Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The East's Dominant Team

I have posted about how the Detroit Red Wings have been a dominant team so far this year. Led by the NHL's top scorer in Henrik Zetterberg and best defenceman in Nicklas Lidstrom I think they are the team that currently looks most likely to win the Stanley Cup. They can get even more dangerous now that Dominik Hasek has returned from injury. Likely he will get his game on track and give the Red Wings some top level goaltending. They are leading the West Conference with a 13-4 record (one loss counting as a regulation tie). There is a team with an even better record that Detroit. They are the Ottawa Senators, who have a league leading 14-2 record. They have also been playing very well.

Ottawa is led by Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza (though he has been injured) offensively. This is a formidable group. Their defence has also been very good with Wade Redden, Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov and Andrej Mezsaros leading the way. Although their goaltending has been good with Martin Gerber in net and should be good when Ray Emery gets healthy, it is the Senators probable weakness. Neither of those goalies is likely good enough to provide the top level goaltending necessary to win the Stanley Cup. I think this is the main reason I would rate Detroit ahead of Ottawa, despite Ottawa having a slightly better record.

Nevertheless, Ottawa has been very good so far this season and lead the league in points. They are a good bet to return to the Stanley Cup finals. They currently have the NHL's second best offence (3.31 goals per game - behind Carolina) and second best defence (2.00 goals per game - behind the New York Rangers). This is a good team. If the right things fall into place, this team could win the Stanley Cup, but I would bet against it. At this point in November, a Detroit vs. Ottawa Stanley Cup final is looking likely. Of course, what looks likely in November often no longer looks so likely come April.

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