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01-31-2005, 04:17 PM
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Three games to go before the end of the regular season, to be played between the 15th and the 20th of february (All Star Game this week, and Olympics qualifying tournament next week).

The standings (41 games for everyone) :
1. Lugano 59
2. Davos 56
3. ZSC 46
4. Zug 44
5. Rapperswil 43
6. Ambrì 43
7. Geneva 41
8. Kloten 40
9. Bern 39
10. Langnau 30
11. Fribourg 29
12. Lausanne 22

Lugano : 26-7-8, 140-95 (3-0-0 since last update)

Games remaining : Langnau, at Geneva, Fribourg

No more question marks in Lugano, as they recorded three highly convincing wins lately (3-1 vs ZSC, 7-1 in Lausanne and 8-2 vs Zug). They now have tied the record for home wins in a season with 17, and with two home games against bottom teams remaining on their schedule, they should be able to break it, and more importantly secure the first place they hold on since late october.
Lugano’s only troubles came from inuries, as Petteri Nummelin missed the Lausanne game after being re-injured against ZSC, but he could come back against Zug and recorded three assists. Alex Tanguay hasn’t been that lucky. After being rested during the ZSC game (he arrived in Switzerland just before the game), he played two periods against Lausanne, scoring the game winning goal but getting a knee injury that will take three to four week to heal.
Concerning the goalie situation, Ronnie Rüeger and David Aebischer are still sharing the starts, and the name of the playoffs starter is anyone’s guess.

Davos : 26-4-11, 150-94 (2-0-1)

Games remaining : at Rapperswil, Lausanne, at Ambrì

Two shutout wins for Davos, 5-0 against Zug and 3-0 in Langnau, but a 3-2 overtime loss in Kloten, after blowing a 2-1 lead with two minutes to go, will probably put an end to their chase of the first place.
Joe Thornton was suspended the last two games, and will miss the next two as well, which will make him nearly impossible for him to win the scoring title as he trails league leader Randy Robitaille by four points.
22 year old goalie Jonas Hiller, a question mark in many season preview, has now tied the league’s shutout record with eight. The mark was established by Lugano’s Cristobal Huet during the 1999-2000 season.

ZSC : 21-4-16, 130-104 (0-1-3)

Games remaining : at Bern, Rapperswil, at Lausanne

ZSC looked to have the third place secured, but a four game winless streak put them in an unconfortable position. They lost in Lugano (3-1), at home against Zug (2-1), in Ambrì (3-1) and had to settle for a 3-3 home draw against Fribourg, despite taking a 2-0 lead in the first minute of the game.
Canadian veteran Mike Richard was called up from farm team GCK, meaning that one of ZSC’s foreign player has to be scratched. The strategy backfired against Fribourg, as goalie Mattias Schoder, getting his first start of the season, couldn’t replace Ari Sulander. As Robert Petrovicky and Randy Robitaille still are one of the hottest duo in the league (Robitaille leads the league with 58 points despite missing 8 games early in the season), the import player scratched should be either Richards or Tony Virta.

Zug : 19-6-16, 129-135 (2-0-2)

Games remaining : Kloten, Bern, at Rapperswil

Zug took the 4th place and get a shot at the 3rd, but mainly thanks to Rapperswil and ZSC’s current poor form. They got two wins (2-1 at ZSC and 6-2 against Langnau), but got no chance in Davos (5-0) and Lugano (8-2). Holding on home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs will be hard, as their next games will be against Kloten and Bern, two teams currently on a hot streak fighting for the last playoffs spot.
Oleg Petrov still leads the league in goals with 29, and it’s unlikely he won’t hold on, as Rick Nash is already five goals behind. As Brett Hauer is still injured, it looks like Oleg Petrov, Niko Kapanen, Mike Fisher and Barry Richter will be Zug’s four foreign players heading into the playoffs.

Rapperswil : 19-5-17, 129-111 (1-1-2)

Games remaining : Davos, at ZSC, Zug

A 3-3 draw in Bern and a 3-1 win against Lausanne were Rapperswil’s only points as they lost in Fribourg (3-1) and Geneva (4-3 in overtime). They still have a chance to get a better rank as they will face the two teams preceding them in the standing.
There was a few changes in Rapperswil’s lineup, with both canadians forward Dale McTavish and Stacey Roest having been tried on the same line, but coach Kari Eloranta is now back to his season long top two lines.
Despite Michael Tobler’s recent good play, there won’t be any goalie controversy heading into the playoffs as Marco Streit started the last four games.

Ambrì : 18-7-16, 129-126 (2-0-2)

Games remaining : Geneva, at Kloten, Davos

Ambrì won two home games (3-2 against Fribourg and 3-1 against ZSC) and lost two away games (4-3 in Langnau and 7-2 in Bern). As their win in Lausanne is still under league investigation, they will probably lost two points, making their next games against Geneva and Kloten crucials one.
Hnat Domenicheli is currently injured, and to replace him, Ambrì hired Juha Riihijarvi from NLB leader Basel, made expendable after they signed David Legwand. The injury will cost Domenicheli a chance to win the league scoring title, making it a two horses race between his linemate Jean-Guy Trudel (57 pts) and ZSC’s Randy Robitaille (58), with Rapperswil’s Stacey Roest having an outside chance (55).

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