Around the National Hockey League: Week 6

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Views, opinions, and comments on teams in the National Hockey League –

Western Conference

Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings continue to lead the Pacific Division with a 11-6-0 record.  This past week they lost a close game to the surprising Arizona Coyotes 3-2.

They came back to win a close game against the New York Islanders 2-1 with goalie Jhonas Enroth making only his second start and posting 31 saves for the victory.  They capped off the week with another tight 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.  Jeff Carter is on a point a game streak scoring 17 points in 17 games while Tyler Toffoli has 10 goals and 6 assists in 17 games.

Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild are continuing their winning ways with wins over the Winnipeg Jets ( 5-3 ) and Carolina Hurricanes ( 3-2 ).  They currently have a 10-3-3 record, good for a share of second place in the Central Division.  They have a balanced scoring attack with captain Mikko Koivu leading the team in scoring with 15 points in 16 games.  Defenceman Ryan Suter  has 14 points in 16 games and forward Jason Zucker has become an important player on the team scoring timely goals and leading the team in shots at 51.

Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are struggling to find their game losing to divisional rivals Minnesota, Dallas and Nashville.  They have lost their last five games and can’t seem to break out of this mini-slump.  They are consistently giving up odd man rushes and breakaways resulting in goals.

Coach Paul Maurice has noticed the change.

I think our focus on scoring is the kiss of death for us right now. We have players who stop scoring for four or five games and they start changing the way they view the puck and where it is.

They played a decent game last week against the Dallas Stars coming back in the third period to tie the game at 3-3 and had a great chance to win the game with a four-minute power play in the third period but couldn’t score and ended up losing the game 6-3.  The Jets did not end the week on a good note getting mauled 7-0 by the Nashville Predators.  Paul Maurice and company have their work cut out for them trying to end this five game losing streak!

 

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Eastern Conference

New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils are playing competitive hockey and if the season ended today they would be in the playoffs.  New coach John Hynes and new G.M. Ray Shero are trying to turn this team around and so far the results have been decent.  They have a 10-6-1 record, good for 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division.

Shero signed free agent Lee Stempniak and he has been a nice addition to the team.  He is second in team scoring with 14 points in 17 games and is getting power play time as well.  Maybe the Winnipeg Jets should have kept him.

Pittsburgh Penguins

There have been concerns about the Pittsburgh Penguins and their lack of scoring.  Coach Mike Johnston has been taking the heat early in the season and many could not understand why Sidney Crosby wasn’t scoring.  Crosby has only scored 2 goals in 17 games.

The theory of Phil Kessel being the missing offensive piece so far has not materialized.  Kessel has scored 6 goals in 17 games so far.

This past weekend they lost games to the Columbus Blue Jackets ( 2-1 ) and the New Jersey Devils ( 4-0 ).

They are not scoring many goals but they are not giving up many due to Marc-Andre Fleury providing solid goaltending.  Fleury currently has a .931 save percentage.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a slow start to the season playing at a .500 pace.  They have an 8-8-3 record after 19 games and currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division.  This past week they lost to the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 but came back to defeat the Calgary Flames 3-1 and they lost 5-4 in a shoot-out to the Florida Panthers this past Saturday.

Coach Jon Cooper said they just haven’t been getting the breaks in some of their games.  They are off to a slow start but still are playing competitive hockey.

Canada/Russia

I got a chance to see the CHL’s  Canada/Russian series this past week.  The first two games were the Western Hockey Leagues’s best and available players versus Team Russia.  Team WHL’s Tampa Bay draft pick Brayden Point was a force in the first game with a goal and two assists.  Tampa has shown they are not afraid to draft smaller players and Point looks like a good one.

NHL Notes:

One team who continues to surprise the National Hockey League with their play is the Arizona Coyotes.  Many, if not all pundits had written this team off at the start of the season and if the season ended today they would be in the playoffs.  Max Domi is playing exceptional hockey for the Coyotes and is second in scoring on the team with 8 goals 7 assists.  Can they continue to surprise?

The Buffalo Sabres seem to have found their goaltender.  Since calling up Linus Ullmark from the minors and they are getting quality goaltending.  He has won four out of the six games he started with a 2.45 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.  I’ve been watching him play and he looks very good.  He was the main reason Buffalo defeated Vancouver in the game I watched last week.

Chicago defenceman Duncan Keith was back in action this past Saturday and it probably wasn’t soon enough as the Hawks have struggled.  I doubted Keith last year in the playoffs thinking coach Quenneville was playing him too much and it would catch up to them.  Keith proved me wrong.  He is a work horse and probably one of the most underpaid players in the NHL.  I can only imagine the amount of dollars that would be offered, if he was a free agent.

Who’s Hot  and  Who’s Not

Atlantic Division

The Boston Bruins are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games.  The Tampa Bay Lightning are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games

Metropolitan Division

The New York Rangers are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games.  The Philadelphia Flyers are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games.

Central Division

The Dallas Stars are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.  The Winnipeg Jets are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

Pacific Division

The Los Angeles Kings are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.  The Edmonton Oilers are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games.

Top Scorers

PlayerTeamGPGoalsAssistsPoints
 Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks18131528
 Tyler SeguinDallas Stars18 917 26
 Jamie BennDallas Stars18 121325
 Taylor HallEdmonton Oilers188 1220
 Blake WheelerWinnipeg Jets1881220


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