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...
Calgary Flames (42 GP 18-19-5 41 Pts)
- David Moss is on IR with a foot injury.
- Mark Giordano is on IR with a hamstring injury.
- Henrik Karlsson is on IR with an MCL injury.
- Brett Carson is on IR with an "upper body" injury.
- Matt Stajan is on IR with an ankle sprain.
- Alex Tanguay is on IR with an upper body injury.
- Derek Smith has a high ankle sprain.
Colorado Avalanche (41 GP 22-18-1 45 Pts)
Edmonton Oilers (40 GP 16-21-3 35 Pts)
Last Week: 1-3-0
- 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.
Minnesota Wild (41 GP 21-14-6 48 Pts)
- 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
Vancouver Canucks (41 GP 25-13-3 53 Pts)