Dallas Stars Central Intelligence: Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild Start Strong, Colorado Avalanche Regress Hard
Welcome to Central Intelligence, where, unlike the Agency, we tell you exactly what's going on.
First off, stick tap to Popsx5 for the official name of this feature.
And here we are, one week into the 2014-2015 season. Well, six days really, for all you pedantic readers out there, but whatever. Scheduling and reasons.
So how has our beloved Central Division fared? Well as usual, complete and utter domination would be the phrase that springs to mind. Or it would be, except for the [high-flying] Jets, [shooting] Stars, and [fancy pants] Avs letting the side down. Pull yourselves together boys! Conference III needs you!
Let's go a little more in depth than that though, shall we? Although we're only 2-3 games in to the season, so it's all a bit knee-jerk reactionary. What to do? Time to look at a week's worth of games and draw some hasty conclusions. The Minnesota Wild are amazing!
We start today from most northerly to most southerly, because otherwise all you lazy readers out there wouldn't get to read about the Peg.
This week: 1-2-0
In the spirit of Wes' game 1 reactionary post, after opening night it was clear to everyone that the Winnipeg Jets were going to flex their offensive might this season and lead the league in scoring, proving that you don't have to do anything over the offseason in order to dominate in the Western Conference! But then following that 6 goal outburst against the Arizona Coyotes, they were shut out by the San Jose Sharks and lost 4-1 to the Los Angeles Kings.
Reality strikes again.
So what happened? Well, the real answer is probably just that the Jets have the 'Yotes number, having beaten them five times on the trot over the last couple seasons, but then they had to continue the road trip against the Sharks and Kings on back to back nights. It was never going to be pretty. That's what really happened, but it's probably more fun if we point to the loss of Evander Kane in the game in Arizona as the reason for all of the Jets misfortunes. Never mind that Kane was injured on his second shift and thus wasn't exactly instrumental in the demolishing of the Coyotes. They probably could have used him though on the rest of the road trip.
Now, because it's Kane, the Jets media was obviously incredibly concerned for the loss of Winnipeg's favorite son. The Winnipeg Sun even ran an article titled "Good News for Evander Kane". Good news? Only good news is that he doesn't have to play in front of you wankers for a couple of weeks.
On a side note, did you know Kane's middle name is Frank? Every day's a school day.
Upcoming: Against the Predators and Flames, kicking off a five-game homestand.
This week: 2-0-0
The Minnesota Wild are currently topping the tables in the Central Division. It's a little unfair though, seeing as they've only had to play the Colorado Avalanche thus far. And of course they were going to win those games by scores of 5-0 and 3-0. Everybody's come to expect the Wild to put up triple their opponents shot totals in games, possession monsters that they are, while the Avalanche are well documented as having a lackluster offense.
Hey, maybe the Tomas Vanek signing is going to be the spark that turns the Minnesota Wild into a non-boring an exciting to watch, high-powered offensive team.
Two games to start the season against the Avalanche, and now they have almost a week between their third and fourth games. Is that not weird? That seems weird. Whatever. The other Minnesota Wild news? They've already re-upped Jonas Brodin to a six-year deal. Contract extension in the first week of the season? Way to impress, Brodin.
Upcoming: On the road in southern California against the Ducks and Kings.
(I had to look at a map to check this one's latitude compared to Denver)
This week: 2-0-0
I won't talk about the Hawks first game of the season. Except to say that when Corsi events over the first ten minutes of a game are 22-3 against, you're either doing something very wrong, or the other team is doing something very right. Too bad the good guys didn't win that one, and I wasn't able to mock dejected bandwagon Hawks fans leaving the AAC...
The home opener for the Blackhawks was a little different story. See, they cleverly scheduled the Buffalo Sabres for their opening night, thus ensuring a rollicking good time would be had by all at United Center. And it was. A minute into the game and they had their first lead. Less than two minutes later they extended it. And while the Sabres somehow miraculously tied the game and kept it that way through two periods, the Hawks then exploded in the third to the tune of four goals. Don't read too much into it though. It was against Buffalo. And besides, the Jets won a game by a similar 6-2 score.
It don't mean a thing.
Upcoming: Flames and Predators, at home.
This week: 1-2-0
We were all expecting *David chuckles* some regression from the Avalanche this year, but *David starts laughing* the first two games this season were *David steps away from the computer to compose himself* ridiculous.
Last year's reason for the Avs success, Semyon Varlamov, was pulled on opening night after allowing 5 goals on 38 shots. Meanwhile, an offense that wasn't going to lose a step, despite losing Paul Stastny, was the only NHL team as of Sunday to have not yet scored a goal. The regression monster strikes again!
Unfortunately for those of us who have an ill-defined but pure hatred for the Avalanche, they began an Eastern Conference road trip in Boston yesterday and were not only able to end the shutout streak at 143 odd minutes, but were also able to actually win a game, thanks to a Daniel Briere goal with 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation. Getting the win after only allowing one goal in the game? None other than Colorado's standout goaltender, Reto Berra. Wait, who?
Why can't we have him as our backup?
Anyway, crunching the numbers whilst maintaining a heavily biased stance against the Avs, they're now averaging 0.67 goals per game, whilst allowing 3.0, and will obviously continue to be terrible for the remainder of the season. Oh, and Erik Johnson tried to kill Erik Haula, so there's that too.
Upcoming: Maple Leafs, Senators, and Canadiens, all on the road.
St. Louis Blues
This week: 1-1-0
Opening night was spoiled for Blues fans with a loss to the New York Rangers. Even more so, seeing as the game winning goal was scored by Rick Nash with only 1:50 to play. But how did the Blues manage the ignominy of being beaten by an Eastern Conference team in their own building? St. Louis Game Time had this amusing thought:
"I am not usually the kind of person to side with the drunk fan who, on the power play, screams "shooooooooooot." They drive me insane. Thursday night, I was that guy. Not drunk, not screaming, but someone who was very frustrated by missed chances and golden opportunities." [St. Louis Game Time]
So did that change in their second game? Well, they outshot the Calgary Flames 39-24 and won the game 4-1. Granted, much like with the Blackhawks, their second game was against a team that they should have beaten handily, and they did. Way to go Blues. Way to keep the narrative dream alive.
Upcoming: Pacific Division road trip against the Kings, Coyotes, and Ducks.
This week: 2-0-0
Does anyone else think the Predators might be the surprise team in the West this season? Sure, it was only the Ottawa Senators they beat in their first game at home, but in their second game they managed to stifle a Dallas offense that had skated circles around the Blackhawks a couple days prior. But we won't talk about that second game. You all saw it.
Let's talk about the team as a whole. Shea Weber picked up right where he left off, with two goals in the first two games. Youngster Filip Forsberg is turning heads playing on a line with Derek Roy and Craig Smith. A line that On the Forecheck called the best line on the team during the first couple games. Pekka Rinne is healthy this time around. Seth Jones is a year older and wiser and that defense is going to be scary good.
A couple players that haven't been as noticeable thus far are James Neal and Mike Ribeiro. Neal though has 11 shots over two games, so he's generating chances. What happens if he really can play well without Evgeni Malkin?
Upcoming: Flames at home, Jets and Blackhawks on the road.