Blake’s Takes: Canadiens Stay Alive

In this week’s column, I’ll share my thoughts on the Stanley Cup Finals so far, and touch on a few other notable storylines around the league.

Happy Tuesday!

1. Montreal Wins Game 4 in OT

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Montreal has finally met their match. The Lightning have been an absolute wagon, making the Montreal defense look like they belong in the AHL. Tampa has been relentless. They won the first three games by a combined score of 11-5. It hasn’t been all Carey Prices’s fault though. Tampa’s offense has been so good that Price hasn’t had too many opportunities to succeed.

Nikita Kucherov has continued to star in this series, posting five points in four games. However, it’s been Tampa’s lesser stars that have dominated the series. Ondrej Palat, Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman, and Tyler Johnson all have four points apiece. If those guys are playing well, you don’t have a chance in hell against this team.

Montreal was lucky to steal Game 4 at home with this overtime goal by Josh Anderson.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It’s too bad though, because I’m confident Tampa Bay will finish off this series in Game 5, just as their mayor wanted.

2. Matiss Kivlenieks Passes Away

On Tuesday, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that goalie Matiss Kivlenieks had passed away due to a fireworks accident. According to this report, Kivlenieks was hit in the chest by a firework. The accident happened in Novi, MI, a suburb of Detroit, and a neighboring city of my hometown in Farmington Hills, MI.

The 24-year-old played eight career games with Columbus, starting six. He finished his career with a 2-2-2 record, with a 3.09 GAA, and .901 sv%. Kivlenieks was a native of Riga, Latvia. He represented his country in this past World Championship, going 1-2, with a 2.18 GAA, .922 sv%, and one shutout.

This is terrible and saddening news. While I hadn’t heard of Kivlenieks before yesterday, this is a tragic accident and one that will hurt the hockey community far and wide. It’s times like these we have to remember what’s important in life and take nothing for granted. R.I.P. Matiss Kivlenieks.

3. Edmonton Extends Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has signed an eight-year, $41 million extension with the Edmonton Oilers. The contract is worth $5.125 million AAV, which is a modest number for a player of Nugent-Hopkins’ caliber. This deal has a No-Movement Clause, which will keep Nugent-Hopkins with the Oilers until he is 36-years-old.

This is a good deal for Edmonton. RNH’s numbers slipped a bit this year. That one year of poor play probably lowered his price tag a smidge. RNH is a 50-60 PPG player in a typical year and only mustered 35 points last season, 55 points extrapolated over a full season. If RNH can keep up his level of play as the team’s second-line center behind Connor McDavid, Edmonton should be in good shape.

This deal will look smart if Nugent-Hopkins ages gracefully. I would expect the cap to go up a bit over the next eight years. If it does that will allow Edmonton to add more talent to a team that already includes Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Of course, the team will have to prove they can make it out of the second round first.

4. Vegas to Host 2022 All-Star Game

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Do I even have to write anything here? The All-Star Game will be in Las Vegas. This will provide hockey fans an excuse…to go to Vegas.

In reality, this is awesome for the NHL and for the greater Las Vegas community. Vegas has quickly become one of the league’s strongest franchises and the city has rallied around them. The ASG will be a celebration of the Vegas hockey community and what they’ve built over the last few years.

There’s something in Vegas for everyone. I went once when I was 14-years-old and even I had a good time. I was only able to see the Blue Man Group, but I still had fun. The NHL already hosts their awards show in Las Vegas, so they should have their lay of the land come winter 2022.

That being said, maybe this will be an excuse to get out to Vegas for me. I haven’t been as an adult and I’ve been dying to. Even if I can’t get a ticket to the game, I’d love to just be there for the atmosphere and maybe place a few horrible bets while I’m there.

5. Kings Trade for Viktor Arvidsson

Last week, the Los Angeles Kings announced they had traded a 2021 second-round pick and a 2023 third-round pick to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Viktor Arvidsson. Arvidsson is entering the fifth year of a seven-year contract with a modest $4.25 million AAV. Arvidsson scored 10 goals and tallied 15 assists in 50 games last season.

This is a trade I don’t really understand. Nashville made the playoffs last season while the Kings were near the bottom of the league. Arvidsson is a cheap forward who provides enough production. It would have made more sense if Arvidsson was traded for another player, someone who may have fit better with Nashville. But being traded away from a playoff team for picks makes zero sense to me. Yes, Arvidsson’s production did decline significantly last season, but I don’t see any reason why he can’t bounce back.

In this article, Predators’ GM David Poile hinted that Arvidsson wasn’t happy in Nashville. That tells me one of two things is true. First, maybe Arvidsson wanted more playing time. His TOI was down a touch compared to recent seasons. That doesn’t really check out because I’d rather play 16 minutes a night on a playoff team than 20 minutes a night on a bad team.

The second reason is that Arvidsson could have asked for a trade, which Poile’s comments allude to. He might not have asked for a trade, but Poile might have acted proactively in moving an unhappy player before his unhappiness affected the rest of the team. If Arvidsson wasn’t happy, why? The Predators have been a model organization over the last few seasons. If Arvidsson wanted out, that’s a huge red flag. And you know what they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

For the Kings, this is a solid trade. They get a player who is in need of a bounceback season for cheap. If his play takes off over the next few seasons and the Kings begin to turn it around, he could earn himself a raise and a spot on the Kings bandwagon. If not, then it doesn’t hurt the Kings at all. They still need to put a team on the ice and Arvidsson is a nice player to have around. ■

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: Canadiens Stay Alive”

  1. I have been enjoying your posts. Although Tampa Bay is the powerhouse you point out and should win the cup, I do think you have given the Habs an unfair assessment. Tampa has dominated only two of the four games. Montreal, instead of Tampa, should have won game two and the Habs played even with Tampa in game four (all those penalties notwithstanding – which Tampa failed to capitalize on).

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