The Good The Bad and The Second Line Shuffle

Chris Higgins is smiling sweetly because he’s back in the top-6!

This is a weekly feature that will highlight The Good, The Bad and The *fill in the blank* exciting things that are currently happening in the NHL. Will Logan Couture ever tweet anything exciting? Are the Sedins ever going to score goals again? Will Ryan Kesler one day have a statue dedicated to him? Hockey: it’s all fun and games until your team starts to lose.

The Good: Jets in the Playoffs

The Winnipeg Jets are coming to Vancouver and will play the Canucks for the first time since 1996. That was the year that the Spice Girls were introduced to the world and became international superstars. Also that year, the hit show Everybody Loves Raymond debuted. And in hockey, well the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, in four games, over the Florida Panthers. It was not really an exciting year overall.

But 2012, however, IS an exciting year. There is hope in the air. Hope, from and for Manitoba, that the Winnipeg Jets will make the playoffs. Personally, I really don’t care as I have zero attachment to the team. However, since I know several people who are actual fans (ugh) and will be attending the game on Thursday (in Jets gear) I figured I would be nice and give them the satisfaction of imagining such a pleasant scenario.

Right now Winnipeg sits in 8th place in the East with 72 points. Washington and Buffalo are close behind both with 70 points. Washington has one extra game to play in the mix, otherwise there are 15 games left to battle for that last, magical, most coveted playoff spot. Anything can happen though; Ryan Miller has been the star of the Sabres lately and odds are that Buffalo will be the team to make it through. They have Hodgson now, in case you tried to forget like I have.

Unless they start losing, and Thursday would be a great time for that, the Jets are currently contenders to realistically make the playoffs. This makes me laugh because someone who shall remain unnamed predicted in October that the Jets would be the surprise team of the season and win the Cup. Oh Jets fans … you’re so cute with all that hope and wishful thinking.

The Bad: Sidney Crosby

The worst part of this NHL season: Sidney Crosby. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against him at all. In fact he was my first pick in the hockey pool this year, my sister is a huge fan of his, and I really enjoy his Sportcheck commercials. The kid was clearly born to play hockey, which is too bad that he has missed so much of it since his concussion in January of last year. This season he made an appearance for all of 8 games. The face of the NHL, at 24 years old, has played just 8 games this season. So what is going to happen now that news of his second coming has surfaced? Crosby will potentially be back in the Penguins lineup as early as this Sunday, not like his team has struggled too terribly without him. For me this is great news since I just traded him for Ryan Kesler in my hockey pool. Good luck Dave – may Crosby do better for you than he did for me. But I worry for Sidney. He is so vulnerable. And since the playoffs are approaching, will he be a target? Milan Lucic is still out there!

It is good that he now has a better idea of what was causing his ‘concussion like symptoms’ however, he will never be the same as he was. He will always have the talent and ability to score goals and make great plays, but will he live in fear of the contact that he will face? I hope not, but I fear yes.

And The Second Line Shuffle

Missing: Chemistry from the Canucks Second Line. If found please return immediately.

Not only does it seems that the Sedins have misplaced their magic touch (aren’t they supposed to communicate better than dolphins or something?) it also appears that the second line has lost that loving feeling and has gone from romantic to frantic. Remember the promise of the “Amex line” when David Booth came into the picture? Remember how excited we all were when Mason Raymond returned from his back injury? Remember Chris Higgins’ abs? Ok that last part has nothing to do with hockey.

Alain Vigneault has been known to shuffle his players around when they’ve seemingly ran out of that magical ingredient that makes them, um what’s that thing that they are supposed to be good at? Oh yeah, score goals. This past week has been no different with everyone getting some action on the second line including the newbie Zack Kassian, who was called up from the fourth line on Tuesday’s game against Dallas. It turns out that he is not quite ready for the role of ‘Top Six Forward’ just yet. Mason Raymond … let’s not even talk about him.

On Thursday, the once overly-hyped “Amex Line” of Kesler Booth and Higgins will be reunited once again. What does this mean? Hopefully that whatever was trying to kill Higgins has been cured. That David Booth will once again find his hunter instincts and maybe hit the target. Hopefully Kesler will stop competing for attention with David Booths hair and just return to scoring goals. Most important, that they all play spectacular hockey so that I can stop panicking.