There is less than a month remaining in the worst thing ever — the NHL regular season. That means we are less than a month from the best thing ever — the NHL playoffs. In the meantime, people want to know about that eight-overtime game in Norway, the perfect playoff matchups if divisions and conferences weren’t an obstacle and why there are so few trick plays in the NHL. Mailbag!

1. The Perfect Playoffs

It looks like we are getting the following matchups from the East come April:


The West has one spot up for grabs, but the picture as a whole is a mess. We could get Kings-Blackhawks and Oilers-Flames in the first round, which would make it a pretty great first round overall for the NHL.

But if I could pick and choose, the matchups, here’s what you’d get.


Nashville-Tampa Bay
San Jose-Los Angeles

The second-round matchups in the East would still be great, and the possibility of Chicago-Tampa and Edmonton-Los Angeles (The Gretzky Bowl!) would be amazing. I don’t give a crap about Tampa playing Florida and I only am just now realizing I don’t care when Minnesota plays anyone. Who is supposed to be the Wild’s rival? It’s either the Winnipeg Jets based on proximity or the Blackhawks based on repeated playoff matchups, but the Blackhawks always win.

Remember when realignment talk first started and one of the proposals called for reseeding in the conference finals? So you could have a Bruins-Canadiens final or a Kings-Ducks final? Who hated that idea? Only the NHL would reject that and go with the silly wild card setup instead.

2. Listen to this

What makes this hard is the bad movie part. I wanna say Garden State… but that’s not a bad movie. I wanna say Can’t Hardly Wait… also not a bad movie. I wanna say Empire Records…but that’s a modern classic and I don’t want to hear anything to the contrary. I found one list where some sicko considered Juno a bad movie.

I’m gonna say A Knight’s Tale, the weird Heath Ledger movie about jousting in olden times that featured a modern soundtrack. It has Queen, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and Third Eye Blind, baby! That soundtrack is a damn fun time.

Runner-up: the soundtrack to the second Mighty Ducks movie. It’s the album that Jock Jams wishes it was.

3. Tricked Out

This is a good question. I think it’s partly that hockey punishes creativity like no other sport and you’re asking a coach, the punisher of creativity, to think of these plays most times, and hockey is just a really hard sport for trick plays.

But how cool was this Latvia goal at the 2014 Olympics? A trick player change!

Then Canada won it late after a bogus penalty led to a power-play goal. The real trick is having officials not favor the Canadians in any international play, am I right people?

Nikita Kucherov pulled off a trick shot in a shootout, but something coordinated with everyone on the ice is difficult. You can’t “hide” the puck because that will result in a whistle or probably a penalty. If you have a player “fall down” behind the play like a tight end will do in football, sometimes it may lead to a goal for the other team instead of a breakaway for you. You can’t do that thing basketball teams do where they trick the other team into protecting the wrong basket. Hockey just isn’t conducive to trickery.

Unless we’re talking about the loser point and how it tricks people into thinking the standings are closer than they are. Now that’s the real trick, my friends!

4. Going over time

A 7 o’clock hockey game ends a little after 9. Eight overtimes pushes us to around 3 in the morning? That’s probably my limit. Once the horn sounds on the eighth overtime, I’m out. Beer hasn’t been sold in forever. The place is probably out of food. Chances are, I have to take a dump and I’m not doing it at an arena that has housed 20,000 people that have been peeing for six hours.

But a playoff overtime game of that length? You have to see it through. Even if you have kids at the game. You give them the next day off school. They’re crying that they want to go home? Too bad. This is history. That kid will get older and hear that story and if it ends with, “And dad took you home after the fifth overtime,” that kid will rightfully never forgive you. It’s for their own good.

5. Rookie of the jeer

Because of people, I no longer care who wins the Calder. Give it to me. I deserve it more than everyone.

Why must we ruin everything great in sports? Why does no sports fan ever go, “I don’t care if the guy that’s been on my favorite sports team for six months wins this award because it’s a very close race?” You know you’re not up for the award, right? No one high-fives at a bar because a guy won a rookie of the year.

I swear to god I forget all the time that Alex Ovechkin beat out Sidney Crosby for the rookie of the year in 2006. You know why? Because who gives a shit, that’s why.

6. Age Of Nefarious

There should be no lower age limit. If you kick ass at 17 and are good enough to play in the NHL, get your ass to the NHL. Any time you hear a plan from owners that affects the players, know that it always screws the players. If you raise the draft year to 19, you can lop off a year of accrued time from good 18-year-olds, that means one fewer year of that player’s career overall, which means one extra year until they get to RFA and UFA. I hate it.

It’s also odd because most players who get to the NHL in their draft years are really good. Yeah, you get a few marginal guys, but why are you putting those guys in the NHL? Waiting until 19 means teams won’t be pressured into playing guys like Valeri Nichushkin right away and perhaps hurting their development. But you know what? Don’t draft them if you are required to give them NHL ice time right away.

My rule is if the NHL wants to change a rule that will do something to the players, it is bad. It’s a good rule.

7. Flying High

I thought about this long and hard and I don’t really have one. I was stranded in Columbus for three days after the 2015 All-Star Game, but I stayed in a hotel and went to a video game bar and watched a Capitals-Jackets game for free. If your travel plans are canceled for a day or two, that somehow feels better than being trapped in an airport for nine hours.

The Bruins-Canucks Stanley Cup Final in 2011 blew only because I flew from New Jersey to Vancouver to Boston to Vancouver to Boston to Vancouver to New Jersey in like two weeks, but the series was really good and the NHL chartered a media plane.

I have a bunch of mediocre travel stories compiled over the year, but no really truly memorable ones. I’m the Dave Andreychuk of travel stories.

8. Advanced Knowledge

I loved Extra Skater and war-on-ice, but both sites are gone. I sort of piecemeal it now with Puck On Net, Natural Stat Trick and But if you want to learn what all those numbers mean, I don’t know where to go. I’d ask co-workers who knew about that stuff. A lot of stats people had blogs but once they got hired for jobs, they nuked their sites. I don’t know.

Maybe someone out there has the good answer.

9. Playing ketchup

Stop doing this, Ryan. Your friends are trying to help you.

10. Buffalo soldiers

He means Edmonton pre-Connor McDavid, which is absurd, because Edmonton pre-Connor McDavid was like It’s Always Sunny before Danny DeVito joined the cast. The angst of Sabres fans in the middle of Year 2 with Jack Eichel is confounding to me. You’re going to barely miss the playoffs this year. That’s fine. Give it a minute.

Without Eichel the first two months, the Sabres played to a 74-point pace. Since his return, the Sabres are playing at an 84-point pace. They both stink but not having your best player, who is still getting better, for two months can be devastating. Ask the Lightning about not having Steven Stamkos all season.

If this happens again next season, then you can start to worry.