As noted in the title, things are freaking tight (like a tiger) in the West. Almost unbelievable even, to think that a team in 4th is 1 loss away from 11th place. It leaves a fan with almost no choice but to sit back and enjoy the ride. Every game from here on out, unless a few teams stop playing so damn well, is a playoff game. Nice timing for the Hawks to finally figure some things out huh.
The Blackhawks are in 4th place :) The Blackhawks are 2 points out of 11th place :(
Someone that has been mentioned very little on this blog is the new face of Campoli. Fourfeather mentioned in the last post's comments that Campoli kinda blended in. I have to agree, in fact I rarely noticed him and to may shock he had 16 minutes of play. Much like our friend Fourfeather I will take this as a good sign. There have been a few negative remarks about his acquisition, most mentioning that he is not the physical force one might have hoped for. While I can see the argument has merit, I applaud SB's determination to build a system, and Campoli fits so well into that system that I didn't even notice him. I will be watching more closely tonight to see what he brings to the newly improved system that the Hawks are playing.
Tonight they face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes. Both teams are fighting for their own respective playoff births and they rarely see each other on the ice. Both teams are also coming off of big wins as if a any win isn't a big win at this point. Carolina fought off the Sabres recently and in the process leap-frogged them in the standings.
The Hawks are looking for their 7th win in a row, and a handful of hot players are helping that along. Toews is leading the way with an ungodly amount of points in recent games. He truly is the leader of this team. Throw Hossa, Sharp, Bolland, Kane, and even Frolik into that list. Yes, I say anyone who scores after a long drought is considered to be hot. Hossa has 5 goals in 5 games, go figure, Sharp is still the leading scorer, Kane has been an assist wizard, and Bolland has been helping Hossa lift his numbers. All of that and the 4th line is a force to be reckoned with, all while being backed by really solid goaltending.
Things are looking good for the Hawks. Their play is going well and seems to be building. Unfortunately, this hot streak has not gotten them out of the firing range, because everyone is playing well in the West right now. It is a testament to these organizations that this has continued for so long. As I stated above, it leaves little options for the devoted fan. Just sit back and enjoy the fight I guess. And yet I still offer a few projections for the season. My predictions in a few, but first a look around the league really quick.
Tonight's games: Calgary and Columbus. Since Calgary is only a point behind the Hawks I say, GO Bluejackets.
Dallas and Anaheim. This game is a bit more tricky because only a point separates them. Both have a small winning streak going and both really want a regulation win. To this I say, GO Ducks. I actually don't think the Ducks will make it into the playoffs, so I see their win as less threatening.
Tomorrow's games: Well, the Hawks play again, and it is against Toronto. Toronto is 6-1-3 in the last 10 games and they too are fighting for the playoffs. In the end I see a possibility for a 9 game winning streak for the Hawks after the week's end.
Vancouver and L.A. bump heads, and as much as I like to see Vancouver lose, Go Nucks. We need the Kings to lose.
Detroit and Phoenix. I also hate saying this, but Go Wings.
Dallas and San Jose. Do you really see the Sharks loosing anytime soon? If Dallas were to loose 2 in a row it would have dire consequences for them, but that is what I think will help the Hawks and I like seeing Niemi win games. Go Sharks.
In a nutshell, the following nights hold a lot of clout.
With that, here are my predictions on the West at the end of the season. From 1st place to 8th I have: Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit, Chicago, L.A., Nashville, Phoenix, and Dallas rounding out the bottom.
Anaheim, Calgary and Minnesota will fall short. That is just an educated guess at best though.