Penguins Fly, Oilers Flop
November 30, 2009 by Big Tony
Greetings puckheads, hope everyone in the U.S. had a great Thanksgiving (and to you as well Canadian friends, although I’m about a month late eh?). I am back from my break and have a lot to cover so let’s get started.
Saturday night Sidney Crosby and the Penguins opened up a can on the New York Rangers with an 8-3 win vaulting Pittsburgh back into first place in the Atlantic Division (at least for the moment). Crosby netted his third career hat trick on free hat night in Pittsburgh (the ice was covered) while Sean Avery put up big numbers of his own jumping Ruslan Fedetanko midway through the third period yielding a 7 minute power play for Pittsburgh as Avery got two for instigating, five for fighting and a ten minute game misconduct penalty. Quite a turn of events for Pittsburgh who just a short time ago had most of their starters sidelined with injury, and now they can focus on defending their title as most everyone returns to the lineup.
There is also a certain level of delight in three Eastern Conference cities who have not seen (or had much success) in the playoffs the last few years. As I write this the Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, and Tampa Bay lightning occupy the final three playoff spots which few expected. Most new Ottawa could be good but not be able to put things together so well so quickly as they have. We all knew Atlanta could score with Ilya Kovalchuk, but now he has a supporting cast in Rich Peverley, Maxim Afinigenov, and Nik Antropov. We also knew that there was a ton of talent in Tampa but it never produced anything last year so there was little reason to think otherwise this year but so far so good. It is my contention that NONE of these teams (that’s right zero) will make the playoffs, simply because there is too much talent in the East; but all of these teams can hang their hats on the amount of success they’ve had to date and possibly parlay that success into a playoff run proving me wrong.
The news is not so good in Edmonton as the team continues to struggle they have officially lost their second leading scorer Ales Hemsky for the year with a shoulder injury that will require him to have surgery to repair. It has really been tough going for Edmonton since making it to game 7 of the finals in the first year after the lockout. Mediocrity has plagued this hockey crazed city and this year was finally supposed to be different. There was a new coach, a seemingly a brand new Dustin Penner , and they went out to get a big time netminder in Nikolai Khabibulin, all of which coming together nicely for the Oilers. Despite their great start to the season the month of November has been a disaster where Edmonton has only been able to muster three wins in 13 attempts dropping them not only out of a playoff spot but into 14th in the conference ahead of only the Minnesota Wild. With Ales Hemsky the Edmonton Oilers had a chance to rebound from this rough stretch, but with him out they will need more than just Penner to push this team into playoff contention and I simply do not believe they have the fire power on their roster to do that as it stands today. As a result the mediocrity will probably continue in hockey crazed Edmonton.
There is so much more to talk about but so little time. But I will say that the season has been incredibly entertaining so far and it’s only going to get better with the Winter Classic and Olympics right around the corner!