Anaheim Ducks (22-20-7): The Ducks started off miserable, and while they currently have a winning record by their chinny-chin-chin, they're still not going anywhere this year. Their penalty kill sucks, but they also get penalized more than anyone in the league. In short, they shoot themselves in the foot every night. They're 19 points behind their division leader...FEH!
Atlanta Thrashers (21-19-7): This team started off pretty well, but took a nose dive recently. As a result, the Caps are running away with the Southeast division, 17 points ahead of Atlanta now. Not much to say about this team, except a MM-HAH! to start followed by a nose dive for a FEH! gives you an overall grade of EHH.
Boston Bruins (23-16-8): They've lost 6 of their last 10, but are still playing pretty good overall behind one of the best goalies in the NHL. It was no surprise when Tim Thomas was invited to be on the U.S. Olympic team. They have a good team and should make the playoffs without a problem. While they've taken a bit of a slide recently, I still have to give them a MM-HAH!
Buffalo Sabres (29-11-6): This team has been on fire all year behind a goalie who is having a better year than Marty Brodeur, you heard me right. Ryan Miller has been nearly lights out. He has 5 shutouts, which is 1 behind Brodeur, 26 wins, which is tied for 2nd in the league, and leads the NHL in both save % and GAA. Their PK is 3rd in the league and they're 10 points ahead of Boston in their division. The Sabres get a resounding MM-HAH!
Calgary Flames (26-17-6): This team is a bunch of streakers. They win a few, then they lose a few. It's been up and down all year for the Flames, who are currently tied with the Canucks for 2nd in their division. Overall they've had a decent year though, so I guess I'll give them a MM-HAH!
Carolina Hurricanes (14-26-7): To go from the conference finals to the #1 draft pick in the course of one year is embarrassing, but that's exactly what the Canes are headed for. They have a grand total of 4 wins on the road this year, and are dead last in the league, but the Oilers are hot on their heels. This team has been a sad sight to watch after being one round from the Stanley Cup Finals just one year ago...FEH!
Chicago Blackhawks (34-11-4): They're 8-1-1 in their last 10, and are currently atop the league with 72 points. Their 34 wins are tops in the NHL, and they're the only team with at least 20 wins on home ice. They're a scoring machine on offense, and have a pretty good defense corps and goalies to boot. They were the Canes of the west last year, but unlike the Canes who have fallen off the face of the Earth, the Hawks could be the Western Conference champs if they keep this up, MM-HAH!
Colorado Avalanche (27-15-6): This team may be the biggest surprise of the 2009-2010 season. They weren't expected to light the word on fire, but they started off hot out of the gate, and despite a short slip after their red-hot start, they've continued to stay in contention for the division crown, and currently have a 2-point lead over the Canucks and Flames in the Northwest division. I remember when this team was the best in the west, and they could be slowly returning to that form...MM-HAH!
Columbus Blue Jackets (18-23-9): They started off pretty well, but oh man has this team taken the plunge. They've fallen, and they've fallen badly, crashing out of the playoffs and down to the bottom of their division. Sadly, the Jackets will be following up their first playoff appearance with some early tee times around the second week of April, because they won't be back to the playoffs for a second straight year...FEH!
Dallas Stars (20-17-11): They're pretty good at home, not so much on the road. They've been up and down all year, and are tied with the Ducks for last place in the Pacific division. I've considered this team to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all season long, and that still seems to be the case. In my book, that earns you a EHH.
There's still 20 more teams to go, we're just warming up with these report cards. Check page 2 for the next 10, starting with one team that's been a BAD surprise.
Detroit Red Wings (24-16-8): Don't let the record fool you, they're very beatable this year. It looks like the Wings might be finished with their run of dominance in the Western Conference. They just lost to the Hawks, putting them 16 points behind Chicago for the division lead. They're one point out of the playoffs, and might get in, but they won't go very far. EHH.
Edmonton Oilers (16-26-5): They've won 1 of their last 10, sat on the lead and blew a 2-0 lead against the Pens last week, and find themselves dead last in the West and just 2 points away from Carolina for the lowest point total in the NHL. This team is just BAD! I think it's pretty safe to say at this point...NO PLAYOFFS FOR YOU! Oh, and a resounding FEH!
Florida Panthers (20-20-8): They have one hell of a goalie, and are playing .500 hockey. The 5-13 spots in the East are currently a clusterf***, so the playoffs are still possible. They're 12th in the East, but only 2 points out of 8th. They'll have to play a little better than mediocre if they want to keep playing past game 82 though...EHH.
Los Angeles Kings (27-18-3): This team came out of the gate like a bat out of hell, but have recently fallen backwards. Right now, they're hanging onto for dear life to the 8 spot in the West. They've still made leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons though, and are a team on the rise. For their vast and continued improvements, I'd be kidding myself if I didn't give them a MM-HAH!
Minnesota Wild (24-22-3): They started off slower than Cecil Fielder rounding the bases. They still stink on the road, but are the complete opposite at home. This is another team that's become like Jekyll and Hyde. Overall, an awesome home record plus a sh*tty road record gives you a EHH.
Montreal Canadiens (23-23-4): They recently celebrated 100 years, they're the Yankees of the NHL when it comes to number of Stanley Cups with 24, and they have an incredible history, but this year they just don't seem to have what it takes. They're .500 at home, .500 on the road, and I'm deeply regretting drafting Carey Price for my Yahoo fantasy league. They're tied with the Islanders for the 8 spot in the East, but the Isles currently have the tiebreaker. What else can you say about this team except EHH.
Nashville Predators (29-16-3): The Preds are 7-3 in their last 10, and are tied for 4th in the West. They don't have much breathing room though, as they're only 5 points out of 9th. They've been one of the pleasant surprises though so far, and who knows what could happen if they make the playoffs. For a first half which has been better than I'm sure everyone thought, they easily get a MM-HAH!
New Jersey Devils (32-13-1): Dear Marty Brodeur, I hate your stinkin' guts, always have, always will. As a Pens fan, it's always been in my blood, but you gotta give this guy the credit he deserves for adding one last amazing record to his already-guaranteed HOF career. With 6 shutouts, he now has 107 for his career, 4 more than the great Terry Sawchuk. Jacques Lemaire is back, and so is that classic tough as hell defensive style that he had when the Devils won titles back in the '90s. This team will be hard to beat come playoff time. MM-HAH!
New York Islanders (21-19-8): Speak of the Devils (all puns intended), as I'm writing this, they're playing on Long Island and losing 4-0, Marty Brodeur got pulled. Hey, even the greatest have games like that. That said, the Isles are starting to come together, going 7-2-1 in their last 10. John Tavares is living up to all the hype, and their multi-million dollar investment, achy-breaky goalie Rick DiPietro, is finally back in net. They are tied for the 8 spot in the East, and whether they make the postseason or not, it's been a much-improved year, and for that, for the first time in about 4 years, they deserve a MM-HAH!
New York Rangers (23-19-7): Marian Gaborik has played all year, and is a scoring machine. King Henrik on the other hand, has a very young, inexperienced defense corps in front of him, and has looked very susceptible at times this year. From what I've seen, the 2.26 GAA might be a bit deceiving. While they are currently 6th in the East, they still seem to be an up-and-down team, and for that, they get simply an EHH.
10 more teams remain, check out page 3 for the last set of report cards.
Ottawa Senators (24-21-4): This is another team that's had a roller coaster of a season to this point. They're a darn good home team, but very beatable away from home ice. They're currently hanging on to 7th in the East by the skin of their teeth, and are just one short slide away from 13th. Overall, they're menza-menza, and that equals an EHH.
Philadelphia Flyers (23-21-3): They fired their coach, got a new one who is under the impression they'll listen when he tells them not to fight as much, have managed to win more games lately, but still find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic division. Granted they're only 1 point out of 8th, but this team still has some work to do. Even before going on IR, Ray Emery clearly wasn't the answer. They need a better goalie, and they could probably do better without their #1 goon Daniel Carcillo. For a half-a$$ed season to this point, they get an EHH.
Phoenix Coyotes (28-16-5): Heisenburg's uncertainty principle said nobody knew what the hell was going on with this team over the summer, and because of that, Wayne Gretzky stepped down as head coach. This team, however, has been a very pleasant surprise despite all the issues surrounding them. They're tied with Nashville for 4th in the West, and are still chugging along. I applaud this team for not letting the questions get in the way of their game. MM-HAH!
Pittsburgh Penguins (30-19-1): They've had a couple of losing streaks, but their recent road trip may have helped. Despite all the injuries they've been sustaining, this team just keeps on truckin'. Despite the fact that their PP is lousier than Ryan Leaf's NFL career (or lack thereof), they're still in good position to make the playoffs. I doubt they'll overtake Brodeur and company for the division crown, but they're still looking good overall. Oh did I mention Sidney Crosby has 30 goals and is tied for 2nd in the league in that category? MM-HAH!
San Jose Sharks (31-10-8): As usual, they only have 4 regulation losses on home ice, are 9 points ahead of Phoenix for the Pacific division lead, and just 2 points behind Chicago for the most points in the NHL. They're always one of the greatest regular season teams, but fall asleep after game 82. This isn't about playoffs yet though, so for now, they still easily get a MM-HAH!
St. Louis Blues (21-19-7): This team is pretty darn good on the road, but they're God awful on home ice, their 17 overall losses (3 in OT) in St. Louis is the most overall home losses in the NHL so far this year, talk about home ice disadvantage! If Anaheim got a FEH, and everyone below them in the West got a FEH, there's only one possible grade for the Blues...FEH!
Tampa Bay Lightning (18-19-10): They're trying to improve, but this team still stinks for the most part. Add up their regulation and OT losses, and they're exactly .500 at home, and absolutely pitiful on the road. Steven Stamkos is having a great year, but overall this team is amazingly lousy, and they're not going anywhere come the second week of April except the golf course. FEH!
Toronto Maple Leafs (16-24-9): They managed to climb out of the cellar in the East, but their performance is still below the Mendoza line. This team is still a laughing stock, and still very much in the running for the #1 draft pick, which they won't have because they traded it away to get Phil Kessel. They're very capable of ending up with the worst record in the league by the end of the year. FEH!
Vancouver Canucks (28-18-2): They're tied for second in the Northwest division, and Luongo is having another great year, no surprise there. The division title could go to them, the Flames, or the Avs at this point, it's a crapshoot. I thought this might be the toughest division in hockey, and with the top 3 teams separated by 2 points after 48 games (49 for the Flames), they're living up to that prediction. MM-HAH!
Washington Capitals (30-12-6): Who's ready for the next round of Crosby v. Ovechkin? The two will finally meet for the first time this season Thursday night in Pittsburgh. The Caps are currently atop the Eastern Conference with 66 points, and have a stranglehold on the Southeast division with a 17-point lead over the Thrashers, the biggest lead for any of the 6 current division leaders. They should easily win the Southeast, and will be a tough out come playoff time once again. MM-HAH!
So there you have it. As you can see, some teams are firmly in control and are going to cruise into the playoffs, some are in a fight for their playoff lives, and a few can already start scheduling tee times for Monday, April 12. It's going to be a great second half on the ice, and I'm looking forward to some great action!
BK over and out