By Brian Monzo
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This week took some twists and turns. Sidney Crosby took a few shots and is being monitored. The Wild continue to streak. Rookies continue to impress. Some players still don’t know how to hit legally. Finally, the league makes a major decision to change standings in a dramatic way.
It’s time for the Friday Five.
1. The NHL Realignment
This has been talked about for some time. When the Atlanta Thrashers moved to the Winnipeg, something had to be done. The new format gives the league four conferences divided in such a way that allows less travel for the teams, and more excitement throughout the playoffs. The first four teams of the conferences make the playoffs and have a two round playoff to determine the winner of the conference. While the kinks may not have been worked out, the realignment was voted upon by GMs and approved by the majority. While nothing is perfect, the league has the right idea here — and I support this move.
2. Minnesota Wild
So what the Wild as the best team in the league after 20-plus games? Not me. Likely not anyone. But they are that team. They don’t have the best offensive in the league, but their goaltending has out of this world. Josh Harding, Nicklas Backstrom and rookie Matt Hackett have all combined for a GAA around 2.00. While they haven’t struggled scoring goals, Dany Heatley certainly is not playing yet at the level we have all seen. Mikko Koivu continues to be consistently good, and veteran Matt Cullen still produces.
3. Andy Sutton
It’s hard to imagine what goes on in someone’s head before they level another player. First Sutton did this:
He got five games for that.
I guess he needed another vacation, because the Oilers defenseman did this:
Sutton, now suspended indefinitely until the league makes their decision, is looking at perhaps a double-digit game vacation. What exactly needs to happen for a player to realize what is a legal and not legal hit? Sutton needs to be made an example out of.
Sadly, he deserves it.
4. Tampa Baby Lightning
There is something that bothered me last night. After Artem Anisimov scored a short handed goal, he did some stupid shotgun celebration and then the Lightning had to throw a tantrum.
They showed me something beating the Rangers 3-2 in a shootout. That is where they needed to handle it. But getting their jockstraps all bent out of shape and starting a near brawl did nothing but make them look childish and delay the game. If Anisimov hit their goalie with a cheap shot, then I would understand it. Vinny Lecavalier needs to be better then his. Steve Downie, the often lunatic that he is, is going to be looking at a suspension for leaving the bench (which is a shame because he has really turned himself and his reputation around).
5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
The first overall pick in June has stormed in the league and has scored 30 points in 28 games, including 16 points in his last 10 games. There was so much debate as to whether the 18-year-old Oilers center would be NHL ready this season. One by one he is proving his critics wrong, and helping the Oilers back to respectability at the same time. There are fewer things I believe in more then that the NHL has the best young talent in all of sports. Nugent-Hopkins continues to drive that point home.
Your thoughts on the Friday Five? Tweet me: BMonzoWFAN