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This Week's Edition of "Between the Boards"

Well hello hockey fans and welcome to another week of between the boards …

Lets start out in the Western Conference first with the biggest news of the week to me was the firing of Coach Sutter and his staff. This to me was a big surprise he had really turned around that franchise so much so that many consider them to win the West and get to the Cup Finals. They go off to a bad start when they did not have Nabokov and Stuart in training camp and missed the early part of the season. Nabokov is considered a top 5 goalie in this league and to not have him  will hurt any team. So much of Sutter’s system relies on Nabokov. When he did get back they were not the same team and they did not play as solid as they did last year defensively. Is this really Sutter’s fault or the GM for not getting these guys in before the season started. Staying in the West the hottest team in hockey is still Vancouver now winners of 10 straight games. I got a chance to see this team first hand Friday night and they are a solid hockey team. Brian Burke has put together a great team and team that has a young core that will be good for a long time. If Dan Cloutier can stay hot and stay away from allowing the soft goal this team will be one that you won't want to miss come playoff time. Dallas is still also very hot and with Marty Turco playing like he is they are only going to get better . They have the talent with 3 awesome lines and plenty of talent on the blue line as well. How bad are the Flames? In the month of November they were outscored 44-21.

Now lets talk about the East, the biggest news to me was the loss of John Leclair for almost 10-12 weeks with a dislocated shoulder. This to me is the heart and soul of the Flyers he is to me one of the best power forwards in hockey. In the last 4 games for the Flyers they have scored a total of 3 goals. This will not sit well with the Flyer faithful. How good are the Bruins ? They are very good we are in the month of December and they have 3 loses in regulation and 1 in OT. They have a goals against average of 2.27. Those in the New England area are watching a superstar in the making Joe Thornton. I am glad to see that they gave him a 1 year extension. If they can hold this team together I could see a few banners being raised in the Fleet Center. Since the Thrashers have signed Dafoe they are 2-1 and playing much better hockey knowing they can take chances with a legit NHL goalie. They have so much talent up front not a team I would want to get in a shoot out with. They Rangers tried that and the Thrashers scored 7 goals on Blackburn. The lead in the Southeast has gone now back to the defending East Conference champion Canes. The reason is the hot play of the Canes and the poor defensive coverage by the Bolts. The Bolts now are missing their top defenseman Cullimore and it shows in the game vs. the Rangers Sunday they gave up a 1 goal lead with  5minutes left to lose the game in regulation and not even earn a point. The Bulin wall can only do so much.

The Good-
1. The Canucks and Bruins best 2 teams in the NHL.
2. Mario Lemieux- Still has a double digit lead in the points leading standings.
3. Markus Naslund- now has 15 goals and looks like he could be the early favorite the way he is playing for the Rocket Richard award.
4. Joe Thornton so far this season 13 goals and 21 helpers and yes he also a plus 14.

The Bad-
1. The Flames in 2 out there last 3 games they had 7 goals scored against them.
2. Tony Amonte a big money UFA signing for the Coyotes 6 goals in 25 games on a pace for not even 30 goals ..were the Blackhawks that dumb to get rid of him?
3. Gary Bettmen - please stop ruining the coolest game on earth.
4. Jose Theodore- last years Vezina and Hart trophy winner has a total of 5 wins with a 3.52 goals against .



Have a Great Hockey Week and feel free to email me any questions or comments, at sportscompound@yahoo.com