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Inside the Western Conference Standings – November 25

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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.

Click here for the Eastern Conference version from earlier this afternoon.

Click here for last month’s Western Conference standings post.

Let’s take a look at some of the trends – both good and bad – in the tough as nails West.

The Coyotes and Blue Jackets are the hottest teams in the West, but the Red Wings aren’t far behind

Phoenix owns the longest winning streak in the NHL (seven games), but Columbus has a strong winning streak (five) and are the best over the last 10 games (8-2-0). The Red Wings aren’t far behind, though, with a 7-1-2 record in their last 10.

Detroit might face a bumpy road

That being said, don’t be surprised if the Red Wings struggle a bit here and there. They played 12 (9-1-2) of their 19 games at Joe Louis Arena so far, so they’ll have to play five more games away from home the rest of this season.

Reason for hope

Both the Oilers and Predators faced tough starts to the season, with eight games at home and 12 on the road. They also will get more “at bats,” having played in only 20 games.

Reason to relax

The Kings have been a bit flat lately (5-5-0 in their last 10), but they have played nine games at home and 12 on the road. Considering the fact that Los Angeles is 8-1-0 at home, those three games could be the difference they need in the tough Pacific.

Reason for concern

San Jose and Minnesota are on the flip side of Nashville and Edmonton; each team played 12 games at home and only eight on the road so far. At least that means they’ve only played in 20, but they’re both hit-or-miss even with an advantageous situation.

Acceptably not very good at losing

The Panthers and Blue Jackets are the only two teams in the NHL without an overtime or shootout loss, but you cannot complain about Columbus. That’s because they’ve won five more games than Florida.

The Oilers might be worse than the Islanders

Edmonton has more points (14 to 13), more wins (five to four) and played in one less game than the Long Island squad. That being said, the Oilers have been losing a little worse; they’ve been outscored by 33 goals as opposed to the Islanders’ -28.

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So, there you go. We’ll see how things shake out over the next month in both conferences. Now eat some more turkey.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.