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Year-Over-Year Comparison For Teams of The .Net

PenaltykillOne of the things I picked up on this season is the idea that the milestone for determining your hockey team’s capabilities is where they stand on (US) Thanksgiving. That little nugget taught me two things.

First I learned that the hockey pre-season isn’t like other sports’ pre-seasons. Hockey players have said that the pre-season is really where you just find out who is making the team. It’s the beginning of the real season where you actually start learning how to play together. That’s why many teams have to find their footing when the season starts. By (US) Thanksgiving, they’ve usually been playing as a team for a solid month.

The second thing I learned is that Canada has their own Thanksgiving.

So here we are at (US) Thanksgiving and I wanted to see how The .Net’s teams are doing compared to this time last year.

Team 2008 2009 Differential
San Jose Sharks 20-3-1 41 Points 18-6-4 38 Points -1
Detroit Red Wings 15-4-4 34 Points 12-9-4 28 Points -6
Pittsburgh Penguins 14-6-3 31 Points 18-9-0 36 Points +5
Anaheim Ducks 14-8-3 31 Points 10-11-4 24 Points -7
Phoenix Coyotes 10-11-2 22 Points 15-11-1 31 Points +9
Chicago Blackhawks 10-6-6 26 Points 16-6-3 35 Points +9
Vancouver Canucks 14-8-2 30 Points 14-12-0 28 Points -2

The San Jose Sharks are just 1 point behind their point total from this time last year, and like last year they sit atop the NHL. Although there is nothing to be derived from this when it comes to the state of the team or their playoff prospects, all I will say is it’s nice to have a winning franchise to watch every few nights. The regular season is always fun in Sharkland.

rockandrollnobody’s Detroit Red Wings are 6 points behind where they were last year. While 34 points was worth 2nd place in the West last year, this year’s 28 points are only worth 10th. Given the goals the Red Wings lost when Hossa and Hudler left, and given the number of injuries they’ve suffered, a 6 point drop doesn’t sound too bad. However the increased strength of the rest of the West has them way down in the standings.

That strength is coming from hackett’s Chicago Blackhawks, who are surprising no one with their 9 point improvement over last season. With Marion Hossa finally joining the team the Blackhawks look to be the team to watch in the NHL. The only concern about this team is what to do next year. The Blackhawks could have serious cap issues so maybe it’s got to be this year.

The strength in the West is also coming from an unlikely source. That source is puckgal’s Phoenix Coyotes who are surprisingly occupying the 8th spot in the West. Perhaps the best thing that could have happened to the Coyotes was the loss of Wayne Gretzky. It makes complete sense that the Coyotes, under an experienced head coach like Dave Tippett, would be a better team. Could the Coyotes make the playoffs? By the way, to show just how little respect this team gets, wikipedia is still reporting Gretzky as the team’s head coach.

Where the West seems to have lost ground is with duxrox’s Anaheim Ducks. Unfortunately it looks like Brian Burke left town leaving behind two things: 1) a Stanley Cup Title (yay!) and 2) a salary cap strapped team in free agency hell (boo!). My question to duxrox: is it worth it? Is it worth a title if it means enduring a ‘rebuilding’ year, possible signaling a window of a few rebuilding years? It’s always been that philosophical question - do you want to win all just at least just once, or do you want a perennial winner?

Despite all of the woes of massive injuries, pittpen’s Pittsburgh Pengiuns are tied for second in the NHL with their 36 points. The fact that they’re 5 points better than the were last season doesn’t really mean much when you consider that they made a coaching change later in the season to go from 10th in the East to Stanley Cup Champions. The Penguins seem to be skating along nicely despite having the longest hockey seasons two years in a row.

Tied with those Penguins are colonelbagpuss’ Washington Capitals. Here’s my beef - the marketing gurus at the NHL have been promoting Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin as the face of hockey. I understand that they’re both stars, but the ‘beef’ part is that they get more attention because, I think, they’re in the East. The Sharks have Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley - but the Sharks are in the West. This is one of the reasons why I started The .Net - not only does the NHL lack good nation media coverage compared to other sports (hence the idea that we’re always playing short handed), but the West gets even less coverage (hence the idea that the West is always playing short 5-on-3). Back to the topic at hand. The Capitals are being talked up as the next team to take it, giving Ovechkin center stage to sell the game. We’ll have to wait and see about that.

And last but not least, the Vancouver Canucks. Interestingly enough here at The .Net, the most blogged about team is the Canucks - I guess they just have way too many fans! Because of canucklehead, theoldtimer and hist, I know a lot more about this team than pretty much any team out there. Unfortunately I’m not sure where this team is going, they seem to be sliding sideways. Although only two points off last season’s pace, they’re sitting in 11th place in the west. I feel like of all the teams represented on The .Net, this is the one team that should be better than their record.

If they’re right and (US) Thanksgiving is truly the first benchmark of the season to come, it looks like most of the teams represented on The .Net are in a good position to make it a long, exciting season. The next typical measuring stick milestone is the month after the All-Star break, but since there is no All-Star game this year we’ll use the month after the Olympic break. It’s at that time where you start to see who has the mental fortitude to keep it up for 82 games. Teams that have been running away with things can get lazy around that time, while teams hungry to make a change usually ramp things up. But until then I’m sure there will be lots of continuing conversation so please - stay tuned!

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4 comments for “Year-Over-Year Comparison For Teams of The .Net”

  1. Wow, very nice write up and analysis. Well done!

    Posted by pittpenNo Gravatar | November 30, 2009, 8:07 am
  2. Great post! There are so many Canucks bloggers because the Nucks are the best team in the NHL. Lol

    Posted by CanuckulheadNo Gravatar | November 30, 2009, 12:27 pm
  3. Good analysis. I can completely agree that we are roughly the same as last season, whilst the rest of the West seems to have strengthened. Surprised the difference is just 6 points! Seems a lot more!

    Posted by rocknrollnobodyNo Gravatar | November 30, 2009, 4:31 pm
  4. Some attendance stats thrown in would be nice. ;)

    Posted by Goon SquadNo Gravatar | December 1, 2009, 9:24 am

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