This all starts two weeks ago, during Hall of Fame weekend. The legendary Scotty Bowman is on hand since, at one time or another, he has coached three of the four inductees. Bowman is asked how many Hall of Famers he coached in his career, so he starts with the St. Louis Blues, who had Doug Harvey and Dickie Moore at the end of their careers, along with a goaltending tandem of Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante.
“They put up big numbers,” Bowman says. “They had 13 shutouts and only 157 goals against in 76 games. We had 22 one-goal games that year.”
With almost every team at the 20 game mark, it’s time to start thinking about Stanley Cup contenders. Okay, maybe it’s a little early for championship talk, but with a quarter of the season in the books the sample size is just large enough to get a decent read on some teams (most analysts find that looking at 20-25 game averages is best for predictions).
Things will likely change throughout the season, but it’s an interesting discussion to have as those things change, especially if the underlying numbers remain consistent. This is about who’s got the best chance right now, who’s playing over their heads, and who could sneak into the conversation with some good bounces.
Most people will point to the standings and say “Boom! There’s your contenders,” but with the randomness that comes with hockey it’s not that simple because the standings can lie, especially early on. That’s why many have begun looking towards the NHL’s advanced stat movement to get a better understanding of which teams are the real deal and which teams aren’t.
Holding down the last playoff spot in a weak Eastern Conference might not be considered much of a triumph for some teams in the NHL, but when you’re the New Jersey Devils, it’s all about exceeding expectations. And the Devils are doing just that in their first season under new GM Ray Shero.
In many ways, Shero is playing with house money here. Projections for the Devils were so low and he’s had so little time to make an impact on the roster that the stink of a bad finish this season would not be sticking to him. But sometimes and organization needs to hit the Refresh button and there was not a team in the NHL that needed to do that more than the Devils. For them to be competing for a playoff spot rather than the Auston Matthews Sweepstakes – and it’s still early here – is nothing short of remarkable.
Whether or not the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings enter the annals of the most decorated teams in the history of the game is now up solely to Pavel Datsyuk. The Magic Man must be inducted after he retires for that team to join the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs with the most players who reside in the hallowed hall.
With the additions of Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov, that Red Wings team now has a total of nine Hall of Famers, which currently stands just one behind the standard bearers in that category, the 1955-56 Canadiens and the 1966-67 Maple Leafs. How good was that team in Detroit? Well, consider that team had a fourth line that consisted of Igor Larionov centering Luc Robitaille and Tomas Holmstrom. Their fourth line. Think about that for a minute.
Are you a New York Rangers fan?
No, no – are you a serious New York Rangers fan?
Well, Goldin Auctions has an offer for you. On Monday, the bidding will start on a new lot that is accurately described as “The Complete 1991-2013 New York Rangers hockey rink from Madison Square Garden (used during 1994 Stanley Cup Championship).”
And they’re not kidding. Here’s what you get:
No matter how you define a dynasty, there’s no denying the Chicago Blackhawks have been among the best franchises in hockey – in all of pro sports, in fact – over the last several years. Their amazing run of recent success culminated in a Stanley Cup victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in June.
On Wednesday, three days after the Blackhawks received their lavish Stanley Cup rings, the team raised their 2014-15 Stanley Cup banner to the rafters at the United Center before taking on the Rangers.
With another season just hours away, the excitement is palpable. Jaromir Jagr is growing his mullet and Erik Karlsson is cutting his. We’re on the verge of 3-on-3 play in overtime and, admit it, you’re probably on the edge of your set at this very moment, wondering who will issue the first coach’s challenge.
With a new season come all kinds of possibilities, both good and bad. And we have you covered for both. To that end, we present the absolute best and worst headlines you might read for each team this season:
Separated by only a couple of hours and about 150 miles, two of the greatest players of their generation were born on this day in 1965. So, Happy 50th Birthday to Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy.
Google tells me that Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe were born on precisely the same day. So were Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. But the best parallel we can make for two people of bound by precisely the same birthday and excellence in the same craft are B.B. King and Charlie Byrd, who were a couple of pretty decent guitar players.