Friday, December 19, 2008

NHL midseason report

As December reaches its midway point, teams of the NHL are beginning to measure each other up and are preparing for the second half of the 2008-2009 season.

Thus far, the season has been somewhat of a shock, with a few teams charging out of the gate. One such team is the Boston Bruins. As of 12/18/08 they were 2nd in a league made up of 30 teams. While the Bruins have always had the right tools for success, it seems that this year things have finally clicked. Boston has assembled a power house team, with players such as Marc Savard and Phillip Kessel leading the team with 38 and 34 points respectively. This very likely could be Boston’s year, but they still have much to prove if they wish to win it all.

Another team that is making waves would be the Chicago Blackhawks. Currently, the Blackhawks are 7th in the league. The past few seasons have been very shaky for this team. Nikolai Khabibulin is partly to thank for the Blackhawks’ successful season. The 2004 Stanley Cup winning goalie has a 2.44 GAA (goals against average) and a .930 save percentage. While he is not breaking any NHL records, Khabibulin is supplying the team with much needed support between the pipes. It will be interesting to see if the Blackhawks can hold their current position.

Some teams who seem to be lacking so far this season would be the Dallas Star and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Dallas Stars have usually been a very strong team, but that is not extremely evident in the first half of the season. Currently ranked a dismal 25th in the league, it appears that their offense could use a major overhaul while defense could use a swift kick in the rear. With players such a Mike Modano, Brad Richards, and Mike Riberio in their lineup, goal scoring should not be a problem. So far, the Stars have only posted 86 goals. Things could be clearing up for the Stars; they have won their past two games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins had an amazing 2007-2008 season. While they ultimately lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Detroit Red Wings, they still managed to raise the bar for themselves. In the first half of the 2008-2009 season, it seems as if the team is having trouble living up to their new reputation. The Penguins are ranked 11th in the league, and injuries could be partly to blame for this. The Penguins have a tendency to be slow starters. The second half of the NHL season is where they truly begin to shine. If history is to repeat itself, then the coming months will be very exciting for Penguins fans.

~ Saralyn Norkus

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