Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The ConkBlock Continues

Ty Conklin’s magic run continues. I don’t want to know how, I don’t care to know how much longer it will last, but for the past 2-3 weeks Conklin’s play has been remarkable. At first it was just results, as Conk had a sub .900 save percentage and his GAA was an unimpressive 3.50 through his first three decisions.

Since then all he’s done is give up 4 goals in the past 5 games, stopping a remarkable 157 of 161 shots (97.5%) in the process and recording 2 shutouts along the way.

Conklin, who the Post-Gazette credited for setting the stage for another quick strike outburst of 3 goals in 4 minutes by stopping a shorthanded breakaway by Greg Campbell. Sidney Crosby, as usual, left his mark on the game, slipping a pass out to Petr Sykora (why don’t these two play together more?) for the game’s first goal. Then Sid absolutely blew past Florida defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Bryan Allen and beat Tomas Vokoun with a shot low to score the eventual game winner.

Another game another two points, but try as the Penguins may they can’t seem to surpass New Jersey for first place in the division since the Devils also won last night. Very reminiscent of last season.

Update on the Peloton:

For those that don’t remember, we came up with a nickname for the logjam of teams in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, a term used for cycling. The main body of riders that is also bunched together and dictates the pace and tempo of the race is called the peloton and that is reminiscent of how things have been this year. Most of the year Ottawa has been the breakaway team at the front of the pack and from 2nd to about 13th has been the peloton, shuffling teams up, down and around seemingly with every passing day and game.

Since we’ve loosely defined this concept as about 6 points difference in the bunch, we have—at least for now, some more breakaways. New Jersey (2nd with 51 points), division leader Carolina (3rd with 48), and 4th and 5th Pittsburgh and Montreal (both 50 points) have pulled away from the pack ever so slightly.

The peloton, by our standards, now stretches from 6th place Philadelphia (46 points) to 13th place Toronto (40). And don’t look now but Washington (with just as good a record in the past 10 games as anyone in the pack) is just one point back of the pack and has almost dug themselves out of the early season hole they started in.

It’s all subject to change, a period of inactivity or failing to convert points against conference rivals will almost surely pull the recent breakaways back to the pack, especially as teams with games in hand (like Philly) get a shot to play those games.

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