Western Conference Hot or Not
I am sorry about images, they were saving as URL and Not the picture.....
It is amazing how things can change so quickly in just a few games, today I will look at who’s NHL season is not panning out the way they had hoped. So, who is in the freezer?
Anaheim Ducks – Now this is a team the has Stanley Cup written all over it. Stellar goaltender Andersen has been spectacular in net, but has had no offensive help. Names like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Carl Hagelin and Ryan Kesler all have all-star performances throughout their NHL careers. Even with all these great athletes, Anaheim is 1-7-2 and their young goaltender, even though he is playing great hockey, has taken the brunt of the bat with an 0-5-2 record. The Ducks leading goal scorers have 2 goals, lead assist man has 3, and their top point scorers are a three way tie with 3-points each. I expect once Getzlaf returns from his recent appendectomy, the Ducks will find some goal scoring rhythm and start their climb back to the top of the western conference.
Now I could get some heat for this one but that is ok, because I feel this team has been very back and forth. My second ranking for this week is the San Jose Sharks, yes they have a winning record at 5-4-0 but, that winning record started off 4-0-0, which means in the past 5 games, the Sharks are 1-4-0. This team came out on fire like they had a point to prove. New captain Joe Pavelski came out in game 1 of the season making a statement helping lead the Sharks to a 5-1 victory over Los Angeles where he sank 1 goal alongside 2 assists. Joe and the Sharks lone win recently came against the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that started their season poorly. Regardless of all that, in the Sharks four losses they managed 5 goals combined, yet in just 3 of their 5 wins, San Jose has 15 goals and 5 goals in each of those 3 wins. Young goaltender Martin Jones has played his rear off for them in net despite 3 losses. Jones is sporting a 1.74 goals against average with a .938 save percentage. I feel like the Sharks will get back on pace here soon.
And once again breaking my heart to put them anywhere on the cold side, the Colorado Avalanche. I could have put the Flames here, however Colorado went through what the Flames are going through last season. Colorado should be a much more poised team and playing smarter, but they are not. Colorado is 3-6-1 so far this season and Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has looked less than spectacular, in every game except for 1 which was a 34 save 2-1 win over Tampa Bay. Varlamov is allowing 3.37 goals per game and has a very sad save percentage of .889 with a 2-4-1 record. In my personal opinion, I would like to see the Avalanche send Varlamov to the AHL for a conditioning assignment and call up young goaltender Calvin Pickard. I feel like that would be a slap in the face that Varlamov could use, especially if he comes back to the Pepsi Center and continues to play this way… there might be some boos. Another sore spot, Colorado was top 5 in both power play and penalty kill last week… Colorado’s power play is not 17th, and allowed their 1st shorthanded goal of the season to the Carolina Hurricanes. If you watch the power play work, 1:30 is either used chasing the down from their goal line, or passing…. The other .30 seconds are used shooting the puck into defender’s legs or taking a penalty. Colorado has had three consecutive games with 5-on-3 power plays and have come up empty on all three, including a 5-on-3 that lasted about a minute and a half. Now you think that has gone south… How about their penalty kill that has sunk to 21st in the league? So, we are not scoring man up and we are not stopping anything man down, yet our 5-on-5 has been our strongest point and it is the only thing Coach Roy seems to care about. Another thing, Patrick Roy has become the NHL’s softest coach!!! What happen to the fired up Roy who was fined $10,000 for shoving the middle glass in the bench towards Bruce Boudreau? Or the guy who told his team they need to put their B***s on the table?? Now it is a bunch of, oh I thought they played fine, our 5-on-5 was good and Varly played pretty well. Oh the power play will come back to us we need to just make smarted choices… He does not have the Patrick Roy fire that won him four Stanley cups, three Conn Smyth’s or the central division title with the Jack Adams. Nope…. I will call him out all day until it changes, Roy is soft and has been for two seasons.
Sorry to rant and rave there, it is a deep passion of burgundy, blue and white that runs through my veins… Alright, now which players in the west need a kick in the rear?
Tyson Barrie – Last season Tyson played 80 games and tallied 53-points, 41 of those were assists. This season, Barrie has served a 3-game suspension for interference/charging after driving into a player’s head. In his seven games Tyson has 2 assists and a -2 with 15 shots on goal, while the shots on goal are ok, there is never any traffic in-front of the opposing teams net while his shots are being taken… Each saves. Barrie is also not effectively jumping into the offense play like he is known for and when he does it is all untimed and leads to turnovers.
Erik Johnson – I suppose it is pick on the Avs week here. Funny stat here, as of last night Johnson is the 3rd highest scoring defensemen on the power-play with two goals. Why is this funny? Well, Erik tallied those 2 goals in games 1 and 2 of the season where he also registered his only assist. Johnson has gone 8 games without a point and has stopped firing the puck at the net on power-plays. Like the rest of the power-play unit, Johnson has resorted to over passing the puck or taking shots on net with no screen. This is the NHL and a former #1 overall pick, you would think he would eventually start playing like he is a part of both little clubs there. After only playing 47 games last season, Johnson has not seemed confident in his play and it shows through the lineup that this team is looking for answers, even if they have managed 3 wins.
Hampus Lindholm— This 21-year-old defensemen has played amazing in his first two seasons with Anaheim, but like the rest of the Ducks, he has not found any rhythm to start the season. Hampus is tied for the team lead with 2 goals and 3 points but also has a tough -6 on the season. Lindholm has been a + only once so far this season and that came against the Minnesota Wild, the Ducks only win of the season. He also scored a goal and had an assist in that game. Like the rest of the Ducks, expect Lindholm to catch fire once all the cylinders get running.
Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio – I decided to choose both Flames goaltender because they are both not playing to their potential, mainly Jonas Hiller. After placing Kari Ramo on waivers and sending him to their AHL team, Ortio came in relief, but it has not been such a thing. In 4 games (2 starts) Joni is 0-2-1 and owns a 4.26 goals against average, a .868 save percentage and has allowed 10 goals in those 4 games. Jonas Hiller has played in 7 games (started 6) and is representing the best goaltender for the Flames with a 3.67 goals against Average and a .861 save percentage. I feel like it is safe to say that Calgary is in need of a goalie…. Maybe they can trade Johnny Gaudreau to the Avalanche for Semyon Varlamov? No, bad deal? Ok ok…. How about Monahan? No still bad? Alright, alright, well maybe there is someone sitting in the AHL or Free Agency that the Flames can try for at some point, question is, who do they give up if they make a deal?
Cam Talbot – Edmonton went out and snagged Cam Talbot the off-season and expected him to be their number one guy. While rookie Phenom Connor McDavid has caught fire as well as guys like Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall… The oilers defense and goaltending have not been too great. Not one of the worst in the league number wise, Talbot has a 3-5-0 record a .904 save percentage and 2.63 goals against average. With the offense starting to click, the Oilers entire team should pick up and that includes Cam Talbot in net.
Semyon Varlamov – For the second week in a row, Varlamov finds himself on the cold list for the Avalanche. This was Varlamov’s stats last week – 1-2-1 Record – 3.89 Goals Against Average - .861 Save Percentage – 0 Shutouts – 87 of 101 shots stopped. Now let’s look at what has changed. 2-4-1 Record – 3.37 goals against average - .889 save percentage – 0 shutouts 176 of 198 shots stopped…. So, in other words not much has changed with Varlamov, expect that he has faces more shots bringing his numbers down a smidge in his GGA and up slightly in his save percentage. Varlamov played in back to back games against Tampa Bay and Carolina, winning 2-1 in Tampa and dropping 3-1 in Carolina.
Offensive struggles –
Anze Kopitar – Kopi has played 9 games for the Kings this season and had only been able to manage 3 goals and 3 points in those 9 games. Kopitar is known for his ability to put pucks in the net and set up plays for the Kings. Since the addition of Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles roster, Kopitar has fallen back and is struggling, the good news is that 2 of those 3 goals have come in the past 3 games. With the monkey on his back, I expect to see Kopitar on the rise next week.
Matt Duchene – 10 games into the season, Duchene finds himself on the bad list for many if not all Avs fans. Duchty has managed just 1 goal and 1 assist this season and is a -5. Many expected after he broke the mark against Los Angeles in game 5 that Duchene would ignite and start putting pucks in the net, however the 24-year-old is still gripping his stick two tightly. Highlight saves by Cam Ward and Ben Bishop are probably haunting the young center as he was robbed by both. Cam Ward’s save was much butter but none the less they were both spectacular! Duchene could be the spark that ignites the Avalanche, if he can get going and the TMI line stays hot, that could spell trouble for the west… it just needs to happen…. (The TMI line – Tanguay, MacKinnon, Ignila – or as Mack calls them, his dads so the family line could work? No, no, I like TMI better.)
Corey Perry – Alongside Varlamov and Duchene, finds himself on the Chilly side of things. Perry continues to struggle to put numbers up. He is up to four assists and holds a -4 and is managing just over 2 shots per game… sadly 12 of his 22 shots have come between 2 games. Once Getzlaf gets back from his appendectomy, I do feel the Ducks will find some offence, I truly expect that the next three – four games will be improvements for the Ducks to build on, I see them going 2-1 if not 3-1.
It’s getting’ hot in here, so take off all your….no please don’t…. But, some warmth is greatly needed and the perfect place to start is with the Dallas Stars! Why not right, they are proving my predictions way wrong for where I placed them in the Western Conference! Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin a just tearing it up for the Stars who have built an 8-2-0 record behind Antti Niemi’s 5-1-0 record and Kari Lehtonen’s 3-1-0 start to the season. Expect the Stars to keep climbing in the West despite lossed to the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/65/entry-787-western-conf/#commentsStart
The Nashville Predators will stay in this week’s hot list as they continue to produce wins. Currently Nashville is Tied for 2nd in the Central and second in the west with a 7-1-1 record and 15 points. They are one of four central division teams at the top that do not include the Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators have only played 9 games while everyone else is at 10 and 11 games played. Nashville has also allowed only 17 goals this season which is the lowest in the league (18 for Los Angeles.)
This is a tough choice – I can go with Los Angeles who is 6-0-0 in their last 6 games, or I can take the tie between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild who sit 7-2-1 and both have won their last 2 games. How about we honorable mention all three and not make a choice here. Minnesota is the only team in the west not to lose at home, (Nashville and St. Louis both has an OT/SO Loss at home) their 5-0-0 record is proving to be vital at home considering they are 2-2-1 on the road. St Louis is battling through a lot of injuries and still finding a way to win games. They have lost Paul Stastny to a broken foot, Jaden Schwartz who needed ankle surgery, rookie Robbi Fabbri (who looks like promising talent in St. Louis) Kevin Shattenkirk and now Vladimir Tarasenko will both be out also beginning 10/31/15 – Tarasenko and Shattnkirk’s injuries are listed as day to day. Los Angeles is winning, but struggling to score goals… They are 6-0-0 in their previous 6 games and 6-3-0 overall. Enroth has a 1.00 GAA and Quick a 2.00, Quick is 5-0-0 in his last 5 games.
With that said, let’s take a peek at this week’s players to mention!
Jonathan Quick – 5-3-0 Record – 2.00 goals against average – .928 save percentage – 1 shutout – 205 of 221 shots stopped. Johnny is 5-0-0 in his last 5 games, in those games he has allowed 1 goal in 3, 2 goals in 1 and 0 goals in 1. That is 2 weeks in a row for Quick on the hot side.
Pekka Rinne – Also receiving his 2nd mention in a row. 6-1-1 record – 1.74 goals against average - .934 save percentage – 1 shutout – 197 of 211 shots stopped. This 32-year-old former 258th overall pick has been on fire since returning from his hip surgery and infection just two years ago.
Brian Elliott and Jake Allen duo – Elliott 4-0-1 record – 2.18 goals against average - .908 save percentage – 0 shutouts – 108 of 119 shots stopped. Allen – 3-2-0 record 2.01 goals against average - .928 save percentage – 1 shutout – 128 of 138 shots stopped. Allen is 3-1 in his last 4 starts. Do not expect this duo to have 1 leader, Allen and Elliot will split all season.
Ryan Suter – Ryan finds himself the leading point getter in the Western Conference among defensemen. Suter has 2 goals and 1 assist in his past two games, look for him to continue to produce now that he has established some points in the last 5 games. Suter is known for producing points sending 30+ helpers to the net in 7 consecutive seasons.
John Klingberg – Klingberg finds himself tied with Suter in the western conference with 2 goals and 7 assists. The second year player for the Stars has at least 1 point in his last 5 games and with the Stars in full click mode, expect that to continue at, at least a point every two games.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Oliver has played well for Phoenix this past week on the back-end. Ekman-Larsson has pinned up four assists in his last 4 games and has seven on the season which includes 36 shots on net. Don’t expect Ekman-Larsson to keep this pace up on a young Coyote team, but expect him to still put up numbers.
Nathan Mackinnon – Mack has been a point per game player this season. His 4 goals and 6 assists lead the Avalanche headed into the weekend. Nathan has been put on a line with Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla a line I call the TMI line. Tanguay has scored in two consecutive games with an assist, Iginla has two apples in the past two games as well on this line, while MacKinnon holds 1 goal and 2 assists. Expect MacKinnon to keep up his pace and possibly even turn it up.
Jamie Benn – Jamie might stay in the hot slot for the rest of the season the way he is playing. In his previous 4 games Benn has 1 goals and 4 assists, and leads the NHL with 9 goals and 17 points. As long as he stays healthy, I do not see Jamie Benn and his line-mate Tyler Seguin slowing down any time soon.
Tyler Toffoli – This kid is just getting better and better every season and is turning into a guy you WANT on your team. Toffoli is tied for the NHL lead in goals scored with 9. I mean to be tied with Jamie Benn, that just makes you that much more noticeable. Tyler has had 3 goals and 1 assist in his last 2 games played 5 goals, 2 assists in his last 4. I expect Tyler’s assist production to increase and would watch him to continue his pace. This may be a career year for the 23-year-old Canadian.
**All stats are based up until 10/31/15 only***
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