Please Like My Sport: David Pastrnak, Lil’ Jizzy and other reasons to be excited about the NHL

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Are you a hockey enjoyer? Perhaps you’re someone who is not yet a hockey enjoyer but is looking for reasons to become one? Either way, congratulations… you’ve come to the right place. 

With a new NHL season on our hands, we’re rolling out a new weekly column called “Please Like My Sport” in which we’ll highlight some various recent developments that can (and should) make you excited about hockey. 

In case you weren’t aware, the inspiration behind the column’s name comes from the Twitter hashtag that’s frequently used to mock obnoxious takes that put down other sports in favor of propping up hockey. However, the column will probably avoid the whole “bash other sports” thing and just focus on the positive, perhaps offering you a safe haven from Hockey Twitter as it insists on eating itself with negativity and self-importance. 

Anyway, here are some things to enjoy about hockey this week:

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl

It’s never a bad idea to check out the best player in the world, as Connor McDavid has proven that he’s capable of doing absolutely ridiculous things on a nightly basis. He’s a human highlight reel, a cheat code on skates, etc. 

For example:

But the Oilers are pretty interesting to watch right now because:

  • At 7-2-1, they’re off to a much hotter start than anyone anticipated
  • They’re essentially a complete two-man show, at least at five-on-five. They’re not the only team in that category (hello, Boston and Detroit) but Edmonton with/without splits are pretty hilarious so far.   

McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have combined for 33 points through 10 games and are averaging around 23 minutes per night. Edmonton has scored 20 goals at even strength and McDavid/Draisaitl have combined for eight of them. McDavid is on pace to finish with 139 points, Draisaitl with 131. 

But what happens when McDavid hits a bit of a skid and can’t carry the weight? Well…

But I mean, even when they’re not scoring they’re still fun as hell. 

David Pastrnak will not stop scoring

I mentioned the Bruins sort of falling into the same category as the Oilers in terms of their production being really top-heavy. Boston’s top line has been unreal to start the year and David Pastrnak has been at the front of that. He’s the first player in the league to reach 10 goals this season and he only needed nine games to do it. He’s on pace to score 91 goals. Will he get there?!

Seems safe to start listing Pastrnak among the league’s elite goal scorers at this point. He was on pace to finish with 47 last season before he injured his hand, and it’s growing more and more evident that he’s capable of hitting 50 goals if he stays healthy. He plays on one of the league’s most dominant lines and has been converting on the opportunities given to him. Not that he even needs a whole lot of opportunity to begin with.

Before the season, I predicted that Pastrnak, Auston Matthews and Alex Ovechkin would all be at the front of the race for the Rocket Richard, with Pastrnak ultimately coming away victorious. Feeling pretty good about it — and the +2500 odds Pastrnak carried — right now.

Matthew Tkachuk and Drew Doughty are at it again

I feel like I’ve written about Matthew Tkachuk and Drew Doughty’s personal rivalry so many times over the past few years, but every time they get together on the ice there are some noteworthy fireworks. Doughty wanted to bury the hatchet after he came away the hero in the first meeting of the season but, luckily, Tkachuk didn’t seem eager to let the rivalry die. 

They met again this week and almost got through a whole game without showing their hatred for one another. Almost. 

The real highlight of that mess is Mark Giordano going full Superman over the pile to tackle Kyle Clifford. Hilarious.

Anyway: Sports are way better when there’s a little hate involved. Nothing raises the stakes and emotions like going up against someone you can’t stand, and that translates to great theater and entertainment. Tkachuk and Doughty have essentially made Kings-Flames appointment viewing because of how much they want to smash one another’s face in.

Dogs

Did someone say dogs?

Marc-Andre Fleury is a one-man circus

Marc-Andre Fleury has been nonstop entertainment this year, and I mean that quite literally because the Golden Knights have basically played him every night. From giving away opponents’ sticks to fans, to pregame hi-jinx, to making ridiculous stops, he’s been consistently worth the price of admission.

It’s not even an exaggeration to say it feels like he’s making “save of the year”-level stops on a near nightly basis. 

This ‘shy’ kid

I’ve seen plenty of youth hockey exhibitions in between periods at hockey games but most teams don’t actually interview the kids after they get to shine during intermission. I feel like that needs to change after seeing this interview.

Jack Hughes‘ new nickname

It took a while for Jack Hughes to get going in his rookie season, but the top overall pick finally broke through this week and it looks like he’s earned himself a new nickname from the guys.

Introducing: Lil’ Jizzy. 

Hockey nicknames are pretty notoriously stupid. Most of the time it’s just shortening a guy’s normal last name and adding “-er” (Kane to Kaner) or “-y” (Bergeron to Bergy)  to the end of it but the Devils are just completely abandoning that formula for Hughes, apparently. 

Long live Lil’ Jizzy, baby.

Butts

You know who appreciates a good Hockey Butt? Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, that’s who.

Quote of the week: ‘I feel like Kylie Jenner right now’

It seems like hockey is one of the few cherished things in this world that the Kardashian/Jenner clan has yet to invade, but that changed this week thanks to this gem of a quote from Mat Barzal after his lips swelled up following a couple high sticks to the face. 

Frank Vatrano’s strange hat trick

After Sergei Bobrovsky signed with the Panthers this summer, Frank Vatrano apparently agreed to give the goaltender his No. 72 jersey… for a price. That price was paid this week — with wine, a quarter-pounder from McDonald’s and a Rolex.

What does it say about me that I would absolutely, 100-percent pick the Rolex last if I had my choice of those three things?

Cam Atkinson, net savior

We’ve seen plenty of goaltenders knock their net out of place “accidentally on purpose” to get a stoppage, but Cam Atkinson has found a very amusing solution.

Don’t let the Canucks sneak up on you

I don’t know how we got here, honestly, but I think I really like the Vancouver Canucks. They’ve got a bunch of young talent and likable guys and they’re a lot of fun to watch. Elias Pettersson is still a highlight machine. Brock Boeser is a great American boy with fantastic hair. Quinn Hughes is going to be an absolute star. Those are some great pillars to build around.

I still think they might bogged down with a little too much bottom-six talent, but they’ve been a lot more impressive and entertaining than I expected this year.

The Beautiful Game highlight of the week

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know about my “The Beautiful Game” series that highlights how dumb and chaotic hockey can often be. Here’s this week’s entry:



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