It is great to have the NHL back in full swing. The games are coming fast and furious and they all mean something. My soapbox for this week is the standings in the NHL. Just like the Olympics the NHL should adopt the 3 point game for all games. A win in regulation is worth 3 points, after 60 minutes the shootout is used to determine the winner with 2 points and the loser is worth 1 point. Again I suggest using at least 5 shooters – not 3! Having some games worth 2 points and others worth 3 points is absolutely unfair in the standings. Teams should get more for winning the game in regulation – just like in the Olympics!
The other item is to balance out the schedule. Teams don’t really compete for a division, they compete in the conference. It is not balanced competition to play 6 games versus some teams and only 4 against others. My suggestion is to play 2 games (home and away) against every team in the other conference and 4 games (2 home and 2 away) against all the teams in your conference. This would add 4 games to the regular season – so I suggest taking them from the preseason.
Now let’s look at Broad Street. The Flyers came out of the Olympic break and had to travel to Florida where they always at best split on that trip. Not sure why this happens, but the Florida swing is always tough for the Orange and Black. Against Tampa Mike Richards dominated the game and the Flyers pulled away from a 2-2 game in the 3rd period for a runaway win. The next night, Florida (who has the Flyers number lately) took advantage of every opportunity and beat the Flyers all over the ice. The Flyers played a poor game and they all seemed to say the right things after the game. Next up was Buffalo and Ryan Miller. The Flyers played a much better game in Buffalo and should have won the game. However, Buffalo stole the extra point on an OT winner.
It is good that Lieno got a chance to play, but he should not be on the top line with Carter. Again the lines need to be juggled away from the Stevens combos and set as:
• Hartnell – Carter – Asham
• JVR - Richards – Carcillo
• Gagne – Giroux – Briere
• Powe/Lieno – Betts – Lapierre
Giroux is a passer and Briere and Gagne like to move the puck quickly to create opportunities. Carter needs big wingers that drive the net and create space for his shot. Richards makes other better and Carcillo and JVR will prosper with Richards. Gagne is starting to gain his confidence and playmakers will get him started!
Finally, Boucher needs a chance to play some games. Other than the game in Florida, Leighton has made all the saves but so did Boosh before he got hurt during the December to forget. They should be rotating games and get both guys playing. I do not feel that either guy can guide the team to the Cup alone during the playoffs, but as a tandem they might be able.
Good Night and Good Hockey!
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