Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Early NHL Standings as Hockey Season begins to Take Shape

Boston Bruins Signature Rink
After many hours of frustration, speculation, and general sadness throughout the ice hockey world during the painful strike that occurred in recent months, the NHL has returned and ice hockey is being played again. The season has now reached a point of roughly 15 games for most teams, and this provides a decent starting point to look towards which teams will be competing for the Stanley Cup finals this summer. Through the early goings of this NHL season, the most serious contenders appear to be the Chicago Blackhawks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Vancouver Canucks, the Boston Bruins and the Anaheim Ducks. Let’s see whom of these early darlings will go on to great success.
The team currently looking the most dominant is the Chicago Blackhawks. Their team is led by the sensational right winger, Patrick Kane. Kane is 4th in the NHL with 21 points, and has helped the Blackhawks to an impressive 12-0-3 start. Having not lost a single game during regulation time, this team looks destined for greatness. The Blackhawks also won a Stanley Cup in 2010, with Kane providing a dramatic overtime goal to win the cup in the famous game 6.
The Blackhawks will have an early-season test tonight facing the Vancouver Canucks. Harboring a mighty defence with a veteran goalie in Roberto Luongo, the Canucks have proved tough to break down for opposing teams. With an 8-3-3 record they are the best team in the Northwest and will be a tough nut to crack for any high-scoring team.
Also impressive in the Western Conference of the NHL is the Anaheim Ducks, who have marched on to a solid 11-2-1 record. With the 4th highest amount of goals in the NHL, the Ducks are in free-flowing form and are led by right-winger Teemu Selanne, a player from Finland who is still performing at the age of 42. Defying all logic and reason, this hot start from the Anaheim Ducks could lead to an incredible run. The Ducks last won the Stanley Cup in 2007, but Selanne would love another to cap off his career in style.
One team from the Eastern Conference that looks powerful is the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by the once-in-a-generation type of player Sidney Crosby. Although injuries have been detrimental to Crosby in recent seasons, he has played great thus far this year, and is 2nd in the NHL in points. If he can just stay healthy, the Penguins will contend.
Another team to look out for is the Boston Bruins. With a 9-2-2 record, the Bruins aren’t built around stellar statistics or superstar players. The Bruins simply play and win as a team. They also have shown great determination in achieving a 94% penalty kill percentage. With their backs to the wall, they are a team that doesn’t give in, and their impressive start bodes well.
So how does the current NHL season look to pan out? It is far too early to make any clear predictions, but I do have a belief in “Sid the Kid” and fully suspect that the Pittsburgh Penguins have the best shot of lifting the Stanley Cup trophy at season’s end.
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