As the regular season winds down, I’m going to do a series on sev eral players, and Bruins situations that have held up, marked the danger points, or just plain made fans scratch their heads. Tonight however is a post on some teams that have done those things across the NHL.
Before the NHL season i made two predictions that made people laugh at me about the Western Conference. First was that the Chicago Black Hawks would win their division. And the second that the Phoenix Coyotes would make the playoffs. With less than a dozen games left for each team, they are tied for least goals allowed in the West with 179 goals against, and each leads their division. The Coyotes have done it with some of the most tenacious play in the NHL, the Black Hawks have done it with one of the most talent laden, hard hitting, and smooth skating teams in recent memory.
While several teams made some hefty roster changes in the off season, the Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the most active players picking up free agents like Mike Komisarek from division rivals the Montreal Canadiens, trading for Phil Kessel, from division rivals the Boston Bruins and giving up one second and two first round draft picks in addition to dumping $5.4 million a year on him, and signing Colton Orr to a four year deal. During the course of the season they picjen d up Dion Phanuef to juice their defense, and traded for Jean-Sebastian Giguere to finally give themselves a starting quality goaltender. For these efforts they would somehow need to get 19 of the possible 20 points reamaining to tie last years 12th place Easttern Conference finish right now with no first round pick in the lottery for consolation, the Leafs are 15th in the East.
The most notable pylon of the season is not a team, not a player, not even a management team. It’s the discipline office, specifically Colin Campbell. The Savard hit was the perfect opportunity for the NHL to made a radical attack on hits to the head. Savard is a perennial point per game player, an All Star, has played in markets from Atlanta and Alberta to Boston and New York and is certainly a player who is known to make a difference when on the ice. Instead, the NHL’s supposed disciplinarian sat in the corner complaining about the wallpaper being crooked while the house burnts down. There is no excuse for the lack of official response for what is clearly an intent to injure. The list of players who have been hurt badly by players who have no respect for the man in the other uniform is long and tragic, in that it reminds me of the discipline czars tenure.
Will the real Carolina Hurricanes please stand up? With the help of injuries and illness they kept the conference basement warm for Toronto for a large portion of the season, and then went five and two in February, and six and five in March. This has pulled them nearly outt of the lottery and into semi-respectability.
What is with the St Louis Blues? They had more injuries than you can shake a medical degree at last season, and from the halfway point forward went form 15 to 6 in the Western Conference. This year with ten games left, they have allowed as many goals as they did all last year. Their offense is off last years pace as well, despite a line up that boasts guyys like Oshie who usuannly manages to appear to be in two places at once on the ice, and Backes who can hit, skate and score.