Last week I took a look at the AHL standings and found the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings affiliate) and Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers affiliate) tied for the lead. Oklahoma City has taken a two point lead over Manchester. They have a 27-14 record with five regulation tie points. This gives them 59 points.
The Edmonton Oilers may be tied for last place in the NHL, but they have a top farm affiliate. Is this a sign of better things to come? Not necessarily. The AHL is a league of men who are no longer serious NHL prospects and boys who are prospects. Generally the men are better than the boys today, although the boys will be much better in the future.
Jason Williams the Oklahoma City top scorer is 34 years old. He has no NHL future. Their top defenceman Brad Hunt is 26. He is probably as good a player now as he will ever be and today he is no NHL prospect. Richard Bachman has been their top performing goalie. He is 27 and also will not likely improve. The best players in Oklahoma City are men beating up on the boys who are prospects elsewhere in their league. As a result, they have little future value to the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL. The Barons success is not a silver lining for the Oilers poor season.
The KHL All Star Game will be played in Sochi, Russia on January 25th (next weekend). It will have several former NHL players and players who have been seen in international tournaments. It should be interesting to hockey fans. Here are the rosters as Team West meets Team East
Stanislav Galimov CSKA Moscow
Alexander Yeryomenko Dynamo Moscow
It was November when I picked Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames as the Norris Trophy leader. I think he has slipped to second place in the Norris Trophy race. I think Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators has surpassed him. Weber is playing against the toughest competition of any defenceman in the NHL this season. He is scoring successfully with ten goals and 29 points. This puts him a few points back of league leaders Kevin Shattenkirk and Giordano. It is his defence that gives him the lead. Weber is a significant reason that Nashville has been a successful team this year.
Weber has been a Norris Trophy candidate for several years but this could be the year that he emerges victorious. He is the best all-around defenceman in the game right now. Some others have better offensive skills but he has the most value to his team. We will see if he maintains this lead the rest of the way through the season.
I last looked at the AHL standings just before Christmas. The Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks affiliate) led the league with its closest challenge coming from the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings affiliate). Utica has slipped back a bit since then. Manchester has the league lead with 54 points. They are tied with the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oiler affiliate). One point behind them is the Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets affiliate). Utica is two points behind that.
Both Oklahoma City and Manchester have a 25-12 record with four regulation tie points. Springfield is 25-13 with three regulation tie points. There isn't much to separate these teams.
Manchester and Oklahoma City are both top offensive teams. Oklahoma City leads the league with 122 goals scored. Manchester is one goal behind them. Manchester has the two top scorers in the league in Brian O'Neill and Nick Shore. Jordan Weal is fourth in league scoring. Oklahoma City has a more balanced offence. Jason Williams is their top scorer and he is eighth in league scoring. They have seven different players with more than 20 points.
There is no clear front runner in the AHL standings. It will be exciting from here on out to see how things unfold.
If I asked you who the top scorer this season at even strength is, who would you guess?
I bet most people would be surprised to learn that the answer is Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has 36 points at even strength. This is two more than league scoring leader Jakub Voracek, who is second. In terms of total points, Johnson has 45 which places him sixth in the league.
Even strength points is usually a better measure of a player's scoring ability than total points because it removes unequal power play opportunities from point totals. Johnson is a surprise top scorer and as a result did not start the season on the Tampa Bay power play. He is currently fifth in power play ice time in Tampa. He is 50 or 60 minutes of power play ice time behind several of the other top scorers.
The NHL All Star rosters will be announced this weekend. I want to post my teams before this occurs. The game will occur January 25th in Columbus, Ohio. The All Star format is a bit unclear. Both coaches announced in Darryl Sutter of Los Angeles and Peter Laviolette of Nashville coach West Conference teams. I have assumed the game will be East Conference vs. West Conference. That may not be true if the coaches both are from the West Conference. I have also ensured that at least one player is on the rosters per NHL team. The NHL will likely do that as well, however they include a group of six rookies who will only participate in the skills competition and not in the game and a rookie may be the only participant for a given team. I am not interested in using this trick. I have not picked a group of rookies. Thus a rookie who is not in the All Star Game cannot be the only player for a given team.
There are 42 All Star Game roster spots and 30 teams. That leaves 12 players available to be freely selected without account for their team. Five Chicago Blackhawks were voted into the game. This removes four of these slots. We are left with only eight team independent selections. Three are on the West Conference team and five on the East Conference team. As a result, there are players who are better than some of the All Star selections who have been left out of the game.
Here are my rosters:
We are entering All Star season. Yesterday I posted the rosters for the AHL All Star Game. Today I will look at the CHL Top Prospects Game. This game will be played in St Catherines Ontario on January 22nd. This game is played between 40 of the best draft eligible players in the CHL. The teams are divided into Team Cherry and Team Orr and named in honor of Don Cherry and Bobby Orr.
Here are the rosters:
Callum Booth Quebec Remparts
Alexis Loiseau Rimouski Oceanic
The AHL All Star Game will be played in Utica, New York on January 26th. The rosters were announced yesterday.
Here they are:
East Conference AHL All-Stars
Anton Forsberg, Springfield Falcons
Connor Hellebuyck, St. John’s IceCaps
Jeff Zatkoff, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
If the season ended right now, the Toronto Maple Leafs would make the playoffs. They would be eighth seed in the East Conference with a record of 21-19 with three regulation tie points. Given the recent failures of the Toronto organization, that would be a successful year. The logical thing to do when you are having a successful year is to fire your coach... right?
Toronto media had been clamoring for Carlyle's firing. This happens from time to time in the more hockey crazy markets. The media can turn on the coach regardless of whether or not it is warranted. It wasn`t warranted in Toronto. A good GM would be intelligent enough to ignore the media and do the right thing.
The medal round in the World Junior Hockey Championships was played in the last two days. The tournament was played in Montreal and Toronto. Here are the quarterfinal results. The medal round began with semifinals. Sweden met Russia and Canada met Slovakia.
Here are their results:
Russia 4 Sweden 1 - This game was a re-match of their round robin game which Sweden won 3-2. In this game Russia took a lead with two second period goals. Sweden scored midway through the third period but it wasn't enough to get back into the game. Alexander Sharov (undrafted) scored two of the Russian goals. Maxim Mamin (undrafted) had a goal and an assist and Vladimir Bryukvin (undrafted) had two assists. The Swedish goal was scored by Lucas Wallmark (Carolina prospect). Russian goalie Igor Shestyorkin (New York Rangers prospect) was the winning goalie stopping 26 of 27 shots. Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders prospect) lost with 27 saves on 31 shots. Russia moves to the gold/silver game and Sweden to the bronze/4th game.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
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