November 23, 2006

Hockey: West at the Quarter

Western Conference:


The Good: Two recent Norris winners; 4 shutouts in 23 games; highest scoring team in the west; one of the best GMs in the game; lots of contributing youth to go with talented veterans…
The Bad: Don’t like the new team colours much.
The Weird: The Ducks and L.A. have 10 overtime losses between them, while the other three teams in their division are the last in the league with none.
The Future: Got shades?
Note: Rock-solid stability from ownership to equipment manager.


The Good: Rounding into form after yet another slow start.
The Bad: Jamie McLennan has played in one game this year, so Kiprusoff is doing it alone again.
The Weird: Tanguay is on pace for 12 goals after seasons of 26, 25 and 29.
The Future: While they would like Yelle back, there’s no rush.
Note: There’s an odd 1-1-1 nature to this team: they have a single vital player at each position (F Iginla, D Phaneuf, G Kiprusoff) and little else. It seems to work.


The Good: Khabibulin much better than last year.
The Bad: Injuries (again). With Handzus out for the season, the scoring leader is now… Radim Vrbata? Come back soon, Havlat!
The Weird: Back up goalie Boucher has one shutout in ten games – his only win.
The Future: A long, slow climb back to respectability has started.
Note: The two leading scorers from last season (Calder and Bell) have four goals combined playing for other teams.


The Good: Burnaby Joe. Even missing Turgeon as a second centre, Sakic aiming at another 80+ point season.
The Bad: Missing Turgeon and Leopold for the season so far. Goals for have been okay, but goals against haven’t.
The Weird: Eight separate players have a single game winning goal, and Sakic isn’t one of them.
The Future: A goalie controversy in the making, with Budaj noticeably outplaying the more expensive Theodore.
Note: Getting Leopold back will only help, and he’s close.


The Good: Defenseman Duvie Wescott has 8 points in 11 games. He’s injured now, but still, pretty good!
The Bad: Everything else.
The Weird: Massively underperforming team in all fields, except perhaps for goalie Norrena and the aforementioned Duvie.
The Future: Here’s to hoping Hitchcock brought his whip.
Note: Hey, Anson Carter (2g-2a-4pts)! Didn’t you used to score goals in Vancouver?


The Good: Both goalies playing great hockey.
The Bad: A bit of injury trouble, but otherwise not much.
The Weird: Stefan keeps finding work somehow…
The Future: You get the feeling this team is biding it’s time until the playoffs.
Note: Turco certainly is. The playoffs is all he’s thinking about this season.


The Good: Goals against the best of anyone not named Dallas.
The Bad: Goals for far below what they’re used to.
The Weird: Zetterberg leads team in goals (6), tied with… Dan Cleary?
The Future: Zetterberg and Datsyuk are being relied on for their offence, and it’s not happening yet. Still playoffs bound, but once they get there…
Note: The saving grace has been the weak division Detroit plays in,


The Good: Signing Roloson has been looking smarter every game.
The Bad: Young players getting big contracts after a single great year leads to very expensive average players (Horcoff, Hemsky, Pisani…).
The Weird: The normally solid Jason Smith is at -10 so far.
The Future: Looks good to make the playoffs, but any team in the division can bump them off.
Note: These guys miss Pronger, bad.


The Good: Frolov is becoming a sniper, and Visnovsky is keeping pace.
The Bad: Cloutier has been awful so far.
The Weird: A rookie is their #1 centre. Ever heard of Anze Kopitar?
The Future: The goaltending’s got to get better. Getting Sopel back will help, but that’s not enough.
Note: Cloutier is used to being abandoned, but his team had more offensive talent then, too.


The Good: An 8-1-1 home record.
The Bad: Gaborik has only played 7 games so far.
The Weird: The current best name in hockey. Go ahead, just try to say “Goal scored by… BrrrAN-ko…. RADIVOJEVIC!!!” without smiling. (rad-ih-voy-o-vitch)
The Future: The goalies have been going great guns, as expected, but the offence is just hanging on until Gaborik returns.
Note: A ridiculously even division, anyone could end up winning it. The safe money’s on Calgary, but second is Minnesota.


The Good: Being in the Central division.
The Bad: Some folks don’t like the jerseys.
The Weird: The team’s “enforcer” is the 5’9” Jordin Tootoo. The reincarnation of Tie Domi, perhaps?
The Future: Easily into the playoffs. This team is the result of years of planning, and it’s solid as any in the league.
Note: Mason has improved from a capable backup to #1 goalie in waiting, but this is still Vokun’s team – for this contract, at least…


The Good: Getting Mike Ricci back on the ice after neck surgery.
The Bad: Comrie, Reinprecht, Ricci, Perrault and Doan all being out for extended periods already.
The Weird: Laraques is on pace for 40 points this season. Riiight.
The Future: In about two months time, when all the forwards are back, this will be a much better team than it is now. Of course, then four defensemen will be out…
Note: Joseph is having a brutal start to the season, but Phoenix will ride it out, with only Morrison or LeNeveu available. If Cujo even gets back to average, more wins will come.


The Good: Tkachuk starting the season in shape, and it shows.
The Bad: Jay McKee ($4 million) lasted one game before being injured.
The Weird: Lee Stempniak ($450,000) is leading the team with 8 goals.
The Future: This is as stable as the Blues have been in the past decade. This probably won’t mean playoffs this year, but it means a lot to the fans, who have a lot to forgive.
Note: Five total goals from the defense is not good enough.


The Good: After hot debate over #1 status, Nabokov and Toskala are making a fine tandem in goal.
The Bad: Mark Bell was acquired to line up with Cheechoo and Thornton – he hasn’t performed.
The Weird: McLaren is on pace for 40 points; he’s never scored more than 25 in a season.
The Future: Cheechoo hasn’t put up last year’s numbers, and is going to be under pressure to prove it wasn’t an aberration.
Note: Watching this astoundingly young team, I still wonder who the team leaders are.


The Good: The injuries have been relatively light so far.
The Bad: Goals? What are these things you call “goals”?
The Weird: Four players have only one goal – all are game winners.
The Future: Luongo has indeed shaved half a goal off last year’s GAA, and he’ll need to maintain that for the Canucks to make the playoffs.
Note: Why was Sabourin plucked off waivers? The coach clearly doesn’t trust him to play, and veteran Flaherty is itching for any chance at the NHL again, even as back up.

We’ll see how things change in another twenty games!


posted by Thursday at 10:58 pm


Blogger Gazetteer said...

Isn't that goalie 'controversy' in Colo pretty much over already?

2:10 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

Not when there's nearly $5 million seperating your nominal #1 from your back up, there isn't! Budaj also has a 3-year contract already singed for $600,000 per, so if Theodore gets traded, looks for a VERY unhappy Budaj expecting "starter" money.

So, do you play Theodore, hoping he gets hot again (he can carry a team when that happens); do you trade an underperformer, probably eating a hefty chunk of salary and not getting much return; or do you let a $5 million asset ride the pine, causing dissent in the room and being a firestarter for criticism among fans?

Until one of these is decided on, there's going to be some debate going on.

3:26 pm  

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