National Hockey League
With just 2 weeks left til the Olympic Break, teams are looking for a good run before the players leave for the Olympics. Washington is starting to assert themselves as the top team in the league as they starting to pull away from the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils to go up 8 and 9 points over their fellow Division Leaders. Ottawa is starting to surge after winning 9 in a row to move up to 5th place and approach Pittsburgh who's in 4th and in the final home ice spot.
After that, it gets very tight as the gap from 6th place Philadelphia Flyers through the 13th place NY Islanders is just 3 points. If anyone is going to attempt to break away from the pack, it could be a team like the Philadelphia Flyers who are in 6th and the Atlanta Thrashers who have games in hand over teams like the NY Rangers and the Montreal Canadians who have played among the most games in the Conference with 56.
Out west, the Vancouver Canucks have taken over the Northwest Lead which will be the best race this year with a 7 game winning streak. Also the Phoenix Coyotes continue to defy the odds as a 4 game winning streak to put them into 4th and it would be the Phoenix Coyotes against the Los Angeles Kings in the 4 vs. 5 matchup in the opening round of the playoffs.
A team that's been going down is Calgary as the Flames sit in the 8th and final playoff spot, but have sputtering at home as they home record is just 1 game over .500 at 13-12-3, while their away record is 14-8-5. However, in their last 10, just 1 victory throughout the entire month of Jan.
Detroit is currently tied for 8th, but in 9th due to a inferior winning percentage, the Red Wings would find themselves out of the playoffs. As for the Stars, once again, a chance to put together a winning streak and the Phoenix Coyotes stopped them again last night with a 4-2 win for the Coyotes.
A home winning surge has the Minnesota Wild are now just 4 points back of 8th in the Western while at one point, the Wild were in 13th place and looked like they would be going for a high draft pick then hoping for a playoff spot.
American Hockey League
After a rough December and 1st part of Jan. the Texas Stars have found their grove as the Stars have won 7 of their last 10 to regain a slim 2 point lead over the Rockford Icehogs and Milwaukee Admirals as the West Division continues to shift rapidly as the gap from Division Leading Texas to 4th place Chicago is just 4 points right now.
Houston and Peoria are at 53 and 52 points, but both have the team play to get them their. Earlier in the year, it looked like the Aeros would have among the best defense's in the AHL, but the Aeros are starting to leak some goals as the Aeros have gotten some leaks. Right now.
They don't have the offense to keep up as the Aeros Jon Disalvatore leads the team with 18 goals, other scores include Jean-Michael Daoust and Maxim Noreau who are looking to pick up their games. Houston does have some solid goaltending as both Wade Dubielewicz and Anton Khudobin both have a GAA of 2.42 and SV% of just over 90%. Also involved in that group is Khudobin getting selected in the AHL All Star Game recently.
San Antonio is still last, but have been able to get out of the league basement since the coaching change back around Thanksgiving. But haven't been playing well to get into the Division Playoff race, only winning 4 of their last 10 and the wins haven't been that great against the likes of the Toronto Marlies who are in last place in the North Division.
The battle for the Atlantic Crown continues to be tight as the Manchester Monarchs are up 3 points over the Lowell Devils and Worcester Sharks with none of the teams being able to get on any kind of streak to take charge of the Atlantic.
The gap for the 4th and possibly 5th place spots will be just as tight if not more. Portland has won 6 of their last 10 to get into 4th 3 points ahead of Hartford and Bridgeport. In 7th and looking to move up is the Providence Bruins had a great win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, however.
Since then the only team that they have been able to beat is the last place Springfield Falcons who are looking towards missing the playoffs yet again. With games against the likes of Worcester, Portland and Hartford who are looking to get in position to win the Atlantic, it's going to be very hard for the Bruins to get into the playoff race.
Hershey is starting to put the East Division race in track and looking towards home ice throughout the entire playoffs with a 19 point gap over 2nd place Albany and 7 points ahead of the Hamilton Bulldogs who have the top spot in the North Division.
The defending Calder Cup Champion Bears are getting it done on all levels, Hershey already has 3 players with at least 20 goals, 2 others with 19 and as many of 3 or 4 that could reach at least 20 for the season. In net, Michal Neuvirth is among the league leaders in net with a 1.92 GAA and a .932 SV%, it's a wonder that he's not playing in the NHL With those type of numbers how he has been playing.
This is clearly a Division where only 3 teams will make the post season this year with the strength of the Atlantic. After Hershey, the Albany River Rats have an 8 point gap over Norfolk. But beyond that, it will be a heated battle for the 3rd spot in the East, the gap between the Norfolk Admirals and the last place Binghamton Senators is just 7 points.
Hamilton is looking to put the North Division race over with a 9 point gap over the Rochester Americans. As the Bulldogs have gotten points in 7 of their last 10, Brock Trotter is playing some of his best hockey of the season as the Bulldogs superstar as he scored 22 points (13G 9A) in January. Perhaps the most impressive stat was having 5 multi goal games including a hat trick against the Grand Rapids Griffins back on back on 1/9.
After the Rochester Americans who has been in 2nd for basically the entire season. It's going to be a battle for the 3rd and 4th spots as the Lake Erie Monsters are starting to heat up as they are now just 1 point back of 4th place Abbotsford as the Monsters are rolling with a 5 game home stand that begins on 2/3 against some teams that if successful.
Can start quieting some critics as the Monsters will face off against Milwaukee and Hamilton to end the home stand, but first a battle with 2nd place Rochester before a pair of games against the Rockford Icehogs who are looking to catch up with the Texas Stars.
Central Hockey League
It's starting to spread out as the tight battles that gripped the middle of both conferences are starting to clear up a little bit. In the North, Bossier-Shreveport and Mississippi are 8 and 9 points ahead of the Missouri Mavericks and Tulsa Oilers who will most likely fight it out for the final playoff spot in the North. Even though the Mudbugs and Riverkings are fighting it out for 3rd and 4th, it will make the difference between having to play an extra round and getting the top seed.
Getting the 3rd seed is going to be huge because it will be the #2 VS. #3 in the opening round without playing in the Conference Play In. The Mudbugs have used a heavy home schedule to their advantage in recent games as the Mudbugs have won all 5 home games in the last 6. Included in those is a 7-0 win over Rio Grande Valley and a 4-3 OT Win over the Colorado Eagles.
Mississippi has also played well recently with a pair of SO Wins over the Rapid City Rush last week and also beating the Missouri Mavericks in order to pull away from the pack that had them in a mess which could have meant possibly missing the post season if the Riverkings didn't get on the current role their are on now.
We have a new 5th place team in the South and it's the Corpus Christi Icerayz who earned a pair of big wins over the weekend with a strong weekend against their South Texas Rivals. On Saturday was a 6-3 win then a dominating 6-0 win at home last night.
For the Killer Bees, it's been feast or famine of late as a 6-0 loss to the Icerayz have put a blow in their hopes as this was a reminder of when the Killer Bees had the Jackalopes on the ropes and let them go when the Killer Bees were up 4-2 midway through the 3rd period. Then a comeback hat trick by Mike Ramsay took over and won in OT 5-4 have hurt the pride of the Killer Bees.
Believe it or not, the Arizona Sundogs are starting to heat up after being dormat for most of the season, a strong 3 game road trip saw them go 2-0-1 against the Odessa Jackalopes as both games went to OT and were able to pull off a split. Then a big 3-2 win over the Amarillo Gorillas has the Gorillas in a tail spin after getting off to a great start to the season.
Currently the Gorillas have lost 6 of their last 10 and the Gorillas are slow starting to lose track, even though the Gorillas are just 2 points back of RGV and Corpus Christi, the Gorillas have been supporting on defense as the Gorillas have been giving up a ton of goals including giving up 4 or more against some tough competition as the have faced teams like Rapid City and Allen recently.
As for Arizona, a statement week is coming up as the Sundogs will face the Rapid City Rush 3 times at home this week starting on Wednesday then on Friday and Saturday night. After the games against the Rush, it's a road trip to the Colorado Eagles, what should be a gimme against the Wichita Thunder and then a game Sunday night against the Amarillo Gorillas once again.
National Hockey League Standings
1. Washington 55 GP 37-12-6 80 PTS 214-149
2. New Jersey 54 GP 35-17-2 72 PTS 146-122
3. Buffalo 54 GP 32-15-7 71 PTS 153-132
4. Pittsburgh 57 GP 35-21-1 71 PTS 180-161
5. Ottawa 56 GP 31-21-4 66 PTS 157-157
6. Philadelphia 53 GP 27-23-3 57 PTS 160-149
7. Florida 55 GP 24-22-9 57 PTS 149-158
8. NY Rangers 56 GP 25-24-7 57 PTS 143-154
9. Atlanta 54 GP 24-22-8 56 PTS 165-174
10. Montreal 56 GP 25-25-6 56 PTS 143-152
11. Boston 53 GP 23-21-9 55 PTS 130-136
12. Tampa Bay 54 GP 22-21-11 55 PTS 138-162
13. NY Islanders 56 GP 23-25-8 54 PTS 143-172
14. Carolina 54 GP 19-28-7 45 PTS 145-176
15. Toronto 56 GP 17-28-11 45 PTS 149-197
1. San Jose 55 GP 36-10-9 81 PTS 187-134
2. Chicago 55 GP 37-14-4 78 PTS 180-129
3. Vancouver 54 GP 34-18-2 70 PTS 178-132
4. Phoenix 56 GP 33-18-5 71 PTS 154-145
5. Los Angeles 55 GP 33-19-3 69 PTS 166-151
6. Colorado 54 GP 30-18-6 66 PTS 156-143
7. Nashville 54 GP 30-21-3 63 PTS 151-152
8. Calgary 55 GP 27-20-8 62 PTS 143-142
9. Detroit 55 GP 26-19-10 62 PTS 142-147
10. Dallas 55 GP 24-20-11 59 PTS 157-177
11. Minnesota 55 GP 27-24-4 58 PTS 153-163
12. Anaheim 55 GP 25-23-7 57 PTS 152-172
13. St. Louis 55 GP 24-22-9 57 PTS 143-153
14. Columbus 57 GP 22-26-9 53 PTS 149-188
15. Edmonton 53 GP 16-31-6 38 PTS 137-184
American Hockey League Standings
1. Manchester 50 GP 29-14-7 65 PTS 138-113
2. Worcester 47 GP 29-14-4 62 PTS 152-144
3. Lowell 50 GP 29-17-4 62 PTS 160-131
4. Portland 47 GP 24-16-7 55 PTS 138-129
5. Hartford 49 GP 23-20-6 52 PTS 133-142
6. Bridgeport 51 GP 22-21-8 52 PTS 121-134
7. Providence 49 GP 23-23-3 49 PTS 125-129
8. Springfield 52 GP 16-26-10 42 PTS 125-185
1. Hershey 48 GP 37-9-2 76 PTS 211-112
2. Albany 48 GP 26-17-5 57 PTS 133-131
3. Norfolk 49 GP 23-23-3 49 PTS 125-134
4. Adirondack 47 GP 22-22-3 47 PTS 109-133
5. W-B/Scranton 47 GP 22-23-2 46 PTS 139-142
6. Syracuse 48 GP 19-23-6 44 PTS 135-175
7. Binghamton 45 GP 19-22-4 42 PTS 139-144
1. Hamilton 50 GP 31-12-7 69 PTS 164-112
2. Rochester 48 GP 29-17-2 60 PTS 154-144
3. Manitoba 51 GP 24-22-5 53 PTS 124-154
4. Abbotsford 49 GP 21-21-7 49 PTS 130-152
5. Lake Erie 49 GP 22-23-4 48 PTS 143-150
6. Toronto 49 GP 18-22-9 45 PTS 124-173
7. Grand Rapids 48 GP 21-26-1 43 PTS 143-164
1. Texas 48 GP 28-13-7 63 PTS 140-108
2. Rockford 52 GP 28-19-5 61 PTS 148-145
3. Milwaukee 50 GP 27-17-6 60 PTS 147-145
4. Chicago 48 GP 28-17-3 59 PTS 157-127
5. Houston 49 GP 23-19-7 53 PTS 138-131
6. Peoria 47 GP 23-18-6 52 PTS 139-142
7. San Antonio 47 GP 20-19-8 48 PTS 129-138
Central Hockey League Standings
1. Rapid City 41 GP 28-10-3 59 PTS 163-119
2. Colorado 40 GP 27-9-4 58 PTS 174-126
3. Bossier-Shreveport 41 GP 23-14-4 50 PTS 131-123
4. Mississippi 42 GP 22-16-4 48 PTS 135-137
5. Tulsa 40 GP 20-18-2 42 PTS 132-139
6. Missouri 42 GP 19-20-3 41 PTS 129-151
7. Wichita 39 GP 4-32-3 11 PTS 69-145
1. Odessa 44 GP 34-6-4 72 PTS 182-120
2. Allen 41 GP 28-10-3 59 PTS 131-108
3. Texas 43 GP 21-17-5 47 PTS 127-130
4. Laredo 41 GP 19-15-7 45 PTS 134-137
5. Corpus Christi 42 GP 18-18-6 42 PTS 136-129
6. Rio Grande Valley 42 GP 18-18-6 42 PTS 125-153
7. Amarillo 45 GP 17-22-6 40 PTS 138-169
8. Arizona 43 GP 15-24-4 34 PTS 131-151
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