Monday, November 29, 2010
The Atlanta Thrashers may only draw 12,000 fans on weekends, have perhaps the worst uniforms in hockey. Sorry, but the powder blue home jersey's have to go. But they are playing the best hockey of any team that I have seen lately by beating Detroit, Washington, Montreal, and Boston all in the last ten days. Not only are they winning these games, but they gave up a total of 2 goals in all those games combined. They embarrassed the Wings 5-1 and shut out the Capitals 5-0. Is this shocking to anyone? Since recovering from a concussion, Ondrej Pavelec has been tremendous in net. Moving Dustin Byfuglien to defense has been a brilliant move which has allowed him more ice time. Andrew Ladd is averaging a point per game, and Evander Kane is proving why he was drafted so high two years ago by already scoring 9 goals. Hopefully the fickle fans of Atlanta will start supporting this exciting team once it returns from a tough 3-game road trip against Colorado, Pittsburgh, and the before mentioned Capitals.
Another team that rarely gets any press and still continues to win are the Phoenix Coyotes. Phoenix recently had a seven game win streak snapped by Anaheim on Saturday night, but still sit atop the Pacific Division with 27 points. The Coyotes are doing this without Shane Doan, who is still injured, and with their leading scorer Ray Whitney only netting 16 points. Once again, Ilya Bryzgalov has been stingy in goal and Keith Yandle has really improved defensively for Phoenix. Teams such as Phoenix in the Pacific Division can ill afford to slump. The difference from first place to last point is a mere 2 points. Look for the Coyotes to get back on track Tuesday at Nashville.
It may only be the end of November, but have we mentioned how competitive the Western Conference is yet? Take Edmonton out of the mix, and the difference between first place and fourteenth place is only 12 points. That's why I think tonight's game between Minnesota and Calgary is important. Calgary, as with any Canadian team, is under immense pressure daily. Currently, the Flames sit in 14th place with 20 points. It will be extremely difficult to leap frog six other teams to make the playoffs with so many three point games in the NHL these days. The Wild have 24 points, and Calgary needs to stay within striking distance or major changes will be happening. Will Jarome Iginla be traded? The Kings, and the rest of the league could only hope.
Monday Pick: Calgary -145
We just mentioned that Calgary is a desperate team right now. They just finished a so-so east coast road trip 2-2-1 and return home to face their Northwest Division rival Minnesota Wild. Take Calgary to win a low-scoring affair at the Saddledome.