December 17, 2011

Blackhawks and Panthers Are Sneaking up on the Wild

The race atop of the NHL standings is really heating up.  The Wild continue their Cinderella run but they are now tied at the top with the Blackhawks.  The Cinderella tag may not be enough for the Wild to stave off all comers.  We think the Blackhawks are the obvious threat to the Wild for first place and we like the Panthers and give them an outside chance of reaching number one.

Both teams are similar in that they have a good veteran core complimented with solid young talent.  The steamroller in Chicago is chugging along led by the usual suspects including Toews, Sharp, Hossa, and Kane.  Toews is playing so well at both ends of the ice that he looks like the favorite for the MVP title in the NHL.  I am sure the Hawks Captain would gladly give that award up for another Stanley Cup ring.  He might yet get his chance.   Joel Quennville has got his boys flying because he knows how to relate to his players.  He has their respect because he took them to the last Cup win and he knows how to win.  It also helps that he was in the NHL for years and which helps him identify the hot points to motivate his team.

The Panthers are also led by an NHL vet in Kevin Dineen.  Just like the Hawks' coach; Dineen can relate to his players and he has the team clicking and threatening for number one. The Panthers made some good moves in the post season and they are paying off. Kris Versteeg is arguably their best acquisition.  Versteeg ,who played for the Hawks when they won the Cup, has a +/- of +17 and he has scored 17 goals.   We think Florida could surprise if Boston cools down and the Wild's Cinderella clock strike midnight.  The Flyers are without Giroux and Pronger now so they are a lame ducks.  Now is the time for Florida to turn it on and start chasing Chicago and the Wild.

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