Western Conference Hot or Cold
I have decided to do a weekly hot and cold for clubs and players.
The Western Conference is shaking up a little less than expected and here is why, who’s hot:
We have to start with the Dallas Stars who have been great since they were blown out 6-3 vs the Colorado Avalanche. Since then, Dallas is 5-0-0 and has allowed 3 goals once, 2 goals twice and 1 goal twice in those five games. Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen has split the duties and have gone 3-1-0 and 3-0-0 respectively. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been hot with 10 points each. Things are in place with the Stars who have five teams coming up that are looking to get on track for their season.
Second nod is going to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings looked like they were dead in the water starting their season 0-3-0. After a hard fought game against the Minnesota Wild, a 2-1 overtime win, the Kings have seemed to turn things around and win the next three in regulation. The Kings are now 4-3-0 and riding high with confidence. Jonathan Quick is now .500 on the season, Jhonas Enroth is 1-0-0 and much needed clicking through the roster is happening.
I cannot leave out the Nashville Predators here. This team has been making magic the past two seasons and unlike last season, it isn’t one player making the show. Nashville has 10 different players with 3 or more points and 16 players with at least one point. While Pekka Rinne has enjoyed most of the load he is 5-1-0 and back up Carter Hutton is a whopping 1-0-0.
Who is making noise in the Western Conference:
Jamie Benn – Benn has been on a terror his past 4 games notching 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists.) The only downfall to Benn’s 10-point season so far is his +1 rating. Jamie has put 18 shots on net and holds 1 game winning goal. With the next 5 opponents not super impressive in their all-around game, look for Benn to keep up with strong numbers, we might see him in our week 2 of who’s hot. I did forget to mention… Benn is tied for the league lead in goals with six.
Connor McDavid— McDavid scored his first NHL goal in game three and since them he has sprung into the #1 pick he was made out to be. In his past four games Conner has netted 4 goals and 3 assists, while he does have 8 points on his young NHL career, he is a -4 with only 14 shots on goal. As the season carries, I expect McDavid to shoot more and make away with the Calder trophy as expected.
Tyler Seguin— It took Seguin four games to capture his first goal of the season, after back to back 37 goal seasons, Seguin is just getting started. With 4 goals, 6 assists, Tyler is tied for the team lead with 10-points with Jamie Benn. Seguin has a blistering 30 shots on net after 7 games, expect him to carry on his assault over the next 5 games.
John Klingberg – In his second full season in the NHL Klingberg continues to be impressive. The 23-year-old Swede has 1 goal and 5 assists and is a +5 in his first 7 games. Klingberg had a 2-point night (1g1a) against the Penguins on the 22nd of October, it was his first 2-point game of the season.
It was hard to pick the top hot defensemen as the Western Conference is lacking outstanding defensive-offensive defense to begin the season. Usually a Kevin Shattenkirk or Tyson Barrie are making noise, but nothing yet.
Ryan Suter – The 30-year-old vet has yet to find the back of the net with his dangerous slapper but does have 6 assists on the season. Suter has a whole 7 shots on goal and has seem to be a little sluggish to start, Suter also is a +/- 0 on the season. Look for Suter to start firing to puck and hopefully start picking up his offensive and defensive game.
Roman Josi – Josi has been pretty solid on the blue line for Nashville to start the season. His 2 goals and 3 assists have him the top defensive scorer for the Predators. Josi has; 1 power play goal, 1 shorthanded goal, and 1 game winning goal on 19 shots this season. Although he has been held off the score sheet in the previous two games, Josi is +3 and playing about 24 minutes a game.
Pekka Rinne – 5-1-0 Record – 1.82 Goals Against Average - .933 Save Percentage – 1 Shutout – 154 of 165 shots stopped. Rinne continues to prove he is elite and make a name tag headed for the NHL hall of fame.
Kari Lehtonen – 3-0-0 Record – 2.35 Goals Against Average - .920 Save Percentage – 0 Shutouts – 80 of 87 shots stopped. It was hard to choose two and three and honestly I could have chosen maybe two others but I like what Lehtonen has done losing the full-time number spot with the addition on Neimi. This is a professionalism pick.
Jonathan Quick – 3-3-0 Record – 2.16 Goals Against Average - .923 Save Percentage – 1 Shutout – 155 of 168 shots stopped. Quick and the Kings have regained a spark and he is on a rampage right now. Over the past three games, Quick has allowed 2 goals on 89 shots and had a 40 save shutout.
The Western Conference is trending upwards but let’s look at who is in the most need of a hot trend because they are just filthy cold.
We have to start with Anaheim here, I mean what on earth happened? This is a team that, I am sure, was penciled in by nearly the entire hockey nation as a top contender in the West. Mind you, yes we are only like 9 ish games into the season and only 7 for Anaheim, but man…. No one is scoring, hands down is their number one issue. Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler combine for 3 points and their leading goal scorer has 2 (tied between 3 players.) They have been shut out 3 times and scored more than 1 goal only 1 time, that was their 4-1 win over a tough Wild team. Frederik Andersen, their number one goaltender, is 0-2-1 but still has solid numbers with a 1.57 GGA and a .947 Sv% he has stopped 108 of 114 shots…. No blame can be put on this kid.
Next up, the Calgary Flames… wait a second, haven’t we all seen this story? Oh wait that’s right, the Colorado Avalanche did this one! 112 points in 2013-14 and then… well we all know the rest, that’s right the #10 overall pick following a horrid 2014-15 season…. Yet that was caused by a LONG list of injuries including their goaltender….so what is with the Flames? Well, maybe their goaltending was the issue? Number one goalie to start the season, Kari Ramo, was placed on waivers and sent to the AHL. Ramo was 0-3-0, Jonas Hiller has not done much better at 2-3-0… Maybe Joni Ortio will help resolve the goaltending issue? Next up though is the offense, Johnny Gaudreau has 8 assists which is means he has assists on 1 less than half the team’s goals…. Which means there is no real offense happening. Gaudreau, Bennett and Monahan have 3 goals combine…
I really hate to do this to myself but number three belongs to the Colorado Avalanche. First off, they beat the Dallas Stars 6-3 and that was no easy task… But then they get stuck with desperate times and play like they are Buffalo… Boston (0-3-0) – 6-2 loss…. Los Angeles Kings (1-3-0) 2-1 loss… Carolina Hurricanes (1-4-0) 1-0 loss… Three games that Colorado should have put in the other direction, however could not. Many thought a healthy team and goalie, Colorado could make a run but who knows… Chances are looking better and better that Colorado could be in the top 10 picks again. However, it is pretty early in the season. If the Avs can get their young offense rolling and keep playing the defense they are, things could turn good. They are the only team in the NHL with both their Power Play and Penalty Kill in the top 5.
Lack of fire power, let’s see which players are frozen on ice… ha ha get it?
Ryan Getzlaf – You cannot not put Ryan on this list and this week, he is frozen and not moving. The 5 time 20+ goal scorer has 1 point 6 games into the season. This Duck captain is looking to get his Ducks in a row and string together not only some scoring but some wins. However, their next few opponents won’t be giving any swimming room as they take on Minnesota, Dallas and Chicago.
Corey Perry – I find myself feeling bad about these picks because these two guys can score and in a hurry, but have yet to do anything. Perry also sits on the Ducks bench with just 1 assist this season, the 5 time 30+ goal scorer is scratching his head wondering what is going on. His 10 shots on goal have not been enough to mustard up a goal so far this season and his next three opponents won’t just hand them over.
Matt Duchene – Now normally points do not hide from Dutchy to start the season, however his 1 goal this season is all he has in 6 games for the Avs. The third overall pick in 2009 has never had that huge breakout season we all know he is capable of and it doesn’t look like it will happen this year. But when Ducth catches fire… watch out because it could snowball into a whole team boost.
Kevin Bieksa – Alright now I feel like I am plucking guys from the Ducks here… Oh wait a second, I am… My question is, how are the Ducks doing better than the Blue Jackets? I mean at least one of their guys has more than 2 points… Anyway, Bieksa has no points, is a -5 and has six shots on goal… flat out just bad hockey.
Cam Fowler – I promise my assault will end soon… Kind of feels like Montreal in reverse on my Eastern Conference hot side… Fowler has one point, 13 shots on goal and is -6, his one goal can at even strength.
Dougie Hamilton – 9th overall pick in 2011 – Calgary went out and stole Hamilton from the Boston Bruins where he had a break out season last year with 10 goals and 32 assists. However, he is nowhere to be found so far in Calgary with 1 goals, -6 and 11 shots. His only goal came on the power-play… I am sure that when the Flames signed him to a 6 year $34.5-million-dollar contract… they had much bigger production numbers in mind from the 22-year-old.
Kari Ramo – 0-3-0 Record – 4.37 Goals Against Average - .879 Save Percentage – 0 Shutouts – 80 of 91 stopped shots. Ramo was placed on waivers by Calgary, cleared and is now reassigned to AHL.
Semyon Varlamov – 1-2-1 Record – 3.89 Goals Against Average - .861 Save Percentage – 0 Shutouts – 87 of 101 shots stopped. Varlamov and the Avalanche currently trail the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in the third period.
Frederik Andersen – 0-3-1 – 1.86 Goals Against Average - .938 Save Percentage – 0 Shutouts – 135 of 144 stopped shots. (Stats updated after 10/24/15 game against Minnesota Wild.) Although Andersen’s play is not to blame fully, he earns my final spot this week.
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