2009-2010 NHL Mid-Season Report

Photo Courtesy of AP

The middle of the NHL Season is upon us and it’s time to look back at what has been an exciting first half of the season.

Best Team: This was a tough one. I’m giving it to the San Jose Sharks, but the Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils are not far behind. I’m giving this to the Sharks, because they have lost seven games in either the overtime and shootout while Chicago has had just three. This means that San Jose had the potential to gain more points than Chicago did. Chicago earned their points by going 8-3 in shootouts and overtime. Chicago has also played 24 home games to just 18 away games while San Jose has had just 20 home games to 22 away games. The Sharks have won eight straight and are playing their best hockey right now and that’s why they earn my pick as the top team from the first half of the NHL season.

Worst Team: The Carolina Hurricanes win this award easily. The Hurricanes are embarrassingly bad. They have the fewest points in the league with 29, seven worst than Edmonton who has the second fewest points. Carolina’s goal differential is also worse in the league at -44 and they have accumulated just 10 points in 20 away games. To cap it off, the Hurricane’s power play and their penalty kill are both 26th in the league. Carolina is the only team truly eliminated from the playoffs and for that they are the worst team from the first half of the season.

MVP: Marian Gaborik earns this award not just for his incredible stats, but for how he has carried the Rangers the entire year. Gaborik leads the league in goals with 27 and is third in points with 52. He is averaging over 22 minutes of time on ice yet has just 14 penalty minutes on the year. Incredibly though, Gaborik is the only Ranger with double-digit goals. While New York has allowed seven more goals than they’ve scored, Gaborik is +6. Gaborik has more than just the best stats in the NHL, he is the reason the Rangers have 43 points and currently sit in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. Continue reading “2009-2010 NHL Mid-Season Report”

The Most Brutal Game In Sports

Want to know why hockey is the most brutal sport? Go watch a game seven in overtime and tell me you’ve ever experienced a more gut-wrenching, hear-pounding situation for a longer time. The Bruins-Hurricanes Game 7 last night ended regulation at 2-2 and headed to overtime where a next-goal-wins period ensued.

That is brutal. For every minute during that time, the teams fought for every loose puck, diving and throwing themselves, but nothing would go in. The fans stand and cheer the entire time, but at every turnover or bouncing puck, a silence falls over the arena at the chance of one team winning. Every shot draws shrieks from every fan in attendance and when a Bruins’ shot just missed, the place with fall back, cringing at a miss opportunity.

Now, in other sports there are certainly situations where this happens. Baseball has that 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth. Football has that final second 45-yard field goal or the Hail Mary bomb. Basketball has the game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds left. Each one of those situations lasts at most for 1 minute. It is basically one gut-wrenching play to decide it all.

Hockey overtime is similar except that feeling lasts the entire time. From the drop of the puck in overtime until the game-winning goal, no one can relax for a moment. There aren’t even timeouts! It is 30 minutes of holding your breath and stomachs in knots. There is absolutely nothing tougher in sports to watch. Continue reading “The Most Brutal Game In Sports”

Let’s Play Seven

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing and the next two games feature three great game sevens. That’s right. Three of the four conference semifinals have gone the distance and that is what makes hockey so great. They should all be great, hard fought games and the most-anticipated game is tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins head back to Washington to face the Capitals.

This one has the making of one of the greatest games in NHL history. This series has been nothing short of phenomenal. I wrote a post a week ago or so saying that for this series to reach its potential, Evgeni Malkin needed to step up and push the Penguins to a game seven. He did more than that as Pittsburgh actually one three straight games and took a 3-2 lead in the series before falling at home in overtime. Now they have to head back to Washington where the crowd will be loud and ready to propel the Caps to victory.

I expect big games from Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. This is the biggest game of the year so far and this is when stars come out. I’m not sure they can repeat their matching hat tricks from game two, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see each have multi-goal games as beneath winning the series, there is a competition for the best player in hockey. Don’t forgot Malkin either. He’s fighting for best-player-in-the-league honors as well and he could easily swing the game for the Pens. Continue reading “Let’s Play Seven”