Friday, November 30, 2007


Wow, I can’t believe it is almost December already. Time for teams to either make it or break it. What happens over the course of the upcoming month will define weather or not some teams will get back on track and if some teams will fall from grace. This is the point of the season where it is still not too late to make a push as well as not too late to stumble and let other teams pass you by. For this month’s edition of my Eastern Conference Notebook I will be looking at trends, both good and bad.

For the first time all season the Ottawa Senators are starting to look in the rear view mirror. What they see is the distinct colors of rouge, blanc and bleu and black and gold. There has been a noticeable trend over the last 10 games for the Senators and not a good one. Going 3 – 5 – 2 the Sens have left the back door open and the wolves are licking their chops to enter. The Canadiens have been playing .500 hockey lately but feasting on the power play with deadly accuracy which keeps them afloat. If they can find some consistency playing 5 on 5 the Habs can trend upwards and catch the napping Sens in no time. However they are not alone. The hottest team in the Northeast over the last 10 games have been the Bruins going 6 – 3 – 1. That’s right I said the Bruins it wasn’t a typo. The B’s have been solid defensively so far this season and have recently found the scoring touch even though they are without offensive catalyst Patrice Bergeron. They have become a tough team to play against and if you are going to beat them you will need to match the physical play and accept that you will be sore the next day. If the trend continues for the Bruins they will pass the Habs and be nipping at the Sens heels by Christmas. The Leafs are in the midst of a freefall going 3 – 4 – 3 in their last 10 games, certainly not the kind of trend that will get the Toronto media off their backs. The Sabres fall from grace is starting to trend upwards as they have gone 6 – 4 – 0 bringing them back to playing .500 hockey, but there is still a ton of work to do if they have any hope of catching the front runners.

Look out. The Rangers and Devils are starting to find their groove again which spells trouble for division foes. The Rangers have caught up to the Flyers going 7 – 2 – 1 in their last 10 games which is the trend everyone thought we would see from the start. The main reason for their upward trend has been the solid play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who posts a 1.82 GAA and a .930 S% giving the Blueshirts a chance to win every night. The Devils got off to a rocky start uncharacteristically playing shoddy defense, but have tightened up over the last 10 games going 7 – 3 - 0. They have also found some scoring recently and if they lead after 2 periods they have been deadly. The upward trend for the Devils, have them once again in the playoff hunt. The Islanders have not been trending in the right direction lately and are starting to show their weakness. They are one key injury away from dropping like a rock. The only trend the Penguins have seen this year is a losing one. Playing .500 hockey on the road and sub .500 hockey at home, the young guns have come down to Earth after their surprise attack of last season. It is not too late for the Pens to start trending upwards, but until they find some consistency between the pipes the current trend will continue.

This division is up for grabs and so far the Hurricanes are the only team willing to play hard enough to grab it. Although the trend for the Canes over the last 10 games would suggest otherwise as they have a mere 4 – 6 – 0 record. This is not the time to stumble as the Panthers are starting to catch them going 5 – 4 – 1 in their last 10. The key to the Panthers upward trend has been the power play and they will have to thrive on that if they want to continue to close the gap. The hottest team in the division over the last 10 games has been the Thrashers going 6 – 4 – 0. The rough start to the season has put them in a hole that they are desperately trying to dig out of. The trend is favorable, but the question is how long will it last? When thinking of trends in reference to the Lightning it has been a tale of two teams. One that plays lights out at home and one that sucks wind on the road. At home the Bolts boast a 8 – 3 – 1 record so far which makes for happy fans, but on the road they have been anemic going 2 – 10 – 1. It is the trend away from home that keeps this team from gaining any ground. As for the Caps, the only trend has been a pathetic one. This team was supposed to sneak up and surprise everyone this season and so far the biggest surprise has been that they don’t work hard for 60 minutes. It will be interesting to see if more shakeups are planned for the Caps in the near future in order to reverse the trend that has plagued them all year.

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