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FOND DU LAC…. With every team in the NHL having now played at least 10 games are any interesting stat lines forming? Sure. In both team and individual play there are some early surprises and that is fairly normal for the start of each season. Some of the surprises this year though are pretty surprising. From a standings viewpoint, the Duck of Anaheim stand at a paltry 6 points after their first 11 games going 2-7-2. This includes a recent 0-5 road trip. No Duck fan am I so I don’t give a rats patootie about their early flailing about, but a lot of pundits had them wining the Stanley Cup this year. I had them winning the Pacific Division, but I have reservations about how far their goaltending tandem can take them in the SC tourney, so I don’t have them winning the Cup.
Nothing has changed my mind about that except now they will have to play at such an extraordinary win percentage that a playoff berth may be in danger let alone another Division title. In addition, Coach Bruce Boudreau has been the most talked about “next in line” coach to be fired. Is that even remotely fair? Oddly enough, some of their losses have been very close games enabling goalie Frederik Andersen to have a respectable SP of .935 and a GAA of 2.05. However, it will take some time for Goalie stats to settle out a bit due to a small sample size of games at this point. With those numbers though you would have to believe that Andersen would be more then a 1-5 tender’. If he has those stats at the end of the season he will be a Vezina trophy contender.
The Minnesota Wild’s Devan Dubnyk has some pedestrian numbers thus far (GAA 2.59 & SP .898) but is tied for 1st in wins with 7. Personally I don’t feel that “Duby” is on top of it yet. He is giving up at least one softie per game so far but I have faith that he will get back to his best and that will bode well for the team. Speaking of the Wild, they are currently 6th best in scoring at 35 goals, and are 5th at 3.18 GPG. (Yes, the Wild) We all know of the exploits of Montreal Canadien goalie Carey Price, widely considered to be the best player in the World right now, but look out, the Habs are 1st in scoring at 50 goals on the year and stand at 2nd with a 3.85 GPG average. They are 1st in the NHL at 11-2, and 1st in the Sagarin NHL Power rank.
I heard an interesting conversation about the Habs over the weekend with an analyst stating that one of the reasons they are markedly better this year is how they play when a team presses their defensive attack on D-man PK Subban. Prior to this year that was a good way to stifle the Habs, now when Subban has the puck and a team collapses on him the Habs are making them pay. They are getting substantial 3rd and 4th line play, and I believe that D-man Andrei Markov, who almost had to retire a couple of years back due to injury, is fully back and looking very strong. The Habs probably have the best 1-6 ’D’ lineup going this season. If there is one NHL coach who appears to have done more homework over the off-season then any other, give me the Habs Michel Thierren. Can the Habs sustain? We will find out.
After a fairly rough start and coach firing rumors, the Boston Bruins have awoken and have the best PP in the show, a whopping 35.3%! Who would have thought. The NY Islanders lead on the PK with a very nice 92.3%. By comparison the Wild are 12th at 21.6% on the PP and are 24th on the PK at a very average 76%. That is usually one of the strong points of the Wild game, so you have concerns there. The club is 19th in team defense, and 6th in team offense. After beating the Chicago Blackhawk’s in St. Paul Friday eve and then losing in OT to the St. Louis Blues (in STL) on All Hallows Eve, the club has moved up to 12th in the Sagarin NHL Power rank. They are tied for 4th in the overall NHL standings with Washington, the Rangers and Nashville. They are unbeaten at home (5-0) while going 2-2-2 on the road, or as I look at it 2-4.
The last 5 spots in the current league standings are occupied by Colorado, Calgary, Anaheim, Toronto and Columbus. I am not surprised to see Colorado there, and Calgary is showing that they can’t sustain the analytics they achieved last year. We knew Toronto would be in dire straits but the Duck and the CBJ are a surprise. Lots of analysts had the CBJ contending in their division and in the Eastern Conference. Today they sit in 30th position and their coach has already been fired. They have hired John Torterella and charged him with the repair task and it appears that it won’t be real easy. For the Wild they need to improve on Special teams and in OT as they are 0-2 on the 3 on 3 format thus far. They need to get better defensively and in goal, get better results on the road and the Wild will be a tough, resilient team to contend with. Lets go Boys!
THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS have won the 2015 MLB World Series crown by beating the New York Mets 4 games to one. The Royals posted another comeback win last night to capture the title winning 7-2 in 12 innings. This isn’t a surprise I guess and I knew the Royals fortunes would be changing just about 3 years back when watching a Twins-Royals game. The Royals were a club for a long time that, no matter how the Twins were going at the time, they could win a majority of the games against them. I am trying to remember who was on the mound that day, it might have been the since retired Bruce Chen, but every time it looked like the Twins were going to rise up the Royals with improved performance on the mound, knocked them back.
This was a series in Minneapolis too, and I believe KC swept the Twins. Since then the Royals won the American League pennant in 2014 and took the eventual WS Champ San Francisco Giants to 7 games before losing in what was a very good series. Prior to this year I wasn’t sure if they could repeat last years success, but they were just as good and have now got what they were after. The Series posted the best TV ratings since 2009 and another great season is in the books. Congrats to the Royals! PEACE