For All You Hockey Fans, Here Is A Review For the First Half of the NHL Season

For All You Hockey Fans, Here Is A Review For the First Half of the NHL Season


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Home Page > Sports and Fitness > Hockey > For All You Hockey Fans, Here Is A Review For the First Half of the NHL Season

For All You Hockey Fans, Here Is A Review For the First Half of the NHL Season

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Posted: Jan 07, 2011 |Comments: 0
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With the 2nd half of the NHL season upon us, I decided to come out of my brief retirement to write a review about the 1st half of the season. (I didn't really retire, but it sounds more dramatic if I put it that way.) So, as I was relaxing on the beach in Hawaii the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings put themselves in familiar spots in the hockey world. Two of the best teams in the league and potential opponents in the Stanley Cup Final for the 3rd time in 4 years. However, both teams have slowed the pace a bit and Sidney Crosby's 25 game point streak came to end in a loss to the 2nd worse team the NHL; The New York Islanders.

Now, on to some other teams who have been both surprising and disappointing. Let's start with a story I like to call "The 100 Million Dollar Disappointment". Oh yes, you've guessed correctly, Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils are the worse team in the NHL this year despite what most people would say is a playoff caliber roster. Although they did lose star forward Zach Parise for 3 months to injury, it doesn't seem to make a bit of difference. Their leading scorer is Patrick Elias with 26 points and most of their team are minus players including Kovalchuk who is a staggering minus 29. Future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur is playing sub-par hockey at best and the entire team just appears to be in shambles. The only thing I can say for them is that at least they'll most likely get the #1 overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft. On to the next disappointment!

The Buffalo Sabres were expected to at least make the playoffs if not be serious Cup contenders, but as I predicted in the pre-season, they've fallen way short of expectations. How short you ask? They're ranked as the 26th team in the league and in case you didn't know there are only 30 teams in the NHL. Although Vezina winning goaltender Ryan Miller won his 200th career game this season, he has only 14 wins this year which is a far cry from his career high 41 wins last season. Having only lost one good forward, Derek Roy, to long term injury you would think that forwards like Tomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, and Jason Pominville would be able to pick up the slack, but that just doesn't seem to be the case for these Sabres. They're going to have to put up some unreal numbers to put themselves back in the playoff picture and I just don't see that happening. My advice would be to shake things up a bit before the trade deadline, take the high draft pick, and erase this season from memory and start fresh next season.

Ok ok, disappointments make me sad, so let's move on to the surprises for this season. We're going to start with, in my opinion, the most surprising team and that would be the Atlanta Thrashers. After making some very smart off season moves by aquiring Stanley Cup winners Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien the Thrashers have been hot since the start. Byfuglien leads the Thrashers and all NHL defensemen with 41 points while goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has been very solid in net. Ranked 9th in the league the Thrashers hope to continue their impressive play during the 2nd half of the season and make the playoffs for the 1st time since the 2006-2007 season. Personally, I don't think they have what it takes to be serious Cup contenders, yet. In a year or 2 with some smart draft choices and good free agency pick-ups Atlanta could become the team to beat. And for my next surprise I give you.....

The Tampa Bay Lightening. Despite having one of the best teams on paper in the NHL the Lightening just couldn't seem to put all the pieces together and make the playoffs. However, after Steve Yzerman became the GM Tampa Bay has been a playoff potential team from the start of the season and they want to continue to their winning ways to high seeded playoff spot. Steven Stamkos picked up where he left off last year and is only one goal behind Pittsburgh Penguins star center Sidney Crosby for the goal scoring lead in the NHL and is said to be the only real MVP challenge to Crosby this year. Martin St. Louis is 3rd in the NHL in points and with newly aquired goalie Dwayne Roloson the Lightening seem ready to take their place as an NHL power house. However, after being ripped apart by the Penguins 8-1 last night, the Lightening showed that they are very beatable by a championship caliber team and are going to have to pull themselves together to prove that they really are a Cup contender this year.

My 'Last Surprise of the Year' award goes to (drum roll please) the Dallas Stars. With Marty Turco out and Kari Lehtonen in that Dallas Stars are a new team. Brad Richards is the Stars leading point getter with 47 and young players like James Neal and Jamie Benn have been putting up impressive numbers to propel the Stars to the #4 ranked team overall. The Stars have been quietly creeping their way up the hockey ladder and are hoping to erase some bad memories from the last few years and give themselves a legitimate shot at making the Stanley Cup Finals. With the Stars healthy mixture of old, experienced players and young, healthy players they're hoping to shock a lot of people in the 2011 playoffs if they can keep playing this kind of hockey.

As for the rest of the NHL it's looking like this; The Washington Capitals snapped an 8 game losing streak just in time to beat the Penguins in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic and history shows that the team that has won the Winter Classic has made it to the Stanley Cup Final. However, history also shows that the team that's won the Classic has lost in the Finals and with the Capitals playoff history it's going to be a very hard road to the Cup. The Vancouver Canucks are the leading point getters in the West and are out to prove that they are finally ready to go all the way. The Chicago Blackhawks have been an on and off team all year and I wouldn't expect them to make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs. The San Jose Sharks have been good and will make the playoffs, which could work out in their favor since the previous years they've been extremely good in the regular season, but have fallen short in the playoffs. As I previously mentioned the Detroit Red Wings are ranked #3 in the league and want to make it back to the Cup Finals after a 2nd round exit last year. In the East the Philadelphia Flyers have been a power house and are hoping to do what the Penguins did in '09 after losing in the Cup Final in '08. After starting out hot the Montreal Canadians are barely holding onto the 8th seeded spot, but then again that spot took them to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Boston Bruins, who also started out hot, have slowed down, but because of a poor division are the 3rd seed in the East and want to try and start the 2nd half with the same vigor they started the 1st half with. The Pittsburgh Penguins are ranked the #1 team in the league and with the unheard of play of Sidney Crosby the Penguins are looking like the team to beat. Whew, this last paragraph was a doozy! (I love that word.)

So, with the 2nd half underway who do YOU think will make the playoffs?

-S

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Sydney Anderson -
About the Author:

I'm Sydney Anderson, I love hockey and writing, and writing about hockey. (Ha) I don't aspire to be a writer for a living, but I would like to write freelance from time to time. I don't really care if I get paid.

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I'm Sydney Anderson, I love hockey and writing, and writing about hockey. (Ha) I don't aspire to be a writer for a living, but I would like to write freelance from time to time. I don't really care if I get paid.

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