The first month of the NHL is now behind us, which means we can look back at what has transpired and look forward to what we think will happen. “Overtime” is a series of questions – and – answers fielded by a few of SJ’s hockey minds. In this months edition of Overtime we talk to ShipHockey7, BruinsBoss (Boston), and WestCoastExpress. If you have any questions (for Novembers post) feel free to PM me (westcoastexpress) and we will try to get it answered for you (comments are always welcomed.)
Q.*I think we can all agree that Colorado has been Octobers biggest surprise team. What do you contribute to their success (or do you believe they are just that good?)
[Boston] They are just that good.
[ShipHockey] I think its based off the goaltending, they’ve gotten exceptional net play out of*Craig Anderson, he’s been a drastic improvement from what they had last year. Along with some great play from a few rookies, they’ve played some great hockey. I’m not sold that they’ll keep it up for the entire season yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make the playoffs from their fast start.
[WestCoast] I have to agree with you Ship, their goaltending has been great.*Craig Anderson has been very good, perhaps good enough to get a few looks before the Olympics. Their young guns (Stastny,*Wolski,O’Reilly,*Duchene) have all stepped up, especially on the road where its harder for teams for finds wins.
Q.*Is there a team (excluding Colorado) that surprised you? (good or bad)
[Boston] I wasn’t that surprised by Colorado, actually, but I am very surprised and impressed with LA.
[ShipHockey] Buffalo, sure they were good last year, only really missed the playoffs because*Ryan Miller got hurt, but they started the season 7-1-1, and if they keep that up they’ll run away with their division and be a big time contender in the Eastern Conference.
[WestCoast] I’m going to say the Anaheim Ducks. After making a good run in the playoffs last season I thought they would come out of the gate strong. But the Ducks only won two games at home in October (dropped four in a row at home) and other then*Corey Perry no one has stepped up infront of*Jonas Hiller.
Q.Phil Kessel is cleared to make his start with the Leafs. Realistically what type of stats can we expect from Kessel & the Leafs this month?*
[Boston] The Leafs will benefit GREATLY from Phil.
[ShipHockey] Kessel will shoot the puck, a lot. That being said, I don’t think the Leafs get much better with him. The way to build a franchise is from the net out. The Monster in net is a good start, but their defense isn’t anything to write home about, and even their offence isn’t too scary. I think Kessel will put in 8-10 goals in November, just because they’re going to feed him the puck on every power play.
[WestCoast] Lets be realistic. Kessel hasn’t played in about six months. He missed the pre-season and while everyone is getting closer to that level where they left off last year, Kessel is just begging to get into that grove. I think he might win them 3 – 5 games this month while netting 5 – 7 goals and half a dozen assists.
Q.Toronto went 1 – 7 – 4 in the month of October. If they were to repeat these type of numbers for November what is the most likely scenario;*Ron Wilson gets axed,*Brian Burke gets axed,*Tomas Kaberle gets traded, or none of the above/something else.
[Boston] Kaberle is traded
[ShipHockey] Burke won’t get axed, thats not gonna happen. I’ll go with Wilson gets axed.
[WestCoast] I agree that Burke won’t get axed, neither will Wilson (coach of team USA), Tomas Kaberle getting moved wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
Q.So now that the whole Phoenix episode seems to be over and*Wayne Gretzky is free to move on, do you think we will see the “Great One” find a new team this month or is he going to lay low for awhile?
[Boston] Hang back for the rest of the season.
[ShipHockey] I say he’s out of the NHL for the remainder of this season.
[WestCoast] I’ll be the wild one here and say Wayne picks up a new job sometime this month. I know L.A. Was interested in him and couldn’t imagine why he wouldn’t want to get as far away from Phoenix as he could. I don’t think we will see him in a coaching role, but someone will find something for him to do.
Q.Evgeni Malkin will likely miss most of this month with a shoulder injury. How many games (if any) do you think this will cost the Pens?
[Boston] As usual, Pittsburgh is strong enough to adapt and overcome.
[ShipHockey] I think he’s coming back either next week or the following, it’ll cost them a few because without him AND Gonchar they’ll struggle especially bringing the puck into the zone on the power play. That being said, they’re still a powerhouse and they’ll be able to win their games.
[WestCoast] I agree with both of you. This could cost them a few (less then 4) but they are still a very strong team and I don’t think we will see them struggle (yet..)
Q.As it stands today the New York Islanders would make the playoffs (they finished last last year) and the Carolina Hurricanes (who made it to the Eastern Conference Finals) would finish close to the basement (a spot held by the Leafs.) Will we see a flip (Carolina in, New York out) this month or a flop (both in or both out) or no change at all?
[Boston] The Islanders will not make it – at all. The Hurricanes are a 50/50 toss up.
[ShipHockey] Both out, Carolina is struggling big time, Cam Ward can seem to make a save when they need it. The Islanders are playing well but I can’t see them keeping this up, Tavares looks good but they have too many question marks up and down the lineup to be a serious playoff contender
[WestCoast] At the end of this month I think we will still see thing the same. The Islanders have a good month (November) to build on, with only Washington, Pittsburgh, and maybe New Jersey or Boston to worry about. The Canes on the other hand are in a down-ward tailspin and I think something is going to give soon.
Q.What team suffered the most from injuries during the month of October?
[Boston] I think the Coyotes have suffered the most, but not from injuries.
[WestCoast] Going with my homer pick here but how could I not pick the Canucks when they have two top six forwards (Pavol Demitra,*Daniel Sedin), up-comming rookie*Micheal Grabner and*Jannik Hansen, and All – Star goaltender*Roberto Luongo. Forward*Ryan Johnson and defensemen*Sami Salo both missed some time in October too.
Q.Who was Octobers Rookie of the Month?
[Boston]*James van Riemsdyk
[ShipHockey]*Michael Del Zotto, he was unreal, especially on the PP. At first I was sceptical of him because he didn’t get a lot of ice time, pretty much all of it was when the Rangers were on the man advantage, but now hes starting to gain more trust from their coach and get some more ice time.
[WestCoast] I have to say*Ryan O’Reilly. He’s been playing great for Colorado and is their best +/- player.
Q.Who was Octobers Player of the Month?
[ShipHockey]*Anze Kopitar…NHL Leading Scorer
[WestCoast] Ryan Miller. The guy has been insane in October, which is good for team USA if he can keep his winning ways up.
Q.Who was the under – achiever of the month?
[ShipHockey]*Steve Mason, Rookie of the Year last year and 2nd place in Vezina voting, he cant seem to stop anything this year
[WestCoast]*Carey Price, the Montreal Canadiens goalie. This guy have a .883 Sv% with a 3.66
Hockey Mailbag (ask all your hockey questions here)