A busy Sunday night in the NHL provided plenty of headlines from both conferences, so let’s get started with the Morning After edition.
Starting in Chicago where the Blackhawks suddenly find themselves on a two-game losing streak. Sounds funny doesn’t it? Blackhawks and losing streak in the same sentence? They run the table through the first 24-games, pulling rabbits out the hat on numerous occasions with late, heroic goals to extend the streak. But back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche led to their first loss and last night the lowly Edmonton Oilers did something that no other team in the Western Conference has been able to do; beat the Hawks on home ice in regulation.
The Oilers were paced by four goals in the first period and clearly caught the Hawks off guard. Chicago roared back pulling the game to within two goals at end of two periods and had this game been five minutes longer, the Oilers would have lost this one as well.
The Blackhawks were the better team for the last forty minutes as the Oilers sat back and reverted to the same style of play that has led them to falling to the cellar in the Western Conference.
The Hawks will have a few days off before they travel to Columbus to play the suddenly surging Blue Jackets. Normally this game would be an easy two points in the bag for the Hawks, but given the Jackets took two straight from the Detroit Red Wings, this is hardly a slam dunk.
Staying in the Western Conference, the Northwest division has a new leader and it’s the Minnesota Wild. It’s hard to remember the last time this division had a leader other than the Vancouver Canucks this late in the season. But thanks to a 4-2 Wild win last night, the Canucks have company at the top.
When the Wild grabbed the two biggest free-agents last summer, many around the game expected them to compete for the division title. After a sluggish start, the Wild appear to be ready to live up to expectations. This should be a thrilling finish for this division.
In Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby reminded the hockey world just how good he is. As if leading the league in scoring wasn’t enough to silence the critics (it’s hard to believe there are critics on this guy), number 87 goes out and registers 5 assists in what was a lopsided 6-1 Penguins win over the New York Islanders. Chris Kunitz must be the happiest player in the NHL to get to play alongside Crosby.
Yawn, the Anaheim Ducks win again with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. This Ducks squad is good, very good and they are flying under the radar. With so much attention put on the Blackhawks, the team from Orange County has only lost three times in regulation this season and continue to roll. How can they possibly trade Corey Perry at the deadline and disrupt their chemistry.