Blake’s Takes: The Battle of Alberta

In this edition of Blake’s Takes, I’ll share my thoughts on the latest chapter in the Battle of Alberta and chaos that ensured last weekend. There was a goalie goal last week — and I can’t ignore that. I’ll take a look at why I think Auston Matthews is the NHL’s coolest player.

1. Auston Matthews is the Coolest Player in the NHL

This flip by Auston Matthews proves that he is the coolest player in the NHL. Just the way he flips it perfectly in the air without looking is the peak level of cool. That’s why I love Matthews. Most players in the league are reserved and show little emotion. Matthews and many other players coming into the league aren’t buying into the ways of generations past.

I know this little stick flip isn’t really newsworthy. It does show that Matthews is dripping in swag. And that is good for a league that struggles to market its superstars. Matthews is without a doubt one of the most marketable players in the NHL. If he elevates his game and joins the ranks of Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Alex Ovechkin, I see him being the face of the NHL very soon.

2. New All-Star Game Jerseys

Last week, the NHL released photos of this year’s All-Star Game jerseys that will be worn in St. Louis. Pretty much everyone hated them. I don’t care for them either. Since the league changed the All-Star Game format to a 3 -on-3 tournament among the four divisions, the jerseys have included the NHL logo on the chest, the same design, but a different color for each division.

Adidas chose to go a different route this year. This year’s jerseys display each team’s logo on the front with a boring striped design. The jerseys are safe, and that’s a polite way to put it. They are a far cry from some of the All-Star Game jerseys of the past (Here is one of my favorites).

However, some of the team logos are neon. And a few of them actually turned out okay, most notably the Predators and the Flyers. Those two neon logos are straight fire and if I were a fan of either of those teams I would buy one as soon as they went on sale. Adidas and the NHL could have had a chance to win people over if all the designs were as cool as those two.

3. Rinne Joins the Exclusive Goalie Goal Club

Pekka Rinne has joined perhaps one of the most exclusive clubs in hockey, the goalie goal club. Last Thursday, the Nashville Predators were up 4-2 on the New Jersey Devils. The Devils pulled their goalie leaving the net empty for Rinne who shot the puck down from his end of the ice and in the opposing net for a goal.

Rinne is the 12th goalie to score a goal in an NHL game, joining the likes of Chris Osgood, Ron Hextall, and Martin Brodeur. Only Hextall and Brodeur accomplished the feat more than once; Hextall twice and Brodeur three times. The last to do so was Mike Smith during the 2013-14 season with the Coyotes.

Regardless of how Rinne finishes his career, he will always be an answer to a fantastic trivia question. Congrats to Rinne.

4. Kassian and Tkachuk Go at it

We have a rivalry brewing! Last weekend, the Oilers and the Flames faced off in the Battle for Alberta. Known instigator Matthew Tkachuk took a few borderline cheap shots at Zach Kassian. Kassian took exception to the third hit and unloaded on Tkachuk, throwing Tkachuk down and landing some punches. I was shocked to see that Tkachuk didn’t try to fight back.

I’m a big Tkachuk fan. I love watching him bother the living shit out of guys and making hockey exciting. But, if you’re going to play that way, you have to answer for it. And after three hits, Kassian wasn’t having it anymore.

I’m definitely one for making the game safer, but this is a good example of why having a guy on your team that can throw a few punches doesn’t hurt. If I were Tkachuk I wouldn’t be gunning for the guy who could knock me out.

The only thing better than the scuffle was Kassian’s comments after the game:

Kassian’s comments were awesome. He was feeding off dummying Tkachuk and that is going to add a ton of fuel to this rivalry. I love it how he referenced a few of Tkachuk’s old comments and put him in his place on and off the ice.

5. Justin Williams is Back

[Photo Credit: Carolina Hurricanes]
After an offseason full of speculation about his retirement, Justin Williams decided to hang up the skates. But, it wouldn’t be for long. Last Tuesday, the former ‘Canes captain signed a one-year deal to return to the club for $700,000.

Williams was instrumental in the Hurricanes run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year and lived up to his nickname, “Mr. Game Seven” after assisting on the game-winner to knock the Capitals out of the first round. I hope Williams makes a big impact for Carolina and gets to add to his game seven resume. ■

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.

One thought on “Blake’s Takes: The Battle of Alberta”

  1. I don’t understand why the Blackhawks’ All-Star sweater doesn’t have red in it, while other teams’ have a pop color. Love them, other than that.

    -kin
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