Tuesday, March 5, 2013

NHL mid-season evaluation

Here we are almost half way into the NHL season and the Blackhawks still haven't lost. Sorry its been such a long time sense my lost posting. A lot has happened in the NHL between now and then, many of my pre-season predictions appear to be on the right track, and some others not to much (Anaheim is drastically exceeding expectations).

I'm calling out the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, and Washington Capitols for being the biggest disappointments of the season so far.

The Flyers have been wildly inconsistent, loosing 6 games by 3 or more goals and winning 3 games by that same margin (including impressive 7-0 and 7-1 Wins) They're currently the 8th seed in the East and appear to be on the rise, but anything is possible with this team. They sit at 11-10-1 and could go any direction from here. With the talent they have their is no reason they should finish lower than a 5th seed.

The New York Rangers who made the biggest trade of the offseason acquiring Rick Nash don't seem to resemble the team the was the top seed in the east last season. Henrik Lundquvist is not playing like the Vezina winner he was last year and the Rangers just don't seem to be on the same page regardless of all their offensive firepower. Currently in the 9th seed and only two points above the cross-town rival Islanders, they have plenty of work too do if they plan on contending for the Cup.

The Washington Capitols troubles can be summed up into two words: Alexander Ovechkin. He has disappeared, other than his hat-trick last week, he has been very disappointing. The Capitals will only go as far as he can take them and that currently isn't working out to well for them. Currently sitting at 8-11-1 and 14th in the East. The Capitals have some serious questions to answer and this season appears to be lost. With a very high draft pick expected this team might find themselves back in the hunt with in a year or two but for now their Stanley Cup contending days of only two or three years ago seem to be decades ago. Turning this season around is a nearly impossible task, but they should be back on track within a few years ago, assuming Ovechikin can return to form and start scoring goals like this again.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDYARsNlvfQ

The Los Angeles Kings likely would've made this list after the first 15 games of the season but they appear to have turned around their defensive and goaltending issues and are back to playing hockey.


On the other side of the spectrum the Ducks, Blackhawks and Canadiens are all playing better hockey than most expected


The Anaheim Ducks who I predicted to finish last in the Pacific and 13th in the West are the hottest team in the league right now (after Chicago) Victor Fasth has been playing better than any goalie in league and is currently a frontrunner for the Vezina. The Ducks who I earlier criticized for a lack of depth on defense and beyond their top six, appear to be a very complete team in all areas. They have more 5+ goal scorers than any other team in the NHL and appear to be intact on defense. Perry and Getzlaf are both in contract years and many were predicting one or both of them to be dealt sometime in the season, but with Anaheim's recent success that seems unlikely and if anything they both might find themselves in longterm deals with the Ducks by the end of the season instead of playing for another team. I don't expect the Ducks to finish the season as hot as they've started (15-3-3) but I still expect a playoff berth out of them and probably a Pacific Division crown. 

After winning the cup in 2010 I expceted the Blackhawks to be a pretty good team for the foreseeable future, but I don't think anyone expected them to be this good.. 19-0-3. The best start ever.
 EVER. The Hawks are killing teams and are without a doubt the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. They should clinch the President's trophy by next week.. well not really.. but almost. Patrick Kane is playing some of his best hockey ever while Cory Crawford and Ray Emory are exceeding expectations in net. Chicago is rolling all four lines and don't expect them to back down anytime soon.

Well lets hope that the rest of the season is as entertaining and eventful as the first half and it should be an interesting final 26 or so games till the playoffs start. And that is when the real fun begins.

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