When watching the Detroit/ Boston game last night on TSN, they showed who they thought were the leagues top players. So here they are and you tell me what you think.
The Buffalo Sabres Started the season with one goal in mind- Make the playoffs! Owner Tom Golisano has GM Darcy Regeir to open the wallet and bring in some quality players, and the sabres are showing signs of becoming a force to reckon with the second half of this season. After a slow start, the team came together on the dreaded West coast swing, winning 4 0f 6. The sabres hit tough times in early December, dropping 7 straight losses, 5 of them on home ice. Some strong goaltending and timely scoring helped them right the ship, and 4-1-2 in thier next 7 leaving them 5 points out of that eighth and final playoff spot.
What Happened in Game 1 Through Game 41.
Nashville has gotten off to the best start in team history. Many were expecting the Predators to fall by the wayside after dumping almost all of the experience from the defensive corps including Bill Houlder (UFA to nowhere), Andy Delmore (Buffalo), Karlis Skrastins (Colorado), and Cale Hulse (Phoenix). The remaining experience left on the blueline – The under-appreciated Kimmo Timonen and Jason York. The replacement players – Journeyman Mark Eaton, Freshmen Dan Hamhuis, Marek Zidlicky, Thomas Kloucek. and Robert Schnabel. Last years Major Change had been the trade of Mike Dunham to the Rangers and the Emergence of Tomas Vokoun as the teams #1 netminder. Initially Jan Lasak of the Slovakian national team was expected to be the backup, but inconsistent play in the preseason led to the resigning of former Predator backup Chris Mason. Forward Lines did not change much. Additional experience was added with grinding enforcer Jim McKenzie. The major prospect surprise was Jordin Tootoo, the first NHL player of Inuit descent to play in the NHL.
With the Isles 41th game approaching Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers, this seems like as good a time as ever to evaluate everybody’s favorite Long Island franchise based on their play so far this season. Lets start:
The first half of the season began with a shaky start that seemed to get them no where at all, then it went down hill for most of November, and in early December things started to pick up for the team. Injuries were no longer that big of a problem, and now in early January, things are still headed in the right direction.
The Kings came out flying from the gates despite being hit by the injury bug before the season even began. Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh have yet to return from injuries suffered last year and probably won’t return this year at all unfortunately. Other key injuries to Roman Cechmanek, Ziggy Palffy, Aaron Miller, Mattias Norstrom, Jared Aulin and Jozef Stumpel have started to catch up with the Kings. They once had a little bit of lead for the top of the pacific division, but now are starting to slide. The did make a move earlier in the year to kick start there team by acquiring Martin Straka from the Penguins for 2 prospects. Straka has done well in LA but Straka can’t replace Allison and Deadmarsh.
Halfway through the 2003-2004 season and the Blues seem to be where the always are come the All-Star break,closely behind the Detroit RedWings. They are once again one of the top teams when it comes to points and once again are expected to go far in the playoffs.But this season is very different from previous seasons, they have the strong goaltending they so badly wanted and had a lot less injury problems (albeit not less enough)
than in previous seasons.
Ok, so the focus of posts recently has been on the ideas of change in the NHL and contraction as the way to fix the myriad of problems in the current system. Here is the opinion of an adult kid from one of those non-traditional hockey markets that host a current team (and the one most often mentioned by contraction lovers.)
UP TO THIS POINT…
Any die-hard Canucks fan can’t be unhappy about the play of their team thus far. Sitting at this point atop the Northwest Division, as well as placing 2nd in the Western Conference and 4th overall in the league with their 52 points, the Canucks are looking to be as much of a force in the last half of the season as they were in the first. Their entire first line of Naslund, Bertuzzi and Morrison sits in the top 30 of league scoring (3rd, 18th, and 28th respectively as of January 6th) with a combined total of 120 points… only Atlanta’s top line of Ilya Kovalchuk, Marc Savard, and Slava Kozlov can boast better, with a total of 121.
The Edmonton Oilers, not exactly the team I’ve always defended, but definetly one of the orther 29 teams I’m am up to date with!
So heres all that Comrie ish, Smith to Smyth captains, Heritage Classic and high playoff hopes, to 12th in the Western conference info are….