November 24, 2005

Hockey: East at the Quarter

Off to the East:


The Good: Kovalchuk choosing the NHL over Russia’s Superleague; plus Savard hasn’t been injured yet.
The Bad: NHL goals, with AHL goaltending. Five goaltenders used in first 21 games.
The Weird: I know Shields hasn’t been great, but c’mon he’s better than Berkhoel or Garnett…
The Future: This team could have five players with more than 80 points each by season’s end.
Note: The sooner Dunham or (preferably) Lehtonen come back from injury, the better.


The Good: Joe Thornton.
The Bad: 3-6 since Leetch injured.
The Weird: Only five players have played every game so far.
The Future: Some disarray in the present, Thornton needs some more vocal help in the dressing room – or maybe he’s just not captain material.
Note: A team without an identity right now, there was a huge turnover in the off season.


The Good: Briere and Kotalik are becoming a nice 1-2 punch.
The Bad: Lots of players not living up to expectations (Grier, Connoly, Pyatt, Hecht…)
The Weird: Numminen is not only still playing, but leading the Sabres D in scoring.
The Future: Miller has a solid lead on being the #1 goalie. When he’s not injured.
Note: I know the “new” NHL is supposed to be geared towards skill and speed et al, but these guys need to toughen up. They can’t clear the front of their own net, and can’t crash the opponent’s very well, either.


The Good: What the hell are they feeding Staal this year? Already past last year’s numbers.
The Bad: Wesley and Brind’Amour injured at the same time takes a lot of leadership away.
The Weird: Seriously, what is it? ‘Roids? Amphetamines? Speed? WHAT?
The Future: They seem to be settling back to earlh, but they built a nice big lead for getting into the playoffs.
Note: If it wasn’t so tasteless, I’d say this was a season for strong hurricanes in the South.


The Good: The goaltending has been solid.

The Bad: Does a twelve game winless streak count?
The Weird: That the average ticket price to see this team is $42 US.
The Future: Hoo boy… Give Luongo a bit more rest this year before he snaps.
Note: Hagman and Huselius are taking longer to recover from Keenan’s coaching than I thought.


The Good: Yashin has ignored the “C” on his chest and just plays. So much the better.
The Bad: No unpleasant surprises yet. Um… Sopel’s hair?
The Weird: DiPietro only has 1 assist so far.
The Future: Pretty much as expected, and in a dogfight for the playoffs.
Note: Bates is another Cy Young contender, with 10 goals and 2 assists so far.


The Good: Jagr remembers he’s really, really good at this game.
The Bad: Rucinsky being injured since Nov.3.
The Weird: Leading defenseman scorer is Tyutin, with 7 points.
The Future: The playoffs, certainly. How far in the playoffs depends more on their defense and goaltending than scoring.

Note: Jagr is having an “up” year, dragging Straka along with him (again).


The Good: Ribeiro and Ryder are plugging along…
The Bad: …Though both have much worse +/- stats this year.
The Weird: Kovalev actually looks interested when he’s playing!
The Future: A young team riding a high right now, Theodore can keep them in through rougher patches.
Note: Props to GM Gainey, and Julien has been a better coach than expected, separating the pressures off the rink from those on it.


The Good: Gionta is having a huge year.
The Bad: Losing Stevens and Niedermayer in the same year has been brutal.
The Weird: Seeing Brodeur with a 3.36 Goals Against Average.
The Future: It’s a young team that lost their coach and two of the best defensemen in the game; but Robinson is a good enough coach to get them to the playoffs.
Note: The rule forbidding goalies from going into the corners for the puck may as well have been called the “Fuck Brodeur” rule. It’s hurt this team more than any other.


The Good: Pick one! When you’re getting more than twice as many goals for as against, you’re going to win some games.
The Bad: Redden just got (slightly) injured.
The Weird: Hasek hasn’t broken yet.
The Future: A shoo-in for the playoffs, the only question is where in the top four?
Note: Nothing matters but the playoffs.


The Good: Gagne finishing (20 goals) what Forsberg starts (30 assists) over 20 games.
The Bad: Neither goaltender has been very good.
The Weird: Averaging 3.5 Goals Against, and still having a 12-5-3 record.
The Future: Interesting rumors abound about Florida trading Luongo…
Note: Biggest question is if Esche is going to channel Grant Fuhr in the playoffs: only worry about keeping out one more goal than the opponent.


The Good: Guess who?
The Bad: Koltsov is a damn sight better than 1 assist in 20 games.
The Weird: Ric Jackman, 70 point scoring defenseman?
The Future: Fleury is going to stay in the minors this season even if it kills the Penguins.
Note: Lemieux has offered his place on Team Canada to get Crosby on, if that’s what it takes. Uh, Mario? You’re at a point a game, and Sid’s above that: I wouldn’t worry about it much.


The Good: Graham and Burke have been decent in net.
The Bad: I thought Sydor would be leading the defense, but Boyle insists on screwing up my pool.
The Weird: Could someone trade Paul Ranger to Manhattan, please?
The Future: It will be interesting to see which goalie gets more work come the playoffs.
Note: A plus about a young team is that they generally suffer very few injuries, and that’s been as true this year as last season. The only thing that slows the Lightning down are themselves, with a very up-and-down first quarter.


The Good: So when did Paul Coffey die? McCabe is channeling him.
The Bad: Of all the injury-prone players, they lose… Sundin and Antropov?
The Weird: Quinn has been hit with a puck while behind the bench twice so far this season.
The Future: The usual caveats apply to Toronto: they can do damage in the playoffs if their veterans stay healthy, especially Belfour.
Note: Tellqvist isn’t ready for prime time. If he was, Belfour would have played four or five fewer games.


The Good: See Pittsburgh.
The Bad: Injuries everywhere, and Johnson has been atrocious.
The Weird: Kolzig hasn’t snapped and horribly butchered his defense… yet.
The Future: Lots and lots of young talent here that’s almost NHL ready. Kolzig is the real captain of this team, which is interesting considering how emotionally he used to play.
Note: Tried desperately to get Semin out of Russia ASAP, and it didn’t work. Next year, there’s always next year. Or the year after, in this team’s case.

Okay, that’s it. In closing, let me just say that the shootout still sucks


posted by Thursday at 11:11 pm


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