20 Questions Around the NHL, December 2013 Edition — Part 1

Thomas Vanek

James Guillory- USA TODAY Sports

Are the Montreal Canadiens for real? Eight wins out of their last 10, and they are giving the Boston Bruins fits in the Atlantic Division. That one will be fun to watch come late March.

With that said, who will make it out of the Atlantic Division? Eventually, Boston will be on top when it is all said and done, but do not be surprised to see it go down to the wire.

Will the Tampa Bay Lightning make the playoffs? Why not? Looking at their numbers without Steven Stamkos makes me believe they are not a one-player team. With as weak as the Metropolitan Division is, both wild card teams will be coming out of the Atlantic anyway.

Is anyone in the league better than Sidney Crosby? Naysayers can watch any Pittsburgh Penguins game to determine that, especially this week’s 3-2 win over the New York Islanders. He took the team on his back and scored the tying goal and the game-winner in overtime despite trailing 2-0.

Who looks better — the Chicago Blackhawks or the San Jose Sharks? I say it is a push. It sure would make for a really entertaining Western Conference Finals, eh?

Who benefited more from John Tortorella leaving the New York Rangers to coach the Vancouver Canucks? Well, I think if anyone benefited from it the most, it would be the New York reporters and media for not having to interview him after a loss anymore.

Will St. Louis Blues forward Alex Steen make a push at a 50-goal season? Just do the math: 20 goals through the first third of the season. I am a broadcaster by trade and we hate math, but wouldn’t that put him on pace for 60 goals? I know, I am pretty smart.

Which duo would you take — Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks or Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals? That is a tough call, but if I were to pick based on this year’s performances, I do not think anyone can compare the two linemates in Anaheim. Getzlaf and Perry are the most dangerous one-two punch in the NHL only because Crosby and Evgeni Malkin center two different lines.

Who is the front-runner for the Vezina Trophy now that we have reached the one-third mark of the season? There are a lot of great netminders in the mix and goaltending has taken over in today’s NHL. But if I had to pick one guy, I would say Ben Bishop of Tampa Bay. He has a record of 15-5-1, a 1.98 GAA and a .934 save percentage with a pair of shutouts. If he keeps it up, he will even get consideration for the Hart Trophy for MVP if the Lightning can get into the playoffs.

Should the New York Islanders fire Jack Capuano? No. Instead, why not fire Garth Snow for the horrible Matt Moulson-Thomas Vanek trade? The trade made no sense whatsoever and the team began their descent to the bottom of the division after Vanek arrived.

That is 10 questions down, 10 more to go. Click here to check out questions 11-20 in part 2 of this series.

Jeff Ekiert is the Pittsburgh Penguins/NHL beat writer for RantSports.com. Like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @jmekiert and add him to your Google account.

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