If the Stanley Cup Final was an episode of Game of Thrones, which players would play which roles on the show? Are Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers and Martin Jones of the Los Angeles Kings the best backup goaltenders? What's the inside scoop on popcorn at NHL arenas?
All those questions (yes, those are all real questions) and more will be answered in this Stanley Cup Final mailbag.
What do you think of the Islanders' trading a fourth-round pick to get Dan Boyle from the San Jose Sharks? Does it make sense for the Islanders to burn a draft pick to get someone who may not sign?
From the perspective that the Islanders only lose a fifth-round pick should Boyle sign elsewhere, it's a fine gamble. A fifth-round pick rarely turns into a legitimate NHL regular, so to lose that for a chance to sign a puck-moving defenseman is worth the risk.
But there seem to be two problems with the idea of the Islanders signing Boyle.
For one, Boyle will be 38 years old next season. His 36 points in 75 games last season are his fewest while playing a full season since 2001-02 when he had 26 points in 66 games between the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. It's also probably not a coincidence that his 36-point season included a concussion in October as the result of a hit by Maxim Lapierre of the St. Louis Blues.
Four defensemen (Lidstrom, Blake, Schneider, Timmonen) have scored 6+ goals in a season at 38 or older since 2002-03.— Cörey Masisak (@cmasisak22) June 5, 2014
Even with all the signs Boyle is nearing the end, he could still very easily secure a two-year deal from a contending team looking for someone to help the power play. Boyle's days of being able to play top minutes against quality competition are behind him, but he could help a quality team by playing on a second or third pairing.
The Islanders don't fit that bill in any way, shape or form. They won't be fighting for the Cup, and while Boyle won't have to play 25 minutes a night with Travis Hamonic in that role, he will likely have to play close to 20 minutes per night on a team that is inferior to the Sharks.
Boyle has nice possession numbers, but he has them while playing on a great possession team. What will happen to those numbers on the Islanders? If he's only able to muster 36 points on a talented Sharks team, how far will they drop on the Islanders?
Boyle probably has two more years left in him, but they are best spent playing sheltered minutes on a top club.
This is a difficult question, because to me, it has to be someone who is strictly a backup, not someone who was a great backup for years then became a starter. So the goaltender has to be good enough to be relied upon to play 25-30 games per year but isn't good enough to play 55-60 games. This rules out the likes of Cory Schneider or any other goaltender who blossomed into a regular starter.
For that reason, it doesn't leave much.
Working off this crude formula, per Hockey-Reference.com, to find some of the better backups since 1990 (that's my modern era), Cam Talbot's 2013-14 season (.941) with the New York Rangers is the best for any backup. Martin Jones of the Los Angeles Kings had a .934 save percentage this season, which also ranks among the best ever.
But that's just one season.
Using these parameters, I'll say the best backup of the last quarter-century is Brent Johnson.
Johnson fits the profile perfectly; he played 58 games of the St. Louis Blues in 2001-02 but never more than 38 in any of his other 12 NHL seasons. He had a career .904 save percentage, which clearly is not very good, but that's not bad considering he's up against other goaltenders who were strictly backups.
I love it and will always eat it if it is near me. The only drawback is it gets stuck in your teeth. Fans will never understand this, but this Stanley Cup Final features the best popcorn in each conference.
The Rangers have this amazing, super buttery, extra-salty popcorn in the press box. It's the same stuff the fans get. It's the most addictive salty/sweet snack in the hockey-media free-food world.
The Kings go the other way, offering cheddar- and chocolate-flavored popcorn that is almost as addictive.
Each team in the league offers different press-box treats to keep us media types out of shape, but no one has stronger popcorn games than the Kings and Rangers.
In my opinion, the best defenseman for the 2013-14 regular season was Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins. When you look at the quality of competition he faces (third-stiffest in the league, via Extra Skater) and the production he provided in the face of that (17 goals, 40 points), I think it's an easy call to give him the Norris Trophy.
Chara, however, probably won't win the Norris Trophy because he finished 24th among defensemen in points, and Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks finished second with 61 points.
Looking ahead to next season, it could be the year Drew Doughty takes his spot on the throne. The problem for Doughty is similar to what Chara is facing this season; he's very good defensively but doesn't have gaudy offensive totals that merit Norris consideration, as unfair as that may be.
For the purposes of answering this question, the best defenseman in the NHL entering the 2014-15 season is Shea Weber.
Not really sure how these mailbags work. I don't know if it's all going up in a blog post or if you'll be flooding my Twitter feed come morning. I don't have a question but rather a request, one that can't fit in 140 characters (so if it is Twitter based, feel free to ignore this. Or you can, of course, respond in an email. We can still have some fun here.)
Anyhow, the request is for you to take any GoT episode and write either a quick synopsis or dialogue of scene replacing characters with Rangers (possibly Kings too, if fitting.) I've gotten a kick out of making correlations between both the HBO and NHL Games of Thrones, so this could get interesting. Especially in your hands.
That's it. Go wild.
I've never been asked a more challenging question. I will focus on the last episode specifically and attempt to use the Kings and Rangers in the story.
The Grey Worm and Missandei's stolen glance of love
Missandei is the Stanley Cup, the object of desire for highly trained hockey players. Grey Worm in this scenario is Rick Nash, staring at the prize he has never touched and maybe never will. I don't know how to explain the scene in which Nash apologizes to the Stanley Cup for staring lustily at it, but I do believe the apology was warranted. Sure, the Stanley Cup is flattered, but let's not objectify trophies.
The Wildlings tearing through another city
The Wildlings are the Kings, but the 2012 Kings, going from city to city during the playoffs laying waste to all that stands in their way. The 2014 Kings are doing the same, but with more of a, "Meh, we don't need to tear through each city as quickly" attitude. There is still a wake of destruction, but it's not as brutal.
Ramsay Snow gets love from Roose Bolton
This is a scene that has yet to play out involving the Kings and Rangers, but it's not far off from what will happen next season when Ryan McDonagh is named captain of the Rangers by Alain Vigneault. It will involve kneeling and the feeling of acceptance, although Ryan McDonagh will not be known as Ryan Vigneault moving forward.
Sansa Stark bails out Lord Baelish
This is how I imagine calls during hearings with player safety go. There's three people staring down the accused; he's down on his luck, then BOOM! Another party enters and spins a wonderful yarn that gets the suspension reduced or thrown out.
So in this case, Lord Baelish filled the shoes of Brandon Prust, about to get the hammer, when Derek Stepan shows up and says, "My jaw isn't that bad; he was just trying to protect me or something." I don't know. Let's end this.
The Mountain vs. The Viper
One quick, mobile fighter battling against a gigantic, killing machine? If this isn't a metaphor for the Stanley Cup Final, I don't know what is.
That fight should be representative of the series. You've got Carl Hagelin, dancing around, too fast to be contained, perhaps yelling things in an accent, while the other guy ignores him. Then there's Willie Mitchell, seemingly overmatched, unable to handle his opponent's speed, down and out, defeated. Then as Hagelin dances and mocks, Mitchell grabs him by the head and...
…sorry, I can't relive that scene. But that's how the Cup Final will probably go.
Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.
All statistics via NHL.com.
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