On Sunday, the puck will be dropped at the NHL All-Star game. So this week seemed as good a time as any to bring Helene Elliott of the LA Times back to the program to clue us in on the happenings of this NHL season.
The Vancouver Canucks, after losing in the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins last season, find themselves tied for third place in the Western Conference standings.
“They actually had a pretty difficult start,” Elliott said, “but the Canucks have straightened themselves out and it’s been fun to watch.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets, however, aren’t enjoying any success at all this season and find themselves in last place by a full nine points.
“They’ve really had a tough go of it through terrible goaltending, some coaching problems,” Elliott said. “Now the question is whether they’ll trade Jeff Carter before the NHL trade deadline on February 27.”
The New York Rangers, meanwhile, sit atop the Eastern Conference with 66 points and have allowed just 96 goals all season, the fewest in the league. Elliott says they can thank their goalie for that.
“Henrik Lundqvist has had a spectacular season,” she said. “Plus their defense has been better than it’s been in years – it’s funny, because that’s the one place that they didn’t spend a lot of money on players. They spent a lot of money on some of their forwards, but Lundqvist has just been marvelous.”
The Winnipeg Jets are back in the NHL this year. The Jets existed from 1972 to 1996, before they moved to Phoenix to become the Coyotes. However, when the Atlanta Thrashers were looking for a new home, they made their way to Winnipeg.
“It’s been insane,” Elliott said. “They’ve sold out every game, the fans have been buying all the souvenirs and uniforms … incredible passion. It’s been one of the NHL’s biggest success stories this season.”
The All-Star Game will be played on Sunday evening, but when asked to give us a good reason to watch, Helene offered simply, “If I could, I would.”
“The NHL All-Star Game has out-grown its purpose,” she continued. “There’s no hitting in the All-Star game, and if there’s no hitting in a hockey game, then what’s the point?”