Hey kids, it's that time again. Time to peruse the fertile Book of Razor and purge the "good stuff" that was in the chamber but never made it onto the broadcast.
This is edition two for 2015-16.
* The philtrum is the area between the nose and mouth. The frenulum is the ridge of skin that connects bottom of the tongue to bottom of mouth and the piece that bridges the the inside of the top lip and the top gum. Now you know.
* "Vituperation" is verbal abuse. As in: He was issued an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive, ref-aimed, vituperation. Or, Daryl deserved every bit of vituperation he received.
* How did the Ducks go from worst in the Pacific to first in the Pacific on the fly? They embraced defending. They became positionally disciplined. And their convivial, rotund coach sold them on breaking the second half of the season into 10 game segments. Bruce Boudreau felt if they could compile four contiguous records of something like 6-3-1 they'd finish with around 95 points and that would be enough to get them into the postseason. Well they've blown that ambitious goal out of the pond. Starting with that spanking of the Stars on January 15th, they've gone 8-2-0...9-1-0...and are currently 2-1-1 to start the 3rd ten game block.
* Oxygen - The Stars finally won again in Denver (so they can breathe now). There was a time when they actually helped their breathing in that mile high air with individual canisters of oxygen on the bench. These canisters were made by a Vancouver company and were the size of a Febreze bottle. Guys would take a huff between shifts with the effect being more mental than metabolic - at least that's what the current medical staff purports. Even if the mini oxygen tanks worked, they no longer could be packed onto the team's air charter and beyond that, the company that makes them is no more.
* The Dad's Trip was fun again. Lindy Ruff has established a tradition of having the father of the game winning goal scorer address the team before the next game. Last year it was Denis Roussel. This time Anders Klingberg was put on the spot after John's OT winner in Minnesota. I guess it was pretty comical when he finished his pregame talk in Chicago with a plea to "win it for Jason" - a reference to Jason Demers who wasn't going to play due to illness. Not exactly "The Gipper" but hey, inspiration comes in many forms, right...
* Colton Sceviour's dad, Darin, was a Blackhawks draft pick and he told the story of how the team used to stay at the old Bismarck Hotel in the Windy City for training camp and the general consensus among the guys was that the old dilapidated structure was haunted. He said the eyes of the subjects in the paintings on the walls would follow you and make your skin crawl. I guess it was so freaky and 'real' that the players had all of the paintings taken down and put in a storage room for the duration of their camp stay. Nowadays the Hawks players and prospects probably all get suites as they slum it at The Peninsula.
* Jamie Benn isn't going to repeat as the Art Ross Trophy winner, but he is still in the running for the "Own Bed Art Ross". If you just take points at home he is currently 4th, just 8 points back of suddenly smoking hot sophomore, "Johnny Hockey". (He's also only a goal behind Gaudreau and Ovechkin in the "Own Bed Rocket Richard"). This upcoming 5 game home stand could slingshot him up to the top.
* "Hockey be, puck do". I've coined this deep, meaningless, yet all-encompassing phrase. You're welcome.
* Observation: Russian players don't like to have their stick blade on the ice a lot, especially in the defending zone. Swedish players are the opposite.
* The Stars haven't lost to the Washington Capitals in Dallas since February of 2008. How long ago? This long ago: That night Sean Avery scored for the Stars (Yes, him)...Barch fought Brashear...BJ Crombeen scored his first NHL goal...Fedorov scored for the Caps. Fedorov...Fabian Brunnstrom was a Star...and Alex "Waste of a Jersey" Semin won it for Washington in overtime.
* It's not hard to compile a list of the best defensemen in the league, (my list is headed by Drew Doughty) but it is infinitely tougher to name the best D "pairs" in the game because so many of the top defensemen rotate with multiple partners right now, and tandems like Keith and Seabrook have been broken up. For my money, Nashville's Josi and Weber are the cream pair. Shea Weber hits and can intimidate with his shot, Roman Josi blocks shots and fluidly gets up on the attack, both defend, move the puck extremely well, hold great gap and score goals. They're the best.
* Worst hockey game of the season from an entertainment standpoint: Feb 16 3-2 OTL DAL@STL (Shots were 19-18 thru regulation...Stars had 7 power plays and generated 4 shots...90s German national teams played more aggressively...A single tear ran down the cheek of hockey that day)
* Best hockey game of the season from an entertainment standpoint: Dec 27 3-0 W STL@DAL (Old school smash-mouth hockey...faced each other in the Gateway City the night before...teammates sticking up for each other...terrific goaltending... animosity... execution... refs barely keeping a lid on it.
* A 40-goal scorer in Dallas?! There hasn't been one since Mike Modano scored 50 in the team's inaugural season in Dallas and if Seguin and Benn don't get their act back together pronto that dearth will continue.
* When the Bruins came to town this stat was striking: The combined point total of Seguin and Peverley, and that of the five Bruins players connected to the trade was exactly 256. And the only two teams that had averaged 3 goals per game since the trade were the Stars and the Bruins.
* On February 23rd the combined record of the 7 Canadian NHL teams since Christmas was 63-89-14...In that same time span the 5 California and Florida teams were 76-31-12.
* Did You Know that Stars assistant coach James Patrick is 3rd all time in NYR defenseman scoring? He was their 1st round pick in 1981 (9th overall) and only Rangers legends Brian Leetch and Ron Greschner are ahead of him.
* Marty Turco owns the Stars all time saves record (11,200)...Kari Lehtonen is #2 (9,000 and counting).
* Analytics is to a coach or manager as a caddy is to a golfer; he's there mostly for information, the odd suggestion, every now and then an overrule, but mostly just confirmation of what he already thought.
* Trade Deadline - Two takeaways: 1) Nice to see the Stars have once again become buyers and a destination guys are willing to waive no-trade clauses to come to. 2) GM's aren't as dumb as they once were, and they have lots of layers of idiot-proofing around them now.
* My current favorite quote: "Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack." - Sun Tzu (Art of War)
* The Stars have pounded the Eastern Conference. The public floggings started early (15 of the first 22 games were vs. the East) and have continued. They've lost only 10 of 30 giving them the best mark of any Western team vs the East. Thirty-nine of their eighty-eight points have been earned vs. the Eastern teams.
* Penalty Killing (them)? They just went two road games in a row without allowing a PPG for the first time since going 9 for 9 in games at MIN, VAN, CGY, and EDM in early December.
* Death and Taxes - If you are a player for the Montreal Canadiens, you're playoff hopes are dead and you also have the biggest chunk of your salary eaten up by the tax man in the entire National Hockey League. The best teams to play for tax-wise: Tampa Bay, Florida, Nashville and your Dallas Stars.
* Coach Wins - With that 2-1 win at Ottawa, Lindy Ruff - kind of quietly - moved into a tie for 5th all-time in NHL coaching victories with 692. Bowman, Quenneville, Arbour, Hitch, Lindy and Dick Irvin are the winningest ever. Ruff says he never contemplated coaching during his NHL playing career but when near the end and playing for the NYR (or, 'not playing') he ran practices for the "Black Aces" during the playoffs. Rangers coach Roger Neilsen appreciated it, saw something in him, and suggested he think about a coaching career after he was done playing.
Lindy said he had his coaching epiphany and got a much better handle on it while playing for Don Lever and Rick Dudley in the minors his last two seasons on blades. Then, in 1993, he received a big break and got the chance to go behind an NHL bench when Panthers GM Bobby Clarke wanted to have a young guy on his coaching staff in Florida. (A young guy! Time flies). Five years later he took the helm of the Buffalo Sabres and the winning began...Roger was a major influence, not only on his post-playing career path but his coaching approach too, and so was Scotty Bowman who he played for in the early days of the Sabres. Bowman leads all coaches with a spectacular total of 1,244 victories (a number not overly inflated with OT and Shootout 'wins'). So Lindy the pupil is now better than halfway to Scotty the master's career mark. Rare company.
* I'm not sure which one of these Razornalogies is the corniest or most forced effort to be current: "He's on fire like a hover board" or "That goalie is tougher to crack than an encrypted iPhone 6". You're right. Both.
* And finally, a Razortorial - You know what concerns me? What concerns me is that the league isn't producing very many "moments" right now. Let me rephrase that, it isn't producing many "organic moments" right now. Moments like 5 or 6 point games for a player, 10-7 final scores, 60 save nights, dueling hat tricks, donnybrooks, etc.
For the past, what, three months or so, the big attention grabbing moments have mostly been league announcements; All-Star players and games, Outdoor games, Trade Deadline, World Cup teams and games, etcetera, etcetera ...etcetera. That shouldn't be. The headlines should be produced from the nightly product on the ice. Since Patrick Kane's epic 26 game point streak, what sticks out to you from a player or team accomplishment standpoint? Not much, right. And I think that's sad.
The potential is there, but there are no big record chasers (other than the Jagr longevity scoring marks), no instant classics, nothing that would pull the drive-by media and/or fan onto the shoulder to take a good long look. Instead it just produces a bunch of beautiful green lawn. Sure it's very well manicured, very green, but it just goes by as the games do. It's all kinda the same. It's an ice cream shop with just three flavors; chocolate, strawberry and vanilla - or, in the hockey vernacular it's; skate a million miles an hour, chip pucks here and there, and push the game along till the 3rd period. It's plump with parity. I don't particularly like parity. It's overcoached, it's hard working but also hard scoring. I want a return to panache, pizazz, and plenty of it.