November 23, 2005

Hockey: West at the Quarter

It’s the quarter-pole for the NHL, so let’s review/bitch!

Western Conference first:


The Good: Giguere is not affected by smaller equipment as badly as feared (.915 SV%)
The Bad: Two road win in nine tries.
The Weird: Fedorov just didn’t work out, so now it’s back to Selanne.
The Future: Todd Marchant is a good pick-up, but it makes you wonder why they didn’t just have him added to the trade for Fedorov. They’re picking up his salary, after all.
Note: Burke is a very good GM, and he’ll make whatever moves he thinks are necessary.


The Good: Iginla, a notorious slow starter, is rolling.
The Bad: Long injuries to Regher and Lombardi.
The Weird: 4-7-1 in their first 12 games, 9-1-1 in the next 11.
The Future: Up, up and away!
Note: Though they’ll push for the division title, Sutter will keep the team focused on the playoffs. A few more home games would be nice in the second season..


The Good: Khabibulin rounding into form after a bloody awful start.
The Bad: Daze has played in one game, Ruutu in seven.
The Weird: Seeing Khabibulin with an .873 SV% after going 4-1.
The Future: The team’s starting to gel, so they’ll have a much stronger finish than they started.
Note: Hopefully, they will be real, real careful with Ruutu’s injury: he’s more valuble than one season of maybe making the playoffs.


The Good: Rookie Marek Svatos.
The Bad: The #1 goalie has a 3.49 goals against average…
The Weird: Turgeon is looking to double last year’s production.
The Future: Should make the playoffs, but it will be a fight.
Note: It will be a couple of years before they’ll have room under the new salary cap to really play on the free agent market.


The Good: Berard is living up to his billing.
The Bad: Unfortunately, so is everyone else. (Goals… goals… Those are those things scored against us, right?)
The Weird: On a goal-starved team, what is Andy Delmore doing in the minors?
The Future: Nash is the future, but Brule is sticking with the team this year.
Note: Unless Fedorov suddenly clicks with Zherdev, the playoffs are a ways away.


The Good: A road record of 8-2.
The Bad: Turco taking a while to remember his game.
The Weird: Phillippe Boucher has 14 points so far? What’s in his Wheeties?
The Future: Playoff bound. A little more scoring from the D would be nice, but otherwise a solid team.
Note: Modano is back to his point-a-game pace, making last year an aberration.


The Good: Legace is doing yeoman’s work, while the offence is near 4 goals a game.
The Bad: Jiri Fischer had a seizure – apparently doing fine now, but…
The Weird: Their top 3 scorers are 27 or younger, the next three 35 and up.
The Future: Fischer has had heart problems, and he may have to retire.
Note: Weren’t these guys supposed to be rebuilding this year?


The Good: The discovery of Morrison when Conklin was injured.
The Bad: Chris Pronger’s been disappointing, but not as much as Peca.
The Weird: Torres is going for the Cy Young Award again – 10G, 5A.
The Future: If Morrison proves to be a capable backup, does Markkanen or Conklin go?
Note: The only thing to keep Smyth off of Team Canada this Olympics is an injury.


The Good: Several young players having career years.
The Bad: Bure hasn’t played yet, and Roenick is struggling.
The Weird: I knew LaBarbara was good, but I didn’t think he’d have 8 wins in 11 games.
The Future: Solid playoff team, if their young goalies can keep pace.
Note: Visnovsky is pushing Norris Trophy numbers.


The Good: Um… Great fans?
The Bad: Losing Gaborik for all but three games this year.
The Weird: Roloson has a .929 SV%, and a 3-6 recond.
The Future: Getting Gaborik back will help immeasurably.
Note: .500 isn’t going to get a playoff spot in the West.


The Good: 27 points in 18 games!
The Bad: Losing Scott Walker for most of the season.
The Weird: Fan favorite Tootoo couldn’t stick with the team, even with the gritty Walker gone.
The Future: They’ll go as far a Vokun can carry them.
Note: Even if they slip back to playing .500 hockey, they’ve built enough of a pad to make the playoffs again.


The Good: Back to .500 after a very shaky start.
The Bad: Hull hanging them up after five games.
The Weird: Huge turnover in players can make for an unsettled team.
The Future: If they can average one half goal per game more than they do now, this would be a very dangerous team.
Note: Curtis Joseph is the best bargain in the league: $900,000, 17 of 24 games started and a .926 SV%.


The Good: Goalie Sanford was named “Defensive Player of the Week” on November 21.
The Bad: Everything else. Tkachuk has played 2 games, the defence shouldn’t be this bad, and fans are staying away in droves.
The Weird: This defence is much more talented than the numbers suggest.
The Future: What future? The owners are biding their time until contracts start to expire.
Note: The parts seem to be much greater than the whole, here.


The Good: Rookie Schaefer outplaying veteran Nabokov.
The Bad: Rookie Schaefer outplaying veteran Nabokov.
The Weird: Niko Dimitrakos is from Somersville, Massachusetts.
The Future: Another young team on the bubble: if Coach Wilson can keep them calm, they’ll improve. If panic sets in, they’re tanked.
Note: Marleau is having a career year, like a lot of the faster players this year. Now if only the rest of the team could…


The Good: Allen is fitting in well, and Baumgartner has been far better than I expected.
The Bad: NHLPA troubles have wreaked havoc with Linden’s game.
The Weird: Salo is headed for a 70 point season at the pace he’s setting.
The Future: Auld reminds me of Kirk MacLean – ice water in the veins.
Note: There have been a lot of games the Canucks haven’t looked ready for – lots of slow starts. Time for Coach Crawford to go.

Eastern Conference tomorrow.


posted by Thursday at 11:42 am


Blogger Declan said...

I agree about Auld, so far this year he's been the biggest pleasant surprise on the Canucks team (I also agree about Allen & Baumgartner).

Going back a bit, perhaps you were right about Marc Denis (in your season preview), he hasn't been too good so far, that is for sure.

10:10 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

There's a rumor floating around about Luongo coming to Vancouver: a stupid, stupid rumor, that. Yes, Luongo's good, and going to be great, but goaltending isn't a weakness in Vancouver and who would go the other way?

No one on Columbus has been doing well this year - Berard's been doing okay, as has Zherdev, but otherwise, it's been a rough year for them!

11:22 pm  

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