Those of you who have seen my mid-season grades in the past know that I do not use your normal A-F grading scale. Rather, I use the Myron Cope grading scale. For those of you unfamiliar, allow me to explain. Back in the mid 1980s, the late creator of the Terrible Towel once graded each Pirates player using a 3-step scale. If the player was having a good year, Myron gave him a grade of "MM-HAH!" If the player was in the middle, or he couldn't form an opinion, he got an "EHH." Finally, if the player completely stunk, he was given a very emphatic "FEH!" That's all there is to it, so here we go...
Anaheim Ducks (18-23-7), GP=48, 43 points: The Ducks fired their coach Randy Carlisle earlier this year after getting off to one of the worst starts in hockey, unable to find a rhythm and having no production from their big guns. Bruce Boudreau replaced him less than a week after getting the ax in DC. It's taken a while, but heading into the break, the Ducks are one of the hottest teams in the league with a record of 8-1-1 in their last 10. They're still below .500, but they're improving. However, they still have a ton of work to do if they want to make the playoffs, and I think 12 points at this juncture is going to be very tough to overcome. They still stink on the road, and that doesn't bode well considering they've played 4 more games at home than on the road...FEH!
Boston Bruins 31-14-2, GP=47, 64 points: The B's began the year with a Stanley Cup hangover, big time! Then the calendar switched to November, and they've been one of the best teams in the league since. Tim Thomas and Tukka Rask are possibly the best goalie duo in the eastern conference, and the offense has been putting on a show for 3 months. They're the highest scoring team in the league by 9, and have the best goal differential in hockey, an unbelievable +69! They've stalled a bit heading into the break, going 5-4-1 in their last 10, but they still lead their division and have 5 games in hand over 2nd place Ottawa. This team will continue to be dangerous...MM-HAH!
Buffalo Sabres (20-24-5), GP=49, 45 points: Ohh, Buffalo. Ryan Miller has been el-stinkeroo this year., and aside from Tomas Vanek and Jason Pomminville, nobody is scoring. Lindy Ruff is the longest tenured coach in the NHL, but the Sabres have been horrible this year, and limp into the break with a record of 2-7-1 in their last 10. Expect some trades, and you can bet Lindy is on the hot seat. This team needs help...FEH!
Calgary Flames (23-21-6), GP=50, 52 points: The Flames are an interesting one. They're in the midst of a 5-4-1 streak heading into the break, and are on the outside of the playoffs looking in, but only by 3 points. They have some work to do, and with the west as competitive as it is, they'll need more than a .500 record to get into the postseason. Will the trade that sent Bourque to Montréal for Mike Cammilleri help? We'll see. They're not terrible, but they're not great either...EHH.
Carolina Hurricanes (18-24-9), GP=51, 45 points: The Canes fired their coach and even with a record of 5-3-2 in their last 10 they're still tied for dead last in the east with the Sabres and Isles. This team is not making the playoffs this year. They're very much in the running for a top 5 draft pick...not #1, I think Columbus has that all but wrapped up. Jeff Skinner is back and this team still stinks. They've been outscored by 29 goals, only Buffalo is worse in that department, and only by one. Raleigh, we have a problem...FEH!
Chicago Blackhawks (29-15-6), GP=50, 64 points: The Hawks find themselves 4th in their division, yet 6th in the western conference at the break. They've played the same number of games as the Preds and Wings, and only 1 more than the Blues. 4 points separate the Wings at the top of the division from the Hawks. This team is scoring and getting good goaltending. They may be in the toughest division in hockey right now. Still, they're very much looking like they did a couple years ago, and that spells trouble for other teams...MM-HAH!
Colorado Avalanche (26-23-2), GP=51, 54 points: The Avs are in a heated battle for that last playoff spot in the west, and if the season ended today they'd "miss it by that much" to quote Maxwell Smart. They'd be out by a single point. Minnesota holds that spot, and they have 2 games in hand on the Avs. A 4-5-1 record in their last 10 is indicative of the season they've had. They started off on fire, but have been cooled down and been playing .500 hockey all season. They need to improve if they hope to get into the playoffs...EHH.