Hawks and Panthers Get Early Start on Trade Deadline

We don’t know what else the NHL trade deadline will hold for us, but this much we do know.

  • The Blackhawks clearly see a shot at winning the Stanley Cup and are going to do what they can to get there. They’ve already made moves to bolster their forwards, grabbing Andrew Ladd, Thomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise.
  • The Panthers, likewise, seem to be ready to make some noise, adding Jiri Hudler, Jakub Kindl and Teddy Purcell.
  • The Penguins are taking the Justin Schultz gamble, which for a single draft pick might be worthwhile, but he could also be a defensive disaster for a team that doesn’t need one of those too.

What else will we see?

I think the Rangers will make a move. Eric Staal is the obvious choice, but the Rangers will not sit this one out, they need another piece if they are going to make a Cup run.

The same could be said for Tampa, Boston, Detroit, and the Islanders, but whether they make a significant move or not is yet to be determined.

In the West, Nashville needs another piece up front, the Stars need some help on defense, and any of the Kings, Ducks, Sharks, etc. will be looking to shore up their lineups.

The bigger question is will there be anyone available that will actually make these teams better? Oh moves will be made, it’s just not clear that any of them will really push these teams over the top, without being a blockbuster type move for a star player, involving current roster players. I feel like there may be one or two of those in the pipeline, but could also see a trade deadline where nothing like that happens.

In the mean time, there are plenty of rumors. Most of which, are complete crap. The joys of trade deadline day!

 

Annual Look at the Playoff Race Without the Loser Point

nhl shootout photo

Photo by slidingsideways

Every year, as the NHL winds down the regular season and the races for playoff seeding come to a close, I like to take a look at how much the “loser point” reeks havoc with the standings. Usually I do it before the final week of the season, but traveling out of the country for work has left me without access to games, or decent wifi, so this is it.

To keep it simple, I take a look at what OT and the shootout have done to the standings, comparing it to what it would look like if the NHL magically went back to ties after regulation and OT.

In the East the current standings look like this:

Atlantic Division

Montreal             48-22-10 (42 ROW)

Tampa Bay          48-24-8 (46 ROW)

Boston                  41-25-13 (37 ROW)

Detroit                  41-25-13 (37 ROW)

Ottawa                  40-26-13 (34 ROW)

Florida                 36-29-15 (28 ROW)

Metropolitan Division

NY Rangers        50-21-7 (46 ROW)

Washington        44-25-11 (39 ROW)

NY Islanders       46-27-6 (39 ROW)

Pittsburgh           42-26-11 (38 ROW)

Columbus            39-35-4 (31 ROW)

Actually, adjusted for counting OTL and shootout wins as ties, the playoff spots wouldn’t change much. The big change would be Tampa being clearly ahead of Montreal, Florida and Columbus would have been out of the playoff picture much earlier, and Ottawa would not be still be alive. So you could make the argument that the loser point is creating a playoff race that wouldn’t be there in the East. You could also argue that the extra points are artificially inflating the point totals of teams that don’t deserve to make the playoffs too.

In the West, however, where there is truly a race ridiculous race for playoff spots, the shootout rules are clearly having an impact.

Central Division

St. Louis            49-23-7 (40 ROW)

Nashville           47-22-10 (41 ROW)

Chicago              48-25-6 (39 ROW)

Minnesota        44-26-8 (40 ROW)

Winnipeg         40-26-12 (33 ROW)

Dallas                38-31-10 (34 ROW)

Colorado          36-31-12 (27 ROW)

Pacific Division

Anaheim         50-23-7 (42 ROW)

Vancouver      45-29-5 (40 ROW)

Calgary            43-29-7 (39 ROW)

Los Angeles    39-25-14 (37 ROW)

San Jose          39-31-9 (35 ROW)

The Central is being decided by shootout wins. Nashville has the most ROW, but find themselves second to St. Louis, and with Chicago right on their heels mostly due to those teams having 9 SO wins. At the edge of the playoffs, Winnipeg is clearly benefiting from both their 7 SO wins, and their 12 SO/OT losses. Their 33 ROW should have them out of the running (in fact, it’s one less than Dallas has and two less than San Jose, yet Dallas sits 6 points behind the Jets and the Sharks are 5.), but those extra points have them right there. Ironically, they are battling Los Angeles for the final wildcard spot, a team who’s real record is exactly .500. They’ve won 39 games and lost 39. But, they managed to get 14 of those losses to OT, so they sit with 92 points. Colorado is the team that should have been out of the playoff picture much earlier.

Oddly enough though, as of right now, the shootout rules appear to be a non-factor. The top 8 teams in ROW in each conference are, in fact, in the top 8 positions. The exact positioning is being altered slightly, but no one is missing the playoffs, as of right now. However, Ottawa and Winnipeg are still alive, so that could very well change.

NHL Playoff Preview

Yes, sure, the Islanders aren’t in the playoffs this year, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some great hockey and intriguing story lines to follow.

To whit, will the Blue Jackets get their first ever playoff game victory? Will the Pens self destruct again? Are the Blues the team that flirted with the first seed in the West, or the one that lost their last 6 games? Can anyone on the Avs actually grow a beard?

In the East, I think it’s clearly a two team race. The Bruins and Penguins have been far and away the two teams to beat in the East and I don’t see that changing, especially in the first round. Obviously, you never know if Bobrovsky or Howard will catch fire and steal an entire series, but I just don’t see it happening. I do think the Jackets get over the “never won a playoff game” hump, because somewhere in there the Pens will mail in a bomb, like they always do, but if the Pens don’t, it might be another 4 and out for the Jackets. (I’d increase their odds of stealing a couple of games if Nathan Horton were playing, but alas…)

The Rangers-Philly and Montreal-TB series are absolute toss ups to me, but if anything could stop the Pens-Bruins conference final, it would be the Pens having to face the team that is most in their heads, the Flyers, in round two.

Prediction- Boston wins the East. They are just too deep and too steady.

In the West, it’s like the inverse of the East. I think there are at least 5 teams who could win the Cup. In fact, a couple of the first round match ups will eliminate a couple of teams who probably could win it all.

Anaheim should take care of business, as should Colorado. The Kings-Sharks and Blackhawks-Blues series will be ridiculously good. They will be the kind of series that make you wonder if the winner has anything left for round two. They will, so don’t get comfy Ducks and Avs fans.

At the end of the day though, I like the Ducks and the relative ease of their first round will matter in comparison to the bloodbaths the other teams will face.Like Boston, they’ve just been too steady all year long to not pick them, but I could also see the Kings, Blackhawks or Blues as well. They just have one or two more question marks than the Ducks do. The Avs, as young as they are, I suspect they are due for a playoff flame out. One to learn and grow from, like many of the great teams.

Besides, who doesn’t want Teemu playing in the Cup finals this year, and winning the whole thing?

So, who you got?

 

Can’t Blame Ricky

Did Rick Dipietro look a bit rusty? Sure he did, but that wasn’t unexpected, was it? Can’t really even blame the effort on a second of a back to back with travel in between. The fact is, the Bruins are just better. The Islanders hung in ere, and even got some of that secondary scoring, but Boston has the horses to shut down the top line and come up with scoring across all of their lines. That proved to be too much tonight.

It’s looking like Keith Aucoin was a nice little waiver wire pick up, as was Strait. I don’t even mind Finley so much either, but I do wonder why we haven’t seen Hickey yet? Seems like he was playing well at Manchester, and should be in game shape. I’m surprised the back to back didn’t give him the chance to make his debut. Lets just say its curious,