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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Inspired by that not-so inspiring movie from a few years back, starring a then-innocent Lindsay Lohan and a still surprisingly-hot Jamie Lee Curtis, let’s take a look at three of the NHL’s unexpected switch-a-roo’s…

Chris Mason and Dan Ellis

The Predators dealt away super-solid goalie Tomas Vokoun to the Panthers, in part, because they believed Mason was ready to step into the No. 1 role.

After Mason filled in more than admirably during Vokoun’s injury-induced absence last season, it was assumed any problems the Preds would suffer in 2007-08 wouldn’t be crease-related.

What certainly wasn’t assumed is the quality tending the Preds would receive from 27-year-old rookie Dan Ellis.

Mason has been woeful with a save percentage under .900 and a bloated 3.20 goals-against average to go along with his 5-7-1 record.

Meanwhile, Ellis has sparkled, sporting a 4-0-0 mark, 1.35 GAA and .952 SP.

The bulk of the starts continue to go to Mason – but the question remains: Who should be top dog?

New York Rangers offense and New York Rangers defense

With the additions of Chris Drury and Scott Gomez over the summer, the Rangers were supposed to be an offensive juggernaut and a top contender to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Whether the Rangers (10-7-1, fifth in the East) are the real deal is up for debate, but there’s no questioning the fact that the supposedly-weak defense has won the Blueshirts games; not their highly-vaunted ‘O’.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, would have guessed the Rangers would be leading the league in goals-against per game (1.72) and be dead last in goals-for (2.00).

The Phoenix Coyotes and the Phoenix Coyotes

The Yotes were generously pegged to finish 30th overall in the league, but a funny thing happened between the pre-season prognostications and now – they decided to win some games.

Yes the Desert Dogs sit last in the Western Conference, but they’re only two games below .500 (7-9-0) and five points out of a playoff spot with three games in hand of the defending Cup champion Ducks.

My guess at the reasoning behind the unexpected “success”? A complete lack of pressure.

Phoenix was in full rebuild mode heading into this season and expectations for them couldn’t have been lower. Much like that way-out-of-the-picture team that makes a playoff push in the final month, the Coyotes are learning the game is simply easier to play when nobody expects you to win.

Only problem is, this phenomenon is a two-way street. When visions of playoff plums start dancing in players’ heads, the Coyotes are likely to turn back into, well, the Coyotes.


Olen Zellweger

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