the Fifth Line: Taking a Few Games Off


Today marks the start of the All-Star break, something we haven’t seen in three years (because of the Olympics and the strike). Honestly, I can’t say that I missed it. Sure, the skills competition is fun, and while it isn’t as pointless as the NFL’s Pro Bowl, it’s still a glorified exhibition game squeezed for all the dollars (Canadian or U.S.) that can be wrung from it.

A lot of teams need this break. Injuries are piling up, energy is flagging, and teams are looking dazed. It’s the perfect time to stop and take a look around, see what else is happening besides hockey. Hey, wasn’t there some pageant recently?


Oh. Um, Miss Canada, I presume?

On second thought, I guess we can’t escape hockey, even when it’s on vacation. [Read more…]

the Fifth Line: Save Percentages & Bubble Teams

With the season half over, awards predictions have kicked into high gear. One of the popular topics in recent seasons has been how much consideration goalies should get for the Hart Trophy. After all, they already have their own award (the Vezina).

Pekka Rinne is bringing up the argument again this year, as he’s one of the biggest reasons behind Nashville’s ascendance to the top of the Central Division. All goalies are important to their team’s place in the standings, but is it fair to… what’s that?

Chris Higgins, Pekka Rinne

That doesn’t look good…

Turns out that hockey writers might be spared the discussion this year, as Rinne will now be out 3-5 weeks. But Nashville is far from the only team who is now worriedly looking at their netminder. [Read more…]

the Fifth Line: The New Joys of 2015

I think it’s fair to say that, so far, this year sucks.

Even before the awful news of recent days, 2015 was already feeling like more of the same 2014-ness, but re-warmed in a microwave with a broken ‘defrost’ function. On top of that, after making a few too many mumps jokes at the NHL’s expense, I started the year by catching a nasty winter virus.

While in the throes of this seasonal plague, I awoke one morning to my phone making noise. I thought it was the alarm I’d set. Instead, it was a notification from the NHL app that Randy Carlyle had been fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs. I assumed this was merely a fever dream, laughing until I was wracked by a spasm of coughing.


Wait a minute… this is no dream.

In pain, I realized it was all real, and I cough-laughed some more. And then I got some water. [Read more…]

the Fifth Line: New Year, Same Season

The Winter Classic kicked off the 2015 half of the NHL season. We’ve seen a few surprises in 2014 — the Sabres aren’t in the bottom two, the Flames are currently a playoff team, and the mumps can’t stop the Ducks — and now we look into the new year.

How will the playoff spots shakeout by the time the season ends? Here’s one set of possibilities, from an inexpert prognosticator (i.e., me). [Read more…]