Sunday, March 31, 2013

NHL Standings - Biggest Surprises and Disappointments (April 1st)

"I wonder if there is an option to add a Senators logo to this beauty," Eugene wondered.
With April 1st being notable for it's practical jokes, it only seems appropriate to take a gander at the NHL's standings as teams enter the stretch drive to the end of the regular season. 

These numbers were generated 3/31 before that days games. I don't expect any of these numbers to change significantly overnight. It's not like teams score more than 6 goals very often.

Starting with the Eastern conference, obviously due to the east coast bias by a west coast blogger and/or alphabetic order.

Eastern Conference 

Biggest Surprise (who deserves a cookie):
Ottawa remaining in the hunt for the Northeast banner despite losing their best player to a nefarious attack from a noted thug.  I'm, of course, referring to Chris Kreider's intentional attack on the defenseless Craig Anderson.  Despite no penalty being called on the play, I'm confident that after Melnyk and his team of forensic scientists finish besmirching the good name less suspended version of Matt Cooke, this minor oversight will also be brought to the league's attention.

Consider that Ottawa has lost Spezza and Karlsson for 30 and 21 games respectively, only being 5 points out of the division lead is impressive especially considering their 6-8 divisional record. 

Biggest Disappointment (who needs a drink):
While it's easy to pick on the surprisingly bad Philadelphia Flyers, like everyone else, I think the biggest disappointment is the Florida Panthers.  With a league trailing goal differential of -37 through 36 games they are 13 goals worse than the next most outscored team, the equally hapless Colorado Avalanche.  Although Colorado has played two less games to get outscored in, if that makes the Panthers faithful feel slightly better.  It shouldn't.  This stat has even improved recently as the Panthers have won their last two games by a total of two goals.

But they're not alone being only two points an equally awful Washington Capital in what looks to be far and away the worst division in the NHL.  Even one of the two teams over 0.500 has a negative goal differential.

Western Conference

Biggest Surprise (who would like a cookie except their coach ate them):
Anaheim Ducks being not only in the lead of the Pacific division, but within striking distance of the now cooled off Blackhawks.  After underachieving both offensively and defensively last year (finishing 11th in the West in both categories) they are sitting 2nd and 6th, respectively finally proving that the problem was definitely a combination of the Alexes (Ovechkin and Semin) in Washington and Randy Carlyle in Anaheim.

Biggest Disappointment (teams with goaltenders that should really wait until after games for those drinks):
Outside of Colorado and Calgary, everyone is pretty much still in the thick of it for a playoff spots.  To put in perspective how much of a traffic jam there is in the middle of the Western conference.  Even 13th place Phoenix Arizona Seattle the Coyotes are only seven points out of being in 5th place.  However, neither of those teams is as disappointing as either Saint Louis and Edmonton.

Edmonton had the unfortunate fortune of having a bounty of high draft picks that were to turn into gold this year as well as having played together in the AHL during the lockout.  This, apparently, only makes your team good on paper, and as we all know, the game isn't played on paper.  It's played on ice, which is both slipperier, colder, and somewhat less forgiving than paper.

The Blues, the league's runner up to the President's Trophy (also known as the "kiss of death if you want to actually win the trophy that matters," and I'm not talking the Lady Byng) can only be described as disappointing.  While no reasonable person would expect them to repeat only losing six of 41 games at home, they've already lost 7 of 16 this season.  Their 15 shut outs and Jennings Trophy winning goaltending seems like a year ago (partly because it was) with this year's squad being plagued by mediocrity, injuries, and a shiny new contract.  But their scoring is up slightly this year, so they have that going for them, which is nice.

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