April 14, 2013

Dobber Sports


We’re down to the wire in this lock-out shortened regular season. The race for the final playoff spot in both conferences is going to be hard fought and wil likely come right down to the last game of the year, especially in the East. The Rangers (44 points), Jets (44 points) and Islanders (46 points) are all in a dog fight for 8th spot, while the Devils (40 points) could be a factor if they could only get things turned around.


Things are less uncertain in the West. Dallas, Phoenix and Columbus are all two points within 8th placed Detroit, but two of those clubs sold at the deadline (PHX and DAL) while the Blue Jackets are overly reliant on the unusually superb goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky (.931 SV!). The Red Wings aren’t the Wings of old, but still boast Henrik Zetteberg and Pavel Datsyuk, two of the best two-way forwards in the game. Unless something goes vert wrong, they are favorites to hang on in the West.




The race to the bottom of the standings is just as neck-and-neck. The Calgary Flames (34 points), Colorado Avalanche (34 points after an afternoon win) and Florida Panthers (32 points) have been joined by the Carolina Hurricanes (34 points) in the basement. I mentioned the Canes last week as a club getting submarined by their wretched goaltending. That unfortunate trend has continued unabated, causing Carolina to lose seven in a row and boast the worst record over the last 10 games in the whole league (1-9-0). Even the Avs and Flames have managed to win three of their last 10.




Speaking of the Flames, the hockey gods are doing their best to help Calgary pick inside the top-5 for the first time in franchise history. After selling Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester at the deadline, the club has been hit by a swatch of injuries, including Alex Tanguay who went down with a knee injury (sprained MCL) in the Flames win over the Coyotes on Friday night. Of course, clubs are much more apt to sit players during a “dive for five” for just about any reason, but the Flames have seen guys like Matt Stajan and Tanguay go down with legitimate ailments.




Back to the ‘Canes for a moment – I have been tracking their descent with amusement ever since they bafflingly sold low on Jussi Jokinen; a player much better than his counting stats suggested this season as has been mentioned in this space by me previously. Since joining the Penguins, Jokinen has scored three goals and five points in just three games and has actually been one of the best deadline additions by any team so far. The Canes are, well…in on the race for Seth Jones/Nathan MacKinnon.


Which isn’t to say the lack of Jokinen is the reason the Hurricanes have been losing lately, but it’s amusingly ironic nonetheless. Unless you’re a Carolina fan, no doubt.






The Edmonton Oilers are going to miss the playoffs again, but it’s not because their young players are faltering. Taylor Hall in particular is rounding into a high impact player: he leads Edmonton in raw corsi (+3.66/60), is second in relative corsi (+22.5/60) and leads them in scoring with 41 points in 37 games (a 90 point pace over an 82 game schedule). He torched the Calgary Flames the last time the two teams met and is a good bet to do so again tonight, particularly with the Flames essentially dressing the AHL Heat as their starting roster.


The Oilers still haven’t arrived as a contender, but Taylor Hall is a legitimate fantasy rock star…