The NHL-30 (October)

My version of Scott Cullen’s TSN “Power Rankings”. I was inspired to do this after disagreeing intensely with some of his picks (Washington 6th, Buffalo 7th, Minnesota 27th). Like Cullen’s item, it isn’t meant to indicate the top team in the standings, but rather the team(s) I feel are most equipped to make a serious playoff run. (Although the two will naturally tend to overlap). Here’s the first installment of what will become a monthly item. Continue reading

Can We Play in YOUR Division?

The Florida Panthers last post-season appearance was shortly after Y2K. Yeah.

?

There was a time when the South-East division was the weakest in the league. Florida and Atlanta were laughing stocks, Tampa Bay had some rough stretches, while Carolina and Washington were the best of a bad lot. Then Washington took a big step forward, and started cleaning up in the standings, finishing 4th in the league in ’08-’09, first overall in ’09-’10 and 2nd overall last season. But despite a series of impressive regular season performances, post-season success proved elusive.

The Vancouver Canucks were thoroughly dominant during the 2010-2011 regular season. They scored the most goals in the league (262) and also allowed the fewest (185) for a staggering +77 goal differential, capturing the President’s Trophy as the league’s top regular-season team. Unlike Washington, they made a strong playoff run, coming one game away from winning the Stanley Cup. But they also came inches away from losing to 8th place Chicago in the first round (Patrick Sharp nearly converted on the powerplay, mere minutes into OT of game 7), and struggled at times against a far less talented Nashville team. The finals loss to Boston can be blamed in large part on injuries, but what happened in the first two rounds? Continue reading

What Line Does So-and-So Play On?

***UPDATED OCTOBER 14***

Complete NHL line-ups updated on a weekly basis

 

Confirmed Line-Up’s

Winnipeg

(LW-C-RW)

Ladd-Little-Wheeler

MacLean-Burmistrov-Antropov

Kane-Scheifele-Wellwood

Glass-Slater-Thorburn

IR: Fehr Continue reading

2012 NHL Standings Forecast

Standings forecast on a divisional basis

Might want to check out the FULL SEASON PREVIEW first, but here’s a plain old forecast of the NHL’s 2011-2012 regular season standings:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1WASHINGTON CAPITALS

2BUFFALO SABRES

3PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

4BOSTON BRUINS

5PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

6TAMPA BAY LIGHTING

7NEW YORK RANGERS

8NEW JERSEY DEVILS

9MONTREAL CANADIANS

10TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

11CAROLINA HURRICANES

12WINNIPEG JETS

13OTTAWA SENATORS

14FLORIDA PANTHERS

15NEW YORK ISLANDERS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1LOS ANGELES KINGS

2VANCOUVER CANUCKS

3CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

4SAN JOSE SHARKS

5DETROIT RED WINGS

6MINNESOTA WILD

7ANAHEIM DUCKS

8ST. LOUIS BLUES

9CALGARY FLAMES

10NASHVILLE PREDATORS

11COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

12DALLAS STARS

13PHOENIX COYOTES

14EDMONTON OILERS

15COLORADO AVALANCHE

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For a bit of playoff intrigue, check out THE CONTENDERS SERIES, chronicling:

THE BEASTS OF THE EAST

THE CLASS OF THE WEST


2012 NHL Preview: Western Conference Contenders

SJ's summer catch, Brent Burns

See the following for a comprehensive NHL Season Preview

Yesterday I previewed the top teams in the Eastern Conference. It was not only a long and impressive list, but filled with uncertainty due Sidney Crosby’s injury, the roster overhaul in Philadelphia, and the potential of up-and-coming clubs in Buffalo and New York. Overall, the Western Conference wasn’t quite as tumultuous over the off-season, but there was significant movement from two of the top five teams. Continue reading

2012 NHL Season Preview: Eastern Conference

 

Washington's FA steal: Tomas Vokoun

Relevant links:

Comprehensive NHL Season Preview

Western Conference Contenders Preview

There are a number of good teams in the NHL today; in fact, there are so many that you’ll often hear analysts say that you can’t rule anyone out. Once the playoffs begin, anything can happen. They point to Philadelphia’s 2010 run to the finals and Edmonton’s in 2006 (both from 8th place), as evidence that the road to NHL glory is sudden and unpredictable.

But with the exception of 2006 (unpredictable after a year’s layoff), that’s not true. Each year, there are a handful of teams – perhaps as few as 4 – with true cup potential. I can’t tell you with any certainty which of them will win the Stanley Cup, but I’m confident that I can narrow it down to a handful of eligible candidates. They are The Contenders. Continue reading

2012 NHL Season Preview

Drew “Norris T” Doughty

Other previews:

Eastern Conference Contenders

Western Conference Contenders

The NHL regular season is still over a month away, but rosters are all but solidified. Sure there’ll be the usual competition between 20-somethings and NHL vets for a few spots at the end of the lineup, but each team’s key players are in place (ironically, excepting Drew Doughty). That means the business of predictions can begin. But first, here are some important notes on injuries.

Injuries

The single biggest reason that hockey isn’t played on paper is the potential for injuries. Last year I thought the St. Louis Blues would be the new Chicago Blackhawks. They had a young core of talented forwards like T.J Oshie, David Perron, Patrik Berglund, and David Backes, supplemented by veterans like Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes. They had just added Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak – fresh off a dominant playoff performance where he took the underdog Habs to the Conference Finals. Throw in a solid defence anchored by vets like Eric Brewer and Barrett Jackman, and the Blues looked poised to finish near the top-third of the Western Conference. They came busting out of the gates, cruising to a 9-1-2 record, but then it all came crashing down. Continue reading

NHL Season Preview ’11-’12: The Toronto Maple Leafs

This is the first in a series of articles that breaks down all 30 NHL teams.  I thought it best to start with Canadian teams, and no team provokes stronger reactions – on both sides of the ledger – than the Toronto Maple Leafs.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Despite the infamous and debilitating Kessel trade of 2009, the Leafs organization is stronger than it’s been at any other time since the lockout. They have a decent group of forwards with a bit more offensive punch than in recent years; they have a nice blend of size and skill on the back end; and they have two decent goalies. But the biggest difference is their prospect pool. Continue reading