Writing this column every week is always a lot more fun when the Avalanche are winning and the other teams in the division that I care about are really struggling. It likely won't last too much longer but I'm definitely enjoying the wave while it lasts. Finally I can relax knowing the NWC isn't a curse upon the Avalanche. Anyway, the week in review.
Calgary continued their amusing and well-earned descent, falling to 4 points behind 3rd place Colorado and a whopping 12 behind division-leading Vancouver. The Flames hilarious beatdown at the hands of the Bruins last night threatens to become the defining moment of the season and was the final game of a seven game road trip, on which the Flames finished 2-4-1 with both wins coming in the first two games of the trip.We'll see where Calgary goes here but I have a feeling over the next month and a half we'll be hearing an awful lot about the whopping 11 No-Movement Clauses currently littered across the Flames roster as they battle for another 9th place finish. At least they have Iginla's Quest for 500!
Edmonton's struggles only seem to worsen by the week, this time losing stud rookie and likely Calder Cup winner Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to injury. The Oilers are six games into their seven game road trip with a record thus far of 1-5. Looks like all that early home-cookin created an unsustainable pace for this young, beat up Edmonton squad. Besides just the injuries, the defense and goaltending, always a huge question mark, no matter what Oilers fans on the internet spent all off-season talking themselves into, are showing the cracks everyone else recognized before the season began. Just a testament to how consistently they get outplayed is G Devan Dubnyk's over-3 GAA and yet he maintains a save percentage above .900! Color me impressed.
Ahh, Minnesota. Everyone's favorite team to mock over the last three weeks because the Wild fans have been equally consumed with sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting "la-la-la!" and wondering aloud (keyboard wise, anyway) if they started chopping the heads off their players if the NHL might actually notice. Luckily for all parties involved Raffi Torres and his douchebag character traits came rolling in to solve the question of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. Fans all over the NHL wanted to see a Torres suspension for any of the three extremely questionable hits he laid on opposing players last week and Wild fans just wanted someone, ANYONE, suspended for ANYTHING they did to the Wild. Everybody wins, except the Wild who lost two more games to continue their obsession with regression.
Vancouver took a break from winning constantly to practice the build that broke Terran vs. Protoss for the past 6-8 months and allow the Avs to gain one point on them in the standings. That's right. One point. Vancouver's chance to extend their lead into something more significant comes this week with a busy schedule but at least they let the rest of the division pretend they still had a chance. Honestly, even the webmaster of their official site knows it's over. The poll on their website right now is something about celebrating Luongo's 57th career shut out by asking who the fan's favorite #57 was in any sport. Broncos great Tom Jackson makes the list but unfortunately the runaway winner is former Canucks scrub and recently-retired Lee Sweatt. Huh.
Team capsules after the jump.
All standings related info taken from NHL.com...
Last Week: 0-3-1 3-4 OTL @ OTT, 3-5 L @ NSH, 1-3 L @ WSH, 0-9 L @ BOS (looooooooooooool)
Conference Standing: 12th Place
- Goals For: 2.4 (25th)
- Goals Against: 2.7 (13th)
- Power Play %: 16.8 (18th)
- Penalty Kill %: 82.5 (16th)
This Week: Calgary's recently complete road trip comes just at the right time as they finally get to come back home for a week, starting Saturday when they host regression monster Minnesota in a battle of the suddenly bads. The Flames' amazing opportunity to turn their recent misfortune around as the New Jersey Devils, led by Martin Brodeur's recent matadorian style of goaltending, come rolling into town Tuesday night. The Flames then host the easiest two points attainable in the NHL with Anaheim coming into the Saddledome for some giggles and beatdowns. Fun for the whole family...!
News: The Flames answer for their embarrassing (albeit hilarious and totally awesome) loss to the Bruins - all of them.
Rene Bourque gets his second suspension in as many weeks.
Funny how this was written right before he went out and played god awful against Boston.
Brent Sutter was moody BEFORE the game in Boston? hahaha spoiler alert Brent: It doesn't get any better ;D
Transactions: They've been sending people up and down but their website isn't being updated so I'm punishing them by not writing about the exact specifics. Take THAT, webmaster!
Last Week: 2-0-0 4-2 W @ ANA, 2-1 W @ LA
Conference Standings: 10th place
- Goals For: 2.5 (23rd)
- Goals Against: 2.8 (16th)
- Power Play %: 19.2 (9th)
- Penalty Kill %: 82.0 (19th)
This Week: The Avs continue a very difficult and important stretch of games as they hit up the Windy City tonight and head to St. Louis immediately after for the second game of a back-to-back. Two days off to recover from the long weekend and the Avs head home to host Nashville Tuesday in the first game of a home-and-home, the second being in Nashville on Thursday. Very important points as all teams currently sit ahead of the Avalanche in the standings. Two wins needs to be the minimum if the Avs are going to continue helping themselves and not getting into the position of asking lots of other teams for help. Hopefully the Avs push back the #FireSacco crowd for another week.
Last Week: 1-3-0 1-4 L @ NYI, 4-3 W @ CHI, 3-4 L @ BUF, 3-4 L @ STL
Conference Standings: 13th place
- Goals For: 2.7 (12th)
- Goals Against: 2.8 (14th)
- Power Play %: 21.6 (2nd)
- Penalty Kill %: 83.6 (11th)
This Week: After a very hectic (and disappointing) start to 2012, the Oilers finally get a bit of a reprieve from the schedule gods as they have just two games this week, starting with the seventh and final game of their current roadtrip in Dallas before getting a well-earned three day break before Adam Larsson and all his glory come rolling into Edmonton to show off just how much the Oilers should have drafted him (just kidding, since, you know, the Oilers defense is vastly superior to Colorado's).
News: Ales Hemsky has an uncertain future in Edmonton...
Josh Green returned to the Oilers lineup after a 9 year absence.
Oscar Klefbom is essentially the entire future of the Oilers defense.
Despite the GM's desire to move away from the lottery, apparently playing for it EVERY YEAR is the right move.
Ladislav Smid gets back to basics.
Transactions: Teemu Hartikainen, Josh Green, and Colten Teubert were recalled from OKC, Lennart Petrell was reassigned to OKC.
- Cam Barker is out 3 months with an ankle injury.
- Ryan Whitney is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
- Alex Plante is out indefinitely with a concussion.
- Tom Gilbert is day-to-day with a knee injury.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out 3-4 weeks with a shoulder injury.
Last Week: 0-2-0: 2-4 L vs. PHX, 0-3 L @ VAN
Conference Standing: 6th place
- Goals For: 2.2 (29th)
- Goals Against: 2.3 (6th)
- Power Play %: 14.8 (21st)
- Penalty Kill %: 84.8 (8th)
This Week: Minnesota's long trek towards regression and causing Wild fans to have to accept certain statistical truths (hahaha, oh the irony in this sentence) continues with the ideal game Saturday at Calgary. Someone HAS to win the two points between two teams that lately have hated them and are running in the same direction. The race to the bottom takes a dramatic turn as one will break the mold and rebel against the art of the nosedive. The Flames game represents the last of "easy" games for the Wild as their next two games feature opponents who are finding their legs and starting to rake in the points, starting Tuesday versus San Jose and continuing Thursday at Chicago.
News: Minnesota at the turn. Strange how there's no outrage about regression here.
REST EASY, WILD FANS. Someone in the NHL has finally been suspended for running a Wild player! Let the outrage begin that it was only 2 games! rabblerabblerabble!
Minnesota Wild - dat Titanic?
A Stars fan suggests a Winter Classic in Minnesota between the Stars and Wild. In theory it's not a bad idea at all considering the history the franchises share. In reality, that would be the most boring 24/7 imaginable and that's all anybody cares about anymore. Unless, of course, the schedule makers set it up so we could have Ott-Laviolette Round 2!
Transactions: Reassigned Nate Prosser, Matt Kassian, and Jed Ortmeyer to Houston.
Injuries: Lazy copy/paste mode ENGAGE.
- Guillaume Latendresse is out indefinitely after experiencing concussion symptoms.
- Clayton Stoner suffered a lower body injury on December 22 and placed on the IR December 27. He is practicing with the team.
- Jarod Palmer suffered an upper body injury on December 29
Last Week: 1-1-1 (Terran OP) 1-4 L @ LA, 2-3 OTL vs. SJ, 3-0 W vs. MIN
Conference Standing: 1st place
- Goals For: 3.2 (4th)
- Goals Against: 2.3 (8th)
- Power Play %: 23.6 (1st)
- Penalty Kill %: 86.3 (7th)
This Week: A very busy week for the Canucks as they have four road games in 6 days, starting with Saturday's clash of the titans in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Finals at Boston. Assuming the team bus has ample air in their tires, the Canucks will then head from New England to warmer climates with a back-to-back Monday at Florida and Tuesday at Tampa Bay (which, now that I think about it, is still at Florida). A day off and the Canucks head back to the West with a Thursday stop at St. Louis for good measure.
News: Canucks think they're a step ahead. Can't wait to see how that extra step costs you in the playoffs. Seriously I can't wait.
Todd Bertuzzi has dropped his lawsuit against Marc Crawford.
Kevin Bieksa is such a nice guy, lykeomg!
Fear dem Bruins, Canucks! Yes, this is seriously a hockey story on ESPN.
Maybe Cody Hodgson isn't the result of Matt Duchene after all!
Transactions: Mark Mancari re-assigned. This really should no longer be labeled "Transactions" but rather "Where in the World is Mark Mancari?"