Tuesday, November 24, 2009

At the quarter turn, some expected peformances but a few surprises as well

With the NHL season reaching the one quarter stage over the weekend, keen observers and office pool aficionados were busy reviewing the season so far.

For the most part there don't seem to be too many surprises at the top of the standings, most everyone expected San Jose and Washington to be the most proficient of teams this season, the Sharks boosted by the arrival of the disgruntled Dany Heatley to join Joe Thornton and , while Washington just sat back and watched Alexander Ovechkin weave his manage on a nightly basis.

With the Sharks and Capitals finding the season to their liking so far, their quest for first place status won't find many doubters as the season moves on into its second quarter.

Just below them however are some hungry young squads that seem ready to take a shot at the teams that are setting the agenda for this season.

The Black Hawks, one of the most entertaining of young teams this year have just rattled off an impressive string of seven victories, laying waste to Western Canada, with convincing victories over the Flames and Oilers, while Sunday night's less than frantic pace with Vancouver still provided Chicago with a win.

The Hawks are providing the full package on the ice this season, outstanding offensive skills, strong defensive work that plays a stingy style of game surrendering few chances and when they do, goal tending has for the most part been there at the ready, denying the opposition chances to not only get back into a game but try to carry the play.

Colorado and Calgary have managed to keep within striking distance, despite some rather alarming breakdowns of their own games at times, which have cost them victories over the first twenty five games or so and left valuable points behind, a situation that may prove costly when we wind down this season's campaign.

Over in the east, besides the exploits of Ovechkin, there's much to be intrigued by. The Penguins to no surprise continue to alternate first place spots with the Caps, the veteran squad of still young players showing that their quest for a repeat as Stanley Cup champs is very much a possibility for this spring.

Considering most left the Ottawa Senators for finished at the start of this season, their strong debut over the first twenty five has been a welcome arrival in the National capital. When the Sens finally unburdened themselves of the less than happy Heatley, many thought that the bottom would fall out of their season, but instead, Cory Clouston seems to have found a formula with his squad that sees both veterans and newcomers pulling in the same direction. There seems to be a solid footing for the Sens this year, a welcome change from some of the dramas that have played out in years past. All that serenity is rubbing off and taking the Sens into the higher reaches of the standings.

Buffalo as well is another one of those squads that hockey fans tended to dismiss as the season was getting underway, but at the first quarter the Sabres are providing some fast moving and hard hitting hockey, good enough to be right in the thick of the battles for positioning in the eastern division. having played the fewest games in the east, the Sabres should be able to pace themselves into the second quarter of the year, keeping the faithful back home more than entertained, perhaps with thoughts of playoff possibilities running through their heads should it ever come to pass.

Also hanging tight we find the Devils, Stars, Kings and amidst all their turmoil this year the Coyotes continue to leave their troubles behind when they take to the ice.

Overall, for the most part the upper reaches of the NHL standings have provided for some pretty successful tenants, all of whom are no doubt hoping that when the season reaches the mid way point they all are still factors in the run for playoff positioning in the spring.

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