Three Majors and a Minor
Welcome to another episode of Three Majors and a Minor. Graphic: Amanda Aylmer/Vendetta Sports Media

Welcome to another edition of Three Majors and a Minor. This week we discuss Hunter Miska, the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and how the Dallas Stars suck. In particular Miro Heiskanen. Let’s get the puck moving…

NO MORE MISKA

Colorado Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar sent a clear message to General Manager Joe Sakic on Tuesday night… get me a backup goaltender. Colorado has been playing with their hands tied all season due to number two goaltender Pavel Francouz going down injured right before it started. Instead of going out and getting a replacement, Joe Sakic put faith in 25-year-old Hunter Miska, who played for their AHL affiliate the Colorado Eagles last season and it’s backfired massively. 

None more so than on Tuesday night when Bednar pulled Miska after the first period with the Avalanche losing 4-2 to the Anaheim Ducks. Philipp Grubauer came in and shutout the worst team in the west for the remaining two periods and the Avs finally got their offense firing, scoring six unanswered goals. The 8-4 scoreline flattered the Ducks though more than the Av’s as without Miska letting in four goals on seven shots it’s possible the Ducks wouldn’t have scored at all.

Grubauer looked comfortable in net and it’s a wonder with two days off in between games that Bednar didn’t just start the German, to begin with. The playoffs seem a shoo-in and with his past injury troubles it’s no wonder Bednar wants to load manage his starting goaltender, but it’s at a point now that you can’t without acquiring an NHL caliber goaltender. Some have called for Adam Werner, who let in four goals for the Eagles on Tuesday night, to replace Miska but if like last season you lose Grubauer in the playoffs are either of those two going to carry you to a Stanley Cup? That needed to be the question asked as Sakic looked at the options available to him, before sending a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft to the Buffalo Sabres for Jonas Johansson on Saturday.

Despite Hunter Miska’s poor performances, the online social media abuse the goaltender has come in for is nothing short of sickening. The goaltender deleted his Twitter account to avoid the abuse after several bad games. He was also sent back down to the Colorado Eagles on Friday in an attempt to get some games and regain his confidence. Hopefully, he comes back stronger and can make those keyboard warriors eat their words.

BUFFALO DUMPSTER FIRE

Anything can happen in hockey. You always have your favorites at the beginning of the season but a hot hand and some good luck can see you ride a wave to the Conference Finals or even a Stanley Cup. Take the New York Islanders as an example. Nobody picked them to be a force in the East last year yet they only lost out to eventual winners the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The only thing I was sure about going into this season was the worst team was going to be either the Ottawa Senators or Detroit Red Wings. Turns out I was even wrong about that as both clubs, along with the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils, are tied for second worse per points total. Step forward the Buffalo Sabres to take the unwanted crown of the worse NHL team.

Despite having a generational talent in Jack Eichel (albeit currently injured) the Sabres currently hold a record of 6-19-4. Considering their offseason capture of free agent Taylor Hall and the talents of young defenseman Rasmus Dahlin the Sabres shouldn’t be this bad. So it was no surprise when head coach Ralph Krueger was relieved of his duties on Wednesday morning. It didn’t change their immediate fortunes though as they lost without resistance to the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Thursday evening.

This begs the question, how much of this is on Krueger, and how much is the blame of the Pegula’s? Owner Terry Pegula and his wife Kim, who is Team President, named friend Kevyn Adams as General Manager last year despite no prior experience in a similar role. Their reasoning was they knew and trusted him, which is fine, but with no real experience in a position of that magnitude is asking for trouble, which the Sabres are currently dealing with.

Forward Taylor Hall, despite an underwhelming season, could be traded before the deadline but the return isn’t likely to be as high as it once was. Unless your name is Jack Eichel or Rasmus Dahlin don’t be surprised if you are traded away by Buffalo. It could be a great time to rebuild with draft picks if you had a veteran GM with experience of this type of scenario. Pity the Sabres don’t.

MAPLE LEAFS FLOUNDERING

Just when it looked like the Toronto Maple Leafs were cruising their way to the number one spot in the Scotiabank North Division, they have reverted to old ways. 4-6-0 in the last ten the Maple Leafs are now clinging on to the top spot for dear life. As of Saturday evening, they lead the Edmonton Oilers based on head to head record with both teams sitting on 42 points.

It’s not the fault of the star players with Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner et al performing admirably, however, they have received poor goaltending and the defense has been average at best. They have leaked 20 goals in their last five games and eight in their last two against the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames. Frederik Andersen is currently rocking a below .900SV% while backup Jack Campbell has had injury problems and third goaltender Michael Hutchinson was pulled after only 6:13 of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Senators.

Realistically, given how bad the North Division is, the Maple Leafs will canter into the playoffs, although what position that is it remains to be seen. A few weeks ago in Three Majors and a Minor article I made the hot take that the Maple Leafs would fall at the first hurdle and I’ve yet to see anything that changes my mind. Given their two shutouts against the Edmonton Oilers earlier in the season maybe playing Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is the best possible scenario for the Leafs.

In last week’s Three Majors and a Minor we discussed Auston Matthews, Anton Khudobin and the new ESPN deal.

STARS SUCK

When you play against Conor McDavid in your fantasy league it’s no secret you need all your players to be firing on all cylinders and the rest of the opponents’ team to be pretty hopeless. So when I saw the Dallas Stars were playing the Detroit Red Wings I was pretty sure I could count on offensive defenseman Miro Heiskanen to put up some points. Nope. Instead, the Stars split the two-game series and Heiskanen went pointless despite having the most ice time of any Dallas player in both games.

Until next week, thank you for reading Three Majors and a Minor. Don’t forget to support your favorite website on Patreon. Also support our sponsors Simbull. Use the code “VENDETTA” to get a $10 deposit.