Some hockey thoughts for a Tuesday morning:
1) Anyone else notice that Chicago Black Hawks are just five points back of Detroit for first place in the "Central" Division, with a game in hand? That team is maturing faster than many people thought it would.
2) At the risk of offending Ken, the Habs are the leas impressive 18-9-6 team in the league. After an 8-1-1 start, they have essentially treaded water. They're utterly incapable of putting together back to back good games, the power play is a joke now, the penalty killing is at best mediocre and there are very few players on the team with any heart at all. I can't believe that Bob Gainey, who examplified playing with heart, put this team together.
3) I haven't seen the San Jose Sharks play very often this season, but 26-4-3 speaks for itself. I have to wonder, though. If the 1976-77 Canadiens had played with shootouts and overtime, how much better would their record have been? They finished 60-8-12. Would they have ended up with 65 or 66 (or even more) wins?
4) The Philadelphia Flyers have a scary good offense. They are lights out on the power play, and their penalty killers are as much of a threat to score as the opposing teams' power play, and they're doing all of this without Danny Briere, who has been out most of the season with one injury after another. By season's end they will pass the NY Rangers, and I expect them to be no worse than the #2 seed in the Eastern (Prince of Wales!) Conference. They're deeper than Pittsburgh, and simply better than New Jersey, the loss to the Devils on Sunday notwithstanding.
5) A commentator on last night's Pittsburgh-Buffalo game remarked in passing on how this season's Boston Bruins remind him of the 2005-2006 Carolina Hurricanes--everyone kept waiting for them to fall flat on their faces and they never did. He might be right. 24-5-4 doesn't happen by accident. Boston is fast, talented and (unlike Montreal) plays with a ton of heart. What might hurt the Bruins is the loss of Patrice Bergeron to yet another concussion.
6) Very quietly, Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes have gotten themselves into the hunt of a playoff berth. Yeah, I know that there are still 45+ games left to be played, but I think that it would be great for him and his team of they somehow made it.