Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday in Review

Tonight's Three Stars

1. Ray Whitney - 2 G, 2 A, +3
2. Rod Brind'Amour - 2 G, 2 A, +3
3. Eric Lindros - 2 G, 5 SOG, fight w Hinote

Game Thoughts
* The Brind'Amour line (with Whitney and Cole) was REALLY flying tonight. When the Canes have both lines going they are tough to keep up with
* What would make Carolina even more dangerous would be an offensive threat on the blueline. When Stillman is closer to coming back I wonder if they will look to move a forward for some help on D. I know the won the Cup without that top defenceman but teams that repeat (New Jersey, Colorado, Detroit, Edmonton, Pittsburgh, etc) typically do have that guy on defence who can generate offensive.
* Hossa scored once but also had SIXTEEN shots - one less than the entire Hurricanes team. Kovalchuk may be the flashier player but clearly Hossa is better at this point.
* Cam Ward stepped up and reminded fans of how he is capable of playing, after giving up 4+ in four straight outings
* Kari Lehtonen struggled and was pulled, much to the dismay of the local Atlanta broadcaster who is clearly a big fan the young goaltender
* Colorado got goals from five different players and knocked off Columbus
* Jose Theodore has put together back-to-back strong starts. He was originally given the #3 star for tonight but had the honour stolen by Lindros who not only scored twice but got in a fight.
* Toronto got goals from three defenceman (Kaberle, Gill and White) while Tampa's D still hasn't scored this year
* Something just seems off with that Tampa team. Not enough depth, relying too much on three players and none of the three have really established himself as "the guy". It helps a lot that St. Louis is scoring again but they are still lacking a strong veteran presence to anchor the 3rd line.
* For the Leafs Jeff O'Neill continued his resurgence with two more points. The Leafs could still use some scoring help up front but they have surpassed expectations thus far.
* Detroit won their fourth straight one-goal game, outshooting Calgary 34-15.
* Calgary has scored less than one-goal a game at even strength and I'm sure that is not sitting well with Sutter. In addition to the Conroy rumour, they've also been mentioned in the mix for Allison and I'm sure they are exhausting all avenues to find offensive help.
* After Iginla, only Lombardi (3) has more than two goals in 11 games. With numbers like that you would expect to find the team at the bottom of their Conference, and the Flames are sitting in 14th, one point ahead of Phoenix.
* Even though it is still early, the Flames face an uphill climb to make the playoffs. Assuming that it will take 95 points to make it (which is what it took last year in the West), they will need 88 pts in 71 games (.620 wpct). They go into a crucial two-game road trip to Columbus and St. Louis after losing six of seven, and if they don't come back with two wins I wouldn't be surprised to see a shakeup.
* Dallas got two from Lindros in a 4-1 win over St. Louis. The Stars are the second team to reach the 10-win plateau.
* Although they lost Arnott and Guerin (among others), Dallas made some smart low-key acquisitions like Lindros, Ribeiro, Sydor, Halpern and Modry and they look like a much more cohesive and deep team.
* The Kings got an early goal from Cammalleri but the Pens got goals from their rookies Staal and Malkin to take the lead Update: Both of these teams have very bright futures and much of the young talent was on display tonight - the goalscorers included Malkin, Staal, Welch, Brown and Cammalleri while Crosby added two assists. Malkin scored the OT winner on the Powerplay. He almost stole the third star away from Lindros but it's pretty rare that the Big E scores twice AND has a fight (unfortunately I missed the fight so I'll have to catch the replay - if it turns out it wasn't a good fight then he'll forfit the third star to Malkin).
* As mentioned earlier, Malkin has scored in the first six games of his career - the first player to do so since three players did it in the 1917-18 season.
* There has been a lot of talk this week about the Pens keeping Staal and the fact that it will be difficult to keep the team together in 5 to 7 years. Without getting into it too much right now, I disagree - the fact that these guys will be able to grow together could only help their chances of getting them to commit to the organization beyond the age of 25. Plus the CBA will have expired by then so who knows what the future will hold. Still if it was my call I'd really strongly consider sending Staal down. If, hypothetically I only had him for 7 years, I'd rather have him from 19-26 than 18-25.
* Shanahan scored #11 to give the Rangers a one-goal lead over the Ducks. Anaheim still has not lost a game in regulation time and have been the class of the West so far.Update: Anaheim still has not lost a game in regulation although they did pickup their fourth OT/shootout loss of the year. Jagr scored the OT winner on the powerplay
* Nashville was up 2-0 but Hemsky came flying in and scored on a breakaway to cut the lead in half. Mason is going for Nashville tonight.Update: Edmonton cut the lead to 3-2 late in the game but the Preds were able to win their fourth straight
* Sykora has fit in much better than expected with 16 points in 11+ games. He hasn't put up numbers like that since his days in New Jersey with Arnott and Elias.
* For someone who usually watches the late games it is great to have the Rangers and Pittsburgh out on the West coast and getting to watch some different and interesting matchups for a change. I'm confident that this whole scheduling thing will be changed for the better next time the GMs meet.

AP & Getty Images

To be updated as the late games finish. Three stars are subject to change..

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