NHL at the Quarter (And a Bit)
You did know that wen I said "tomorrow", I actually meant "Next week", right? Anyhow:
To continue with this year’s NHL so far, off to the East:
The Good: Going 12-4 after a 0-6 start.
The Bad: Aforementioned 0-6 start.
The Weird: Kozlov having another “down” year, on target for about 55 points. His point totals for the past five seasons: 22, 70, 52, 71, 80. Wasn’t last year supposed to be the bad one?
The Future: No offence to Hedberg, but these guys need Lehtonen back. But what shape will he be in? Notorious for not training hard in the off season, another groin strain has him out now, and he’s balking at rehab in the minors.
Note: GM Waddell is staying behind the bench for now, calling off the search for a new head coach. No surprise: the guy’s 12-4. Sounds like a keeper to me!
The Good: Veterans Sturm and Kobasew having career starts.
The Bad: Bergeron and Fernandez out for extended periods.
The Weird: Someone tell Chara he can’t play defence from the penalty box.
The Future: Thomas has regained his confidence. He’s the same age as Fernandez, a fan favorite, and half the price… Gosh, WHAT goaltender controversy?
The Good: Miller is holding the fort until the offense gets going.
The Bad: They were hoping Drury and Briere leaving wouldn’t hurt too much. They were wrong. Losing two of their top defensemen for extended periods isn’t helping either.
The Weird: Is a campaign looking at last season called “Better Days” really a good thing for a struggling team?
The Future: The best team in the league this time last year; not so much now. Too much leadership went missing before the team was ready, raising the spectre of a trade.
The Good: They have six players at a point-a-game (or better) pace.
The Bad: Adding the total points their defenseman have earned this season would still only place them third in team scoring.
The Future: They can’t wait for the underrated Cole to return, but were off to a good enough start to be patient.
Note: Ward continues to improve in his third year.
The Good: After stumbling early, Vokoun seems to have recovered nicely.
The Bad: Ever-reliable Jokinen is the only player at or even near a point-a-game pace.
The Weird: Ever-reliable Jokinen the subject of trade rumors AGAIN.
The Future: Few players leading their team in scoring while under contract for another three seasons get moved.
Note: Apparently, it’s possible for Weiss to be having a great season (on a career high 65-70 point pace) and lousy one (also on a 10-12 goal pace) at the same time.
The Good: DiPietro having his best season ever.
The Bad: The rest of the team has been standing around watching him.
The Weird: Leading scorer Comrie (all 5’10” and 185 pounds of him) is 3 minutes from being the penalty leader for the team.
The Future: Until some more scoring shows up, there’s only so much even Coach Nolan can do.
Note: Okay, I concede! Maybe GM Snow (and, by implication, owner Charles Wang) actually knows what he’s doing. I still think his best move was picking up Nolan.
The Good: Lindqvist proving his worth.
The Bad: Nowhere near last year’s scoring pace.
The Weird: Talk of Lundqvist being the best goalie in the league. He’s not even the best in his division!
The Future: Yes, Jagr is leading them on the scoreboard; but is he pouting over the loss of Nylander in the off season?
Note: The team seems moody, and again I think it’s because the wrong person is wearing the “C”.
The Good: The best power play in the league, with some of the best goaltending.
The Bad: Lousy five-on-five play, on the other hand, is why a team like that can still be -20.
The Weird: Astoundingly (for this team) healthy so far.
The Future: Aebischer remains available as trade bait if needed, but few teams are having goaltending issues yet.
Note: Ryder is taking a long time to get going – he’ll be in the press box soon if he doesn’t pick it up.
The Good: Parise bettering last year’s pace.
The Bad: Looks like Gionta’s 48-goal season is a distant memory.
The Weird: Hey – didn’t you used to be Patrik Elias?
The Future: It was a rocky start for a new coach, but Sutter seems to have settled in now.
Note: I feel bad for Kevin Weekes – he’s one of the best back-up goalies in the league, but behind Brodeur no one’s ever going to know.
The Good: Gerber back in form.
The Bad: Emery not. A reaction goaltender, he’s got to keep his mind on the game.
The Weird: Alfredsson has more short handed goals (3) than power play ones (2).
The Future: Not looking as indestructible as usual lately, they may trade Emery if he proves too distracting.
Note: It’s tough to imagine these guys looking at the regular season as anything other than a warm-up – their only goal is to win their last game of the season.
The Good: Richards has officially arrived to the NHL.
The Bad: Compared to last year? NOTHING!
The Weird: The most penalized team in the league is led by a player who’s 180 pounds - but only if he’s left in the rain too long.
The Future: So, the team is doing far better after losing two of their giant, immobile defensemen. Think there’s a message here, guys…?
Note: To the Rangers – this is how you sign free agents.
The Good: Gonchar avoided the slow start he had last year.
The Bad: Fleury less reliable than his back-up, Sabourin.
The Weird: Ruutu being used in a shoot out – and getting the winning goal.
The Future: The team seems to be believing their own press. Unless they realize (and soon) that no one is going to hand them a ticket to the playoffs, there will be some changes here.
Note: Staal must be going through three sticks a day – only two goals so far, after 29 as a rookie.
The Good: Lecavalier is building on last year’s breakthrough season.
The Bad: 20 goal defenseman Boyle only managed 4 games before surgery.
The Weird: The former Panthers coach is trying to buy the team? What kind of pathetic rivalry is this, anyways?
The Future: I’ll just copy last year’s comment: “unless Holmqvist is another Lundqvist, .500 may be as good as it gets this season.”
Note: Scoring depth is needed here, but there’s not much they can give for it.
The Good: Finally avoiding a goaltender controversy…
The Bad: …by virtue of neither one playing well.
The Weird: That the amazingly reliable Sundin hasn’t gone postal and started throwing lockers around after 13 seasons. Perhaps that’s what the team needs.
The Future: One day after the GM publicly defends his coach, the owner says hiring the GM was a mistake? This can’t end well.
Note: Colaiacovo would be their most promising young player… if he was ever on the ice.
The Good: Ovechkin, of course. Looking to break 50 goals again.
The Bad: Semin has got to get back into the game: two points in seven games isn’t helping.
The Weird: Ovechkin has had a hand in 50% of his team’s goals. Good for him, not so great for the team.
The Future: On the plus side, no one is out of the game this early in the season; that being said, you have to wonder how much help Ovechkin’s getting.
Note: New coach Boudreau is preaching a more aggressive style – poolies take note!
We’ll see what happens in the next twenty.