long time.  He has the third longest tenure in the NHL behind Joel Quenneville in Chicago and Jon Cooper in Tampa Bay.  This is usually not a good stat for coaches as it usually means your time is coming to an end.  But Paul Maurice is a spitfire.  Literally as he used to play for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL as a junior and started his coaching career there when he retired.  But I regress.  I am only stating facts and they may not even be Coach Maurice’s fault (see goaltending above) but Po Mo has only made the playoffs as a coach back to back years once in his NHL career.  Keep in mind that year they went to the final after losing in the conference quarterfinals the year before with Carolina.  Let’s face it, he is great at analyzing and his players seem to really like him.  Let’s just hope that Hellebuyck plays well and doesn’t get injured and everything should be okay.

As for expectations, a word of advice.  It’s okay to be confident in your team as long as they are confident in themselves.  Rise Together was bold.  The team has definitely achieved a new altitude that should provide a confident attitude.  Great teams are great teams for a reason.  Will the Jets be a great team this season?  At the very least, act like you have been there before.  Be it team slogans, goalies, coaches, young and older players confidence is everything…

Frank Zappia @spinohockey




NHL Draft 2018 Coverage: The Bloodlines

As we head into the upcoming NHL Draft in Dallas on June 22-23, we take a look at a recent trend in recent drafts where the last names are familiar ones that we have watched when we were growing up. Second and even third generation players have become more and more common as each and every year goes by.

Here is a list of some recognizable last names who, along with their older relatives, may soon become household names.


Brady Tkachuk (LW/C)

Son of former Winnipeg Jet Keith and brother of current Flames forward Matthew. Both of them were drafted in the 1st round of their respective drafts, Keith was drafted 19th overall in 1990 and Matthew was drafted 6th overall in 2016. At 6’3, Brady is projected to be more skilled and even nastier than both his father and brother. He is ranked 2nd for North American (NA) skaters, and will very likely be taken in the top 5. Could you imagine the Battle of Alberta if he were to be selected by the Edmonton Oilers?

Possible fit: OTT, ARI, VAN

Mattias Samuelsson (D)

Son of former Flyers defenceman Kjell. Like his dad, his 6’4 frame makes him attractive for NHL teams looking for a big, physical d-man. He is considered a good skater who makes smart decisions with the puck in his own end. Ranked 21st for NA skaters, he is projected to be a late 1st or early 2nd round draft pick.

Possible fit: PIT, STL, WSH

Jack Drury (C)

Jack’s father, Ted Drury, played his NHL career with the Bruins and Ducks and he is also the nephew of Chris Drury. Similar to his father’s game, Jack is a smart versatile smallish forward who also excels at playing special teams. He rose from 60th in the mid-term rankings to 27th in the final rankings for NA skaters.

Possible fit: ANA, BUF, COL

Nikolai Kovalenko (RW)

Nikolai’s father was known as the ‘Russian Tank’ Andrei Kovalenko, who played 9 seasons mainly with the Nordiques/Avalanche, Habs, and Oilers. Just like his dad, being 5’11 Nikolai has the same stature and playing style, which will likely be attractive to some teams looking for some Russian grit. His final rank as European skater was 33rd and is projected to be taken in the 2nd or 3rd round.

Possible fit: BOS, DET, NSH 

Jack McBain (C)

Son of former Jets forward Andrew McBain, who was selected 8th overall in the 1983 NHL entry draft. Jack possesses great hands and shooting skills but it’s his skating that he needs to work on and is the big question mark. Playing this past season for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, he was voted Ontario Jr. Hockey League’s top prospect. He is ranked 35th for North American skaters. 

Possible fit: MON, LA, NYI

Jonathan Gruden (C)

Son of new Raiders Head Coach…actually he is the son of the other John Gruden, who had a brief NHL career with the Bruins and Capitals. Jonathan is a smart, strong skater who can also play the wing. His final NA ranking was 46th.

Possible fit: CHI, PHI, TB

Kristian Reichel (C)

Son of former Flame Robert. At 20 years old, Kristian is a 3rd year eligible draft pick. He only started playing in North America last season, with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, after starting his career in Europe. His passing and on-ice awareness are considered his strengths. He also attended Winnipeg Jets prospect camp in 2017. Ranked 53rd as NA skater, he could step in for a team sooner based on his age.

Possible fit: ARI, DET, WSH

Adam Samuelsson (D)

Yet another Samuelsson in the same draft. Adam’s father Ulf (one of the most hated players of all time – see image) had a lengthy NHL career as a former Whaler/Penguin/Ranger defenceman. At 6’6, 240 lbs. Adam is even bigger than his father was and he will have teams drooling at the prospect of landing a mobile, shutdown, Chara-like d-man. Projected to be a mid-round pick, he is ranked 77th for NA skaters.

Possible fit: BUF, DAL, WPG

Riley Sutter (RW)

Son of former Flyer/Blues forward Ron. Riley is considered a two-way player with good size and hockey sense (which as a Sutter I believe you’re born with). Needs to work on his skating. He may not have great offensive upside and is projected to end up in a checking role, should he makes it to the NHL. He is ranked 80th overall for NA skaters.

Possible fit: CAL, MIN, NJ

Max Paddock (G)

Max is the nephew of former AHL/NHL player, and more notably, Head Coach of the Winnipeg Jets, John Paddock. A native of Brandon, Manitoba, he came out of nowhere after taking over as the starting goalie for the Regina Pats early last season. He helped lead the Pats to a Memorial Cup Final, which they just missed out winning. Things are looking up for Max, including his chances of being selected in this year’s draft. He finished 22nd in the final rankings for NA goalies.

Possible fit: FLA, NYI, VGK

Other notable mentions, including their final North American rankings:

-Jacob Pivonka (C) (Michal) is ranked 105.

-Cole and Christian Krygier (D) (Todd) are ranked 149 & 205, respectively.

-Ethan Manderville (C) (Kent) is ranked 165.

-Jack DeBoer (C) (Peter) is ranked 166.

-Erik Middentorf (LW) (Max) is ranked 195.

-Ben Sanderson (LW) (Geoff) is ranked 208.

-Philipe Lapointe (RW) (Marty) is not ranked.

-Ryan Savage (RW) (Brian) is not ranked.

Mass DiGeronimo @spinohockey

Why the Washington Capitals will win the Stanley Cup

Yes, I know, you are rolling your eyes at the title of this article.  Like everyone else in the hockey world including this writer has picked Vegas to lose during these playoffs.  Technically I picked them to lose in the first round (LA Kings) and the third round (WPG Jets).

The smart money tells us not to doubt these Golden Knights especially with the red hot Marc Andre Fleury.  So why pick the Caps to win this series?  I need to go on my theory, that the eventual Stanley Cup champion needs to face adversity and have odds stacked up against them during the playoffs and somehow overcome it.  This is traditionally what happens on the road to winning the toughest trophy in professional sports.  No doubt Vegas has had much adversity during the regular season as an expansion team.  But what have they endured in the playoffs in 2018?  Let’s take a look at what these two teams have overcome to get to the final? 

Golden Knights road to the final:

  • Round 1: Vegas sweeps LA.  The series is a lot tighter than the “sweep” would indicate.  As he will continue to do throughout the next two rounds, MA Fleury stands on his head.
  • Round 2: Vegas has a minor challenge against the San Jose Sharks who end up tying the series at 2 to give them some difficulty.  The Knights go on to win game 5 & 6 (including a shutout in game 6 by Fleury) to finish off the Sharks.
  • Round 3: Vegas faces the Winnipeg Jets, arguably the best team left in the playoffs  and lose game 1.  This will be the only time that the Golden Knights  have trailed in the playoffs).  Fortunately it’s only game one and the Knights behind some stellar goaltending go on to take the Jets out in 5.  The Knights never trailed again on the scoreboard for the final 4 games.

Capitals road to the final:

  • Round 1: Caps are down 2 games, losing both at home against Colombus only to come back and win four straight.  Keep in mind game 3 (the pivotal game), they came through and won in double overtime.  Veteran goalie Braden Holtby comes in after game 2 loss to take over for goalie of the future Philipp Grubauer and goes on a tear to get his team to the next round.
  • Round 2: Caps finally defeat their arch rival.  The Pittsburgh Penguins, finally find themselves on the wrong side of the Ovechkin – Crosby classic playoff duel and the Caps move on.
  • Round 3: Caps face elimination after Tampa Bay wins 3 in a row to take a 3-2 lead in the series.  With immense pressure on the Caps, they win the elimination game at home 3-0 (Holtby with the shutout).  They end up finishing off the Lightning in Tampa Bay on the road with another Holtby shutout in game 7.

Washington’s road to the final has been full of tough odds, pressure in must win games and much adversity to overcome.  The Golden Knights for some strange reason (Fleury as the main reason) has had relatively easy road to the final.  You can argue that this will keep them fresh and ready to pounce on the worn out Capitals.  But from my experience this is rarely the case.  Ovi finally will get his Stanley Cup ring and the odds in Vegas will finally go against the Golden Knights.  Capitals in 6

Frank Zappia

2018 Playoff Predictions – A Whiteout Snowstorm is coming



Our Playoff predictions are here and we have news for you!  A whiteout snow storm is coming to the NHL Playoffs!  See our format below that has some notes on the series, our prediction and some key players.  Please note that every team’s best players and in particular every team’s goaltenders need to play well for teams to advance so we will leave the obvious choices out of our notes.  Our “Need to Step up” selections are players that we think will need to play above their weight class to give their team the edge to move on to the next round.

First Round:


Notes: President’s trophy winner rarely wins the Stanley Cup so why does everyone keep picking them to win it?  I understand no one is deeper than the gang in Smashville.  It makes sense a lot of sense.  Go to the final and lose and the following year you are back to claim what is rightfully yours.  The big problem in this series is Avs goalie Varlamov is out.  He can steal a series but let’s face it in order to win in the playoffs goaltending is a must.  Bernier is a top notch back up but without Varly we just don’t think it will be enough.  We still think the Avs will make it difficult and why not?  Nothing to lose here…Preds in 6

Need to Step up – NSH: Kyle Turris, Nick Bonino, Colton Sissons, Ryan Ellis. COL: Nikita Zadorov, Samuel Girard, Tyson Jost & Carl Soderberg


The Jets, for a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since they have come back, there is a lot of talk of this team going all the way.  There is eerie similarities between this team and the Black Hawks first Stanley Cup Champion of 2010.  I know they are building their team like Nashville but to this writer they really look like the Blackhawks!  As for the Wild, yes we know Suter is out.  This is a team that if not dealt with can become very dangerous if they shake any Jet confidence.  Keep in mind the eventual Stanley Cup Champion nearly always has a tough first round.  We don’t expect any different.  Jets in 7

Need to step up – Jets: Adam Lowry, Paul Stastny, Josh Morrissey, Mathieu Perreault  Wild: Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Matt Dumba, Nino Niederreiter


What else do the Vegas Golden Knights need to do?  After winning the division and taking the NHL by storm.  How about win a playoff round against what may be the most experienced playoff team in the conference.  It doesn’t hurt that they have won 2 Stanley Cups lately in 2012 & 2014.   Take note in 2012 they were the 8th seed and in 2014 they were the 6th seed.  This year they are the 7th seed.  The dream season ends for Vegas here.  As for the Kings we have four names for you: Quick, Doughty, Carter & Kopitar.  Enough said.  Kings in 6

Need to Step up – LA: Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Alec Martinez Vegas: Erik Haula, Alex Tuch, Riley Smith, Deryk Engelland


The Ducks are tough, have centre ice depth, defensive depth and goaltending depth.  Though the Sharks will be a tough opponent we think the Ducks who’s seem to thrive in this type of atmosphere will be too much for the Sharks.  We like what we see in San Jose and it’s not like the Sharks lack at centre ice, with Martin Jones in the pipes or a pretty solid defensive core.  This is really a coin flip series and should be one of the most intriguing coaching battles. Ducks in 7

Need to Step up – Ducks:  Jakob Silfverberg, Adam Henrique, Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase Sharks: Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane, Marc Edouard Vlassic


This is the year for the Caps to finally win the Cup!  As much as we feel for Alex Ovechkin we just can’t seem them winning this series.  Something is up with this team.  It seems like they can not put it together when the stakes rise.  Maybe starting Grubauer in net will be just the trick they need.  Torts seems to have his team rolling at the right time.  Depth throughout the line up and perhaps the leagues best goaltender in Bobrovsky.  Should be an interesting series.  Blue Jackets in 7

Need to Step Up – Colombus:  Nick Foligno, Brandon Dubinsky, Thomas Vanek, Seth Jones  Caps: Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Dimitry Orlov, Tom Wilson


Can the Flyers upset the Penguins?  I guess anything is possible but the only team on this side will need to beat them in some other format.  You can not match them at centre or forward depth so game plan will be the deciding factor.  Flyer don’t have what it takes to do this but maybe the Blue Jackets may.  Penguins in 5

 Need to Step Up – Penguins: Derick Brassard, Patric Hornqvist, Olli Maata, Justin Schultz  Flyers: Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Wayne Simmonds


As Tampa has been slowing up down the stretch we just can’t believe there will be an upset here.  Even though this may be the series that can have the biggest upset potential.  Jersey has been playing for their playoff lives for weeks going into the Stanley Cup tournament while the Lightning has been coasting.  Even this may not to overcome the Lightning depth and the genius coaching of Jon Cooper.  The Devils have this strange assortment of pluggers, young guys and players that need to prove themselves including their Hart Trophy candidate in Taylor Hall.  We so badly want to pick the Devils to win this series but we have to believe that talent will win in the end. Tampa in 7

Need to Step up – Tampa Bay: Tyler Johnson, Ryan Callahan, JT Miller, Ryan McDonagh  New Jersey: Kyle Palmieri, Patrick Maroon, Brian Boyle, Will Butcher


Are the Bruins one of the most overrated teams in the playoffs?  With the exception of that top line it seems like they have been playing over their heads all season long.  Lines 2-4 and the Defence are good but not great.   At least for the Leafs I can point at Freddy Anderson and say that if it wasn’t for him the Leafs would most likely not have made the playoffs.  It seems like the Leafs win with great goaltending, timely goals and are never out of a game.  Coaching could end up being the difference.  Leafs in 7

Need to Step up – Bruins: Torey Krug, David Backes, Rick Nash, Charlie McAvoy Leafs: Nazeem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly

Second Round Winners:

Winnipeg over Nashville, LA over Anaheim, Tampa Bay over Toronto, Colombus over Pittsburgh

Third Round Winners:

Winnipeg over LA, Tampa Bay over Colombus

Stanley Cup Champion: Winnipeg over Tampa Bay

by Frank Zappia @frankzappia1 @Spinohockey

The following are Picks by @Mass_Insight

NSH in 6, WPG in 6, VGK in 7, SJ in 6

TB in 7, BOS in 7, WSH in 6, PITT in 6

Stanley Cup Champion PITT in 6 over VGK

Your comments are welcome @spinohockey, @frankzappia1 and @Mass_Insight