Due to playing the least number of games in the West, the San Jose Sharks enter December outside of the top eight in the conference. That is about to change. With a home-laden slate awaiting them in December, San Jose is a team to watch in the next month.
After winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year last season, many people throughout the hockey world wondered if Carolina Hurricanes' forward Jeff Skinner would experience any kind of drop off in 2011-12. In 26 games this season, the answer would have to be a resounding NO.
Here is our first look of the 2011/12 standings as if there was a different points system. The most popular solution is to dish out three points per game (and the one I’m in favor of the most) like they do in the Olympics.
As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” With the Anaheim Ducks right now, everything is broken. How long will management wait to fix it? That’s a decision that needs to be made soon as they will head into December sitting no better than 14th place in the Western Conference.
After weeks of speculation that Coach Paul Maurice’s tenure in Raleigh was drawing to a close, General Manager Jim Rutherford pulled the trigger this morning and fired his friend, the long-time coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. Soon after, the club announced that the former assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens Kirk Muller was the man brought in to take the reins.
Many hockey fans woke up to the news this morning that Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau and Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice had been fired. The time had come for both of them to exit stage left (we’ll have more on that later).
With Boudreau and Maurice receiving the pink slip, that means three head coaches have now been fired in the season’s first two months. Which NHL head coaches should be leery of answering their phone? There are numerous candidates that could see the chopping block before the season ends.
It was a fun-filled week in the National Hockey League this Thanksgiving week. Now that it is out of the way, it is time for us to focus on "The Week Ahead", where we will look at the "Three Stars of the Week", "Three players to keep an eye on", "Two Teams to Watch", "Game of the Week", and of course, "Other Games to keep an eye on".
1. Boston Bruins… LW: 2
Tim Thomas is putting up numbers similar to those from last year, while the offense is getting contributions from everywhere, including Chris Kelly. So are the Bruins better than last year? 2. Pittsburgh Penguins… LW: 3
Sidney Crosby’s presence has made the Penguins the most feared team in the NHL. They’ll be tested in the next couple weeks with games against the Rangers, Capitals, Bruins and Flyers. 3. San Jose Sharks… LW: 1
You could make the argument that San Jose has been the West’s best club here in November. They hold a 7-2-1 in 10 games this month and have looked like a complete team.
At the quarter mark of the 2011-12 NHL season we find ourselves looking toward the end of the season -- the time of the year where we speculate over Stanley Cup favorites, offseason moves and awards. While the Vezina Trophy only includes three finalists, we found it hard to distinguish between many of the worthy candidates. Short sample sizes have made even the obscure candidates like Brian Elliott appear elite, making the decision even more difficult. Let's take a look at some of those deserving starting goalies.
The first quarter checkpoint has passed, which means it’s time to take an early look at the awards races. Through the first month and a half, the Hart Trophy race is neck-and-neck between two candidates – Toronto’s Phil Kessel and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux. Who is currently the favorite? Carolyn and I debate…
Each season, it seems like the Islanders follow a similar formula: start off well, run into some injury trouble and, ultimately, lose a lot of hockey games. Through the first month and a half, this season has been no different.
Thanksgiving is usually regarded as the time where every team evaluates themselves, makes changes and prepares for the meat of the season in the second and third quarters. This time of year also serves as a checkpoint for seeing which teams could make the playoffs. Ever since the lockout, teams holding a playoff seeding at Thanksgiving, more times than not, have been in good shape for the rest of the year.
It is easy to say that for Tim Thomas, last season was an absolute dream one for the 37-year-old Boston Bruins netminder. As we cross over to the second quarter of the season, Thomas has shown no signs of any Stanley Cup hangover or letting up.
Coming into Monday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes, Alex Ovechkin was in a funk. He hadn't had a point in four games, matching his longest drought, set in February 2007. Thankfully for the Capitals, in the third period Monday, he ended the streak by notching an assist on Nicklas Backstrom's goal. But opinions continue to run rampant that Ovechkin is playing some of the worst hockey of his career.
When Chuck Fletcher fired Todd Richards after last season's finale, the speculation immediately began. Certainly, Fletcher would learn from hiring a no-name coach with no NHL experience. The big names guys with a proven record of not winning (why else would they be jobless?) had to be at the top of Fletcher's list, right? Wrong.
Sidney Crosby collected a pass at center ice, displayed a burst of speed and backhanded the puck top shelf. And that was only the beginning of a special night for Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat the New York Islanders 5-0. With a sparkling four-point game after missing over 10 months and 67 games, it was as if Crosby hadn’t missed a single shift.
Welcome back, 87. Just over five minutes into his first game of the year (and on his third shift), Sidney Crosby -- who has missed the last 67 games with a concussion -- blew by Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald and went top shelf on Anders Nilsson. Yeah, Sid the Kid's still got it.
Welcome to another installment of "The Week Ahead". It was a crazy week in the NHL so we will tell you about our three stars of the week, three players to keep an eye on, teams to watch, our game of the week and of course, other games NHL fans should watch this upcoming week.
1. San Jose Sharks… LW: 5
San Jose takes the top spot with convincing wins over Detroit, Dallas and Colorado. They are 6-1-1 in November. 2. Boston Bruins… LW: 6
Is there a team firing on all cylinders like the Bruins? In a word, no. Claude Julien’s club has won eight in a row with a +26 goal differential during the streak. 3. Pittsburgh Penguins… LW: 2
With Sidney Crosby returning to the lineup, the Penguins will (finally) have their top three centers at the same time again. Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal played together just twice last year.
Who are those players who absolutely spark their team? The guy who takes an endless shift and inspires the rest of the team to play in their image. The guy who lights a fire onto the ice, effectively waking up the rest of the staff. We're going to take a look at the five best sparkplugs in the NHL.
The violent collision between the Bruins Milan Lucic and Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in Boston’s TD Garden last Saturday night was one of the more spectacular of the season. The verbiage in the hours following was visceral, particularly the comments coming from the injured goaltender post-game and then from his chastened teammates back in Buffalo the following day.
The ripples of the incident carried through to Monday when Lucic was interviewed by the NHL’s ubiquitous Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan, who subsequently released the 23 year old with credit for time served (aka the 2 minute minor for charging). By Tuesday morning, when the Leagues’ General Managers gathered in Toronto, the topic of goalie protection was a last-minute add to their agenda.
After all the attention, nothing tangible has come of it. And that’s how it should be.
Predators forward Craig Smith embarrassingly missed a wide open empty net in the later stages of tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Preds head coach Barry Trotz was not pleased with the play.
It has been two and a half years since the Calgary Flames last played in a postseason game. Due to one poor personnel move after another, the Flames have been on a downhill trend, and it isn’t going to get any better anytime soon. If the Flames want to get back to playoff-contending status, GM Jay Feaster and company should start a full-blown rebuild.
After Adam Foote's retirement at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, the Colorado Avalanche was tasked with finding a new captain to lead the team in coming seasons. On Monday, the team announced that 35-year-old winger Milan Hejduk was to succeed Foote as captain of the Avalanche.
The Washington Capitals made a handful of bold moves in the off-season. One of them was giving up a first round pick on draft day to pry Troy Brouwer from Chicago. The Caps acquired Brouwer not only for a boost to its secondary scoring, but for his physicality as well.
The month of October is long gone, which means Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo must be settling into a groove between the pipes. That’s exactly the case, as Luongo has put another slow start in the rear view mirror.
1. Chicago Blackhawks… LW: 5
Patrick Kane and company have unseated Washington for the top spot. They own the most points in the NHL and impressively steamrolled through Columbus, Calgary and Edmonton – just like they should. 2. Pittsburgh Penguins… LW: 2
James Neal is on a six-game point streak and leads the NHL in shots. More importantly, the Penguins lead the Eastern Conference without Sidney Crosby playing a shift. 3. Washington Capitals… LW: 1
After a torrid start, the Caps are looking so invincible. They have gone 3-4-1 in the last eight games and simply aren’t playing their best hockey.
Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist said in the off-season that he was frustrated by an inconsistent offensive campaign in 2010-11. He had scored 30 goals the year before, but only 21 last season. After being hampered by an injured foot for most of October, the Preds hope Hornqvist can continue his current hot streak.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.