Calgary started 2006 on a winning note with a home victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. Kristian Huselius set up Jarome Iginla for his first goal in 5 games, and added his own goal to lead the Flames to a 3-2 win. It wasn’t the most amazing win of the year, but it will be important when April rolls around.
Chicago could not seem to get any consistent offence going, and succumbed to the Flames defence for its 21st loss of the Season. The Blackhawks (30 points) remain more than 20 points behind 2nd place Nashville in the Central Division. But thanks to the horrible records of St. Louis and Columbus (NHL worst 25 points each) things don’t look so bad in Chigago.
No wonder Detroit and Nashville are doing so well this year. Could it be the same for the New York Rangers or the Philadelphia Flyers?
Take a look at the NHL standings so far and see how the divisional races are panning out midway through the season. Two of the 6 Divisions in the NHL are dominated by 2 teams (i.e. 2-3 of the 5 teams in their division are sucking pretty bad this season). That means with the new NHL rules (where teams play even more divisional games than in past seasons), certain teams are going to have easier runs to the top of the league this year.
So far this season, the Northwest and Northeast Divisions are the toughest in the league. As of the halfway mark of the 2005-2006 season, teams in the Northeast Division have battled for a total of 109 wins and 238 points combined. The Northwest Division teams have amassed 108 wins and 236 points. Compare this with a combined 86 wins and 188 points for all teams in the Central Division and you’ll see why 2 teams can hold 108 of those 188 points.
Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto all are in the most competitive divisions in the NHL, but I’ have confidence that they will all do well this season… at least all of them but the Canucks and the Oilers will!!!
CHI: Vandermeer (5) A: Lapointe
CGY: Iginla (16) A: Huselius, Langkow
CGY: Huselius (10) A: Reinprecht, Donovan
CHI: Calder (8) A: Vandermeer, Sharp
CGY: Lombardi (2) A: McCarty, Regehr