On Goal Analysis has already made the call that five NHL teams – ATLANTA, the NEW YORK ISLANDERS, OTTAWA, ST. LOUIS, and TAMPA BAY – have been eliminated from their chance to compete for the Stanley Cup this season. With that said, the Hockey fan inside tells us there are at least three reasons to still go see these teams play despite what is likely their chosen outcome.
ATLANTA THRASHERS: 12-21-5; OGA PQC – 1.45; Historical PQC – 1.9125; OGA Elimination Date – 12 December 2008
1. Rookie Center BRYAN LITTLE is the team’s leading scorer with 19 goals, which is on pace for 42 tallies this season. He is the leading PP goal scorer and has lit the lamp seven times in the last four games.
2. ATLANTA’s PP is #9 in the NHL right now, with the likes of KOVALCHUK, KOZLOV, WHITE and LITTLE on the ice.
3. The chance to watch KOVALCHUK on home ice. There are tons of trade rumors, blogs and mongers out there stating KOVY should be, or will be, traded. MINNESOTA and MONTREAL are likely partners. Despite ATLANTA’s ability to contend or not, ILYA has been one of the top goal scorers in the League and he likely won’t be around Philips Arena for half of the regular season.
The NEW YORK ISLANDERS: 12-22-4; OGA PQC – 1.4; Historical PQC – 1.8375; OGA Elimination Date – 1 November 2008
1. DOUG WEIGHT is one point away from the 1000 point plateau. Less than 100 players have done so in a career, and the first ever was GORDIE HOWE in the 1960/61 season.
2. JOEY MAC in net keeping the Isles in the game and the under-20-year-old JOSH BAILEY learning his way in the NHL. These guys with KYLE OKPOSO and TRENT HUNTER are the future of the Islanders and it is always great to get a glimpse into a crystal ball.
3. Games like the December 29th battle in MSG. Seventeen of their 36 games this season have been decided by a single goal. AND they have beaten MONTREAL, the RANGERS and VANCOUVER who have all clinched playoff berths this season already.
OTTAWA SENATORS: 13-17-5; OGA PQC – 1.55; Historical PQC – 2.137; OGA Elimination Date – 19 December 2008
1. The magic of HEATLEY – SPEZZA – ALFREDSSON, though not overpowering as in past seasons, is still a sight to see.
2. ALFREDSSON getting that pass short of the neutral zone and what happens afterwards.
3. OTTAWA wins by an average of more than two goals per game. Some of those victories have come against the likes of the RANGERS, PHILADELPHIA, PITTSBURGH, and WASHINGTON who, according to us here at OGA, have all clinched a berth in the Playoffs.
ST. LOUIS BLUES: 14-20-3; OGA PQC – 1.55; Historical PQC – 1.5875; OGA Elimination Date – 16 December 2008
1. The play of PATRICK BERGLUND who is scoring about once every five SOG he takes
2. BRAD BOYES on the PP – his 10 PPG are tied for second most in the league with BUFFALO’s THOMAS VANEK.
3. Home play. The BLUES have a winning home record, have scored 62 and given up 63 goals at home, and they have beaten the BLACKHAWKS, SHARKS and WILD in the Scottrade Center.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 10-16-10; OGA PQC – 1.5; Historical PQC – 1.725; OGA Elimination Date – 8 December 2008
1. MIKE SMITH is a legitimate Number 1 goalie for this team. A bit more defense in front of him would yield more W’s.
2. Twenty. This is the number of times a TAMPA BAY game has been decided by one goal. That is a source of frustration for LIGHTNING fans. But when 56% of your games are decided by this narrow margin, you have high excitement at the end of most games to go along with your ability to throttle up and beat just about anybody you play.
3. There has not been any team to come back from a PQC deficit larger than WASHINGTON faced last year since the Lockout. In order for someone to do so, a team would have to take on a completely different personality. If ever a team had the talent to suddenly jell and become a completely different team on the ice than we have seen so far this year, however, it would be the LIGHTNING. But make no mistake – the road back up is very tough at this point – TAMPA would have to play .750 hockey. In other words, they would need to be BOSTON or DETROIT for the rest of the season.
At OGA, we want the local fans to continue to back their team through the frustrations because we know the difference between winning and losing is SOOOOO close. Looking above, there are reasons to go out there and see your team or make a road trip like the OGA Staff did at the beginning of the season. Have more reasons to see your team? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org...