Monday, October 01, 2007

NHL Eastern Conference Thoughts and Picks

Atlantic Division
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. New York Rangers
3. Philadelphia Flyers
4. New Jersey Devils
5. New York Islanders

It's painfully obvious how Pittsburgh plans to attack the season...offence, offence, offence. But you know what? They can do it. Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Roberts, Christensen, Armstrong, Whitney, Gonchar, Malone, Sykora. It's disgusting the plethora of offensive talent on this team. Fleury should only continue to improve in net and that will be enough for them. All that said, the Rangers will have a tonne of offence too. Jagr, Gomez, Drury, Straka, Shanahan, Prucha ... that is pretty scary stuff. Come to think of it, they are put together similarly to Pittsburgh, lots of offence, little defence. Henrik Lundqvist won't struggle early on this season, I just think the Pens have the goal scoring to outlast the Rangers. After that is the Flyers, who in my mind made terrific strides. Briere should be a healthy centre to feed Gagne all year. I love how they stole all of Nashville's kids ... Hartnell, Upshall, Parent and Timmonen. That is why they will be better this year. Also they have a decent goalie in Biron. It's amazing how New Jersey has fallen in recent years. It will be interesting to see what Brent Sutter can get out of men rather than boys, because he is going to have to do a lot. Brodeur is a year older, the defence is thin, the forwards ... not overwhelming. That leaves us with the Islanders. I can't even tell you their top line...something like Guerin/Comrie/Fedotenko? Ick. Dipietro and the commentators making fun of his contract are the only reasons to watch this team (Note: I think it was actually a brilliant move to sign a franchise goalie forever).

Northeast Division
1. Buffalo Sabres
2. Ottawa Senators
3. Montreal Canadiens
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Boston Bruins

Buffalo, for all that they lost (Drury and Briere), will be just fine. Derek Roy will step up, Tim Connolly will step up. They still have an absurdly fast team and a plethora of very good young players. Ryan Miller is probably the best goalie in the division. Ottawa will push Buffalo for top spot. The problem is that I refuse to trust Ray Emery, he doesn't fill me with confidence at all ... and Martin Gerber has never been that great a goalie in my mind. Ottawa has terrific offence and defence though and should dominate many games. I'll give my full Montreal preview later on, but I put them third this year because I think the kids will take a step forward. Toronto is a horrible mess of a team, but through that mess they have some talent. It will be interesting to watch Sundin with a winger that can play finally. Blake will not score 40 goals again, but at least he'll compete. Toskala is not the answer in net, I think that Raycroft didn't do a bad job last year it's just that the Leafs have probably the worst defence in the entire league. All that said, they are still better than Boston. I have nothing to say about Boston except that they won't be any good.

Southeast Division
1. Carolina Hurricanes
2. Florida Panthers
3. Atlanta Thrashers
4. Tampa Bay Lightning
5. Washington Capitals

I think Carolina just had a down season last year. Cam Ward is a good goalie that will be solid behind the rest of the team. Eric Staal will have a comeback season and lead them to the top of what promises to be a crappy division yet again. I have Florida in 2nd, I think they can finally return to the postseason this year. I like their forwards and their defence has aged a bit...and they ditched Belfour and Auld for Vokoun. The amazing part about this is that all they have left from the Roberto Luongo trade is ... Bryan Allen. How bad is that? How do you trade the best goalie in the game and 2 years later have nothing to show for it. For 2 months of Peter Forsberg, Philly nabbed a plethora of talent from the Preds. It's unimaginable. Anyway, I still like their team and their years of pretty good drafting will pay off with Horton, Weiss and Bouwmeester coming into their own. I had Atlanta in 5th until I wrote this and bumped them up to 3rd. They have some good forwards that should be able to take advantage of the generally weak goalies and defence in this division. Lehtonen is the only reason I give them the boost to 3rd place, he should steal some games for them. Tampa still has 3 incredible players in Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards, the question for them is depth after that and the blue line and the goalie. Washington still doesn't have a full team built up yet, they are a mish-mash of veterans and young'uns.

Conference Standings
1. Buffalo Sabres
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Carolina Hurricanes
4. Ottawa Senators
5. New York Rangers
6. Philadelphia Flyers
7. Florida Panthers
8. Montreal Canadiens
9. Atlanta Thrashers
10. New Jersey Devils
11. Tampa Bay Lightning
12. Toronto Maple Leafs
13. Washington Capitals
14. Boston Bruins
15. New York Islanders


The Duckman Says said...

This is horrible. I think you know as much hockey as the guys from THN

Tony said...

Thanks for the constructive criticism :). What's so bad about it? What are your thoughts?