by Patrick Hoffman on 12/22/10 at 11:17 AM ET
PH: So, we are just past the 1/3 point of the NHL season. What are some of your general thoughts?
MB: The scoring situation in the league has been an interesting one. While they have historically tried to get scoring up, this season has presented a noticeable effect. In many cases we are seeing routs alot more frequently. However, at the same time we are seeing shutouts more frequently. I am noticing that goal scoring is feast or famine. I am not sure where we are at in terms of last year’s pace, but this is something of interest that I have found. Outside of that, the hockey has been great, and I think the playoffs are going to be sweet.
PH: Which teams/players have surprised you the most in a good way? Why?
MB: Not so much a surprise, but I said at the beginning of the season, to watch out for the Atlanta Thrashers. Alot of my listeners thought I was crazy, but they have been teetering in a division that has some heavyweights in it. They are up there in scoring, and after his incident in Game 1, Ondrej Pavelic aka Jenga the Goalie is getting it done. I am also surprised at the Dallas Stars. They are also at the top of their division, when I thought they would be mediocre the whole time.
PH: Which teams/players have been disappointments? Why?
MB: I thought Phoenix would be more dominant, given that they had a strong season last year and still have alot to prove to people. Not that they have been horrible, but I was hoping to see them build on what they started last season. There is still a long way to go yet. I am also a little surprised that St Louis is not higher up in the standings. They have been decimated by injuries, but I was waiting to see is Jaro Halak was the real deal or not. Can’t blame him for where the team is now, but I would have liked to have seen them in a better position.
PH: What are you looking forward to the most when it comes to this year’s Winter Classic?
MB: That we get it over with, so I dont have to see these two in the game AGAIN!!
PH: Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share with readers here at Kukla’s Korner?
MB: If you’re in a city where attendance is suffering, then get out to a game. Talk to people about hockey, and spread the word. I hate watching games in Atlanta, Dallas, NJ, Florida, etc when I see tons of empty seats. It’s depressing.
I would also keep the CBA on your radar screen. With the NHLPA signing on Donald Fehr as their guy, bad clouds are forming. Everything is in place until the end of the 2012 season, but after that it could get ugly. I don’t see a lockout, as much as I see a players’ strike instead.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.