This past week in hockey has had good action, a little controversy, some fan fun, and a farewell to Jason Arnott.
As a member of the Devils’ A-Line at the turn of the century, Arnott made his impact on hockey history by scoring the 2000 Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime against Dallas. Here’s a picture of the moment:
Such sweet memories…Anyway, the week in review:
Don’t look now, but the New York Rangers have a winning record. After a tough 2-1 home loss against the [Mighty] Ducks, they won their next 3 against Pittsburgh (a blowout win no less), Columbus, and Florida. They move into 3rd place in the Metro, and have disproved all the non-believers, thinking that you can stick the proverbial fork in them. They are 4 points behind Pittsburgh (who scored 2 goals this week, yikes!) and 1 behind Washington, who had a 1-1-2 week. Another team starting to find their way is New Jersey, who got 5 out of 6 points this week, and allowed 1 goal over those 3 games (Cam Janssen scored more than that by himself over that stretch. Go figure). Shutouts of Philadelphia and Nashville (3-0 and 5-0 respectively) flank a tough luck shootout loss to the Leafs, as we see that this team is starting to bring it all together, despite not having top forward Patrik Elias around, due to injury. The Devils overtake the Islanders, who lost all 4 games this week, and Columbus, who’s only win this week was against the Isles. That leaves Philadelphia still in last place, despite captain Claude Giroux finally finding the back of the net, but the Flyers are still falling fast out of contention.
I’m continuing to believe that the Lightning are for real. 2 games this week, both wins, against struggling Edmonton and division rival Detroit. Their offense is potent, with 2nd highest goal total in the East. However, Toronto (1-1-0 last week) and Detroit (0-1-2) are right with them, just 2 points behind. Boston is just 3 points back after winning 2 of 3 this week, as the division is becoming more cluttered at the top. Despite being in the 5th seed in the division, Montreal is still in a playoff spot, due to the continued collective struggle by the Metropolitan. Just 5 points back of Tampa, they are still right there. Ottawa is just one back of Montreal though, possibly setting the stage for some interesting matchups between the two teams in the coming weeks. Florida fired coach Kevin Dineen after a miserable start, just 3 points in front of Buffalo, who benched their top line in a blowout against Anaheim on Friday. So has been the season for the Sabres, with everything just getting worse and worse.
The Avalanche finally lost a game, falling 6-4 to Nashville on Wednesday in Denver, but won their next 2 games, just to reassure us that all is fine and dandy in the Mile-High city. However, the Central division race is just so, that if you blink, the picture changes. The Blackhawks did just that, by winning all 3 games this week and tying in points with Colorado (though the Avs have 2 less games played). The Blues have played 3 less than Chicago, and are just 4 points back, still having only lost 2 in regulation. The Blues, like the Hawks, won all 3 games this week. Further convoluting matters, Minnesota got 5 of 6 point this week, and are tied with the Blues, making it a hard top 4 to crack. Nashville, Dallas and Winnipeg are all tied right now, but only Winnipeg has been playing winning hockey this week. This could lead to something interesting in the next few weeks.
The [Mighty] Ducks are overtaking Colorado as the hottest team in the NHL, winning all 4 this week, and 5 in a row. They remain the only undefeated at home, and have the most points in the league. Phoenix is behind them, but the distance is growing, now 5 points separating the two. The Yotes and Ducks played to a 5-2 Anaheim win Wednesday at the Pond. The Sharks, however, are starting to slip, winless in 5 games, and now 6 behind the red hot [Mighty] Ducks. The Sharks have done this before, hitting a wall after starting strong, and falling into a lull they can’t seem to skate out of. Vancouver has been in neutral lately, but lost their last 2, and still can’t seem to pass the Sharks for 3rd in the Pacific. Los Angeles isn’t far off, 2 behind the Canucks, and have won their last 2 games. Calgary is falling off the table again, losing their last 3 games, but the Oilers have made bigger news in Alberta. Edmonton announced their signing of one of the more interesting characters in hockey, Ilya Bryzgalov. In order to clear space for Bryzgalov, they traded D-man Ladislav Smid to Calgary. SB Nation’s Copper and Blue has this to say on the trade:
You know what the problem is! The problem is that the Oilers have once again traded an established NHL player for once again guys who, if we’re very lucky, will become nearly as good as Smid, once again sacrificing play at a position where they absolutely cannot afford to sacrifice it, all once againout of the hope that something good will somehow come of trading decent players for inferior ones. We have finally reached the point which people like me have been warning of for seven years, where the young players that we acquired because we had to trade our veterans have become veterans we have to trade to acquire young players.
I think the Oilers are in desperation mode.
1) Anaheim [Mighty] Ducks: 3 points up in the President’s trophy race on a team that’s lost 2 games all year? I think that’s tops in the league for me. Also having 2 of the top 5 point getters in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry can’t hurt too.
2) Colorado Avalanche: Just as I said last week, the Avs will remain atop the Top 5 until they lose. They dropped one to the Predators on Wednesday, which they might as well chalk up to the Law of Averages. Also:
3) Chicago Blackhawks: They are tied in points with Colorado, and goals scored with Anaheim. They seem to be doing something right here. If you can outscore them, you can beat them, but you can’t really outscore them.
4) St. Louis Blues: Quietest contender ever. 3 games at hand on Chicago, and just 4 points back. Wait until the playoffs to see if they are for real, because this happens every year now.
5) Tampa Bay Lightning: Our lone Eastern Conference representative in the Top 5. The real question is; when will their defense and goaltending give way? Ben Bishop is hot, but collapses have happened before in Tampa.
In the box this week:
Ironically, referees make it this week. Wednesday night in the Shark Tank at San Jose, the lowly Sabres took the struggling Sharks to OT, when Tommy Wingels pokes a rebound through Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers. Though the play was ruled no goal, this is the view from above the net:
Worse yet, it wasn’t even reviewed. Tyler Myers is a big kid, at 6’8″, and must have blocked the ref’s view, but that’s a goal in overtime for San Jose, and a much needed point in the end for the Sharks, who lost in the shootout later on. Seems to take things like this to get Buffalo some wins around here.
Keep tuning in for your hockey fill. Happy Hockey everyone!