Did you miss me for two weeks? What do you mean, ‘No’?!

Achilles is the new Achilles

It seems as though cut Achilles tendons are becoming the new headshot-topic of the NHL. Obviously, close to home, Kris Letang is the most recent case.

Letang got a St. Patrick’s Day whack to the back of the ankle from Boston’s Brad you-call-him-mar-SHAND-I-call-him-Mar-SHAWNED Marshand, and didn’t return. Of course only “lower body injury” has been confirmed, but it’s awful close to that tendon. Even if it isn’t a tendon injury, it’s still a part of the ongoing conversation.

I initially suggested chainmail socks, but apparently those aren’t worn anymore — unless it’s by people at Renaissance fairs. I’m told the modern version is Kevlar.

I don’t know what it would cost the league to start dressing their players with bullet-proof socks, but I think it’s something it should look into. Granted, these are all accidents (“EXCEPT YOU, MATT COOKE!!!!! RAWR!!” – Bryan Murray), but if it keeps the game’s stars, like Erik Karlsson and Kris Letang, actually playing the game, then it needs to be investigated.

Keyboard slip

Speaking of Letang’s injury, Chris Adamski had a preview story on NHL.com of the Penguins/Caps game yesterday afternoon. The article was insightful on how the team plays without Malkin and Letang, which they obviously did last night.

The article, however, opened with the following line: “For the first time in 10 days, Evgeni Malkin spetn Tuesday morning skating along with his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates.”

Yes, spetn.

Now it’s one thing if I make a horribel mistake like that (see what I did there?), because you have to be your own editor on posts such as these, and, as you no doubt have figured out, this isn’t the front page of NHL.com.

I’m not blaming Adamski, he was probably in a hurry to write it, and slipped up. That’s why these shiny new things called editors catch stuff like that. Additionally, writers know what they want to say, so that’s what they fill in their head when they read over their own work, even if something is wrong.

Anyway, I’ll wrap this one up now. Sorry to non-linguists and English enthusiasts who have probably already gone elsewhere in this post.

Hartnell dropping

Everyone in Philly was anticipating the triumphant return of their lovable goon Scott Hartnell, who missed the majority of the season’s start due to injury. When he finally got back on the ice, he had three points in his first three games, and the Flyers’ faithful started thinking he could be exactly what they need to start righting the ship.

How’d that go?

...Not well. Hartnell has only one goal in his last eight games since those first three contests, and the Flyers continue to sink to the bottom of the Atlantic with their 13-16-1 record…which would be only five points shy of the divisional lead in the Southeast.

But that’s a horse of a different color.

Stealing the Lightning’s Thunder

^ Like that one? It was a last-minute title change.

Doing a little reading everyday not only helps with your vocabulary, it also provides you nuggets like these: The Tampa Bay duo of Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis have combined for points on the same goal 21 times this season.

Pretty awesome right?

Unless you’re Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, who have accomplished the same feat seven more times — for a total of 28.

Much like the Blackhawks did to any points streaks, Crosnitz are ruining what would otherwise be impressive tandem point totals elsewhere in the league. And Stamkos and St. Louis became the early-season Anaheim to their Chicago.

Similarly, the Lightning have scored 96 goals so far this season — which would be good enough for tops in the conference, if not for Pittsburgh’s 108. Even Chicago has eight less goals than the Penguins. Anaheim comes in fourth with 95.

However, Tampa Bay’s goal differential is just +10. Pittsburgh is +28, Chicago is +38, and Anaheim is +26. The Lightning are 11th in the league with a 13-15-1 record, whereas the other three teams are atop their respective conferences.

See the problem there? You can score as much as you want, but if it’s not helping you win the close games, it’s nothing but another statistic.

(By the way, all numbers/standings in this section are as of Tuesday afternoon.)

Better know a division

The NHL recently unveiled its temporary solution to its current division structure problem. I’m not going to give you specifics, because it’s pretty well known by now.

Now I say “temporary” because I’m only assuming the NHL doesn’t plan on keeping uneven conferences for long.

As it will look next season, there are 16 teams in the East, 14 in the West — making it “temporarily” easier to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. Not to mention, a team that always makes the playoffs in the West — Detroit — is headed east.

The top three teams in each of the four divisions make the playoffs, with the last two spots in each conference going to whichever teams are next-highest in points in that conference, regardless of division.

I really do understand the reasoning. The way things are laid out make it ideal for teams like Winnipeg, Detroit, Columbus and Dallas, who were often playing two time zones away. But the only way to settle the problem of uneven conferences is either through expansion or relocation.

Think about it. If it’s expansion, where would the NHL go? Out west? — To places like Portland or Las Vegas? I certainly hope not. Or north? — Like Saskatoon or Regina? Hardly.

The only logical places to go are in the east — places like Quebec City and, if Jim Balsillie ever gets his way, Hamilton. (Don’t confuse that last line as either supporting or criticizing Balsillie, because that has nothing to do with my point.)

There’s been ideas about a second team in Toronto. That doesn’t help the scenario, either. The only other area large enough — population-wise — is Los Angeles, and there’s no way in heck they’re getting another team.

Even if it comes through relocation, we’re still talking the same cities.

I mean, am I missing something there?

Under said circumstances, which teams would be the first to move back to the West? Yup…Detroit and Columbus.

Believe me, I get why it was done now. But in the long run, I don’t see the practicality of it.

I guess the obvious answer is to leave it as is, and always have two more teams in one conference than the other. Hey, Major League Baseball did it for years…and look how efficiently that league is run…

Well that does it for this week’s edition. Be sure to check back next week for more. Until then, happy hating!