Your weekly shot of hockey to go with your coffee
The league is in an interesting spot at the moment. A few hot teams, a few cold teams, and above 75% of the league playing .500 hockey. Let’s get to it!
Hottest Team: Columbus Blue Jackets (32 Pts, #3 Metropolitan, 7-1-2 in Last 10 Games)
The Jackets have played the least games in the NHL coming into today at 23 and are tied for the 4th-highest point total in the league at 32. Columbus has been stellar defensively while being deadly on the power play. Sergei Bobrovski is putting together another Veniza campaign.
Runner Up: St. Louis Blues (32 Pts) — Also winners in seven of their last ten, St. Louis has been electric at home but abysmal on the road. If they can figure out their road woes, the Blues could surpass the Hawks in the Central Division.
Other Runner Up: Philadelphia Flyers (31 Pts) — See below.
Coldest Team: Colorado Avalanche (19 Pts, #7 Central, 3-6-1 in Last 10 Games)
Yikes. The Avs are worse at home than they are on the road. We’re months away from the trade deadline but it’s safe to say Colorado will be a seller.
Runner Up: Washington Capitals (29 Pts) — The Caps are in a free-fall at the moment and they skidded down the Met Division standings because of it. Statistically, they should be able to turn it around: they too have only played 23 games and have a positive goal differential, but a three-game losing streak doesn’t help.
Other Runner Up: Winnipeg Jets (28 Pts) — The Jets have won their last two games but are 4-6 in their last ten. Like most teams, Winnipeg is great at home (8-5) but not so great away (5-8-2). Winnipeg’s biggest issue comes from between the pipes: they’ve allowed the third-most goals in the league. The young guns like Mark Scheifele and Patrick Laine are exciting parts of the Winnipeg squad, however.
What to Watch For This Week:
Tonight, the Senators travel to Pittsburgh to take on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. The Sens have been a surprise in the young season and should be tested very well against a strong Pens squad. Tuesday night see the Canadiens in St. Louis as the Habs look to slow down the Blues on the road. The Bruins visit the Caps on Wednesday Night
Fake Rivalry on NBCSN. The league-leading Rangers travel to Winnipeg, the aforementioned strong home team in the Jets on Thursday night and continue their road trip to Chicago on Friday night. Saturday night has the Pens finish up a Floridian swing as Pittsburgh will be in Tampa.
Did the Flyers finally figure this thing out!? Steve Mason was named the 1st Star of the Week in the NHL and the Flyers were scoring even-strength goals. That’s a sure sign of improvement. What’s even better is that the Flyers killed off eight of nine opposing power plays. While 88.8% percent isn’t outstanding, the Flyers had been one of the worst in the league in killing penalties and are now 22nd; baby steps. I’m not sure if I am more impressed with the Flyers ability to regain the lead and win after blowing a lead like on Tuesday night against the Bruins or in that the Flyers started to dig themselves out of deep holes again like on Thursday night in Ottawa. OR is it even better that they won games we’d expect them to lose like Saturday against the Blackhawks or last night in Nashville? Both of those wins were incredibly impressive. The Flyers will continue to be tested as the annual December road trips start to rear their heads again. This week is mainly at home before one of said road trips begins on Sunday. Tuesday night the Flyers host the Panthers, Thursday night the Flyers welcome the Oilers, and the Stars come to town Saturday afternoon. Sunday night begins a three-game road trip as the Flyers travel to Detroit for their final game against the Red Wings for the season.
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(cover photo via)