In the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh has suffered after reaching the Stanley Cup Final last year. Whether it’s the personnel changes, the coaching controversy, an average year for Marc-Andre Fleury or the absence of point man extraordinaire, Sergei Gonchar, the Pens have not found a way to get hot.
I can assure you that it will be very warm if this trend continues. Mike Therrien has already been subject to rumours of his demise and I’m sure the team’s general manager Ray Shero has glanced over his shoulder looking for the long gone Marian Hossa ... or the axe man.
There are a lot of teams that have suffered the post-finals letdown, but a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is expected to at least make the playoffs.
Thin cupboard in Atlanta
In Atlanta, the playoffs are again out of reach and that means that someone is going to start feeling the heat. Can GM Don Waddell find a way to explain this result and offer some hope for the future?
For whatever combination of reasons, the Thrashers look like a team without a grand plan and with only average talent in the cupboard. As always, when this happens, the GM will start reaching for the sun block because the rays he’ll be feeling will be toxic. Atlanta is a team in desperate need of some great deadline moves to prevent some serious scorching.
In the West, the much-heralded signing of Mats Sundin has done little but bring a Swedish ice storm to the city. Even the return of Roberto Luongo just prior to the all-star break was not enough to boil the Canucks pot. Failure to make a playoff push after much early season promise could make coach Alain Vigneault warm and toasty and on a beach someplace in March because he might very well be looking for work.
The playoff chills
And finally, the San Jose Sharks have escaped the ravages of frostbite with their red-hot first half. But does that matter in San Jose where everyone knows the worst cold spells occur in April? For two Sharks in particular, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, the only thing that matters is a red-pepper-like playoff performance. In their case, red hot better turn out to be scalding because that's all the good people of San Jose will accept this spring.
Don't you just love a good hot spell?
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