One of the nice things about subscribing to the NHL Center Ice package is that fans in the east can follow teams out west…and vise-versa I suppose. Given that we only get a chance see west teams once, maybe twice, a year when the Thrashers play them, Center Ice provides fans of the sport with a great way to follow them throughout the season.
One of the things I wind up doing is picking one or two teams in the Western Conference to watch consistently…or “adopt”, if you will…and follow their progress through the NHL campaign.
Some of you have made your way to Thrashervillefrom cities like Chicago, Detroit or some other Western Conference town. So for you the choice is always an easy one. But being a semi-native Georgian…lived here most of my life…I hold true loyalties to just one team, the Thrashers Anyone else is but a passing fancy.
But for a number of seasons, my adopted team was the San Jose Sharks. They’ve iced very good squads throughout the years, consistently jockeyed for playoff positioning and usually played a very entertaining style of hockey.
But last fall I moved away from the Sharks…partly because of so many playoff disappointments, partially because of Dany Heatley and partly because, well, I just wanted to find a new team.
To that measure, I began watching the Chicago Blackhawks closely. I’m certain I wasn’t alone in that given how good they were coming into the season. It was the “chic” pick, I suppose.
But as things turned out, I was able to follow them all the way to the Stanley Cup. And when Byfuglien, Ladd, Eager, Sopel and Torchetti made their way here last summer, it was as if familiar faces were heading to town as I had kind of gotten to know them and had an appreciation for what they brought with them.
Which west coast team will you be adopting this season?
Total Voters: 164
So now that we’re roughly a quarter of the way through this season, and we have a few days between games, let’s take our annual trip down to the Thrasherville NHL Team Adoption Center and see if there’s one you’d like to adopt from the west coast. Of course, maybe some of you have already picked out a favorite. Either way, I’d like to know which one(s) you’ve chosen and why.
As for me, well…I’m torn between a couple of them.
First there’s the Dallas Stars who are trying to work their way back to the playoffs after failing to qualify last year. They are doing so without longtime star and fan-favorite Mike Modano and with former Thrashers netminder Kari Lehtonen. Kari has done pretty well for himself in the Lone Star State, currently with a record of 13-7-2, a .915 SV% and 2.59 GAA. Maybe a little change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered for Lehts, eh?
Like the Thrashers, Dallas as been getting some very balanced scoring as four players have 9 or more goals and four have 20+ points on the year. Brad Richards leads the way with 12 goals and 19 assists going into Wednesday night’s action in Chicago.
The Stars are currently atop the Pacific Division, but Phoenix is right on their spurs.
The other squad that’s caught my attention is the Edmonton Oilers. Not because I think they are going anywhere soon, but I’m curious to see how that franchise works themselves back into a contenting team in the season’s to come.
They certainly are seeing dividends already from taking Taylor Hall with last summer’s first overall draft pick. He’s scored 9 goals and 6 assists already and he’s really going to be something special in this league as he grows and matures.
Edmonton is currently showing some signs of improvement over last year’s disappointing showing. Prior to dropping a 3-2 loss in a shootout to the Anaheim Ducks, the Oilers had rattled off four straight and are now 6-2-2 in their last 10 games played.
Oh yeah…and there’s always the Flames. I guess I’ll always keep an eye on what they’re doing given their Atlanta roots. I especially like watching them play homes games…that sea of red jerseys is nothing but impressive.