Western Conference Race Heating Up
February 1, 2009 by Big Tony
The second half is now upon us and the playoff races on both sides are heating up. The next two articles will preview the next 2 months telling you who’s in and who’s out. The West today, next time the East will be the focus.
In the West the top four are more or less in place with San Jose leading everyone by no less than 8 points steam rolling toward the playoffs and possibly the President’s Trophy. But as you look down toward the fifth seed it gets very interesting. The Anaheim Ducks are in sole possession of 5th place with 55 points but are only ahead of sixth by two points where there are FIVE teams tied with 53 points with only three playoff spots to earn. Should it come to the point where a tie-breaker is needed to determine who survives this gridlock I’ll have it for you right here, but until then who needs the headache? So who is going to come out of this mess to participate in the second season? Under the assumption that San Jose, Detroit, Calgary, and Chicago will all make it (in what particular order it matters not, they’ll be the top 4 seeds) we’ll consider the lower half. Five through eight as of this moment (in order) look like this: 5. Anaheim, 6. Edmonton, 7. Dallas, 8. Minnesota. Columbus and Phoenix also have 53 points with Vancouver just behind with 52. To conclude this article is a brief write up on all seven teams remaining in the race and why they will or will not make the playoffs. But regardless of who gets in if you’re a fan of hockey then the next 2 and a half months are going to be incredible.
IN – Anaheim, Minnesota, Phoenix, Columbus
Out- Edmonton, Dallas, Vancouver
Anaheim – Despite a slow start, losing their general manager, and the aging almost before our eyes of every star on the team the one thing the Ducks did not lose was their hockey IQ. A team full of older guys who aren’t as talented as they once were and are not as physical as their Cup team from two years ago but they are all smarter than the next guy. So while teams are busy skating circles around the old guys dominating almost every moment of the game, come period three the “old guys” are still hanging around and next thing you know the Ducks are celebrating a win.
Minnesota – Defense, defense, defense, and more defense. Did I mention Minnesota plays great defense? When push comes to shove, that pesky neutral zone trap always prevails.
Phoenix – Gretzky has these guys playing like world beaters. And on the backs of Shane Doan the Coyotes can and will shock a lot of teams. Not only will they get in but if the match-up (I mean you Calgary) is right they’ll make some serious noise in April.
Columbus. Yes Rick Nash is awesome, and RJ Umberger provides a dynamic the Blue Jackets have lacked since their existence. But the key to their success is Steve Mason, his 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage says it all. One and done? Yes, but this team will be good for many years to come.
Edmonton – will somebody please score a goal? If you can’t score you can’t win, it’s not rocket science.
Dallas – Marty Turco has been doing it by himself for too long and now it’s finally wearing him down. When you have a GAA of 2.98 and a save percentage of .888 you’re getting NO help.
Vancouver –Luongo is fantastic but Mats Sundin is not the answer to your offensive problems and never will be. The Sedin twins just AREN’T THAT GOOD! Time to scrap this team and start over; what a waste of money.