I suppose, ultimately, this is why we watch the sport. But still. Nothing makes sense anymore! The Chicago Blackhawks are dropping down in the standings, while the Winnipeg Jets are making a climb. The Nashville Predators are at the top of the Division, while the Colorado Avalanche are at the bottom (ok, that last bit does make sense). The Stars are mired in a frustrating stretch, while the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues have gone undefeated in the past week.
This was not how the narrative was supposed to work!
But whatever. It keeps it interesting right? Let's go just a little more in depth on all our Conference III friends though shall we? For now, we start in reverse standings order, because otherwise all you lazy readers out there wouldn't ever get to read about... wait. The old narrative is going to have to take a hike. Winnipeg are currently 4th in the Division! Comfortably average, but it sure is an improvement.
And don't worry, I don't know what's going on either.
St. Louis Blues
This week: 4-0-0
Overall: 7-3-1, 2nd in the Central, 6th in the Western Conference
Ugh. Yesterday afternoon I decided to do this week's layout based on each team's point totals from the week, which would have had dear old Winnipeg at the top. And then Monday night, in the only Conference III action, the Blues win their fifth game on the trot and wrest away the spotlight from the Peg.
You can't argue with 4-0-0.
The caveat? Three of those four games went past regulation, and two were decided via the shootout. So I'm gonna go ahead and call their perfect record lucky.
Takeaway from the week? You know that thing the Stars do on the powerplay, where they'll skate towards the blueline, and then drop the puck to a trailing skater? And then all the forwards have to stop to avoid going offsides, and remain there stationary while a solitary puck carrier tries to break into the opposition zone?
Well, apparently this is how it's supposed to work out:
This week: 3-0-1!!!
Overall: 6-5-1, 4th in the Central, 9th in the Western Conference
The Winnipeg Jets just completed a New York Metroplex/Chicago road trip. A road trip that would normally leave bottom-dwelling teams, even those from the Western Conference, licking their wounds and longing for the comforts of home. Instead, the Jets return with 7 points banked in the past week, and I'm pretty sure they held a parade in their hono(u)r in downtown Winnipeg.
Not that it was really anything to write home about. The last three games of the road trip the Jets scored a combined total of two goals. A 1-0 win against the Blackhawks, with the only goal scored in the first minute of the game, and a 1-0 win against the Rangers, with the only 'goal' scored in the shootout, followed on from a 2-1 shootout loss to the Devils. Still though, that means they only allowed one non-shootout goal in the past three games. Add in a 4-3 win over the Islanders and an alien looking in from Mars at this microcosm of a season might be forgiven for thinking that the Winnipeg Jets were actually a good team.
We Earthlings know better. Still though. Way to go Winnipeg. Staving off the inevitable Canadian fan riot just a little longer...
Bonus reading material for the week: Arctic Ice Hockey goes one step beyond talking about the necessity of fighting, and talks about the necessity of hitting at all.
This week: 3-0-0
Overall: 7-3-0, 3rd in the Central, 7th in the Western Conference
Everybody's favorite adjectives had another impressive week. Not quite reaching the giddy heights of the Jets, naturally, but nevertheless... And yes, the Wild were actually 3-0. You might have blocked Saturday night from your memory banks, but that game did still count in the standings.
More importantly though than that insignificant game, the Wild beat the Sharks and Bruins by identical 4-3 scores (albeit the game against San Jose ended with a shootout). The Wild only have three losses on the young season, to the Ducks, Kings and Rangers. All of those losses were by one goal, and all of them came on the road. Better watch out Nashville. The Wild are gunnin' for ya!
Upcoming: Hosting the Penguins, then touring Canada with visits to the Senators and Canadiens.
This week: 2-1-0
Overall: 7-2-2, 1st in the Central, 2nd in the Western Conference
Second in the Western Conference! Still! More than ten games into the season! All I can think when I see that is how ridiculous pre-season predictions are. Now, I'm sure somebody out there predicted the Predators would have a start this good, and I'm sure that person is the least educated homer Nashville fan you could possibly find.
The caveat? Well, they did have the easiest schedule of all the Conference III teams this past week. I mean, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver? Come on. Except that Calgary are almost as surprisingly good as the Preds are, and the Vancouver Canucks sadly didn't continue the implosion that began at the end of last season. So in short, the Predators beat the team they were supposed to, lost to the other surprise team, and won a good game against a decent team. In that order.
They've got some valuable ground to lose this week though, as the road trip continues through the Central...
Upcoming: Winnipeg, Dallas, and St. Louis, to round out a fairly epic roadtrip.
This week: 1-1-2
Overall: 3-5-5, 7th in the Central, 12th in the Western Conference
Oh Colorado how we love you. Keeping the Stars from hitting rock bottom this week.
And oh how Colorado must love Edmonton and Phoenix. Although the only two teams below the Avalanche in the Western Conference standings are only two points back of them, with two games in hand. In short, remember how last week Patrick Roy was preaching patience? Well, if he's still preaching it then the man has the patience of a saint.
You know what's a fun game to play when your own team hits a rough patch? Start browsing the blogs of the teams worse than yours. Mile High Hockey is an absolute treasure trove, sure to cheer up the most frustrated fan. They're already breaking down what's gone wrong with the whole organizational philosophy. As well as calling into question their own burgundy-tinted optimism. And yes, I do take a perverse delight in the suffering of others.
And then there's this brilliant piece, where a fan looks at the statistical evidence behind Patrick Roy's claim of turning the Avs into last years Toronto Maple Leafs. It's all about 'quality' shots you see...
Upcoming: Canucks and Maple Leafs at home, followed by the Flyers on the road. Dare I say it, an easier schedule this week?
This week: 1-3-0
Overall: 6-5-1, 5th in the Central, 10th in the Western Conference
Exactly. No surprise who's bringing up the rear this week. The incredibly boring to watch Chicago Blackhawks, coming away with a measly two points this week. Why, that's as bad as the Stars!
Continuing a trend, the Blackhawks played a series of quite close games this week. Quite close in this instance meaning 1-point. Twelve games into the season and ten of the Hawks games have been decided by one goal. Also continuing a trend, the Blackhawks failed to do too much offensively. Ask any Chicago fan who went to both of their home games last week and didn't see them score a single goal. Paging Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews...
In fact, the only consolation for Chicago fans was the shootout win over the Senators. At least that hopefully lets them block out the memory of losing to Toronto. Not that the Maple Leafs are particularly bad this season or anything, but hey, it's Toronto.
Oh yeah. Their most recent loss? The one that followed that in Toronto? A 1-0 shutout by Michael Hutchinson and the Winnipeg Jets. Not to speak badly of Hutchinson, but he is a backup goaltender to Ondrej Pavelec, perennial front runner for 'worst starting goalie in the league' honors. So yeah... I'd be pretty frustrated as well.
Upcoming: One game road trip to take on the Canadiens, then they welcome the Capitals and Sharks to Chicago, hoping to score at least one goal this week...