CFN – The log jam that was the standings at the Socchi break has loosened up and while yes, some teams still have a chance, it’s becoming pretty clear as I write this who will and who won’t be making the play offs.
The Sens getting Ales Hemsky to ride shotgun with Jason Spezza was a good move too late as the penny wise, pound foolish Ottawa club who angered the Hockey Gods by their treatment of former captain Daniel “Alfie” Alfredsson will most likely get in some early golfing this Spring.
Montreal made headlines grabbing sniper Thomas Vanek from the Isles for some hockey pucks and a conditional 2nd rounder which may have quieted some fans and the media, but didn’t really address any of the team’s core needs.
I know, that’s being picky. The Vanek story is clearly an interesting one with about zero chance of Vanek being anything other than a rental. The question though is if the Habs could get him for a 2nd and a very minor prospect why couldn’t and didn’t Minnesota where it’s believed that Mr. Vanek will sign as a free agent? Vanek has something to prove in the play offs and after a wonky period where goalie Carey Price was fighting off injury and Peter Budaj totally disappointed, the Habs have righted up their ship and are back in the thick of things, and would have to truly excel at losing to miss the play offs at this point.
The season really started after the trade deadline. No more pumping up dead weight hoping to make a trade or move at the deadline. It’s all about the standings now with each game counting for many teams.
In the East, with Detroit injury riddled they are fading. Tampa Bay got Steve Stamkos back, but might be cursed for trading away Martin St. Louis. Toronto is an enigma. Of all the teams currently slotted for a spot they are the most likely to find a way to fall out of contention, and Boston is the real deal in the Atlantic.
Philly at this point has really got its game back and while they won’t catch the Penguins in the standings, their two wins this weekend shows that they are up to the game. Pittsburgh has injury problems, but also needs to find a higher gear. Messers Crosby and Malkin really need to earn those fat paycheques.
Columbus is a team that is going to surprise a lot of people in the play offs and is starting to play some inspired play off type hockey while the Rangers seem to be gelling at the right time.
In the West the lines were much more clear than the East.
With the acquisition and performance of Ryan Miller from Buffalo, St. Louis is clearly the front runner to win the Cup this year. No pressure! But this squad has it all from Miller, to super solid D, and a well rounded forward corps and lots of depth. With Ken Hitchcock coaching things won’t get sloppy either.
Anaheim has been struggling of late, but it’s Teamu Selanne’s last year; can these guys get by St.Louis? Methinks not.
Patrick Roy gets coach of the year for the job he’s done in Colorado; although they failed to make any real player moves and didn’t address their need on D. Chicago is still a great team and can’t be counted out; same with San Jose and even Los Angeles.
Minnesota and Dallas currently sit in the wild card slots. Phoenix is close, but I’m not sure they can out shine the Stars at this point of the season.
Looking at a sports book online St. Louis is 5/1 to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. Montreal is 25/1 – Toronto 22/1. Boston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh are close together.
I think Philly at 25/1 is the most interesting bet.
What do you think hockey fans? Where will your team finish the season? You can post your comments below.