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. And, well, there's a ton of other crap for me to blather on about too. And yes, I'm totally ripping off just about every other blogger ever's weekly column, but that's something you'll have to deal with on your own time.
Not every night, of course. It's pretty hard to argue with two conventional hat tricks and a four-goal game this year and 18 of his 32 goals have come in seven multiple-goal games ... but every OTHER night? Nada.
So yeah, he has 32 goals this year. And that's great. But 10 of those have come in three games against three genuinely bad teams (four against Tampa, and three each against Phoenix and Atlanta).
But that's Staal for you: Game-changer against the bottom feeders (23-15-38 in 35 games against teams not currently in the playoffs) and simply mediocre or even sub-average against the good teams (9-11-20 in 32). Almost 66 percent of his scoring has come in 52 percent of his games.
He also benefits heavily, of course, from playing in the Southeast Division, where two of the worst three teams in the league play his Carolina Hurricanes six times a year each. Against the Bolts he's got an incredible 8-3-11 in six games, and against the Thrash he's 3-4-7 in six. So that's 11-7-18 in 12 games against the Nos. 28 and 29 teams in the league. Woo.
What about the other teams in the Southeast? Against Florida he's got two assists in five games and against Washington it's two goals in four. Mighty impressive.
Then, of course, there is his maddening inconsistency.
There was the streak of eight games in which he had one lousy point (an assist against -- surprise! -- Atlanta). He ended that with a hat trick against Phoenix. Literally the next game, he began a seven game goalless streak of seven games and had only two assists in that stretch. He broke out of that with five goals in his next four games.
And this isn't to say he doesn't do some things well. Only 19 of his points have come at home this year, for one, which means he's winning games for the Canes on the road.
There's a phrase that I've heard about Eric Staal and his quality of play when Erik Cole(notes) is his linemate: He needs Cole more than Cole needs him. Well since Staal has eight points in two games since Cole's return and they've only had six very brief shifts in which their time on ice didn't line up almost perfectly, that might very well be true.
Maybe now that Cole's back, Staal will start playing like the 2005-06 version that scored 45 goals and 55 assists. But is that worth ... my god, $8.25 million a year for the next seven starting next season?
No, no, no it isn't.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: After he blew by Mike Modano(notes) the other day for that highlight-reel goal, the push is on to get Bobby Ryan(notes) named to the U.S. Olympic team. Got me wondering: how many American right wings are better than Ryan right this second? Patrick Kane(notes)? For sure. Brian Gionta(notes)? Maybe. Jamie Langenbrunner(notes)? Probably not even if he has been awesome this season. I can't think of anyone else, so I've gotta imagine Bobby Ryan is a no-doubter to make the 2010 team.
Someone followed up by asking why DW talked of "competing" but did not talk about "making the playoffs" or "winning the Cup" at the start of this season. The questioner asked "why should we the fans have hope, if this is not the goal?" DW responded by relating how all the players wrote out their team and individual goals at the start of they year and every player put "make playoffs and win Cup" as their team goal.
I just wrote down "get paid a million dollars by Yahoo! for doing this column" as my season goal. FINGERS CROSSED EVERYONE!
Boston Bruins: I've known the author of this story for many years now. And he's out of his damn mind if he thinks the Bruins didn't improve appreciably at the deadline. Not that they made the Pronger-sized splash that everyone talked about, but they're also the best team in the East, so what do you want from them?
Buffalo Sabres: After the Sabres played hideously poor hockey against the Senators on Saturday in a 6-3 loss that saw Buffalo allow three third-period goals and get outshot 14-8 in the final frame. The Sabres are now 1-3-1 against the Sens this year, accounting for 13.3 percent of their total for the ENTIRE SEASON in five games. The Sabres, meanwhile, are two points out of the playoffs and I'm thinking maybe they should stop giving away points to awful teams.
Calgary Flames: Michael Russo believes that Mike Keenan will turn Olli Jokinen into an elite player again, and that will turn the Flames into a Western power.
"I was a borderline player," Jokinen admitted. "I became a lot better hockey player under him. He's the reason for my [successful] career. The player that I am, I have to give him all the credit."
That's why Calgary's acquisition for Jokinen last week was so brilliant, why it could pay huge dividends and elevate the Flames into the ilk of San Jose and Detroit heading into the playoffs
Well I will say this as a Flames fan: it damn well better. This has been an embarrassingly ugly weekend for Calgary.
Carolina Hurricanes: I'm not sure what's going on down in Carolina. They've scored 20 goals in their last three games. No coincidence that Staal also has five goals and four assists in those games, either. Apparently they're also saying it has a lot to do with Erik Cole. I buy that.
Chicago Blackhawks: Bob Verdi says, "Suddenly, Chicago Blackhawks could be talk of the town." Suddenly? What was last year? What was the first five and a half months of the season? I understand these things are written with the best of intentions and not necessarily for hockey fans, but how many times have fans in Chicago and Boston seen this same story over and over again? Yes, they're good. It's not a news story any more. And that game today ain't gonna move any tickets.
This has nothing to do with the economy and if it has or has not affected us at home. This has solely to do with the fact that the ticket prices are still sky high and upper management has shown little or no interest in putting a team on the ice that is willing to compete.
Yeah, that's about right, isn't it?
Last night, Blue Jackets' captain Rick Nash(notes) became the first NHL player to record an unassisted hat trick since Maurice "Rocket" Richard did it for the Montreal Canadiens on March 14, 1948, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Well that's impressive then.
Dallas Stars: Last weekend the Stars were looking down the barrel of a three-games-in-four-days road trip at San Jose, at Los Angeles and at Anaheim. They scored 11 goals in those games and took five of six points from their opponents. I've got Dallas down as a serious spoiler for at least their first-round opponent. (Y'know, unless Marty Turco(notes) turns into Playoff Marty Turco.)
Detroit Red Wings: Last week I caught what I felt was an undue amount of crap for my (apparently ludicrous) opinion that Detroit's goaltending situation was too volatile and frankly not-good for the Red Wings to make a real penetrating run at a Stanley Cup repeat. I had justification. They had, after all, just given up eight goals to the Predators.
Then Osgood gave up a seven-spot to Columbus in 43:25 on 23 shots. Say it's not his fault all you want, but that team .895 save percentage isn't going to win a thing. If you can't outgun teams in regular season games (the Wings outshot Columbus 46-28), you sure can't do it in the postseason.
(By the by, a friend of mine that's a Red Wings fan signed off on these comments, so your beef is with him.)
The contract with the Oilers, we're told, would have included a "poison pill" obligation of upward of $7 million for next year in order to discourage the competition -- specifically, Pittsburgh -- from claiming Jagr on waivers upon his return to the NHL.
Oh, no, that sounds exactly like the Oil then.
Florida Panthers: Quickly now, name the Panthers' leading scorer. J-Bo? Nope. Booth? Nope. How 'bout Stephen Weiss(notes), who has 48 points? Not sure how comfortable I'd be with that as my team best, and neither is Pete DeBoer.
Stephen, for me, hasn't put up the points so far that he's capable of putting up. I don't think it's any different. My expectations for where Stephen Weiss should be are where he's at now and even more. I don't know that he's doing anything exceptional other than he's starting to do what he's capable of doing and what he's expecting to do.
Los Angeles Kings: In two weeks, Teddy Purcell(notes) went from playing in the AHL to playing on the Kings' top line. Terry Murray spent some time on Friday fawning all over him, but I've got to wonder how much of that is spin control from the fallout of the Patrick O'Sullivan(notes) trade.
Minnesota Wild: Très intéressant tête-à-tête between Craig Leipold and a former Wild season ticket holder regarding the Wild's utter lack of moves at the deadline when they are (theoretically) still in the hunt for a playoff spot. I'm glad Leipold took the time to tell this guy to take a walk, because the only trade the Wild should've made was to trade Marian Gaborik(notes) for anything to which a trade partner could lay hands. I see why they didn't, though. Maybe I'll e-mail Leipold to congratulate him.
Une source m'affirme que le contrat de Saku Koivu est déjà dans le tiroir, signé, mais qu'on attend l'été pour ne pas faire de vague.
That translates to:
A source assured me that Saku Koivu's next contract is already in a drawer, signed, but that they're waiting until summer to announce it so as to not make waves.
So there's that.
New York Islanders: Where'd this Bergenheim kid come from anyway? He's got five goals in his last four games, six in his last five and seven in his last seven. His point total for the year before that stretch: 7-7-14. That's a kid playing for more ice time in a lost season. And lookit that, someone called it.
New York Rangers: For some reason, the Wall Street Journal opted to live blog yesterday's Rangers/Bruins afternoon game. That would be pretty cool if the WSJ hadn't sent someone who clearly doesn't know anything about hockey to the game. To wit, here are blogger Reed Albergotti's thoughts on the second intermission:
1:14-Since there's no half-time, I'll call this "third time."
Oh ho, the witticisms never stop down there. Let's hope they don't send Albergotti back to a Ranger game for a "second time."
And by the way, I was just saying that the Rangers need to be on national television more when I saw that they were the NBC Game of the Week next week as well. Awesome! They're so much fun to watch!
TAKE A DRINK IF: ...
*collapses five minutes in*