College of Sports Media Game of the Night:
Gearing up for the turn of a century the NHL has two games featuring the top tier teams in both conferences.
In the East the New Jersey Devils sit atop the conference with 57 points. The Devils have a three point cushion over the Washington Capitals and a four point edge on the Pittsburgh Penguins. A lot of New Jersey’s success can be attributed to the play of future hall-of-fame goaltender Martin Brodeur. Brodeur continues to play at an elite level. He leads the league in wins (25) and last week he eclipsed Terry Sawchuk’s shut out record (104). With the strong play between the pipes the forwards on the team can focus their attention on putting pucks behind opposing goaltenders. No one has done it better then winger Zach Parise. He leads the team in goals (17), assists (25) and plus/minus (+21). The Devils are in the Windy City tonight to battle the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are the two seed in the West with 55 points. Although the Blackhawks don’t have the same caliber goaltending as New Jersey, they can score with the best of them. With a core of Patrick Kane (17 G), Jonathan Toews (11 G), Patrick Sharp (12 G) and Marian Hossa (13 points in 17 games), Chicago is set for years to come.
In the West the San Jose Sharks are the top predator. They have 57 points and have won 6 straight games. When you talk about scoring the Sharks have one of the best lines in all of the NHL. Joe Thorton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatly are tearing up the league. The trio has combined for 59 goals and 82 assists. San Jose also continues to get gret play from their goaltender Evgeni Nabakov. He’s backstopped his way to 22 wins, a 2.29 GAA and a .925 save percentage. Tonight the Sharks are in the desert to take on the surprising Phoenix Coyotes. Sure the Coyotes may not be getting the fans, but they are picking up the wins. They trail the Sharks by a mere four points and in four meetings this season with San Jose they have a 2-0-1 record. Phoenix has been getting phenominal play out of their goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The former Anaheim Duck is second in the league with a 2.11 GAA, is tied with Nabakov for second in wins and is in the top five for save percentage (.927). Similar to the other top teams in the league, Phoenix has benefited from great goaltending and is proving that they’re early season success is no fluke.