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Thursday, March 6, 2008

This Week's Hot And Cold Teams

Normally I would have had a couple more posts up already, but things came up hence the delay. Life is like that I suppose.

Anyway, I was reading the latest power rankings on and got inspired to do something similar of my own. If you look at the comments section on the ESPN list, you’ll notice everyone yapping back and forth about why their favorite team isn’t #1.

Here’s the thing, the people doing the list aren’t rocket scientists. They’re normal people like you and me who actually get paid to write this fodder for the masses to chew on. I do get a kick out of reading the comments though. Inevitably there’s some poor sap who barely watches hockey who announces to the world that he/she is an idiot and the entire message board pounces on them like a pack of hyenas taking down an Impala in the African wilderness. (I just watched disc one of the BBC’s “Planet Earth.” If you haven’t seen it, go buy it and watch it on an HD television and prepare to be blown away like I was to see the boy-band era actually exist for longer than 30 seconds.)

Got a little off topic there, but here’s what I’m going to do every once in a while. Might be every week, but who knows. I’m going to pick the three hottest teams in the league and the three teams that should be acting like Tanya Harding asking the judges for a re-do. If you haven’t seen this crying fiasco by now, enjoy.

3 Teams On Fire

#3 Boston Bruins

The Bruins are currently the 6-seed in the Eastern Conference with 77 points. The team is 7-1-2 in their last ten games and is closing in on the Ottawa Senators in the division. They sit three points back of Ottawa and four back of division leader Montreal.

This team has been a pleasant surprise this season and gives the city of Boston another shot at a championship. The Bruins haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1971-72 and I don’t see the streak ending this season.

There is a lot of potential on this team especially in young guy Phil Kessel who will be the leader of this team for years to come. It remains to be seen if he will suffer the same fate as another young guy who was supposed to be the franchise player of the century in Joe Thornton. We all know how that ended up.

#2 New York Rangers

The Rangers are currently the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference with 77 points. Tied with the Bruins above but the B’s have more wins and thus have the 6-seed. They sit five points back of New Jersey and six points back of the conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins and are 7-0-3 in their last ten games.

To quote a famous rapper and then distort the line for my own no-good: “Will the real New York Rangers please stand up?”

Just because I can, I’m going to rant on the Rangers a little.

Where was this display all year? Why have guys like Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr been making me question why I even follow hockey in the first place if I can’t dominate my fantasy leagues like I have for years. (Shut up Gopher, you got lucky and you know it and I’ll see you in the playoffs this year to take back what is mine.)

Does anyone really want to face this team right now in the playoffs? A month ago I would’ve been jumping up and down with anticipation of the first-round bye, but now the Rangers actually look like the legit contender we all thought they would be at the start of the season. The only question now is, can they keep it up or is this just another chapter in the up and down season they’ve had?

#1 Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks currently sit as the 4-seed in the Western Conference with 83 points. They trail the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars by four points and the conference leading Red Wings by 11. The Ducks are also 9-1-0 in their last ten games.

It finally looks like the Ducks are once again Stanley Cup contenders and could make a solid defense of their title.

The team really started to turn things around when Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer opted out of retirement and decided to come back for one more year.

Selanne has 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) in 12 games since returning to the lineup and Niedermayer has brought more stability to the back line.

It’s not a far fetched idea that they could catch and pass the Stars and head into the playoffs as the two or three-seed.

3 Teams Who Should Forget This Week Happened

Normally I would include teams like the Thrashers, Kings, Lighting etc., but it would get old saying the same thing week after week so let’s look at the playoff chasing teams who are slipping.

#3 Detroit Red Wings

This may look weird being on this list, but the Wings have been struggling recently. To keep form with the rest of the team intros: the Wings are currently the 1-seed in the Western Conference with 94 points and lead the 2-seed Stars y seven points.

There’s not much to say about this team. They got out to such a huge lead from the start of the season that this slump isn’t even hurting them. If anything it shows they are human and can be beat. Chris Osgood has finally returned to Earth after being on one ridiculous streak and has now been told he’ll be starting only five of the team’s remaining 15 games so Dominik Hasek can get some WD-40 into his joints and be ready to go for the playoffs.

#2 Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers are currently clinging to a one point lead over the Buffalo Sabres for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 74 points. They are 3-4-3 in their last 10 games.

After losing 10 straight games the Flyers have put together a better week and are back in the playoffs right now, but the injuries they suffered appeared to show that their younger players and farm system are not ready to carry the load just yet.

If they can get healthy they could return to mid-season form where they were leading the Atlantic Division. They’ve shown (much to my utter annoyance) that they can hang with playoff teams, especially Pittsburgh who they would face in the first-round right now.

They better start winning and winning fast because not only are the Sabres one point back, but the Capitals are two points back and the Islanders are only three points back.

#1 Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators are currently the 5-seed in the Eastern Conference with 80 points. They trail the 4-seed New Jersey Devils by two points and Northeast Division leading Montreal by one point.

My my, I guess the saying “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” applies as if it was written about this team. Like the Red Wings, the Senators looked unstoppable at the start of the season, but since the All-Star break the team has been in a tailspin.

They have had some injuries to key players such as Dany Heatley and captain Daniel Alfredsson, but the team has looked like they don’t care about playing hard on some nights. It’s almost as if the rest of the team quits when “The Big 3” (Jason Spezza being the 3rd Musketeer in this equation) are in the lineup.

Let’s also look at the goaltending situation. Martin Gerber has shown moment of brilliance, but has also shown he can’t stop a beach ball at times. His poor wife must spend hours rubbing aloe on his neck to ease the pain of the sunburn.

Same goes for Ray Emery who I believe thinks he’s Muhammad Ali (who’s depicted on his helmet.) Most enforcers don’t even want to throw down with Brian McGratton and yet Ray-Ray has done it on a couple of occasions this year alone.

Unless something drastic happens in Ottawa in the next month, this team is going to be a pushover in the first-round. Emery showed last year that he can be a solid goalie that can carry a team deep in the playoffs, but he hasn’t even resembled his former self for more than a handful of games this season.

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