| Who is the NHL's
Several front-runners to choose
1/14/09 - By Steve Flores
the Sharks the best team in hockey? The season is half over and the standings
show that the Bay Area franchise has more points than any other. But, does this
mean the Sharks are better than Detroit and or Boston ? The answer, at the
moment, is that that there is no answer. The playoffs exist to provide the
solution to this query.
I won't stop here and wimp out though. I will
give you my opinion to the question. I eat, breathe, sleep and dream of hockey.
I watch a lot of games folks ( thank you Center Ice) and lately I have been
concentrating on games played by the Wings and the Bruins.
talk about Boston . The Bruins are the hottest team in the NHL right now.
Without much regard for all of the headlines that the Sharks made during the
first half of the season, the Bean town boys kept plugging away and continued
to win until they have essentially equaled the Sharks in the standings (my
apologies to you sticklers of dotted I's and crossed T's). The Bruins have
played with energy, flow, confidence, grit and determination.
skate, hit, shoot and have had quality goaltending with Tim Thomas and Manny
Fernandez in the pipes. They are impressive to watch and are a team loaded with
highly skilled youth. Marc Savard is a quality pivot man and is as masterful a
setup man as Joe Thornton is with the Sharks. Phil Kessel is a cancer survivor
who has also taken flight in his move to the wing (from center) and has become
an elite goal scorer. Milan Lucic is a tough battling winger who backs down
from no one and David Krejci is emerging from seemingly no where to spearhead a
second line that may be the best number two line in the league.
in Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman and that is just the tip of the iceberg on a
team that, at the moment, is THEE most exciting team to watch right now in the
NHL. Note that I am not saying they are the best team, but they are fun to
watch. They have their mojo going full throttle right now and they are as
entertaining to view as any. They are good folks and this is why there place in
the standings is no fluke.
They are starting to be levied with some
key injuries now (Lucic, Kessel, Patrice Bergeron, Fernandez) so let's see how
well they deal with the adversity. But make no mistake this is a youthful,
skilled roster and built for the future.
Ok people: Detroit . The Red
Wings are defending champions. They are pro's and as calm and even keeled a
team as there is in hockey. Their emotions never seem to ascend too far up
after a win and they never seem to fall too deeply into the depths after a
loss. Everything is taken in stride as they play with a confidence of a team
that has been there, done that - which, of course, they have!
Lidstrom, Zetterberg, etc etc etc. We all know the names and those names are
all showing up for work and doing that which they have to do during the 82 game
grind. This team is built to win and they know how to do just that. They are
struggling a bit in goal and rank 22nd on the kill. Yet, they play through it
and somehow, some way you just know that they will be there at the end. On the
flip side they have the league's top ranked Power play and they have an aura
about them. They are the current premier franchise in the league and they plug
away in impressive fashion each and every night.
The Sharks have hit a lull that the other two teams
have not faced as of yet. The Sharks have managed to find ways to win and they
are still better than most teams. They have been soundly throttled by the Wings
and the Calgary Flames of late and they plainly and simply are a solid team.
But the team has not looked as sharp as it did early on.
No team could
maintain a style of play that they were exhibiting but, at the moment, the team
is not even close to that dominant level which they exhibited in their first 30
contests. Yes, they are winning, but not dominating, That's also ok as a win is
a win is a win.
Prior to this recent array of injuries the Bruins have
continued to dominate. Yes, DOMINATE! The Bruins have not been merely 'sliding
by' - they have been playing beautiful hockey and have also earned every bit of
their sterling record.
And the Wings? Well, the Wings are, well, they
are the Wings - they have nothing to prove.
What's the bottom line? I
have no idea. All I know is that the 2008-09 Stanley Cup champion will more
than likely be one of these three franchises. At the moment Boston is the
hottest, the Wings are the most consistent and they Sharks are the team trying
to find a bit more consistency.
We still have half a season to go
before the 'real season' begins. It has been awhile since the league has had
three teams playing this well at any one time. April, May and June should
provide some exciting moments on frozen pond en route to what should be one of
the most entertaining post-season's in recent NHL history.
Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
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