Archive for the ‘2009-10 predictions’ Category

The Sore Thumb: Vancouver Canucks

October 14, 2009

When you see the title of this blog, you’d think we’d be a source for Vancouver Canucks information (or at least snark). No, that is not the case. Instead, you should go to blogs like Vancity Canuck. Sha Sha’s a longtime buddy of the blog and even runs a Tampa Bay Lightning blog (The Hockey Bay) to boot! What an overachiever…

All in-depth analysis aside, what flaw or weakness in your team sticks out like a sore thumb?

The one thing that hasn’t changed from last year, is that the Canucks still don’t have secondary scoring. There was hopes that Cody Hodgson was the answer. And Cody Hodgson was not the answer, at least not right now with his ailing back. Then, there was hopes that Sergei Shirokov was the answer, and it turns out he was not the answer. So where is our secondary scoring when the Sedins and Burrows don’t score? Hopefully Kesler and Samuelsson can find some chemistry with the newly promoted Raymond, or hopefully Berniers hands of stone finally turn into hands that can put pucks in the back of the net. Hopefully. And speaking of sore thumbs, or sore shoulders/knees/who knows what Salo/Demitra/Schneider has hurt now….Some components of the Canucks are like glass, you never know who’s gonna be hurt from taking a hit/puck/throwing a hit/trippingoverelectricaltape…

The Sore Thumb: Anaheim Ducks

October 13, 2009

It always warms our collective hearts to see our buddies prosper, so we’re delighted to see Anaheim Calling move up to SBN as the Ducks’ representative. At the moment, though, AC is still at Blogspot so it is not yet time to adjust your bookmarks. Here’s Daniel’s perspective on the Ducks …

All in-depth analysis aside, what flaw or weakness in your team sticks out like a sore thumb?

DANIEL: The one thing that could derail the Ducks season is puck support/team skating. The fact is, there isn’t a single guy on the blue line who can strait clear the crease. With Pronger on the ice every other shift, it was possible to get hemmed up in the zone and then let your goalie face down a shot from outside, or the top of, the circles. Now the Ducks need to keep the puck moving. But, during the first two games of the season everyone seemed to be waiting for someone else to make a play instead of working on quick outlets and strong support through the neutral zone. Puck support was also a problem in the offensive zone and the Ducks ended up outnumbered along the boards, leading to transition offense for opposing teams. If the Ducks keep losing battles along the boards because they don’t support each other, they will be facing more rushes on defense, and no scoring chances on offense.

The Sore Thumb: Ottawa Senators

October 12, 2009

If there’s one thing the hockey blogosphere can teach you, it’s that team success and blog quality aren’t necessarily connected. A great example of that is Sens at Land’s End. While the Senators could face some tough times, SaLE is one of our favorite Ottawa blogs, so make sure you follow it like a blind Jason Spezza drop pass.

All in-depth analysis aside, what flaw or weakness in your team sticks out like a sore thumb?

Some might ask what isn’t an issue for the Sens this year, and those people might not be wrong. What worries me most, though, is the defense. Behind three usually reliable veterans – stay-at-homers Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov and puckmover Filip Kuba – play three young “mobile” defenders – Chris Campoli, rookie Erik Karlsson, and Alexandre Picard (who started the season in the pressbox). These guys may be great someday, but right now they’re prone to brain cramps that will definitely give Pascal Leclaire a workout. I would feel better if the defensive pairings were more balanced; however, the Senators have always shown an inexplicable unwillingness to split up the shutdown duo of Phillips and Volchenkov. This makes the second and third pairings a bit, well, scary. The more physical presence of Matt Carkner may help to an extent, but he’s been a career-AHLer until now and who knows how he’ll fare during a full season at the NHL level. To all these problems add the fact that Volchenkov and Kuba (already injured, by the way) both missed over 10 games last season and the picture becomes even less pretty.

The Sore Thumb: Atlanta Thrashers

October 11, 2009

For Atlanta Thrashers (and often St. Louis Blues) thoughts, I often go to Laura from Wazzupwitchu and St. Louis Blues Game Time and that’s exactly what happened this time around. On top of that blogging goodness, she also a very prolific person on Twitter to boot. Not too shabby.

All in-depth analysis aside, what flaw or weakness in your team sticks out like a sore thumb?

The biggest flaw? Defense. Not the people playing defense (thankfully, I can finally say that), but the system. Coach Anderson’s system relies on offense to a high degree, and he expects puck moving and playmaking (as well as scoring) from the defensemen. That is fantastic, but when you emphasize that too much, D starts to suffer. We’re still probably going to allow at least 30 SOG each game, and that’s concerning with Pavelec in net. I’ll reiterate my opinion of him being a good goalie in a few years, but he’s not 100% NHL ready. Of course, there’s Hedberg, who is a damn fine backup and a great person, but not a starter… and there’s that other dude… can’t quite remember his name, but I heard he used to be a pretty good goalie until he realized he was made of glass… yeah. Name escapes me. Been too long since I’ve actually seen him to confirm that he exists.

Huh. Apparently that makes 2 flaws. But by God, we are going to score. A lot. Hopefully it’ll be more than the other guys.

The Sore Thumb: San Jose Sharks

October 10, 2009

We asked our good buddies at the Couch Tarts:

All in-depth analysis aside, what flaw or weakness in your team sticks out like a sore thumb?

Nabby’s 5 hole.
Have you seen it? The thing is HUGE. You could drive a bus through there, I’m talking a double decker, not just your standard MUNI ride. Hell, it’s so wide open I bet even Ehrhoff could find it with his wrist shot. Dude wouldn’t even need a map. You know that tree they used to let people drive through? Yeah. It’s like that.
Nabby is a tremendous goalie, but if he can’t shut that 5 hole of his, we’re in for a lot of ugly goals this season.

(Make sure to follow the Couch Tarts for their great San Jose Sharks coverage this season.)

The Sore Thumb: New York Islanders

October 8, 2009

Thanks to Abel Prado for the logo

Instead of trying to keep with the Joneses with our season previews, we thought it would be a better idea to wait a week or two and then ask an insanely simple question to some of our favorite team bloggers.

That question is: all in-depth analysis aside, what flaw or weakness in your team sticks out like a sore thumb?

First up is Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey, SBN’s excellent New York Islanders blog. Make sure to follow their great Isles coverage amid the excitement of John Tavares’ rookie season.

Everyone says the Islanders are in for another tough season (true), but they never say why (because they don’t have to check the roster to declare why last year’s 30th-place team is bad? I don’t know). The goaltending is obviously vastly improved. The forward lines and powerplay could actually be dangerous: John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and possibly Matt Moulson, an old friend friend of Tavares with chemistry that gives him the spot on his wing; plus Josh Bailey, a ready-to-emerge Sean Bergenheim and the unsung Frans Nielsen, not to mention Mark Streit and Doug Weight on the powerplay points.

The sore thumb? The blueline. Streit is a good number one. Everyone else is … something else. Bruno Gervais plays great paired with Streit — but who doesn’t? After that, Brendan Witt may bounce back this year, but he’s still practically their only physical defender. Freddy Meyer hits but is small and fragile. Andy Sutton is big but is allergic to hitting (relative to his size) and fragile. Radek Martinek is an above average two-way blueliner … but fragile. As a group, when healthy they collapse too much and don’t clear the net enough. As a group, when NOT healthy — the more common state of affairs — it looks like last season (which was really bad. I checked).

2009-10 Standings Predictions

October 3, 2009

The other day, O’Brien posted his own standings predictions for the year. At his invitation, I’m posting my own, so we can see just how wrong he is.

Western Conference:
1) Calgary Flames
2) San Jose Sharks
3) Detroit Red Wings
4) Chicago Blackhawks
5) Vancouver Canucks
6) St. Louis Blues
7) Anaheim Ducks
8) Los Angeles Kings
9) Columbus Blue Jackets
10) Dallas Stars
11) Minnesota Wild
12) Edmonton Oilers
13) Nashville Predators
14) Phoenix Coyotes
15) Colorado Avalanche
Coyotes’ hiring Tippett gets them out of the basement, all the way up to… 14th. STL is going to have a strong resurgence with healthy Kariya and McDonald (I thought this before yesterday’s game too, so there). The Central is too good to allow the division winner (narrowly DET over CHI) to get higher than 3rd. SJ is sliding a bit, but the Pacific is weak enough to let them finish #2. CGY feasts on EDM/MIN/COL to get #1 in the Northwest.
In the playoffs, if DET can avoid drawing CGY and VAN, they get back to the SCF. If they meet one of them, its CGY going to the SCF.
Eastern Conference:
1) Washington Capitals
2) Pittsburgh Penguins
3) Boston Bruins
4) Philadelphia Flyers
5) New Jersey Devils
6) Carolina Hurricanes
7) Buffalo Sabres
8) New York Rangers
9) Florida Panthers
10) Toronto Maple Leafs
11) Montreal Canadiens
12) Atlanta Thrashers
13) Tampa Bay Lightning
14) New York Islanders
15) Ottawa Senators
ATL chases off Kovy. PIT wins a very tight divisional race, and PHI might have more points than BOS. BUF finally gets some luck and makes it into the post season… to get ripped up by PIT. NYR barely gets another postseason spot that they really don’t deserve. TOR is competitive, but not enough to get a high pick, and not enough to get a playoff spot. WSH rides a bad division to the #1 spot.
In the playoffs, it comes down to a PHI/PIT Eastern Conference Final. PHI should win, but PIT actually wins, because in the East the refs call the games a little different, and are less tolerant of the Western style that you need to beat Crosby/Malkin. PIT gets too many powerplays and makes it back to the SCF.
In the final, if its CGY vs PIT, CGY loses another 7 game SCF. If its DET vs PIT, DET wins because hopefully Pronger and Co actually punished Malkin and Crosby, instead of letting them breeze right through the playoffs. I hate the Eastern Conference.

Gut Reactions: Playoff Seeding and Stanley Cup Winner

October 1, 2009

The guessing gets even … guess…ier… *cough*

Eastern Conference
1. Washington Capitals
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Boston Bruins
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
5. New Jersey Devils
6. Montreal Canadiens
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. Buffalo Sabres
Just missed: New York Rangers, Florida Panthers
Commentary: This is NOT necessarily how the playoffs would turn out. Generally, I think Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Boston all project to be better post-season teams but Washington will feast off of a weak division to take the #1 seed.
I feel a little uncomfortable picking Montreal and New Jersey to place that high, but after the top four I’m pretty stumped.
SCF Conference Rep: Boston Bruins
Western Conference

1. San Jose Sharks
2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Calgary Flames
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. Columbus Blue Jackets
8. Los Angeles Kings
Just missed: St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars
Commentary: The criticism for San Jose has gotten a bit extreme. Why not throw a little vitriol to Calgary or Vancouver as they’ve disappointed over the years in their own way? It’s fine to make some jokes about the Sharks, but you win the games you can win and worry about the playoffs when they come.
SCF Conference Rep: San Jose Sharks

Gut Reactions: The Northeast Division

October 1, 2009

OK, kids here’s the last divisional post. I’ll have other predictions later.

1. Boston Bruins
Even though the Bruins received very nice long-term value for Phil Kessel, I’ll always think of this off-season as the one in which Boston basically lost Kessel for Derek Morris. That’s just terrible, in my opinion.
Still, the Bruins might just be the most versatile and impressive team in the Eastern Conference. Marc Savard has two scoops of raisin-flavored inspiration because he’s in a contract year and he wasn’t even invited to the Team Canada camp.
Combine his motivation with a team that can play with toughness, finesse and everything in between and you have a team that could very well fight for the President’s Trophy once more.
(Editor’s note: it’s really a crapshoot after Boston)
2. Montreal Canadiens
[Insert Montreal midgets joke here]
3. Buffalo Sabres
Just about every team in the NE saw drastic sweeping changes and yet pundits consistently bag on the Sabres for doing nothing.
What’s so wrong with stability? We know that the Sabres have a good coach, a good goalie and some spirited spritely little forwards with big offensive talent. Granted, the team lacks a standout on the blueline (Jay Bouwmeester would have been a fantastic fit) so their relative ceiling is limited.
With just a little more luck, the Sabres should make it back to the playoffs.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s strange that Brian Burke mortgaged so much of the team’s future for an injury prone player like Kessel. I like Kessel – and the Leafs need offense pretty badly – but he seems to be an odd fit for Toronto in my opinion.
The moves they made to add defense and toughness bode well for the medium term but their goaltending is suspect in the least. For every import like Jonas Hiller, there have been a ton of letdowns who weren’t ready for the North American game.
This division seems to be rife with odd, expensive decisions.
5. Ottawa Senators
If you’re arguing from a chemistry/hustle/heart standpoint, the Ottawa Senators aren’t exactly exploding with character guys in Scott Gomez (Oops OMG I meant the Senators OTHER non-character guys … clearly this typo erases my credibility in one swift motion!) and Alex Kovalev.
If you’re looking for amazing goaltending, the Senators are average – at best – with Pascal Leclaire as their supposed No. 1.
If you want shutdown defense, just look away.
It could be a dark year in Ottawa.

Gut Reactions: The Pacific

October 1, 2009

My gut reactions post for the Pacific division is up on Battle of California. Check it out here.