• Backhand Shelf

    • The 2013-14 NHL Awards: A transparent look at one voter’s ballot

      By Justin Bourne in One Man's Opinion on Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014

      This is my second full year as a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, which means I’m one of the folks who has the privilege of voting on the annual NHL awards. I’m once again taking the responsibility seriously, as the awards can actually affect the lives of players (particularly in a financial way), and they most certainly affect the historical record of our game.

      The goal of voting is simply to award trophies to players who legitimately earned...

      Full Story

    • Predicting the outcomes of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals

      By Justin Bourne in One Man's Opinion on Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014

      Western Conference Predictions can be found here.

      Columbus (4) vs. Pittsburgh (1)

      Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5

      Why: This series is just ripe for overthinking, isn’t it? Columbus has been very good at times this season, and the Penguins are typically overrated. Their d-corps looks questionable at times. Marc-Andre Fleury has been a nightmare in recent playoffs to the point where he’s needed to see a sports psychologist. The Islanders pushed the Penguins pretty hard in the first round last season…the Islanders!


      Full Story

    • Predicting the outcomes of the Western Conference quarterfinals

      By Justin Bourne in 2014 NHL Playoffs, Predictions on Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2014

      Minnesota (4) vs. Colorado (1)

      Prediction: Colorado in 6

      Why: My biggest question mark with the Wild is in net. They’re heading into the post-season with a plan to lean on Ilya Bryzgalov, who’s been very good for them since they acquired him from Edmonton. Unfortunately, Bryzgalov is a career .913 goaltender (just below average for a starter), and that’s thanks in no small part to three seasons in Phoenix behind a tight defensive system that saw him post a...

      Full Story

    • 2014 Jersey Aesthetics: Ranking the 8 first-round playoff series on visual pleasure

      By Justin Bourne in Jersey Aesthetics on Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2014

      (As is the case every time the NHL playoffs start up, it’s time to evaluate the matchups on a very deep, complex level: based purely on jersey aesthetics.)

      This may not be the case for all hockey fans out there, but when I turn on the TV to watch a hockey game, my enjoyment of said game is affected by the uniforms being worn, the way they work together, and how they work with the crowd around them. I can...

      Full Story

    • 23 players you can’t believe didn’t make it big in the NHL

      By Justin Bourne in Lists on Friday, Apr. 11, 2014

      HC Davos’ Robbie Earl poses with the trophy after winning their final game against Dinamo Riga at the Spengler Cup ice hockey tournament in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos December 31, 2011 / REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

      There are literally thousands of reasons why some amazing young hockey players never make it. Some are from the genre of BS that your Dad’s buddies tell you to explain why they fell short (knee injuries, coach hated them, relationship issues), some are legit...

      Full Story

    • Systems Analyst: How Ryan Johansen’s positioning & instincts thrust Columbus into playoffs

      By Justin Bourne in Systems Analyst on Wednesday, Apr. 09, 2014

      The Columbus Blue Jackets may be closing out the year on the road, but Tuesday night’s roller coaster game against the Phoenix Coyotes all but guaranteed they won’t need a monumental finish to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. They now find themselves four points up on the Washington Capitals with the tiebreaker squarely in their back pocket, and five up on the Devils, also with the tiebreaker. That’s pretty much all she wrote.

      The most exciting part for...

      Full Story

    • Why the playoff fates of St. Louis, Anaheim & Colorado lie in the race for the West

      By Justin Bourne in Observation, Opinion on Wednesday, Apr. 09, 2014

      I’ve said this numerous times throughout the second half of this NHL season, but I believe the Boston Bruins are the Stanley Cup favorite–not because I believe they’re head and shoulders above every team in the league, but because they’re head and shoulders above every team in the East, and whoever gets out of the West will have to fight multiple wars before dragging the remainder of their one-legged battle-weary troops to the Stanley Cup Final.

      For a team from the...

      Full Story

    • Mike Gillis was a good GM for Vancouver, but it was time to go

      By Justin Bourne in One Man's Opinion on Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2014

      While Mike Gillis was the GM of the Vancouver Canucks, the team prospered. He took over a pretty good roster (Luongo, the Sedins, Kesler, Schneider, Bieksa, Edler, Burrows), and mostly managed not to mess things up – something many GMs aren’t able to claim after trying to put their fingerprints on their new franchise. They had a .627 winning percentage over his six years, made playoffs five times, won two President’s Trophies and lost in Game 7 of the Stanley...

      Full Story

    • How coaches emotionally manipulate their players, and why that changes in playoffs

      By Justin Bourne in Insight on Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2014

      My junior hockey career started out a little rough. I signed a card with the Vernon Vipers, and I immediately struggled to adapt. Our coach Mike Vandekamp, to me anyway, seemed like a crazy person. In retrospect I’m eternally grateful for the player he made out of me, but at the time, I thought there was a pretty real chance he might tomahawk me in practice.

      I’ve still never asked him about the night he called me into his office...

      Full Story

    • Yeah, you really don’t want to trade Alex Ovechkin right now

      By Ryan Lambert in Opinion on Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2014

      Much like the blooming of the cherry blossoms, the official end of winter in Washington is often heralded by scurrilous whispering that Alex Ovechkin, multiple Rocket Richard winner, is really what’s ailing this team.

      Interestingly, with so many other problems with the Capitals having presented themselves over the last few months — with team makeup, roster selection, player usage, penalty killing ineffectiveness, leaky defense, outright lousy goaltending, bad luck, etc. etc. etc. etc. — this is actually the latest the...

      Full Story

    • Thoughts on Thoughts: Evander Kane too valuable for Jets to give up on

      By Justin Bourne in 10 Thoughts on Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2014

      Thoughts on Thoughts” is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman’s terrific weekly post “30 Thoughts.” Justin Bourne selects his 10 favourite tidbits, and elaborates.


      Friedman’s column, April 7th: Evander Kane too valuable for Jets to give up on


      Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts piece opened with a pretty clean thought: Evander Kane is worth too much between his age, size, ability and contract to just give up on.

      I wrote a post yesterdaywhere I allowed...

      Full Story

    • Evander Kane’s relationship with the Winnipeg Jets seems beyond repair

      By Justin Bourne in Observation, Opinion, Speculation on Monday, Apr. 07, 2014

      If we’re all okay with taking some not-so-massive leaps here, I’m gonna go ahead and say that Evander Kane is not happy in Winnipeg, and the Jets aren’t too thrilled with him either.

      The short version of the latest flare up is that the Jets were going to play in Toronto…

      Evander Kane sitting behind the Raptors bench tonight drinking a beer.

      — Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) April 5, 2014

      …Kane went out, and it’s possible he had a bit too much...

      Full Story

    • Court of Public Opinion: How many games does Zac Rinaldo deserve for his latest leaping hit?

      By Justin Bourne in Court of Public Opinion on Monday, Apr. 07, 2014

      There’s a certain type of hockey player that climbs up through the ranks because, to put it bluntly, they’re a pain in the ass to play. They play an up-tempo style, they’re fearless, they’ll hit everything that moves, and they’ll chirp you in the process. They are Zac Rinaldo.

      The thing with this type of game is that you can play it in a clean way. You don’t have to be a constant injury threat who doesn’t respect your opponents....

      Full Story

    • The 5 best fights on 2013-14 NHL season

      By Justin Bourne in Lists on Friday, Apr. 04, 2014

      Look, I get it.

      Fighting is on the way out in the NHL.

      Fighting in neanderthalic (not a word, whatever).

      But if you’ll allow yourself, on a Friday, to climb down from your high horse and accept that two humans have agreed to a contest of face-knuckling – grown men mind you, making their own decisions – and enjoy it for the basic entertainment that it is, you might just enjoy this list. Also, I only chose fights where nobody...

      Full Story

    • The toughest (potential) wild card teams to draw in the first round, ranked

      By Justin Bourne in One Man's Opinion on Friday, Apr. 04, 2014

      With the regular season winding to a close, the playoff picture is becoming clearer. What we know:

      * Tampa Bay vs. Montreal is happening.

      * Chicago vs. Colorado is happening.

      * Three out of the four divisions are sewn up: Pittsburgh, Boston, and St. Louis are going to be playing wild card teams.

      * San Jose or Anaheim will be too.

      So, with it coming down to five teams – again, Pittsburgh, Boston, St. Louis, San Jose/Anaheim – I thought...

      Full Story

    • Systems Analyst: Gustav Nyquist’s incredible goal, and the Bruins’ mistakes that made it possible

      By Justin Bourne in Systems Analyst on Thursday, Apr. 03, 2014

      Gustav Nyquist has been a terror everywhere he’s played. In the excellent NCAA conference Hockey East, he put up 144 points in 113 games over three seasons with the Maine Black Bears.

      He was okay in the AHL too.

      The amazing Gustav Nyqvist (28 goals in 51 games) averaged a point per game for 137 AHL games before exceling in the NHL.

      — Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) April 3, 2014

      And now in the NHL…

      #TBTtwo-time Hobey finalist Gustav Nyquist...

      Full Story

    • The post-injury self-exam, and why Jonathan Toews’ return will be difficult

      By Justin Bourne in Insight on Thursday, Apr. 03, 2014

      Blackhawks fans watched Brooks Orpik steamroll their captain on Sunday night, likely the hardest hit he’s taken in his NHL career save for the Willie Mitchell massacre, and come up wounded. They had to have panicked with playoffs on the horizon. I know I immediately tweeted something to the affect of “Welp, bet losing Toews throws a wrench into the Blackhawks playoff hopes” (or something with a similar message). It didn’t look promising.

      Well, the good news is Orpik...

      Full Story

    • Alex Ovechkin, backchecking, and Adam Oates prepping the obvious scapegoat

      By Justin Bourne in Opinion on Wednesday, Apr. 02, 2014

      Not sure if you’ve heard this tasty little tidbit yet or not, but Alex Ovechkin is minus-4,000 in his 2013-14 NHL campaign. I mean, if you’re rounding. He’s actually minus-36, which is a few worse than the likes of Nail Yakupov (-33), Alex Edler (same) and Steve Ott (-31). Winning the “green jacket” for being the farthest “below par” during a hockey season requires a combination of being on a bad team, playing a good amount of minutes, and usually...

      Full Story

    • Goaltending, coaching will decide the inevitable Canadiens/Lightning playoff series

      By Justin Bourne in Opinion, Previews on Wednesday, Apr. 02, 2014

      As the NHL schedule winds to a close, there’s still a number of playoff matchups to be determined. In the West, however, it’s almost certain the Chicago Blackhawks will be going head-to-head with the Colorado Avalanche thanks to the NHL’s new format that sees the two and three seeds from every division face each other in round one. In the East, that format makes it clear that Tampa Bay and Montreal will be paired up to duke it out.


      Full Story

    • Mark Giordano has dragged the Calgary Flames from awful to not very good

      By Justin Bourne in Observation, Reality on Tuesday, Apr. 01, 2014

      You would’ve been hard-pressed to find a hockey analyst heading into the 2013-14 NHL season that picked the Flames to finish anywhere but in the League’s bottom five. The main reason for that forecast was obvious: the roster. Their best offensive players were Jiri Hudler and Mike Camalleri (not quite Getzlaf/Perry), they didn’t have great goaltending, and their team was young.

      The Flames, predictably, were never a seriously threatening team in the first half of the year. But since that...

      Full Story

    • On the Anaheim Ducks big comeback over the Winnipeg Jets, and why “score effects” exist

      By Justin Bourne in Insight on Tuesday, Apr. 01, 2014

      “Score effects” has become the blanket term for a concept we’re all familiar with in sports: when one team jumps out to a big lead, they often “sit back” while the other team takes it to them, and the momentum appears to shift.

      It’s not uncommon to see teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs push back late after a rough start, get close to making a comeback, than say things after the game like “We just need to play like...

      Full Story

    • Why the Colorado Avalanche are going to get smoked by Chicago in playoffs

      By Justin Bourne in Opinion on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014

      The Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks are going to play in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs – that’s more or less unavoidable at this point. The two and three seeds in every division play in the first round, and the Avalanche are a full seven points behind St. Louis for first in the Central, while Chicago is a full 12 up on Minnesota in the three spot. So yeah, happening.

      Avs fans have been pleasantly surprised by...

      Full Story

    • On Martin St. Louis struggles with the Rangers, and trying to fit in with a new team

      By Justin Bourne in Observation on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014

      We’re coming up on a full month since the trade deadline that saw the New York Rangers make a big splash and acquire defending Art Ross Trophy winner Martin St. Louis from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Ryan Callahan. The team has done well for themselves since the move, going 9-4-1 in 14 games, climbing up the standings to second in the Metropolitan division, only…it hasn’t exactly been thanks to their new offensive weapon.

      In fact, St. Louis hasn’t really...

      Full Story

    • The 10 best pre-Easton Synergy hockey sticks

      By Justin Bourne in Gear, Nostalgia on Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2014

      It was November 25th, 1989, six months after my Dad had retired from the Los Angeles Kings and moved the family to Kelowna, BC. He decided to make the drive to Vancouver with my brother and I to see a Kings/Canucks game. I was granted the privilege of taping Luc Robataille’s stick before the game (I’m sure he re-taped it) on a night he recorded a hat-trick. After the final buzzer, we popped back into the Kings room for Dad...

      Full Story

    • Interview: Getting to know San Jose Sharks’ defenseman Matt Irwin

      By Dave Cunning in Interviews on Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2014

      He may not be a household name just yet, but San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin may work his way into your mental NHL player directory yet. Now in his second NHL season, the 26 year old British Columbian is continuing a trend from his amateur career that has seen his point totals, ice-time, and contributions to his team’s success dynamically increase every year.

      Irwin spoke with me at length about his long road to the NHL and what he’ll...

      Full Story

Scoreboard for April 16
Stars 2 15:35 3rd
Ducks 4  
Canadiens 5 Final (OT)
Lightning 4 MTL 1-0
Blue Jackets 3 Final
Penguins 4 Pit 1-0
Scoreboard for April 17
Series 0-0
7:00 PM EDT
Series 0-0
8:00 PM EDT
Series 0-0
9:30 PM EDT
Series 0-0
10:30 PM EDT
Scoreboard for April 18
Canadiens MTL 1-0
Lightning 7:00 PM EDT
Red Wings
Series 0-0
7:30 PM EDT
Stars Series 0-0
Ducks 10:00 PM EDT