Random NHL Notes, 2/22/2013



















My team-by-team overview of the NHL season so far, beginning with seven teams of varying degrees of success (in no order):

Phoenix Coyotes
I was expecting the dropoff from Mike Smith—his SV% was .930 last season, this season it’s .907, meaning nothing other than the Plexiglass Principle—and 107 points of Ray Whitney and Daymond Langkow are gone (though Zbynek Michalek is back), but the Coyotes are still 7th in a tough West playing only Western competition this season. Dave Tippett is a perpetual Adams candidate, or should be.

Vancouver Canucks
I wasn’t expecting them to be this good either—probably because I thought Luongo would be traded, and/or Schneider would slump, or some younger, faster Western team would pass them (the Avs, maybe? the Wild?)—but a long layoff and a 48-game season should help the 4th oldest team in the NHL, who also has the best coach and best GM, in my opinion. Also the only team in the Northwest with a positive goal differential (behind only Chicago and the Ducks in the West).

Washington Capitals
The Filip Forsberg era has begun.

New York Rangers
My preseason pick from the East and despite Pittsburgh playing lights out so far, still within range (tied for the 8th spot, though tied for 7th in overall points with the two Southeast leaders) over the long term. Lundqvist has regressed a bit from the past season or two but is hardly a concern. I’m not sure what’s missing; the Rangers are the 10th oldest team in the NHL but talent trumps age on a seasonal basis. I doubt they’ll miss the playoffs but the Rangers could win the Cup, lose the Cup final, or lose to any of seven other teams in the first round and it wouldn’t surprise me.

Los Angeles Kings
Last in the NHL in PDO as of last weekend, the Kings are obviously better than their record and should make the playoffs (goodbye, Dallas). Despite Quick’s Conn Smythe trophy, I would actually like their 2013 playoff chances better with Bernier, and not because of Bernier’s small 2013 sample size as much as Quick’s large pre-2012 sample size, but I doubt that will happen. The odds are against a repeat, in general and therefore for the Kings specifically.

New Jersey Devils
Top 10 Skaters, Time On Ice Per Game
1. Ryan Suter, MIN D 27:24
2. Jack Johnson CBJ D 27:20
3. Erik Karlsson OTT D 27:03
4. Drew Doughty LAK D 26:59
5. Dion Phaneuf TOR D 26:39
6. Mike Green WSH D 26:33
7. Shea Weber NSH D 26:17
8. Alex Pietrangelo STL D 25:56
9. Ilya Kovalchuk NJD RW 25:52
t10. Brian Campbell FLA D 25:41
t10. Dustin Byfuglien WPG D 25:41

The next forward on the list is Steven Stamkos, who is tied for 67th with Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the Sharks at 21:51. We forget how good Ilya Kovalchuk is.

St. Louis
My preseason pick from the West and for the Stanley Cup and as with my Rangers pick, I’m not wrong yet. The Blues are currently 9-6-2 and +2 in goal differential, but only Calgary and Columbus have given up more goals in the West and the Blues’ 4th-worst PDO is as much because of SV% as team shooting %. Goaltending tends to be overrated (e.g. Antti Niemi won a Stanley Cup; Michael Leighton was two wins away), but this team desperately needs a healthy Jaroslav Halak. Taking out last season, the difference between Halak and Elliott is the difference between Michael Leighton 2010 and Michael Leighton now.


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