Holiday shopping has begun and as mall parking lots become a hazard zone, people search high and low for that perfect gift for their special someone. So in the spirit of the holiday shopping in this week’s Pucking Awesome Hat Trick, we will take a look at what is on some teams' wish lists.
The Capitals must celebrate Chanukah as they acquired the hard-nosed defender they sought in Scott Hannon for Tomas Fleischmann. All signs are pointing to the Kings receiving a winger they desperately need in acquiring Marco Sturm from the Bruins, when he is deemed healthy enough to play.
The following teams are shopping this holiday for a shootout victory this season. The Wild, Oilers and Bruins are 0-3 this season and the Canucks and Islanders are 0-2. The Wild wish there was a power play on the shootout as they have only scored three goals in their three shootouts.
The offensively challenged Oilers and Bruins are worst off as both teams have only two goals in their three shootout losses. The top two picks of the 2010 NHL Draft have been successful for those teams as Taylor Hall is one for one and Tyler Seguin has the only two goals for the Bruins in three attempts.
In two shootouts each, the Canucks only have two goals and the Islanders have none. The goalies of the two teams have not done any better, as Roberto Luongo has given up five goals on all five shots this season. Dwayne Roloson has only stopped one of his three shots faced, but ironically, Ricky DiPietro has given up only one goal on his three attempts faced.
The goalies of the three shootout losses teams have been atrocious. Niklas Backstrom has given up six goals on the 11 shots faced, which is not going to give any team a chance to win. Early season favorite for the Vezina, Tim Thomas, has stopped six of the nine attempts he faced, so that goes on the offense to have someone other than Seguin to score.
Counterpart Tuukka Rask gave up two shootout goals on the two shots he faced. The Oilers were glad to see Nikolai Khabibulin return as he at least stopped one of the two shots he faced, while Devan Dubnyk was awful giving up five goals on seven shots.
So in the month of December, all these teams are asking for is a victory in a shootout to give them a chance in the standings. as we have seen in the last couple of the seasons, the shootout can be the difference in making or missing the playoffs.
Some of the top teams are having a difficult time scoring with the man advantage this season and will be shopping around on ways to improve what could be a deadly weapon. Philadelphia, Montreal and Pittsburgh are seeded second, third and fourth right now in the Eastern Conference but ranked 16th, 11th and 12th respectively on the power play. All those teams have dangerous offensive talents and normally ranked in the top five in power play percentages.
Out West, the Los Angeles Kings had the seventh ranked power play last season and have the 23rd ranked one this season. The surprise Dallas Stars, who lead the Pacific Division, have the 17th ranked power play and the upstart St. Louis Blues, who sit in a playoff spot now in the West are ranked 26th in power play percentage.
All of these teams have offensive talent, but just haven't found the right combination on the man advantage. For most of these teams, finding that right combination can be the difference in being a good team and a great team, and for some, being a playoff team and playing golf in the spring.
FIRST GOAL FRENZY
Scoring the first goal in a game is important in many levels. It is shown that all 30 NHL teams have a winning percentage of .500 or higher when score first. That being said, some teams have horrible winning percentages when they give up the first goal. They will be shopping this holiday season for the all-important first goal.
The New York Islanders have had a tough time starting the season, and not to mention, a 14-game losing streak and a fired coach. They are 0-13-2 when they give up the first goal. The Devils have had a tough time scoring goals with a NHL worst 1.81 goals per game. They are 2-12 when trailing early.
The Canucks are 12-1-1 when they score the first goal of the game and conversely 2-7-2 when they don’t. Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators are fringe playoff teams and both only have two wins when they give up the first goal.
Look at the top of the standings with teams like Washington (nine wins when giving up first goal), Pittsburgh (seven wins), Philadelphia (six wins) and Detroit (four wins) shows that good teams that can bounce back from giving up the first goal of the game. But these teams would like for the holiday some games where they do not have to bounce back and take the early lead.