Archive for the ‘atlantic division’ Category

Gut Reactions: The Atlantic Division

September 29, 2009

Sadly I only have time to post this edition with the text and this horrific gut. Contextual photo humor will have to wait. Sorry, hockey starved masses!


1. Philadelphia Flyers

While most of the Twitterverse mocked Philly for sending their farm system to Anaheim for Chris Pronger, I cringed for very different reasons. It was almost as if Paul Holmgren heard my claims that the Flyers were going from a bunch of meathead goons to a bunch of Downy soft forwards. Now, the Flyers are big and bad again and Pronger could not be a more fitting – almost archetypal – D guy for that team.

Pronger-Coburn-Timonen is the best defensive trio in the Eastern Conference. With Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and a handful of quality support players, the Flyers shouldn’t struggle to light up the scoreboard, either. As always, though, the Flyers had to build a beautiful house on a foundation of flimsy goaltending.

While I think Ray Emery was good enough to at least be on an NHL roster last year (and Brain Boucher is a solid backup), it is humorous that the team is once again rolling the dice in net.

They’ll get by gloriously in the regular season … but in the playoffs? I have my doubts.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins have a better chance to win the Cup than the Atlantic Division this season.

On its face, that’s a ridiculous statement but the Penguins have been slow starters since the beginning of the Crosby era and I expect that trend to continue. With Max Talbot sidelined for quite a while and a team that must be a little banged up from two straight deep playoff runs, the Penguins might sputter a bit with that big silver chalice-shaped target on their backs.

But don’t bet against them when the games start to matter.

3. New Jersey Devils

Speaking of never betting against someone, how can you doubt the Devils at this point? I’ve been stunned to read all of the Chicken Little talk about New Jersey after they lost not-so-essential players like John Madden and Brian Gionta. Look, they’re both nice players but why would those two land a death blow on a team that somehow remained contenders after losing Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Brian Rafalski since the salary cap was instituted?

Like some Raid-proof roach infestation, the Devils will continue defy expectations and make it to the playoffs again. And much like their spiritual insect brethren, it won’t be pretty … especially with Jacques Lemaire in charge.

4. New York Rangers

“Boy, if Marian Gaborik could just stay healthy the Rangers would see a huge upgrade.”

“If only Lindsay Lohan could calm down on the crank for a bit, she could be the next great starlet.”

“If only Al Gore could emulate true human emotions, he’d be a hell of a candidate.”

“It’s too bad time machines aren’t real because then Britney Spears could un-ruin her life.”

“If US banks didn’t destroy America …”

Wow, the “if game” really IS fun!

5. New York Islanders

Take solace in John Tavares.

Is the Atlantic now the best division in the NHL?

June 29, 2009

So, with the draft behind us and our free agency coverage ready to begin tomorrow, we don’t have much time for general NHL meandering. But with the mammoth Chris Pronger trade and John Tavares going to the New York Islanders, we couldn’t help but wonder:

Is the Atlantic Division now primed to become the best division in the entire league?

Let’s look at the “Pros” for such an argument.

1. Everything the Penguins bring to the table

It never hurts to have the reigning Stanley Cup champions in your division, especially since they’re obviously not a flash in the pan after going to two SCFs in a row. They might not always be great in the regular season, but it’s hard to deny their heart, hustle and talent.

2. All kinds of elite talent, most of it young

Pronger gives this division the one thing it truly lacked: an elite defenseman (with all due respect to Sergei Gonchar). Pittsburgh features two of the three best forwards in the league. New Jersey saw Zach Parise jump to an elite level and also employs a goalie with more wins than any in NHL history.

Along with Parise and Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo, the Flyers have Mike Richards and Jeff Carter while the Islanders even landed a blue chip in Tavares.

3. Four quality teams

In addition to the Penguins, the Atlantic produced half of the Eastern Conference’s playoff representatives with the Rangers, Flyers and Devils also making it to the postseason.

4. Enigmatic, but potentially outstanding goaltending

Every Atlantic division team has a goalie who could be somewhere between above average to outstanding. Obviously, one must assume that Brodeur is still an outstanding goalie but it goes beyond that.

Henrik Lundqvist consistently puts together borderline Vezina caliber seasons. Marc Andre Fleury was erratic at times in the postseason, but a lot of people will probably remember his save on Nicklas Lidstrom a long time after they forget about some of those awful goals he allowed against the Washington Capitals.

Even the question mark goalies have potential. Sure, Ray Emery is a head case who eats bugs and potentially consumes other harmful toxins in his free time, but let’s not forget that he was often excellent in the Senators’ run to a SCF berth. Say what you want about his lifetime contract, Rick Dipietro was once the future of American goaltending and might still have a chance to be a solid franchise goalie if he can get over his injury concerns.

***

Again, this is looking at the situation before what typically changes the league the most: July 1st. Still, it’s interesting to ask: at this moment in time, did the Atlantic division leapfrog the Pacific and Central as the class of the NHL?

We’d love to hear what you think about that.

Living GM vs. Blogging GM: Atlantic division

March 12, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Atlantic division.

Real Life: Pittsburgh Penguins traded a bag of pucks for Bill Guerin

Tony Ferrante from The Confluence (Kukla’s Korner) said:

“If I were GMRS (GM Ray Shero), I’d trade Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi (just kidding, but a good move). Then I’d trade Hal Gill and a mid-round draft pick for either another winger or an agitator (Neil). I would also not rule out some kind of move for another defenseman …

Boy, a lot of Pens bloggers wanted to get rid of Hal Gill but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t crazy about the Guerin pickup, but at least they gave up next to nothing for him.

Real Life: New York Rangers make typical crazy Glen Sather moves: they acquired Derek Morris and Nik Antropov for a second round pick, a conditional pick, Dimitri Kalinin, Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha.

Patrick Hoffman from Goal Line Report (Kuklas Korner) said:

“However, the only thing that will probably happen this week is that the club will claim Sean Avery off re-entry waivers and dump a salary or two. A lot of Blueshirt fans will wish it will be someone like Wade Redden or may be even someone like Drury but believe me when I say that those two aren’t going anywhere.

To sum it all up, this team is stuck with the roster that Sather built during these past two off-seasons, for better or worse.”

Well, the Rangers are stuck … more stuck. OK, so the guys they added are UFAs but they lost two draft picks and some borderliners for not much. Sather’s always a good source of laughter.

Real Life: The Islanders get next to nothing for Bill Guerin. Fail to dump salary. Fail fail fail.
Dominik from Light House Hockey said:

“Oh wait, this was about trades? Well, in that case, sell, SELL, SELL! UFA Andy Hilbert is a useful defensive forward and penalty killer who’s having a “career” year (shhhhh: 10 G = career year). Take best offer. Same with Guerin (in the works) and even the injured Doug Weight, due back from IR by the playoffs. Parlay Dean McAmmond — who looks alive since coming over for Comrie — for scraps. If someone somehow asked me for Jeff Tambellini — who can’t score outside of the shootout or the AHL — I’d pay his airfare and meal tab.”

Nope, sadly, just Guerin. Oh well.

Real Life: The Devils decide to settle for their embarrassment of riches.

John Fischer from In Lou We Trust said:

“If I were the GM of the Devils, I would be hanging up the phone and saying the phrase “Sorry, but we’re not interested” over and over again over the next few days. Especially if the call begins with “We would like to know the availability of Travis Zajac or Johnny Oduya.” Basically, I’d ignore the trade deadline unless a team really, really wants Scott Clemmensen or Kevin Weekes and is offering an offensive defenseman.”

Bingo.

Real Life: Flyers trade Scottie Upshall, 2011 second round pick and a 6th round draft pick for Kyle McLaren and Daniel Carcillo

Flyers Goal Scored By said:

“We then would put everyones’ names around a dartboard, chug out 3 beers, and then fire 4 darts to see who is going. Then really hot souf philly girls would come into our office and tell us how awesome we were at “GM’ing” and then totally make out with each other, and then us, and then back to each other until 3pm. Then we’d high-five and crush a cheesesteak before falling asleep to old Rick Tocchet highlights. Being a GM rules … “

(OK, they also said that they should go after Jay Bouwmeester.)

Instead of going after Bouwmeester, the Flyers made a move for an immobile defenseman and one of the most undisciplined players in the NHL. In other words, they did the same thing they’ve been doing for …. 30 years?