Here is where followers’ questions about the past week in hockey and the NHL are answered in depth from the viewpoint of someone who follows the game very closely in many regards.
This week we will take a look at the NHL’s decision to fire referee Tim Peele after the hot mic incident, discussing how the divisions are set up this year and how it may look in the future, and the individual awards at the halfway point of the season.
Was the NHL’s decision to fire Tim Peel the right one?
I think it was the right call to fire referee Tim Peel after hearing comments mid-game about makeup calls. The game is very fast and referees do miss calls all the time, that’s why there are two of them out there.
There has always been an issue and speculation about people thinking referees do call makeup calls if they feel like they have screwed up a call and are feeling the pressure from the other team and fans but this just confirms one case that the speculation is right.
That form of reffing is uneven, calling something that isn’t a penalty just to cover your own skin and it isn’t impartial. All teams get bad calls against them, and if a makeup call is given later in the game, that could screw over a team in a more important time of the game.
Many calls are missed, but that is part of human error with the speed of the game. Enforcing this action against Tim shows the rest of the referees the consequences of not following the rulebook while officiating so as to cause less of these issues in the future.
Should the NHL keep the divisions how they are permanently?
Keeping the divisions the same would create some new and exciting rivalries but also keep some of the older ones still intact for more games. It would be a different look than this year of course because each team would play every team again at least twice and less than eight games against their division.
This year has given the opportunity for these new teams to have rivalries created if they were in fact going to go with these divisions moving forward.
The travel for some teams isn’t ideal to travel across the country more times than usual, but that could be fixed with also continuing with the baseball style schedule where teams would play multiple games against each other in a row.
Who are the leaders for the personal trophies at the halfway mark of the season?
I’d say the top three in contention for the Hart trophy at the halfway mark is Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, and Auston Matthews. McDavid is running away with the scoring race and has tied Matthews in goals after Auston’s fast start and goal scoring tear he was on earlier before Matthews scored the OT winner versus the Oilers Saturday night.
There is no way Chicago would be where they are without Kane and what he does every night for them.
The Vezina trophy would be a race between 4-5 goalies currently, being Andrei Vasilevskiy, Marc-Andre Fleury, Semyon Varlamov, Philipp Grubauer, and Thatcher Demko. Vasilevskiy’s record is amazing, leading in wins and SVper cent among the others.
Fleury has a great record and stats across the board to go with it, currently second in SVper cent. Of the group, Grubauer has the second most wins and the best GAA of the goalies while also leading in shutouts. Varlamov has great stats behind an Islanders team that plays well in front of him.
Demko has faced the most shots in the league and has the second best goals saved above expected behind Vas on a Canucks team that doesn’t help very much defensively. So, this race for now comes down to Vasilevskiy, Grubauer, and Fleury in the lead in my opinion.
For the Calder trophy I think Kirill Kaprizov is running away with it with a wide margin in most of the categories. Behind him it is close between the Wild goalie Kappo Kahkonen and Tim Stutzle who are both having great rookie years.
In recent weeks Kevin Lankinen has fallen out of the race for top three but Jason Robertson and Oliver Wahlstrom have been making a name for themselves and might have a chance to move up in the rankings based on their second half of the season.
A decent advantage between the forwards is how much ice time Kaprizov gets compared to his rookie competition where he is skating over 18 min a night while the others are 16 or below, pushing it all the way to Wahlstrom who doesn’t even get 12 min of ATOI.
The Norris trophy is a closer race at this point with many names in the hunt, in my opinion lead by Victor Hedman, Jeff Petry, and Drew Doughty in that order.
Others I would say are in contention are Darnell Nurse, John Carlson, Dougie Hamilton, Adam Fox, and Tyson Barrie.
Hedman is leading in points and powerplay points and at the top of average time on ice and plus/minus among defencemen, overall dominant. Petry has the most goals among defencemen and right up at the top in shooting per cent and plus/minus as well.
Doughty and Nurse both log a ton of minutes as well as have a great shooting per cent. Doughty gets the edge in powerplay points but Nurse has been one of the most dominant even strength defender. Barrie has been a machine with assists but a lot of them have been second so it decreases the value.
Hamilton has a 13 game point streak going and has greatly improves defensively. Fox has been dominant at both ends as well while racking up the powerplay points and minutes. His numbers over the last five games totaling 13 points too has shot Adam up into the conversation as of late.