Inside the Eastern Conference Standings – November 25

Every now and then, we’ll take a look at each conference’s standings to see if there are any trends or quirks that explain why some teams are failing and others are overachieving. Obviously, these results will reveal bigger truths once we advance later into this season … but it’s still fun and interesting to take a peek at bigger picture numbers.

Check out last month’s edition of the Eastern Conference Standings here.

Which teams are the hottest and coldest? Which teams are road warriors and who depends too much on home cooking? Let’s take a look.

Washington might require the Presidents’ Trophy.

The Capitals are easily one of the most dangerous and talented teams in the NHL once again. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are their usual all-world selves, but the real highlight is that Alexander Semin is (gasp) playing some defense and generally acting like a guy who can make a lot of money this season.

That being said, much like Superman, the Capitals are a little too dependent on The Phone Booth. They are 10-1-1 at home and 5-5-1 on the road.

The road hearty Bruins

At home, Boston is the definition of mediocre: 4-4-2. Yet away from Beantown, the Bruins are bold: 8-2-0 so far. There’s a chowder joke somewhere here, but I’d rather not make it.

The almost equally road hearty Atlantic

The Philadelphia Flyers (6-2-2), Pittsburgh Penguins (8-3-1) and New York Rangers (7-4-0) are all above .500 on the road. So what’s the difference? While the Penguins and Rangers come in at-or-below .500 at home, the Flyers are a robust 9-4-0.

Why the Flyers might be the best in the East

The Caps and Flyers boast identical 15-6-2 records, but Philly’s goal differential (+28) grossly outclasses Washington’s (+11).

The Islanders are lonely

It might not be by much, the Devils have a lot more hope than the Isles right now. If you combine all the other Eastern teams’ losing streaks (nine in a row overall) they don’t match the 14 game drought in Long Island.

Florida must improve at losing

Look, it’s really sad that charity points exist, but that doesn’t mean that a team shouldn’t exploit them. The Panthers are 9-11-0, the only Eastern team without an overtime or shootout loss. Perhaps that explains why they’re the third worst team in the conference despite having a +2 goal differential.

(To be fair, they’ve only played 20 games so far.)

Tampa Bay cannot be ignored, Toronto might get worse

The Lightning played four more games on the road than at home, with only the Islanders suffering from the same negative disparity at this point. That difference might not be enough for them to catch up with the Capitals in the Southeast, but it will certainly help them stay ahead of the other division runner-ups.

Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs might tumble even more going forward, having played 12 games in Toronto and only eight on the road.

Mild Devils rebound?

If one seemingly hopeless team can turn things around (aside from the short on games played Panthers), it might be the Devils. For them, a 4-5-1 run in 10 games is actually pretty solid. Small victories, right?

‘It was a scary incident’: Colaiacovo returns to Sabres practice after dented trachea

Carlo Colaiacovo
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Carlo Colaiacovo‘s remarkably quick recovery from what appeared to be a serious injury continued on Monday, as he returned to practice roughly 48 hours after suffering a dented trachea.

Colaicovo, who was hospitalized after taking a Viktor Arvidsson cross-check to the throat on Saturday, skated with his Buffalo teammates on Monday in advance of tomorrow’s game against Detroit.

“I feel good,” Colaiacovo said, per the Sabres’ website. “Obviously it was a scary incident and at the time it was pretty painful but it is what it is.

“Right now, it’s not really stopping me from doing much.”

Though he said he’s still feeling pain in and around his throat, Colaiacovo is eligible to return to the Sabres’ lineup tomorrow.

The 32-year-old, who has appeared in 15 games this season, would no doubt like to go up against the same Detroit team that employed him during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, only to buy out his contract at the end of the year.

Couture (fractured fibula) continues skating with Sharks, says return is on schedule

Logan Couture
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Some good news at Sharks practice today — Logan Couture continued to skate with teammates, just one week after returning to the ice from a broken leg suffered on Oct. 17.

What’s more, Couture says he’s on schedule to meet the 4-6 week timetable for return.

“[I’m] where I thought I would be at this point in time,” Couture said, per CSN Bay Area.

While the 26-year-old wouldn’t put an exact date on his return, it’s clear both he and the Sharks are anxious for him to get back in the lineup — especially with the club surging, and Couture having only played in three regular-season contests this year.

Looking ahead, there are some dates worth circling on the ol’ calendar.

The Sharks have a relatively light week. After beating Calgary 5-2 on Saturday, they play just once in five days — Tuesday’s home tilt against the Penguins — before a weekend back-to-back set against the Ducks on Friday and Lightning on Saturday.

The Ducks game is in Anaheim, but the following night’s contest against the Bolts is at the friendly confines of SAP. So that could be a potential date to watch for — but it is worth noting Couture said he’s still hesitant about getting into game action until his first step is back.

“Until then, I’m not going to force my way out there and put myself in a bad spot,” he explained.

Kesler believes Ducks are ‘too good to not be in the playoffs’

Shane Doan, Ryan Kesler

It’s been 24 games for the Anaheim Ducks, more than a quarter of the season, and still they’re having trouble winning.

Friday against Chicago, they surrendered two goals in the last two minutes of regulation and lost in overtime.

Currently, the Ducks sit five points out of a playoff spot with a record of 8-11-5.

Still, forward Ryan Kesler is confident they’ll find a way into the postseason.

“If we keep playing like we are, we’re going to get into the playoffs — this team is too good to not be in the playoffs,” Kesler told The Province ahead of tonight’s home game versus Vancouver.

“We had a bad start and, to be honest, some guys weren’t ready to start the season. There’s a lot of hockey to be played and we’re ready for the challenge.”

To match the 45-30-7 record the Flames squeaked into the playoffs with last year, the Ducks would need to go 37-19-2 over their next 58 games.




Depends who you ask.

Anaheim’s playoff chances will depend a lot on how Pacific Division teams like San Jose, Arizona, and Vancouver finish. The Ducks may need to leapfrog two of those three to get in.

Yes, there’s always the chance four teams from the Pacific qualify, because it’s not like Colorado, Winnipeg, and Minnesota don’t have their problems. Even Nashville you have to wonder about lately. Heck, even Chicago isn’t assured of anything yet.

Bottom line, though, the Ducks have dug themselves a hole, and it’s starting to look a lot like the one the Kings dug last year.

In the NHL, even good teams don’t always climb out.

Related: Boudreau does the playoff math, and it’s no ‘easy task’ for Ducks

Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

“Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

Suter also had something to say about that.

“It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

For example, at today’s practice:

The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.