Your weekly shot of hockey to go with your afternoon coffee
THE HOCKEY ROUNDUP IS BACK! After almost a two-year hiatus, the THUNDERBLOG’s hockey has returned in full force! Matty D and I have been busy with our actual jobs but
finally hopefully have found a way for you to hear from us on a consistent basis (more on that at a later time). The Hockey Roundup reincarnate will be a little different than those Roundups of the past so the first few may change from post to post so let me know what you think in the comments in terms of formatting.
Hottest Team: Chicago Blackhawks (70 Pts, #1 Central, 8-2 in Last 10 Games)
No surprises here. The Blackhawks had a slow start to the 2015-16 season but have used a strong January to overtake the Stars for first place in the Central and now trail only the Capitals for the President’s Trophy.
Runners Up: Washington Capitals (73 Pts) and Tampa Bay Lightning (56 Pts) – The Caps are still hot although Chicago is closing in on the PT while Tampa has gone 8-2 in their last ten games to move into the 1st WC spot.
Coldest Team: Montreal Canadiens (52 Pts, #5 Atlantic, 3-6-1 in Last 10 Games)
The Habs were by far the hottest team in hockey when they reached 41 points on December 1st. Since then, almost two months later, they have gone 5-17-1 have dropped out of the playoff picture as reach the All-Star Break.
Runner Up: Minnesota Wild (55 Pts) – The Wild had been mixing it up with Chicago and Dallas but slowed down substantially and is now tied with the Avalanche for 4th in the Central Division
What To Watch For this Week: All-Star Weekend
The 61st NHL All-Star Game heads to Nashville this weekend with a new format. In the advent of 3-on-3 overtime, the NHL decided to bring that to the ASG in the form of a divisional tournament: Atlantic vs. Metropolitan, Central vs. Pacific, with the winner playing each other. A fan vote determined each divisions’ captain: Jaromir Jagr (Atlantic), Alex Ovechkin (Metro), Patrick Kane (Central), and John Scott (Pacific) with the full rosters (found here) being announced a few weeks ago after being selected by the NHL. This tournament will start Sunday at 4 pm with the Skills Competition, as usual, on Saturday at 6 pm (both Central Time).
You may be wondering who is John Scott? When voted to be captain, Scott (11 career points) was a member of the Arizona Coyotes but now plays for the St. John’s IceCaps, AHL affiliate for the Canadiens. Hockey fans have for years run campaigns lampooning the fan vote that bring unknown, non-all stars to the game and Scott happens to be the player in question here having received the most votes for any player. The NHL had to issue an official ruling to allow Scott to be eligible to play since had been moved to the minors. The only person not in on the joke was Scott, who felt embarrassed about the situation and had to be convinced to play by his family.I could easily go on a rant about fan-voting thanks to this case and the Royals ballot stuffing last year but I’ll save the rant and say this: with such a number of players being voted in by fans, the magnitude of stunts like this can be exponentially worse. Hopefully, Scott’s tale can make a movement towards changes in the fan-vote process.
Regardless of Scott playing, the Pacific Division is going to struggle against the Central, who is my clear favorite. The combination of Toews with Kane along with Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne from the hometown Preds give them an edge against all four teams. The Metro has great players in its lineup but the Atlantic is deeper and both goalies outrank the Met’s. Central wins the All-Star Touney.
Thoughts on fan-voting? Disagree with my pick? Let me know in the comments