Championships have a way of breeding loyalty.
Just as GMs find it hard not to reward the players who deliver a Stanley Cup, those of us identifying contenders find it hard to ignore recent Cup winners.
I give you Exhibit A: the Anaheim Ducks. Judged solely on the basis of this season, the Ducks are not a true top-flight team. They’ve got a great 1-2 blueline punch in Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer and some talented forwards, but they’re top-heavy compared to the likes of Detroit and their California cousins in San Jose.
Stellar defenseman Francois Beauchemin will likely miss the rest of the year with a knee injury and sniper Teemu Selanne is gone for at least a month with a cut on his left quadriceps.
Players like Bobby Ryan, who has been hot of late, and Brendan Morrison need to step up the secondary support for the Ducks’ Cup hopes to be legitimized.
Goalie Jonas Hiller has certainly pushed the boundaries of his backup role in the 15 games he’s played, posting the third-best goals-against average (2.07) and second-best save percentage (.936) in the entire league.
Very, very sad to see young Patrice Bergeron sidelined with another concussion
Ripped off seven straight wins, including a sweep in Western Canada
Smashed San Jose 6-0 to prove they still can't be trifled with
Into every season, a little rain must fall - or at least some light drizzle
Jeff Carter might well ride that wrist shot to a 60-goal season
A lot of people deserve credit here, but let's not forget to include coach Brent Sutter among them
Those who watch Calgary close say Robyn Regehr is really the Flames' best D-man
They're a lot more scary when Alexander Semin's back isn't acting up
No Mats means everyone else will have to be a bit better
Kovalev finally locating the net with three goals in past four games
Ready to welcome back skilled rearguard Ryan Whitney on Tuesday
Top goal-getter Teemu Selanne out more than a month after cutting his left quadriceps
Vokoun shuts out Avs, staking his own claim to what has been Craig Anderson's crease
Sergei Samsonov has eight points in nine December games
Power play operating at a horrid 13.3 percent; only Columbus is worse
Lots of talk about how Sundin is merely a point-per-game player, but this scribe has always viewed him as something more than that
Need to be better on the road as they head out on a three-game trip
Roy had eight points through 15 games; he's got 22 in 18 since and has a nine-game point streak going
Getting lots of goals and might need them if Toskala misses many games; Joseph's line is 0-4-1, .838, 4.34 and Pogge will play first NHL game Monday.
Can Brad Richards take control of this team and get back to being an elite point-producer? He's got six points in his past two games as Dallas creeps toward respectability
Wojtek Wolski the shootout king this year with goals on five of six attempts
Crossing their fingers captain Daniel Alfredsson won't be out too long with "upper-body" injury
Nilsson, Gagner and Cogliano have combined for a measly 33 points
Only win in past eight came against the Islanders
Looks like Derick Brassard's impressive rookie campaign ends early with shoulder surgery
What a nice pickup Kyle Quincey has been; the blueliner is tied for team assist lead with 16
Brad Boyes leads team with 31 points, but his minus-20 rating is second-worst in the entire league
Thrashers have a .150 winning percentage when trailing after one period
Exactly zero goals for Andrej Meszaros as a Bolt
Dropped nine in a row, giving up about 4.5 goals per game over that stretch
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.
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