WELL, well, well...another year, shot to hell. As 2009 comes to a (merciful) close, the Olympics-compressed NHL season has just about reached its' midpoint. Let us reflect (briefly) on what transpired in the 09- portion of the campaign, and pontificate (also briefly) on what the -10 segment of the schedule might contain. Ed. Note: Yes, Santa brought me a thesaurus this year. So what?
Los Angeles Kings: I knew they'd show improvement over last season, but I didn't expect this much improvement. The emergence of Jon Quick has been key. While I wouldn't call them a top Cup contender in the West, any team in the playoffs has a chance...and the Kings are IN, baby.
Colorado Avalanche: Biggest.Surprise.Of.The.Season. The Avs aren't really this good, right? Right?!?!? Will we still be waiting for their "inevitable" collapse in April? The Magic 8-Ball says, "Signs point to yes", and OGA (gulp) agrees.
Chicago Blackhawks: Not only are the Blackhawks Chasing Stanley, but they're also the most Cup-ready team in the NHL right now. Unfortunately for them, Stanley Cups aren't won in December...
Columbus Blue Jackets: ...And unfortunately for Columbus, Stanley Cups CAN be lost in December. While the Jackets are taking steps to right the ship, time is already running out. To put their current situation in game terms, they're down by two with about six minutes remaining in the 3rd. If they don't make the playoffs, Columbus gets my vote for Biggest.Disappointment.Of.The.Season.
Detroit Red Wings: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
Ed. Note: Yes, I'm a Stars season-ticket holder. I'm thoroughly enjoying the Wings' season because I don't know when they'll have another like it.
Nashville Predators: I'd like to dedicate a song to the Predators and their fans, because they deserve it:
This team just won't quit. Mad Props to the Preds, whom I picked to finish dead last in the Central Division. Thanks for proving me wrong.
Boston Bruins: I don't know; they just ain't the same without that Kessel kid. And they (and I) really miss Lucic in the lineup. Marco Sturm is the B's top sniper, with just 13 goals. Will they make it out of the second round this season? Hell, will they make it out of the first?
Florida Panthers: Hmm...6-8-5 at home, 10-10-2 on the road. If they had more road games in the 2nd half of the season, they might just have a shot at the playoffs. Believe it or not, though, the future looks bright for the Panthers. Unfortunately for them, the future is not now.
Vancouver Canucks: At the end of January, the Canucks begin their six-week (with a break for the Olympics), fourteen-game tour of NHL arenas NOT located in British Columbia. Between now and then, however, they play nine of twelve games at home. Don't be surprised if they hit the road 1st in the Northwest Division, 3rd in the Conference...and don't be surprised if they make the most of their "bonding experience" on the road and return home 1st in the Northwest, 3rd in the Conference.
New York Rangers: Remember when Lucy yanks the football away just as Charlie Brown is about to kick it, and he goes flying through the air? Remember that long, drawn-out "aaaarrrrgggghhhh" sound Charlie Brown made? That's what I hear in my head when I think about (and often, when I watch) the Rangers. At least they're getting their money's worth out of Gaborik and Lundqvist. If either goes down, though, the Blueshirts can kiss the playoffs goodbye.
So that's the ten teams I cover for On Goal Analysis, in a nutshell. Tomorrow, we OGA boys will be watching the Winter Classic from our prime seats...on the couch in front of a 36" HDTV. As soon as the final buzzer sounds, we're hitting the road for St. Louis, where we'll be blogging, Tweeting, and using semaphore flags to describe the action at Saturday's Blues-Blackhawks game. Stay tuned for OGA Road Trip IV, kids - it's gonna be SWELL!
Take me back to On Goal Analysis.