Cal's Sports

Cal’s Weekly Hockey Doctrine – 1/23/12

Coming off a stellar weekend of hockey including the powerhouse triple header on the NHL network on Saturday, this weeks slate of games doesn’t seem to be letting up in quality.  Two quality Red Wings games on NBCSports and the NHL Fantasy Draft packs this week full of hockey bliss.  Coach Ryan and I will also being doing a draft week special report so stay tuned for details.

  1. New York Rangers – The Rangers are #2 in goal differential (+33) in the Eastern Conference and #2 in goals against in all of the NHL.  They have not only won games with tough defense but with gritty play as well and the bottom line is they are winning the games that matter within their own division as they have dominated the Atlantic with a 9-2-0 record.  I don’t see a way that coach John Tortorella doesn’t win the Jack Adams award this year.  If the Rangers can get a handle on their power play which currently sits at 23rd in the NHL, they will be skating their way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
  2. Detroit Red Wings – The Wings have taken hold of the top spot in the Western Conference and they have done it by playing classic Red Wing hockey.  8-2-0 in their last 10 and +11 over the 2nd place team in goal differential, the Wings have finally figured out how to win on the road including wins in Dallas and Phoenix in the past week.  Another great sign is that backup netminder Ty Conklin has played 3 of the last 10 games and went 2-1 in that time finally giving Jimmy Howard some much deserved rest.  Tonight’s game against the Blues will be a great preview of a potential Western Conference finals.
  3. St. Louis Blues – Under Ken Hitchcock the St. Louis Blues just keep on winning.  Winners of 4 straight and 8-1-1 in their last 10 the Blues have been really impressive.  I would be worried if they were solely relying on one goaltender with their 17th ranked goals per game, but they have 2 goaltenders in the top 10 in GAA in all of the NHL.  My one worry with this team is their lack of goal scoring in games against other teams with top-notch net minders, as evidence in the last 4 losses that they had (Nashville, Vancouver and 2 against the Red Wings) but adding a top 6 forward would fix this real quick.
  4. Boston Bruins – I was very high on the Bruins until January 7th rolled around and their game against the Vancouver Canucks.  It exposed them as a team that didn’t know how to control their emotions in a big game and play smart as well as hard.  They were trying to physically intimidate teams instead of utilizing all of the talent they had up front to score goals.  This nasty play reared its ugly head again with the suspension of Andrew Ference for a dirty hit he made against the New York Rangers.  I think the Bruins have the talent to be in the Stanley Cup Finals again but they are going to have to reel in some of the dirty play and focus a little more on the talent that they posses.  We will see if they have learned anything with their Tuesday night game against the Capitals.
  5. Vancouver Canucks – The Canucks have been a little inconsistent lately with some head scratcher losses to Anaheim and Florida.  Their losses have come at the hands of poor goal scoring  as in their last 5 losses they have scored 2 goals or fewer and when they don’t score goals they go south.  They haven’t won a game in which they score 2 or fewer goals since November 20th and this team looks out of sync from time to time.  Lucky for the Canucks, the rest of the Division has look lost at sea and while they are treading a little water now, they still have one of the most talented teams week in and week out.
  6. Chicago Blackhawks – The more I watch this team the more I realize that they will never make it through to the Western Conference finals if they don’t pick up a goalie.  With all of the offensive firepower that they have, they regressed on the goal tending side.  5-3-2 in their last 10 and 4 of the losses coming from Crawford, it is time to give Emery the full-time gig and search for a true #1 netminder.  The rookies have been very impressive and this team is a heck of a force on the ice, maybe they should give a call to Vancouver to see which goalie they could get.
  7. Philadelphia Flyers – Another high power offensive team that struggles with goal tending, I had much higher expectations of this team coming in to the year.  The Flyers play in the best division in the Eastern Conference and have scored the most goals in the division but have  also allowed the most goals of the 5 teams in the division.  Something has gotta give because the Pen’s are hard charging again and the Rangers are showing no signs of letting up.  Even with Briere and Jagr out, moving James van Riemsdyk for a goal tender is the best possible option at this point.
  8. San Jose Sharks – Oh San Jose, you continue to wallow in your average play with your immense amount of talent.  How does this team not score more goals?  I am looking at you Martin Havlat (yes, now he is injured but how do you explain only 2 goals in 26 games?  Joe Thornton and Ryane Clowe have also forgotten what lighting the lamp looks like.  Their 28th ranked penalty kill is nothing to be proud of either but this team will play slightly better than the other teams under-performing  in their division and will add to their first round playoff loss column.  Say hi to the Nashville Predators while you are there!
  9. Pittsburgh Penguins – Dan Bylsma earns every penny of his contract as he continually fights through injuries that seem to never end on his team and they have maintained a top 10 ranking in both goals score and goals against which is no easy task.  They fought hard last night against the scrappy Capitals who seem to have found their stride and pulled off an overtime victory to bring their win streak to 6 (which also included a victory over the NY Rangers).  Tuesday nights game in St. Louis should be a heck of a match up with two great goaltenders and two hard fighting teams who are well coached.  I expect it to be a low scoring game with OT coming in to play.
  10. Ottawa Senators – I never thought I would be including the Senators in any sort of top ten list unless it was a worst teams list.  I still don’t think the Senators are good enough to make a dent in the Eastern Conference but they have enough raw talent to make the playoffs in a relatively weak Eastern Conference.    Goalie Craig Anderson seems to have put the awful start of the season behind him but I am still not sold on ability to keep it up.  I have never doubted the offensive prowess of this team but sitting at a +1 goal differential isn’t going to take them very far.

Note – I didn’t even know that they AHL had an Outdoor Classic.  Read about it here at a great (even though she is a Canadians fan) blog – Link

1 Comment

  • Everybody was high on the Bruins when all of this started.

    Fuck The San Jose Sharks. It’s just like you said last week about the postseason, I feel the same way. I’m not scared of them at all. Remember in the 1990s when the Atlanta Braves would win the NL East every single year and then only won the World Series one time? That’s the San Jose Sharks with the lights off.

    We can only hope the Red Wings will return to their glory. We had to give Howard a rest at some point.

    And who’d have thought five years ago we’d see the St. Louis Blues at number three on this list? Go figure.

    Meehan

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