This past week in the hockey world has been eventful for so many reasons. We’ve had surprising teams continue to rise, rookies showing their talents early, controversial hits and suspensions, and even a massive trade. Let’s dive in and see how things shook up this week.
The Metro is starting to really even out. We can all make our assumptions about the first place Penguins, but they have lost 3 straight games, albeit to tough teams (Colorado, N.Y. Islanders, and Toronto). With the Pens slipping a bit, the other 7 teams have been trying to make moves to catch up. Most notably, are those Islanders. On the ice, they’ve had an up and down week, beating the Pens but losing to the lowly Flyers. Off the ice, they made a huge splash in Thomas Vanek. Elsewhere, the bottom half of the division is starting to come around, with the Devils, Rangers, and Flyers all starting to show some life. The Capitals, Blue Jackets, and Hurricanes are all treading water right now, but Cam Ward for the Canes is injured yet again, and without a viable backup available, look for them to give way to some of the more healthy teams in the division.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a huge story so far this week, winning all 3 of their games this past week, wielding a powerful offense, and vaulting into first place in the division. Toronto has also been looking very strong, with wins over the [Mighty] Ducks and the Penguins. The Bruins had a good start to the week, blowing out Buffalo, and skating by the Sharks, but letting one slip away to New Jersey, with their penalty kill failing them. The Sabres landed Matt Moulson in the Vanek trade, but that may not be enough in this powerful division, especially if they can’t string together a few wins. Montreal and Ottawa seem to be battling out for that 5th place spot, which could be a playoff berth if they remain better than the Metro division. Florida is looking way up (not just geographically), and losing all 3 of their games this week can’t help their cause.
One of the more surprising stories in the NHL continues, as the Avalanche continue to roll through everyone they face. Winning 3 this week and 4 in a row, they seem unstoppable under Patrick Roy and the young offense. Even with the Minnesota Wild heating up, the Avalanche are running away with it. The Blackhawks and Blues have had average weeks, going 1-1-1 and 1-0-1 respectively, seemingly in a holding pattern until the Avs come back to earth. Nashville has been cooling down, and the Jets and Stars have been turning colder, as this division seems to be shaping up very early into a 4 team race.
This is by far the strongest division in the league. The Sharks, despite losing in regulation to the Bruins, are still the top dog in the Pacific. The [Mighty] Ducks and Canucks have been hot on the trail, nearly matching the Sharks win for win in a tight race. The Coyotes don’t seem to have a problem scoring, winning games purely on offense, but their defense is lacking, especially looking at that 7-4 loss to the Kings, who have been strong in their own right. The two Alberta teams, Calgary and Edmonton, seem to be taking a back seat to the 5 team race that will be exciting throughout the rest of this year’s campaign.
The Top 5:
1) Colorado Avalanche: It isn’t easy shutting down the Penguins offense, as the Avs showed they can win despite being outshot mercilessly. Props to J.S. Giguere for stopping them all.
2) San Jose Sharks: They did lose to the Bruins, but they were 0.8 seconds away from a point. Doesn’t count in the standings, but it shows that it’s really tough to beat the Sharks. Can’t wait to see them against Colorado (12/23 is their first matchup) though.
3) Tampa Bay Lightning: They showed that they can score on themselves and still win games, putting a selfie in the net against Chicago, giving the Hawks a freebie point, proving their offense is potent and reliable.
4) Vancouver Canucks: On an Eastern road swing, the Canucks managed to win their past 3 games in tough environments. They are squeaking by teams, but they are showing strong play from a team with high expectations.
5) Anaheim [Mighty] Ducks: They are quickly turning around a tough Eastern Conference road trip, winning in Ottawa and Columbus. They are hanging in there with 2nd place in the Pacific mess.
In the box this week:
John Scott of the Buffalo Sabres, as well as H.C. Ron Rolston and G.M. Darcy Regier. Scott gave a nasty elbow to the head of Loui Eriksson, making that shift of his last a grand total of 5 seconds, while getting a 5 minute major and match penalty, teamed with a suspension until further notice. Quite the efficient penalty minute accumulation. But Sabres’ upper management should know that Scott’s no more a hockey player than a goon, and he shouldn’t be on the ice. More on that later in the week as a suspension looms.
Tune in next week for another crazy week in hockey.