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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

2007/2008 NHL Predictions

Now that the season is upon us, it’s time to give my predictions for how the east and west will turn out, so that in April we can all look back on this and either marvel, or consider me legally insane.

Eastern Conference

#15 New York Islanders – Mostly every good player from last year is gone. Bring some sunscreen Ricky, you’re gonna need it.

#14 Washington Capitals – Still too young and not deep enough. While they are getting better playoffs are too lofty a goal this year.

#13 Boston Bruins – Is this team trying to kill it’s fan base? Manny Fernandez is a solid goalie, but there is still no defense to speak of in front of him.

#12 Atlanta Thrashers – Kari Lehtonen is injured meaning Johan “Moose” Hedberg will have to become the goalie he was back in Pittsburgh or this team is going nowhere quick. Outside of their top line, this is a very weak team, but the beauty of a new season is that everyone is tied for first.

#11 Florida Panthers – New goalie Tomas Vokoun will provide solid goaltending and a mentor for young Alex Auld. I still don’t see this team making a big splash this season, but if they get some decent scorers next summer, we could see them contend for the division in 08/09.

#10 New Jersey Devils – Langenbrunner (out), Rafalski (gone), Gomez (gone). Those three players have been staples of the Devils’ success in recent years with Marty Brodeur in net. This team loves to play a defensive style, but with a depleted defensive core this team could be playing from behind a lot…which it does not like to do.

#9 Montreal Canadiens – Roman Hamrlik steps in to replace Sheldon Souray and those are some mighty big shoes to fill. The Habs will be in contention, but will come up short once again.

#8 Tampa Bay Lightning – How can you not put this team in the playoffs solely based on the weak division they play in? Plus with Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards etc. there’s enough firepower to get them a spot.

#7 Philadelphia Flyers – The once lowly Flyers added some big names to fill some big holes. Marty Biron came over at the deadline, Kimmo Timmonen came over as a UFA, and most notably Daniel Briere came to town just hours after the free agent market opened. They still lack a little on defense, but this is my surprise pick of the year.

#6 Buffalo Sabres – Hard to replace Chris Drury and Briere, but this is a very deep team. Tim Connoly and Derek Roy will have to step up their games if the Sabres want to make another long run at the Cup.

#5 Toronto Maple Leafs – This is a team that should have made the playoffs last season and only missed out by 1 point. A couple of key losses down the stretch, specifically to the Islanders (who went on to win the 8th seed) cost them dearly. If they can avoid the injury bug that always seems to find it’s way north, they could be a team to be reckoned with.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins – The Penguins surprised many people last year by jumping from 29th in the league to finishing 5th in the conference with 105 points. What hurt in the playoffs was lack of experience and new additions Darryl Sydor and Petr Sykora will guide the young Pens in their quest to bring the Cup back to Pittsburgh.

#3 Carolina Hurricanes – In what remains one of the weakest division in hockey, this pick is a total whim. Carolina, Tampa, or even Atlanta (if a lot of things go right) could be in the prime spot to get knocked out in the first round.

#2 Ottawa Senators – After making it to the Stanley Cup Finals last season before being swatted away like a bug, the Sens are back with the trio of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. This could be the last time we see this trio together with contracts expiring at the end of the season and you know they want another shot at glory.

#1 New York Rangers – look at that offense! The only question that remains is how will the defense hold up? Rookie Mark Staal should provide some stay at home help and with King Henrik between the pipes they could come away with the President’s Trophy.

Western Conference

#15 Phoenix Coyotes – Do I really even need to explain this?

#14 Edmonton Oilers – GM Kevin Lowe broke the bank for Dustin Penner and unloaded any chance of landing a decent draft pick any time soon. You do the math.

#13 – Columbus Blue Jackets – Despite the bad press and constant ragging on this team, there is some talent in Frederik Modin, Rick Nash (though injury prone), and David Vyborny. The addition of Michael Peca will help, but it’s not going to be enough.

#12 – Chicago Blackhawks – Will the death of team president William Wirtz be the spark this team needs to return to form? My guess is no and there’s still plenty of work to be done.

#11 – Nashville Predators – with the mass exodus of talent they had last season and with Chris Mason being the No. 1 goalie in town, I feel that this team which contended for the division title last season, will take a big hit Until the ownership situation is fixed it will be a sad time in Graceland.

#10 – Los Angeles Kings – Significant improvements were brought in with the likes of Ladislav Nagy. Should he remain healthy and with the maturation of Anze Kopitar and Alexander Frolov, the Kings could turn some heads, but they are still a year or two away from the playoffs.

#9 – Minnesota Wild – With the big question on everyone’s mind being will Nicklas Backstrom be able to backstop (2 minutes for being corny) the Wild to the playoffs? Another question I raise is will Marian Gaborik stay healthy. If both these get positive answers, the Wild could backdoor their way into the playoffs (5 minute major for corny.)

#8 – St. Louis Blues – Yes, I know their recent history would suggest I need to be put in a mental ward, but they added some key players this off-season and with John Davidson now in control they could make a return to the playoffs.

#7 – Dallas Stars – This team is always sniffing around the playoffs, but the Turco curse continued again last season in what was arguably the best series of the playoffs against Vancouver. They’ll be back again and watch for backup goalie Mike Smith to get some more ice time this season.

#6 – Calgary Flames – After just squeaking into the playoffs last season and Alex Tanguay having a full season under his belt with new linemates Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow, they should be in position to move up the standings. If Kipper goes down for any reason, this team will be hurting with unproven backup Curtis McElhinney.

#5 – Colorado Avalanche – The addition of Ryan Smyth and another year of experience for Peter Budaj will get the Avs back in contention after being the hottest team down the stretch last season and just narrowly missing the playoffs.

#4 – Anaheim Ducks – defending Stanley Cup champs will get a boost from the likes of Rya getzlaf and Corey Perry, but the loss of Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer will be a big blow. They proved last season they had the depth to be a good team which is why they’ll compete for the division title again and will be dangerous in the playoffs.

#3 – Vancouver Canucks – Roberto Luongo proved once again that he is one of the elite goalies in the league. Whether he faces 40 shots a night or 15, the guys is a wall. Look for Markus Naslund to wake up from whatever funk he’s been in over the last couple years and have a good season.

#2 Detroit Red Wings – with a cupcake division that got even softer this off-season, if the Wings don’t win the division the hockey gods will have turned their back on us all.

#1 San Jose Sharks – Can the pair of Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton be stopped? The answer is no, or at least has been no since Big Joe came to town. With no goaltending controversy to worry about and their young defensive core with another year of experience, this will be an explosive and fun team to watch.

Here's to another great season and what a season it should be!

1 comment:

anthony bremond said...

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What do you think?

Go Atlanta Thrashers

Anthony Bremond