AROUND THE RINK is a new weekly hockey segment on the NHL and all of its teams. Every Wednesday we go over what’s new with your favorite teams, your favorite players, as well as the crazy things going on within the National Hockey League.
Boston Bruins: What seemed like a pretty solid team just a mere months ago now seems to be full of holes. The latest collapse was against the New York Rangers, who now have a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference.
Buffalo Sabres: With the NHL schedule closing in on the Trade Deadline, it seems more and more likely that the Sabres will be sellers. They have a lot of pieces that could help a lot of teams, and with the right packages this team could be stacked with young talent all over again.
Carolina Hurricanes: Ho hum, the Hurricanes are last in the Eastern Conference, but are 5-1-4 in their last 10 games…wait what?
Florida Panthers: The Panthers took a thrashing tonight, getting beat by the Ottawa Senators 6-2. I’ll say it again, it’s going to come down to either the Capitals or the Panthers making the playoffs. One of those teams is going to make it, and will lose in the first round.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils are winning and it’s all because of Ilya Kovalchuk. The guy is a monster, and is proving all the naysayers wrong about his defensive play, and his clutchness when the game is on the line. This guy is on the hunt for a Hart Trophy this year.
New York Islanders: The Islanders have made things a little interesting in the bottom of the Eastern Conference. If they can keep playing with the same amount of intensity, and Nabakov can keep playing the way he’s playing, this team might have a shot at a playoff run.
New York Rangers: Seriously is this team ever going to lose? They have a commanding 9 point lead in the Eastern Conference, and don’t seem to be slowing down at all. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, by the way, and are on a 4 game winning streak.
Ottawa Senators: The Senators put some distance between them and the pack rats scratching their way for 8th place tonight when the defeated the Panthers 6-2. They are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, however…
Philadelphia Flyers: What’s wrong with the Flyers? They are on a 2 game losing streak, and are 3-4-3 in their last 10 games. This team has been competitive all year, but with Jagr’s increasing age and Pronger’s absence being felt everyday, I’m not sure how long I’m going to give this team before they fall off.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Another week, another week that Evgeni Malkin is dominating the NHL. Seriously, it’s getting old, Geno, maybe you should take the week off or something.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Are the Lightening sellers at the Trade Deadline? I’m not sure, but to everyone it seems like things are going to stay fairly the same in Tampa Bay for next year. At least Victor Hedman is finally improving.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs…are in…the 8th seed…as of right now. Can you believe it? I can see it now. Lord Stanley’s Cup parading down the streets of Toronto…oh wait, too soon?
Washington Capitals: The Capitals are only 1 point out of a playoff berth, and are only 4 points out of 3rd place. However, they are 3-4-3 in their last 1o games, and you aren’t going to make the playoffs being that mediocre.
Winnipeg Jets: Coach Claude Noel has begged Jets management to acquire another scoring threat. The Jets are seriously handicapped when it comes to scoring goals, and in the words of Noel, they could “really use some help”.
Anaheim Ducks– The Ducks have continued their meteoric rise out of the Western Conference basement, and are now fully in the playoff hunt. On the heels of a 13-2-3 run, Anaheim is only eight points out of a playoff spot with 26 games to go….
Calgary Flames– With Calgary only a point out of eighth place in the Western Conference, the trade talk surrounding Flames captain Jarome Iginla seems to have died down. The new buzz is that Calgary may deal defenseman Jay Bouwmeester for Columbus center Jeff Carter…
Chicago Blackhawks– The Blackhawks are looking for answers as to why they can’t win a game. After falling 3-2 to the Predators, they’ve currently lost nine straight games, and have earned only a single point since the NHL All-Star break. With issues at goaltender and on defense, expect them to make a play before the trade deadline for Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter or Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask…
Colorado Avalanche– In a bizarre coincidence, both the Avalanche and their AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, are sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference of their respective leagues. Still, the Avalanche are not without excitement. Check out Ryan O’Reilly’s overtime winner with one second left vs. Carolina:
Columbus Blue Jackets– Rick Nash is a hot topic as the trade deadline approaches on February 27th. Nash has a no-trade clause in his contract, but it’s tough to envision him staying on in a sinking ship like Columbus’. Unless the idea of playing alongside Nail Yakupov is enough to convince Nash to stick around….
Dallas Stars– There aren’t many highlights coming out of Dallas lately, except for the occasional ridiculous save from Kari Lehtonen, or goal from Michael Ryder or Loui Eriksson. So, here’s a video of current Stars teammates Eric Nystrom and Mark Fistric fighting. Don’t worry, it happened two years ago when Nystrom was on the Flames:
Detroit Red Wings– The Detroit Red Wings now hold the NHL record for most consecutive victories at home. After beating Dallas 3-1 on Tuesday night, Detroit’s streak stands at 21 straight home wins. In other news, Niklas Kronwall knows how to hit:
Edmonton Oilers– Magnus Pajaarvi, a former top-ten draft pick for the Oilers who was sent down to the AHL after a streak of poor play, came back to Edmonton with a vengeance this past week. After getting called back up, the Swedish forward netted three points in two games, including his first goal of the season in a 4-3 win over Ottawa….
Los Angeles Kings– During a 4-2 win over Dallas on Sunday, February 12th, not one, but TWO Los Angeles Kings rookies scored their first career NHL goals. The aptly named Dwight King started off the scoring 8:54 into the first period, and fellow Los Angeles freshman Jordan Nolan knocked his first in with 9:31 to go in the third. Nolan’s goal ended up being the game-winner….
Minnesota Wild– Minnesota, once at the top of the NHL standings, continue to fall farther and farther out of contention. Following a 2-1 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday night, the Wild have now lost four straight and are currently 12th in the West. Goal scoring continues to be a problem for Minnesota, as they’ve scored only one goal in five of their last since games, the exception being a 5-2 loss to Vancouver…
Nashville Predators– They broke a three game winless streak with a victory over the suddenly hapless Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, winning 3-2 on a goal from defenseman Ryan Ellis, who scored his first tally in 13 games….
Phoenix Coyotes– Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, who was playing in the AHL at this time last year, was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week for February 5th-12th after he backstopped four wins with a 0.74 goals-against average, including a 3-0 shutout of Chicago….
San Jose Sharks– This seems to be happening more and more in the NHL lately, but check out the goal San Jose scored from center ice against the Washington Capitals:
St. Louis Blues– Blues forward David Perron was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week after scoring six goals in four games from February 5th-12. The Blues won every game of that four game streak, and are now sitting comfortably in fourth place in the Western Conference with 75 points, three ahead of the next closest team (Nashville with 72)….
Vancouver Canucks– The Canucks have earned a point in ten straight games, and are currently sitting comfortably atop the Northwest Division, 14 points ahead of second-place Calgary. Backup goaltender Cory Schneider is still a prime target for trade talks, but Vancouver may consider holding on to him in case Roberto Luongo falters. The Canucks can’t have much faith in any of their farm-team goalies anyways; Luongo and Schneider are the only two netminders to see the ice for Vancouver this year….