Thursday, October 07, 2010

Here's Your Opinion: NHL Season Preview Part Two

Yeah, that's right. Hockey's back.
You can't just have opinions on half of the teams in the NHL! Your friends/co-workers/family members will mock you mercilessly and you will repeatedly be passed over for promotions. Yes, promotions within your family. Now you'll never get to be the oldest brother, except via murder, which is frowned upon in most circles.

To avoid such a grisly transgression of common courtesy, PitB has provided further opinions for you to repeat parrot-like at social gatherings, becoming the envy of all your peers and even a few of your superiors. The teams are still listed in convenient alphabetical order. Have fun!

Montreal Canadiens
Strengths: The phenomenal playoff goaltending of Jaroslav Halak should...wait, seriously? They traded him? Oh dear...
Weaknesses: You may not be aware of this unless you have read any hockey blog in the world, but they're not very big.
Your Opinion: The Canadiens barely made it to the playoffs last year and they did it on the back of Halak; unless Carey Price proves his critics wrong with a stellar season, the Canadiens will be on the outside looking come April.
Don't Say: Why does "Canadiens" have an "e" in it?

Nashville Predators
Strengths: An uncanny ability to make the playoffs despite a lack of money, offense, and talent in general.
Weaknesses: A lack of money, offense, and talent in general.
Your Opinion: It's risky to bet against coach Barry Trotz getting the Predators into the playoffs, so I'm not going to do it. Despite losing Dan Hamhuis, Dan Ellis, and Jason "Not Named Dan" Arnott, the Predators will once again lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Don't Say: Shea? Isn't that a girl's name?

New Jersey Devils
Strengths: Taking what was already one of the best groups of forwards in the NHL and adding Ilya Kovalchuk is really just not fair. The league should do something about that.
Weaknesses: Taking on the Kovalchuk contract meant jettisoning some of the team's depth, to the point that their starting roster for the year only has 11 forwards.
Your Opinion: In his brief time with the Devils last season, Kovalchuk didn't quite fit in; a full year of Kovalchuk in the lineup gives New Jersey one of the scariest looking offenses in the league. They'll be battling for top spot in the division all season long.
Don't Say: Offense? What offense? Don't they play the trap?

New York Islanders
Strengths: Youth and exuberance!
Weaknesses: Goodness gracious, where do I start. The Isles have a startling lack of depth at every position. It doesn't help that Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit, who came second and third in team scoring, will miss several months each.
Your Opinion: The Islanders were going to be in the basement this season even with a healthy Okposo and Streit. Without them, they haven't a hope this season.
Don't Say: At least DiPietro is healthy (you'll jinx him).

New York Rangers
Strengths: Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist are so good, even their mothers ask them for autographs.
Weaknesses: If Gaborik doesn't score, no one else will. And if Lundqvist can't keep them in the lead going into the third period...well, they're going to lose.
Your Opinion: The Rangers are just too precarious to make it into the playoffs this year; if anything happens to Lundqvist or, more likely, Gaborik, they're headed to the basement faster than a 42-year-old Dungeon Master.
Don't Say: I'm expecting Wade Redden to have a comeback season.

Ottawa Senators
Strengths: They lead the league in freakish laughs. Also, their forwards and defencemen can play hockey reasonably well.
Weaknesses: With the departure of Anton Volchenkov, their defence is as soft asJason Spezza's a baby's bottom and their goaltending is extremely suspect.
Your Opinion: The Senators lost all of their size on defence and will be far too easy to play against; I think they'll miss the playoffs this year.
Don't Say: I'm going to become a Senators fan! Not even people in Ottawa are Senators fans.

Philadelphia Flyers
Strengths: A plethora of talent amongst their forwards and defence, led by perpetual Conn Smythe bridesmaid Chris Pronger.
Weaknesses: Little to no talent amongst their goalies, led by journeyman backup Michael Leighton.
Your Opinion: The Flyers have enough skill that they'll be able to overcome the large number of goals their goalies are going to give up. They were lucky to make the playoffs on the last day of the regular season last year; they'll clinch a playoff berth well before that date this year.
Don't Say: Dan Carcillo has a sweet moustache.

Phoenix Coyotes
Strengths: They are coached by Dave Tippett; all their other strengths are subservient to this one overarching strength.
Weaknesses: They have balanced scoring. In this case, "balanced scoring" is a euphemism for "not a lot of scoring."
Your Opinion: The Coyotes surprised everyone last year; they're not a surprise anymore. The Coyotes are not a flashy team, but they're solid, well-coached, and sound defensively; they'll be in the playoffs again.
Don't Say: Taylor Pyatt is so dreamy. Even if it's true.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Strengths: They got this guy, you might have heard of him? Canadian hero, arguably the best player in the NHL? You know, Eric Godard.
Weaknesses: Sidney Crosby.
Your Opinion: The Penguins had a great off-season, picking up some great free agents to fill out their roster; they're poised to make another run to the finals.
Don't Say: Crosby? More like Crysby, amiright?

St. Louis Blues
Strengths: Though unproven over a full regular season, Jaroslav Halak is a very good goalie and the Blues have a bevy of young talent.
Weaknesses: That young talent is still pretty green.
Your Opinion: If it wasn't for the strength of the Western Conference last season, the Blues would have been a playoff team as they were 15th overall in the NHL. With a full year under young coach Davis Payne, they'll make the playoffs again.
Don't Say: I picked Vladimir Sobotka in my fantasy pool!

San Jose Sharks
Strengths: One of the best top lines in hockey in Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Dany Heatley, as long as it's the regular season.
Weaknesses: Other than their baffling ability to win in the playoffs, the Sharks don't really have any weaknesses.
Your Opinion: I am confident that this is the year that the San Jose Sharks will finally accomplish what they've never been able to do: lose in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
Don't Say: Joe Thornton really needs to relax.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Strengths: New GM Steve Yzerman has made all the right moves, shoring up the defence with Pavel Kubina, adding to an already impressive top-six with Simon Gagne, and hiring the most sought-after coach in Guy Boucher.
Weaknesses: The question-mark still lies with the defence: is Victor Hedman ready to become a number one defender in the NHL?
Your Opinion: The top-end talent from their forward ranks and the forward-thinking coaching of Guy Boucher will put the Lightning in the hunt for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East once April comes around.
Don't Say: Seen Stamkos?

Toronto Maple Leafs
Weaknesses: Still seem to think that Brian Burke is the right GM to help rebuild a franchise.
Your Opinion: It's not exactly going out on a limb to suggest that the Leafs will miss the playoffs again this season. But with their defence and goaltending, they should at least give up fewer goals and avoid giving the Bruins another top-five draft pick.
Don't Say: Their depth at center is their strength.

Vancouver Canucks
Strengths: Balanced scoring, solid defensive core, and top-notch goaltending.
Weaknesses: A conspicuous lack of Kyle Wellwood.
Your Opinion: I hear they're pretty good. They might, just maybe, if the puck bounces their way and they avoid injuries, win a trophy of some kind.
Don't Say: Hodgson's a bust!

Washington Capitals
Strengths: Offense. Even their best defenceman is only known for his offense.
Weaknesses: Defense. Even their best defenceman is only known for his offense.
Your Opinion: The Capitals won't have any issues in the regular season and when the playoffs come around, Michal Neuvirth will use his Calder Cup-winning experience to propel them to the finals.
Don't Say: The Capitals don't need a good second-line center! What Stanley Cup-winning team has a good second-line center?

1 comment:

  1. Three things:

    1. I agree that our largest problem is our lack of Kyle Wellwood. No cup for us.

    2. I tend not to say Crysby, but rather Crybasby. Is this acceptable?

    3. Wade Redden could have a comeback year. He could come all the way back to the NHL.


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