Column: Blues, Avalanche and Sharks attempt to continue their perfect seasons
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 23:10
Perfection: the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.
In sports, perfection is generally unattainable, unless you’re the UConn women’s basketball team.
You are bound to have flaws, especially in hockey. Goaltenders make mistakes. Skaters get tired legs. One mere mental mishap can doom a team to defeat.
Despite being roughly two weeks into the season, there still are three “perfect” teams remaining, as the Blues, Avalanche and Sharks all find themselves without blemishes.
All three teams are good. Very good to be honest.
The St. Louis Blues were a preseason favorite to compete for the Stanley Cup, as a strong roster without a designated “superstar” has turned the Blues into one of the NHL’s most exciting teams. St. Louis is second in goals-per-game (4.8) and fourth in goals allowed (1.8 per game). Scoring on 37.5 percent of your power plays doesn’t hurt either.
The Avalanche have undergone the Patrick Roy revolution, as the legendary goaltender turned head coach has punched and kicked his way to the top of the league. Colorado has allowed a mere four goals this entire season and have yet to allower a power play goal. The Avalanche boast a roster of youngsters, as superstars-in-training Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog make it look like the future in Denver might just be right now.
Finally, there are the San Jose Sharks, whose merciless 9-2 destruction of the New York Rangers still gives me nightmares. Tomas Hertl’s magical between-the-legs finish against the Blueshirts should top everyone’s Goal Of The Year list, but the Sharks are much more than flash, as San Jose leads the league in scoring.
This all begs the question: At the end of the day, which of these teams is truly closest to “perfect”?
Each team has its flaws. The Sharks simply cannot expect goaltender Antti Niemi to keep up his current form. The Avalanche are young and unproven. The Blues are deep, but they can’t expect to keep this scoring explosion going.
When it comes down to it, the Avalanche are a team consisting of future stars under a first-year head coach. Are they a good team? Definitely. But there will be some growing pains out in Colorado. At some point, inexperience will be a factor
Tuesday night’s matchup between the Sharks and the Blues is a guaranteed thriller. A matchup between two of the NHL’s best teams is always a must-watch, especially with the offensive firepower that these teams possess.
Does that game decide the NHL’s best team? Not necessarily. There is still a whole bunch of hockey to be played.
When it comes down to it, the teams that bring home the Cup are teams built on strong goaltending and balanced scoring. While both teams pose a scoring threat, St. Louis goaltending duo of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot give the Blues two goaltenders they can trust. The Sharks love what they have seen from Niemi, but his career numbers say that a drop off is to be expected.
St. Louis has everything it takes to win a title, as the Blues have a roster full of guys that can light the lamp at any time to go with stellar goaltending. But games aren’t played on paper. They’re played on ice.
They may be the NHL’s best team this season, but greatness doesn’t always thrust itself upon the best team. St. Louis has a lot of work to do if they want to end the season on a “perfect” note.