Well it has been a busy few days of news in the NHL! A sniper has hit a milestone, and hockey fans everywhere wait with anticipation for the return of a star! So here we are – mid-week in March, just a few days away from St. Paddy’s day – a great time indeed. Here’s some ‘Mid-Week Musings‘ to get you through the rest of your week, and in the mood for March 17th!
-50 Lightning Strikes: Well what can be said of Steve Stamkos and the season he’s putting together in Tampa Bay?! The well-spoken sniper hit the 50 goal mark for the second time in his young career (51 in ’09/’10) in a win against the Bruins this week. He had 45 last season, and looks like he will certainly set a career high with just under a month to play. The impressive thing about Stamkos and the big numbers, is that he’s doing this on a team that is struggling. He’s doing this at a tough time – a time of turmoil for the Lightning. He has shown true character and will be in the running for the NHL MVP award because of this. The Bolts are seven points out of a playoff spot as I write here, but not for lack of effort from their best player.
-Singing the Blues: I’ve said it before on this site, so I’ll say it again! Be honest, at the start of the season, who picked the St. Louis Blues to be leading the entire NHL in points in mid-March?! No one! With 98 points (45-18-8), the Blues are well on their way to their best season in a decade. Head Coach Ken Hitchcock took over the reigns on November 6th, and the total transformation started. He has brought discipline, attention to detail, and a structured system to St. Louis. David Backes (48 points), T.J. Oshie (48 points) and Alex Pietrangelo (43 points) are having career years under Hitchcock’s guidance, and are leading the Blues youth movement all the way to a possible Presidents Trophy. The club also has a fantastic goaltending duo in Jaroslav Halak (1.87 GAA, .928 SV%) and possibly the biggest surprise of the season – Brian Elliott (1.61 GAA, .938 SV%). With all these talented players buying into the Hitchcock system, expect the Blues to continue to achieve big results down the stretch.
-Return of the Man: You have to tip your hat to Sidney Crosby and the determination he’s shown in the past few months. A lot of players might have packed it in on a season that seemed destined for failure with concussion and neck issues. Number 87 has worked, by all accounts, harder to get back into the Penguins lineup than he’s ever worked before. He did come back briefly before Christmas and registered 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) in eight games. Since then though (Crosby’s last game was December 5th), Evgeni Malkin (84 points) has put the team on his back and has solidified his name in the MVP discussion. Can you imagine both these guys coming at you?! The Pens will ease Sid back into all situations, and he will get it going Thursday against the East leading Rangers at MSG. Let’s hope that the captain can stay healthy on this second comeback of the season. And if he can stay healthy, the rest of the league should be very worried!
Well, with less than a month to go in the NHL regular season, the playoff chase is well under way! It’s a great time of year to be a fan, and it’s always interesting to see the break down of the 6-8th seeds in both conferences. Have a great St. Paddy’s day this Saturday, and a great NHL weekend!
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