At the Olympic break let’s take a look at the standings and see what the more likely scenarios will be when the season ends. In the East, Boston and Pittsburgh should win their division easily. Tampa Bay, Montreal and Toronto will battle for 2nd and 3rd place in the Atlantic. I trust Tampa Bay the most since they are most consistent and I’m leaning towards Toronto for 3rd, since they have the most talent. 2nd and 3rd place in the Metropolitan will be most interesting. Philadelphia and the Rangers have a slight lead and are somewhat hot. Columbus, Washington, Carolina and New Jersey all have a shot. Philadelphia and the Rangers seem to have a winning formula lately so it’s likely they will retain. Montreal should get the 1st wild card. I like Columbus to get the last spot. They’ve played to well for them to not turn the corner this season. In this scenario Washington and Detroit will have their playoff streaks snapped. It’ll be strange to not have either one in the playoffs.

Out West in the central Chicago, St. Louis and Colorado are locks for the top three spots. Chicago and St. Louis will challenge for the top spot. While St. Louis now has a slight lead and I can see them winning it, I’m going to go with Chicago getting the top spot. In the Pacific Anaheim and San Jose are locks for the top two spots. Barring another strange home slump by Anaheim, they should win the division. Los Angeles should get 3rd unless they keep struggling with scoring goals. Even if they do, they should still make it as a wild card. For the wild card, realistically, Minnesota, Dallas, Winnipeg, Nashville, Phoenix and Vancouver all have a shot. Minnesota is in the best shape and I think Dallas, and their young stars, should get the final spot. It’s possible Vancouver can be turned around with the talent they have but they have a lot of issues (see below).

Things I Like

1. Alex Ovechkin hit 40 goals for the first time in four seasons. Although to be fair he would have done so last year if it were not for the lockout. But it’s not that he’s just scoring, it’s that they are important goals. He had two game winning goals the past four games and now has seven for the year. Only Corey Perry of the Ducks has more at nine, although Ovechkin is in a four way tie for second.

2. The Predators were down two goals to the Ducks on Saturday night but matching minor penalties made it a four on four. The Predators decided to make it like a powerplay, 5 on 5, and pulled their goalie. They ended up playing the last minutes four plus minutes without their goalie. They didn’t score a goal but they also didn’t give on up an empty netter until about 30 seconds left. Personally more teams should employ this strategy. Obviously, it’s easier to score a goal with the man advantage. Plus if you end the game on basically a four minute powerplay, chances are you’ll wear out the other team and increase the likelihood of scoring.

3. When you take a look at the leaders in SV% you’ll notice that, except for Tuukka Rask, six of the top seven goalies weren’t starting goalies for any team at the start of last season. Rask wasn’t even the starter just a season before that. This tells you how just how unstable goaltending in the NHL can be. It’s also great that some goalies are taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them either by trade or by injury. Although Anton Khudobin is not the starter in Carolina. Also of note is how Jonathan Bernier and Ben Scrivens used to back up injured Olympian Jonathan Quick on the Kings. My how things change.

Things I Don’t

1. The Vancouver Canucks are best summed up in two words, a mess. Heading into the break they have now lost seven in a row. They got back their coach but that doesn’t really make a difference. Roberto Luongo hasn’t played well as of late and probably won’t even get an Olympic boost, as I would be shocked if Carey Price doesn’t start over him. Their top forwards all play way too much ice time, the Sedin twins don’t show up when needed and Alexandre Burrows has yet to score a goal all season. Now, they have also slid out of the final playoff spot out west. Diagnosis: not good.

2. NHL Owners aren’t a big fan of sending players to the Olympics. They also have no problem letting people know their displeasure. If it was up to him Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider said he wouldn’t even send his players to the Olympics if they were in Philadelphia. I agree that there is a risk players could get injured, you sacrifice the All-Star festivities and it oddly breaks up the schedule down the stretch. On the other hand, it’s only every four years and you still play all 82 games so it’s not as big of a catastrophe that some owners make it out to be. Not to mention it’s an honor for the players to represent their country. Some things are more important than money.

Ryan Miller Watch

On the trade front, it seems more than likely that Miller will be gone very soon after he gets back to Russia. To where? Nobody knows. Same with, Who will start for Team USA? Nobody knows. We’ll all find out on February 13th.

Fights of the Week

Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.

Zack Smith vs Robert Bortuzzo

A bunch of fighting and then they all fall down.

Chris Thorburn vs Ryan Reaves

This one made it because it clocks in at about 40 seconds.

Goat of the Week

Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks

Although it’s unlikely the Ducks would have scored in the last two plus minutes to tie the game against the Blackhawks, we’ll never know thanks to Cam Fowler. Fowler fans on the pass up the boards and Jonathan Toews makes them pay. It was a great game otherwise.

Stat Line of the Week

02/08/14 Anaheim 5 vs. Nashville 2

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

PIM

Hits

R. Getzlaf

24:57

2

1

2

6

0

0

Ryan Getzlaf lead the Ducks in a major way to help them to a much needed win going into the break. After falling behind 1-0, Getzlaf scored to tie it and then assisted on the powerplay goal to take the lead. He also add an empty netter later. More importantly, he led the Ducks in all ice time including logging more time than the defensemen. All in all another reason why he should win the Hart trophy this season.

Numbers, Numbers

It’s the no goals club edition. All these players have played at least 40 games and averaged 17+ minutes a game with no goals. There’s a lot but I just named the more notable ones. Yes, they are all defensemen but still.

58 – Games played by Nicklas Grossmann, no goals
48 – Games played by Bryan Allen, no goals
43 – Games played by Mike Weber, no goals
53 – Games played by Eric Brewer, no goals
46 – Games played by Nate Guenin, no goals

This Week in Hockey History

Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.

February 03, 1974 Goaltender Tony Esposito recorded his 42nd career shutout as the Black Hawks won 3-0 over the Blues at Chicago Stadium.

February 04, 1925 Goaltender Jake Forbes tied an NHL record with his fifth shutout of the season (and the 6th of his career), as the Hamilton Tigers won 3-0 over the Canadiens, at Montreal.

February 05, 1952 Woody Dumart scored his 200th NHL goal, and Milt Schmidt scored the 4,000th goal in Bruins’ history as Boston won 5-0 against visiting Chicago. Jim Henry made 29 saves for his second straight shutout and the 9th of his career.

February 06, 1918 Montreal’s Joe Malone extended his goal scoring streak to 14 straight games (which began at the start of the NHL’s first season two months earlier) with his 35th goal of the season in a 6-3 Canadiens loss at Ottawa.

February 07, 2003 Bryan Smolinski scored his third career hat trick (with 3 power play goals) and rookie Jared Aulin scored his first two NHL goals and added an assist in the Kings 8-2 win against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

February 08, 1984 Goalie Markus Mattsson got his 6th (and final) career shutout as the Kings beat Chicago, 1-0 at the Forum. Charlie Simmer scored the game’s only goal on a power play half way through the game.

February 09, 2000 Paul Kariya became the first player in team history to record 200 goals as a member of the Mighty Ducks and added an assist as Anaheim lost 5-3 to the visiting Dallas Stars.

Rankings

The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5
1. St. Louis
2. Toronto
3. NY Rangers
4. Boston
5. Philadelphia

Bottom 5
30. Vancouver
29. Buffalo
28. NY Islanders
27. Los Angeles
26. Phoenix

Alex Mueller

Author: Alex Mueller

Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.

http://hockeyrecaps.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ryan-getzlaf-1024x940.jpghttp://hockeyrecaps.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ryan-getzlaf-150x150.jpgAlex MuellerWeekly RecapsAlex Burrows,Alex Ovechkin,Alexandre Burrows,Anaheim Ducks,Ben Scrivens,Boston Bruins,Cam Fowler,Carey Price,Carolina Hurricanes,Chicago Blackhawks,Chris Thorburn,Colorado Avalanche,Corey Perry,Dallas Stars,Jonathan Bernier,Jonathan Quick,Jonathan Toews,Mike Weber,Nashville Predators,Paul Kariya,Philadelphia Flyers,Pittsburgh Penguins,Recap,Robert Bortuzzo,Roberto Luongo,Ryan Getzlaf,Ryan Miller,Ryan Reaves,St Louis Blues,Tampa Bay Lightning,Tuukka Rask,Vancouver Canucks,Zack Smith
At the Olympic break let's take a look at the standings and see what the more likely scenarios will be when the season ends. In the East, Boston and Pittsburgh should win their division easily. Tampa Bay, Montreal and Toronto will battle for 2nd and 3rd place in the...