Puck Daddy - NHL

Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

It's been a wacky couple of days at the top of the Western Conference.

San Jose can't stop giving up goals and has lost five straight. Chicago's in the same boat, conceding 22 goals in their last seven games and losing five of those.

Meanwhile, the league-subsidized Coyotes have stormed up the standings with nine straight wins. After last night's shootout victory over Dallas, they're a point up on San Jose (albeit with an extra game played) and tied with Chicago at the top of the conference with two extra games played. Many have tried to explain it away as San Jose getting their annual chokejob done early, or the Blackhawks' questionable goaltending situation finally catching up with them.

But I see now what it really is.

No one wants to play the Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs.

(Coming Up: Selanne's 600th goal; Brent Sutter's bad call; the Thrashers' push for the playoffs; Bryzgalov's Vezina creds; Patrik Berlund gets dumped; Patrice Bergeron(notes), Boston Enforcer; Freddy's nightmarish hit; Mike Smith's(notes) robbery; the Kovalchuk Rental era through the first 15 games; Ovechkin's triumphant return; and how the Rangers can acquire both Lecavalier and Stamkos.)

At the same time the top three teams in the West have jockeyed for position, Detroit has been solidifying its playoff chances with eight wins from its last 11 games and Calgary, the only other competition for the eight-seed, doing everything possible to give the last playoff spot away.

But it's not just that the Wings have been winning, it's how they've been winning. In a March Madness weekend full of upsets and last-second shots, the Red Wings have been netting a couple buzzer-beaters of their own. Brian Rafalski's(notes) tying goal with 0.4 seconds to go in regulation stole a point in Edmonton on Friday, and Henrik Zetterberg's(notes) game-winner the next night in Vancouver came with 0.3 to go in overtime.

The way this team is stealing points, it looks like they're finally back to Unstoppable Red Wings Mode. Zetterberg has 12 points in the10 games since the end of the Olympic break. Pavel Datsyuk(notes) has 11. Tomas Holmstrom(notes) has nine. Rafalski and Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) both have eight. Valtteri Filppula(notes) has seven.

In other words, the guys that have been around for a while are finally healthy and pulling their weight. And keep this in mind as well: they're in Unstoppable Red Wings Mode with competent goaltending.

Jimmy Howard(notes) has allowed nine goals on 127 shots (.929 save percentage) in his last six games, two of which have gone to overtime.

Who knows how high they can climb now? Sixth doesn't seem out of reach for these guys. The way things are going, I'd be looking to clear out of the top three spots in the West altogether if I could, so I applaud the Sharks for doing just that with this run of meek performances that includes last night's 5-1 loss to Edmonton.

This is a brilliant move by the Sharks and Chicago. It takes real veteran playoff experience to recognize a matchup problem several weeks before the playoffs even start.

Let the Coyotes win the West. They won't know what hit ‘em.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne(notes), 600 career goals.

No one else playing right now is going to reach that number for a good long time.

Atlanta Thrashers: Don't look now, but the Thrashers are just a point out of the playoffs in the East and they've won four straight.

Boston Bruins: Mark Stuart(notes) got absolutely clobbered from behind by Vinny Prospal(notes), but one thing is refreshing: Patrice Bergeron took off after Prospal immediately and he was pissed off. Good to see someone cares.

Buffalo Sabres: I'm calling it now: the Northeast officially belongs to the Sabres. Nine points up on the Habs and Sens with a game in hand? That division's done.

Calgary Flames: Oh hey guys it's Brent Sutter here I see we have a game with playoff implications against the Wild today so what I'm going to do is start Vesa Toskala(notes). No good?

Carolina Hurricanes: Another buzzer-beater. Jamie McBain's(notes) first NHL goal gave the 'Canes a win over Pittsburgh with 0.9 to go on Saturday.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brent Sopel(notes) didn't have such a good game against the Coyotes on Saturday. Fifth Feather explains: "Sopel was on the ice for three of the four Coyotes' goals in regulation, and was sitting in the box for the other." Ouch.

Colorado Avalanche: Paul Stastny's(notes) had an okay run of things post-Olympics. He's got 16 points in his last 10 games and five goals in his last five.

Columbus Blue Jackets: When the only team below you in the conference standings is the Oilers, I guess you gotta take your victories where you can get ‘em. Said Claude Noel: "The players made a huge statement to themselves and each other. It had the feel of a playoff game and we dug down and played right up with them. It was our second game in two nights, but it looked like it was Nashville's." Oh yeah they lost 1-0 in OT.

Dallas Stars: Goals like this one from Mike Ribeiro(notes) don't usually make highlight packages but I think they're swell. Good hard work on the forecheck and a nice little pass-and-finish to get the goal.

Detroit Red Wings: Another reason to avoid the Red Wings: they scored twice in five seconds against the Canucks on Saturday.

Edmonton Oilers: After Devan Dubnyk(notes) lost, I think, the first 410 games of his career, he's now won two in a row with those wins coming against the Red Wings in a shootout and then the Sharks last night. Quipped Double-D: "I don't remember what was so hard about it."

Florida Panthers: Gregory Campbell(notes) took a puck off the foot Saturday night and missed Sunday's game. The puck forwent its disciplinary hearing and has been suspended five games.

Los Angeles Kings: LA beat the Isles 1-0 on Saturday. It was their 36th one-goal game of the season. They've won 22 of those. Last year they won 20 of 43. The difference there is reflected in the standings.

Minnesota Wild: Gotta hand it to the Wild. They may not be good at hockey, but they are some tough hombres. An abridged injury report shows Greg Zanon(notes) has a broken ankle, Chuck Kobasew(notes) has a sprained ACL and MCL and Josh Harding(notes) has a hip injury. They all played Sunday against Calgary.

Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens got good news over the weekend as Mike Cammalleri is back practicing with the team after missing close to two months.

Nashville Predators: Hey Dustin Boyd(notes) scored twice for the Preds, his first goals since coming over from Calgary at the deadline. His timing, apparently, was good.

New Jersey Devils: Here's an in-depth analysis of the Kovalchuk Rental era through the first 15 games. Basically, it's a lot of very interesting and thoughtful words saying he's been good but not great.

New York Islanders: Well the Islanders were shut out by the Kings but this hit from Freddy Meyer(notes) really should've been worth at least half a goal.

New York Rangers: Man I'd hate to be a Ranger fan after that mailed-in game against Boston yesterday afternoon. Between the Rangers and Bruins, I'd say neither team wants or deserves to make the playoffs.

Ottawa Senators: Eugene Melnyk called four players and Cory Clouston on Friday to give them a bit of a pep talk. They promptly lost to Dallas 5-4 the next night.

Philadelphia Flyers: "I don't know if we just thought that since it's the Atlanta Thrashers it was going to be an easy game," said Mike Richards(notes) after his team lost back-to-back games against the Thrashers and conceded eight goals, scored three and pretty much looked like garbage.

Phoenix Coyotes: Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) now has 39 wins, tied for the league lead with Marty Brodeur. Not bad company.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin(notes) hurt his foot late on Saturday but says it's fine.

San Jose Sharks: Well hey, sure you lost to Edmonton by four goals, but at least Scott Nichol(notes) didn't end up getting knocked on his ass in a fight against Mike Comrie(notes)-Duff. Oh he did? Ouch.

St. Louis Blues: Hey Patrik Berglund(notes), keep your head up, buddy.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Hmmm, I just read this headline that said "Playoff hopes nearly dead," and I was like, "That's odd. I thought I read this in October."

Toronto Maple Leafs: Even if the Leafs aren't going to make the playoffs, at least they're getting better as the season goes on, which is a good sign for a young team. And with all those high draft picks coming in it'll... ohhh right. Sorry.

Vancouver Canucks: The reason Henrik Zetterberg was able to score the late game-winner in overtime was Christian Ehrhoff(notes), the guy covering him, broke his stick earlier in the shift.

Washington Capitals: Saturday was Alex Ovechkin's(notes) first game back from suspension. Not much changed in his absence.

Play of the Weekend

I know he'd been pretty bad the rest of the game, but Mike Smith's save on David Booth(notes) inside of a minute to go was awesome.

Gold Star Award

Teemu Selanne is pretty good at hockey.

Minus of the Weekend

Evgeni Nabokov(notes) gave up five goals on 20 shots. Against the Oilers. It was hysterical. By the end of the game, he was just looking for a place to hide.

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

Okay so user "NYRfan11" has a good trade that he thinks works out just fine.






It is a rock, though. Should beat everything.

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness pretty much every day over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

Related Articles

Puck Daddy

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog