Mar 6, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate their 24th straight game to start this season without a regulation time loss at the United Center against the Colorado Avalanche. Chicago won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
This week around the league teams are beginning to find their place. The Kings are streaking, the Phoenix Coyotes are showing they can still play, and the Blackhawks? Well let’s just use our imagination. We are hitting the midway point of the season, and the Chicago Blackhawks have a 10 point lead over the league. Keep in mind in the coming weeks that there could be some teams beginning to burn out due to this hectic schedule. Some teams are just not built for this rushed season, and injuries could become a huge factor.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-12-4)
I dont know about anyone else, but when the Jackets were doing well early this season I wanted to see success, but they couldn’t hold on to their winning ways. Columbus once again has become the bottom team in the conference. Steve Mason is looking like old Mason, and Babrovsky looks like he’s confused in net behind these defensman. The Jackets are not getting the scoring the need to keep up with teams, bathe addition of Brandon Dubinsky is now starting to bring up questions after only having 8 points this season. The thoughts of completely rebuilding the front office has now become something they may do again. The Jackets look to be done this season, they need a big comeback to find a spot in the playoffs.
14. Colorado Avalanche (8-10-4)
The Avalanche are close to being something this season, but they can’t close in late game situations. The Avs had e had a good chance at taking down some teams, but they haven’t found a way to compete in all phases. The are 22nd on the penalty kill, but with Varlomov has a 2.80 GAA, and a .910 Save Percentage. The Avalanche need to get their act together and start to get back into the conference race. They have the talent, but they need the goaltending.
13. Calgary Flames (9-8-4)
I have seen some Calgary Flames this this year in which I feel like they have potential. I also see those games where they look like they need to rebuild. This year I think the Flames have work to do, but they are a good Hockey team. They are getting good goaltending, they are showing quickness with Iginla and Cammalleri. Yet they did one thing this offseason that could get them the expierience they need. The Flames picked up former Red Wing Jiri Hudler, who has brought 4 goals, 12 assist, with a shaky 2 +/-. The flames have the opportunity to do something this season lets see if they can put it together and get something done.
12. Edmonton Oilers (8-9-5)
Edmonton has been such an odd story this season, they are close to being an elite team they just don’t know where to go. This is a result of lack of veteran presence, and lack of goaltending this season. They have the offense, they have the youth, but they just don’t have the expierience to get over that hill. We need to see where they go from this position as the season moves on. Look maybe the front office to bring in a veteran to lead the locker room.
11. Nashville Predators (9-9-5)
The Preds are showing they are a streaky team this season. Rinne has been solid, but the defense has been shaky this far. They are getting offense from the Kostitsyn brothers, but they are getting more production from their bottom lines rather than their top line which could be more of a disaster than a blessing. Look for the Predators to begin a large run that will put them in the playoff picture this season.
10. St. Louis Blues (11-9-2)
St. Louis has been more than just a dissapointment, they have been a frustration, a failure, and a drop off. These things would all explain a last place team but after all of the hype this season around them, these are a reality of a team anything less than 2nd in the conference. They are just all around bad. The offense is average, the goaltending is letting up soft goals, and the defense has seemed to have lost their physical presence. The Blues have a lot of work to do to be an elite team. They will make the playoffs, but if they don’t change their game they will have an early exit.
9. Minnesota Wild (11-9-2)
The Minnesota Wild are close to the team they need to be. I have seen better hockey from them, but they are finally getting chemistry with all the new names in the locker room. Parise is showing he deserves to be in the top lines with 8 goals and 7 helpers, but Koivu is showing his captainship with only 4 goals, but 14 assist. Backstrom has been a little off this season but he is starting to come around. Look for the Wild to be like Los Angeles last season, they will get in late, and make a run.
8. Phoenix Coyotes (11-9-3)
The Coyotes are showing their old ways now this season. Smith is the old Smith, and the team is playing with that edge that gives them the physical edge each game. There isn’t much to say about the Coyotes except that they have a good chance to keep up this run, and they can be a very tough team In the playoffs.
7. Detroit Red Wings (11-8-4)
Detroit is starting to become a good team this year despite the loss of players in the offseason. They are getting production from the usual players like Franzen, Datsyuk, and Zetterburg. They have a lot still yet to show, but look for the, to become a more physical team throughout the remainder of the season. The Red Wings should get in the playoffs this season, but look for them to make an early exit.
6. Dallas Stars (11-9-2)
At the beginning of the season I didn’t expect to see the Stars this high in the standings, but look for them to move up even more. The play from Lehtonen has been great, but loom for him to get even better. The play from Jagr, and Benn have been great this season, but look for Jagr to slow down remember his age may make a big difference late in the season.
5. Los Angeles Kings (12-7-2)
The Kings as I mentioned in the beginning of the article have been playing very well lately. Quick is coming around, and the offense is playing spectacular. There really isn’t much else to say about the Kings. Look for them to show they are capable to repeat this season.
4. San Jose Sharks (11-7-4)
San Jose has defiantly cooled off since the beginning of the season, but they keep themselves glued to the top of the standings. Niemi has been solid all season long, but the real story has been the hot and cold streaks of the offense. It seems like one day the offense is scoring 6 goals a game, but then the next game they get shut out. Its almost confusing to watch. Look for the Sharks to stick in the top 5 of the standings this season.
3. Vancouver Canucks (11-6-5)
Vancouver is an odd team to write about, there really isn’t much to say about them the give up a lot of goals, but they score a lot as well. They dont have specific players that will score, its basically any player that is out on the ice can score. Look for the Canucks to be an elite team down the road.
2. Anaheim Ducks (16-3-3)
Hey everyone look! The Ducks are still here! I can’t believe this team is still at the top. The play from Selanne, and Perry has kept this team at the the top all season long. Unfortunately I am going to be the guy that says look for this to stop soon. This team may have a good record, but they are just playing way above their head right now. This team will slow way down, and may start losing some games.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (21-0-3)
There isn’t much to say here, we all know the Hawks haven’t lost a 60 minute game in 30 games. This team is a legit team, no matter what line is out there, someone could score. Upon all the offensive success they have gotten insane goaltending from both Crawford, and Emery this season. Look for the Hawks to continue to dominate this season. The big factor will be the third defensive pairing of Leddy, and Rosival, they need to keep up the pressure they have showed all season.
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