On this week’s Blake’s Takes, I’ll mostly be bragging about predictions I made that are coming true. Plus, a rant on how much I hate ESPN. Let me know what you think in the comments.
1. I Was Right About Steven StamkosLast night, Steven Stamkos scored one goal and an assist for the Tampa Bay Lightning in what was ultimately a 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. That gives him four goals this week, after his hat trick last Monday. The day after I asked if everyone remembered him, Stamkos has clearly found his stride this season and the Lightning look absolutely dominant. They have five more points than the next-closest team. I just wanted to start with this so everyone knows that I was dead on that Stamkos is hot. Carry on.
2. Ovechkin is ScorchingOvechkin has had quite the week, scoring seven goals in three games. He started the week with a hat trick against the Red Wings on Tuesday and followed that up with another hat trick against the Hurricanes on Friday. He scored another goal against Buffalo on Saturday. If back-to-back hat tricks wasn’t enough, Ovechkin is now on pace for 74 goals this year. If you weren’t aware, that would surpass his career high of 65. I wrote in the past on how Ovechkin has a decent shot of passing Gretzky as the all-time leader in goals. Scoring 74 (or somewhere close to that) this season would make it more probable than possible.
3. Tommy Hawk
This weekend, a 24- second video (shown above) of a fan attacking Chicago Blackhawks’ mascot Tommy Hawk at the United Center Friday night went viral. If I were to make a suggestion to every idiot who wants to fight a mascot, please remember that they are wearing a significant amount of padding, making it hard to hurt them. But the real gem from this story is that Tommy Hawk lays a wicked body slam down on this drunken fool. If there was a symbol of the Blackhawks’ season, a drunk trying to fight Tommy Hawk is surely it. MyI “One Goal” this year is to catch a game at the United Center and give Tommy Hawk props for that body slam. (Editor’s Note: Iceburgh is still the toughest mascot, in the NHL or any sport.)
I’ve been meaning to rant about this for a bit. If you weren’t aware, NHL games are now available on ESPN +. ESPN+ is ESPN’s own premium streaming service that also gives you access to premium content on their website. Normally, this is something I would be on board with. But, to be blunt, ESPN just doesn’t know how to hockey. No disrespect to their hockey writers, but they barely produce any content. ESPN’s basketball and football staff produce multiple features each day. The most ESPN’s hockey staff can do is one roundtable article with a paragraph or two about common headlines. They don’t create anything new. Why pay to offer NHL games when you don’t offer any of the league’s content on your website? Additionally, fans that want NHL content don’t check ESPN, so why would they pay for ESPN+? If ESPN really wants hockey fans to pay for ESPN+, maybe they should start hiring additional writers that can cover the league more closely.
5. This Week’s Unloved Team: The Flyers
Besides the addition of Gritty, the Flyers’ new mascot, there hasn’t been that much excitement in Philadelphia this hockey season. The Flyers currently sit in last place in the Eastern Conference and are one of the four worst teams in the league. It’s always surprising, considering the talent Philadelphia has. Megastars Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are both having their typical great seasons, although, there is a huge drop-off after that. Philly has little secondary scoring and their defense has been bad. Shayne Gostisbehere is a -18 for crying out loud. Not to mention the lack of progression from last year’s second overall pick, Nolan Patrick. If Philly doesn’t fix their defensive woes, they are in for a long year. But, with the stars they have, I assume they will start playing better at some point. If not, Dave Hakstol’s job could be up for grabs very soon — like, as in this morning if you believe yesterday’s report by the Courier-Post. ■
Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.