by Patrick Hoffman on 01/10/11 at 07:49 PM ET
PH: So, we are past the 1/2 point of the NHL season. What are some of your general thoughts?
BM: I am very happy with the level they (New York Rangers) have been able to compete at considering the injuries. Everyone has stepped up and the play out of the rookies had been better then expected. I am shocked they’ve been able to comeback in a lot of games and always come out thinking they can win. That speaks a lot of the coaching.
PH: Which teams/players have surprised you the most in a good way? Why?
BM: I loved the Lightning in the offseason and am glad they are turning back into a top team. They have a top GM and a great coach along with the best pure goal scorer in the league, in Steven Stamkos. With Brett Connolly in their system, and Victor Hedman getting better as the years go on, they will be a great team for years to come.
I am not breaking any news, but I am shocked with the play of the Stars. I did not think Kari Lehtonen was going to play this well in net, but he has proved me wrong, and the Stars record shows it.
As far as players, Ryan Kesler’s goal total in Vancouver has shocked me a little. Also, the point production of Dustin Byfuglien in Atlanta has caught me off guard.
PH: Which teams/players have been disappointments? Why?
BM: I thought the Devils would win 48 games…they may LOSE up to 48 games. I thought about it in the offseason, but to see Martin Brodeur truly begin to decline, as well as the trade of Jamie Langenbrunner, it’s weird to see the Devils as a bad team.
PH: Being that you cover the New York Rangers for WFAN.com, what do you think of their play this season?
BM: I love the way that everyone plays each game. As I have said before, there is a different feel to this team. Even compared to last season, it is not about one player. It’s about 20 players. When someone gets hurt, someone else steps up. It is a refreshing thing to see.
Also, Marty Biron has been a godsend to the team. Not only is he a quality player in the locker room, but he comes in and wins games. I think, minus the rough start to the season, this has helped Henrik Lundqvist dramatically.
PH: How do you think the Blueshirts could get even better?
BM: Just by getting players back from injury. They are 10 games over .500, and don’t have Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal in the lineup. Those two players combine for 40-50 goals a season.
PH: Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share with readers here at Kukla’s Korner?
BM: Just continue to enjoy the young players in the league. Out of all the major sports, the NHL has the best young talent. Most of the leagues top stars haven’t even hit their prime yet.
Also to enjoy the TV coverage. The NHL Network is amazing and Versus has some great programming, especially with NHL Overtime.
The league is out there for their fans to watch, read, listen and enjoy. Take advantage of it.
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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.