NEW YORK, NY – In this 48-game scramble of an NHL season, very few things look like lead-pipe cinches. The majority of the league’s teams abuse their fans with three-point games and .500 hockey, which is not good for the blood pressure. And it’s highest in the metropolitan area, with the Rangers, Devils and Islanders teasing their fans in the cruelest way. But I’m here to make some sense out of all the confusion –and panic for Rangers fans, – by applying my PHD (Professional Hockey Doctorate), to clarify the mélange of crap in the Eastern Conference.
Only three teams are above the excrement that has already drowned the Florida Panthers; the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and the French Frogs are locks to see the post-season. The eleven other squads, however, “bob in the bowl,” hoping to survive being flushed in their own sh!t. The Islanders and Sabres defensive corps are wearing out the red light and siren at Compton-like rate. The Flyers miss ancient defensemen and leader Chris Pronger, don’t win on the road, and have a certifiable loon of a goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov.
The South-Least Division is loaded with offensive teams (Tampa Bay, Carolina, Washington), who score out of the necessity of not trustingin their defense. Winnipeg, oddly enough the current leader, is the weakest of the four and an anomaly – having given up the most goals and scored the fewest of the Southeast teams. It’s only a matter of time before they become fodder, as the cream (Carolina) rises to the top and Washington challenges long enough to earn the #7 or 8 seed.
Canada has seen a resurgence with the Canadiens but Toronto and the resilient Ottawa Senators have also shown the effort to keep the nationals happy… and hopeful of post-season play. In fact, I’m saying both make it, with the Leafs hanging by the stem. Winner of the border war between the Rangers and Devils gets the last spot…
A very good hockey team needs to win faceoffs consistently (Bruins are 1st), play solid five-on-five puck (B’s are 5th), penalty-kill (Boston is 1st), and a top GAA (2nd). The Devils do none of this well, ranking in the bottom third (which means no playoffs) of the league in all categories except GAA where they are right smack in the middle.
The Rangers for all their struggles make the playoffs as the #7 or 8 seed. A soft serve schedule made by Tom Carvel has eight favorable games set to have the Blueshirts on a roll heading into the playoffs. Some advice for the Rangers and their fans in the meantime:
A) Lay off Tortarella… When did liking a head coach matter so much? Mike Keenan an S.O.B who left the organization hanging in the end.
B) Hold Lundqvist’s skates to the fire. Why does he get immunity while skaters get called out? Start Biron in back-to-back games to send a message and give the Swede a rest.
C) Sather really f*cked with the chemistry of last year’s team laden with attitude missing this year. It’s not about grit–all hockey players have that. Having each other’s backs which Prust, Mitchell, and Rupp all did and now do for their current teams is absent and it shows.
West Coast Craig, tomorrow.