Friday, December 2, 2011

Expect The Unexpected in This Year's NHL

As the calender tipped into December, this year's season in the National Hockey League continues to produce a bevy of surprises.

Who could have predicted that the Minnesota Wild would have the best record in the Western Conference and that Mike Yeo would be a leading candidate for the Jack Adam's Trophy.

In the East, you would expect to see Pittsburgh and Boston near the top of the standings but Florida leading the Southeast Division is a total stunner, even with the massive amount of free agents brought in over the Summer.

Likewise, the parade planning crew in Toronto have yet to be dispatched to the hole they usually crawl into before the month of October has passed. The Phil Kessel that Brian Burke gave away the farm for a couple of years ago appears to have finally arrived.

In Columbus, a few weeks ago Scott Arniel was the butt of every joke about who will be the next coach fired after Arneil. Then, Steve Mason left the net due to injury and was replaced by journeyman Curtis Sanford. The team has played fairly well since then and Arniel has fallen out of the cross-hairs.

Ken Hitchcock started the season on the sidelines and took over for Davis Payne in St. Louis and has had the best start ever for a Blues coach going 8-1-2 through eleven games.

After being the last undefeated team in the league at 7-0-0, who could have imagined that the Washington Capitals would turn on the foul-mouthed Bruce Boudreau and run him out of DC in favor of Caps legend, Dale Hunter. The team is 5-11-2 since the hot start and have lost two since Hunter took over.

Even weirder, in Anaheim, the under-performing Ducks broke their seven game losing streak and then fired Randy Carlise and brought in Boudreau less than 72 hours after he received his pink slip in the nation's capitol.

How often have you seen an organization have as much class as David Poile and the Nashville Predators did in allowing Kirk Muller to leave his two-year deal with the team and be allowed to pursue his dream in Carolina as an NHL head coach.

Finally, heading into the weekend's action, in the East, there are 13 teams within two points of a playoff position or better, while in the West there are 11 teams within six points of the top spot and of that group, eight teams have between 29 and 31 points.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass

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