Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Predictions Part II: The Standings

Well, here we go with the prediction of this season's standings. Greg and I go up against The Hockey News, The Score Forecaster, McKeens, The Puck Stops Here, Mainstrain Mirtle, John Buccigross of ESPN, and Sisu Hockey. Can I depend my title?

Who's on the wacky tabaccy?

Tampa Bay - I'm amazed at how much love they are getting in some quarters. 1st in the East, Bucci? Mirtle has them winning the Southeast as well. I'm the only other one picking them for a playoff spot, though, so most are scared off by their lack of depth.

Columbus - Two of the three mainstream guides pick the DinnerJackets to make the playoffs, while the rest of us know better.

The Score Forecaster picks the Crapitals to finish as high as 10th. Based on what? They would struggle to finish in the Top 10 of the AHL, let alone the Eastern Conference.

Only Greg thinks the Wild won't make it, while the others have more faith in Pavol. Not a single source picked the Crapalanche to make the playoffs, which means Greg isn't the only one down on that squad.

Now, here's the run-through.


I see a real 3-tier system in the West, with the Top 5 club being the very best of the best and this group will be very tight at the top. Below them, positions 6-11 should be very tight as they fight for the final 3 playoff positions. Teams 12-15 will be the bottom feeders with basically no shot at the big show.

San Jose: I believe they will get good goaltending from either Nabokov or Toskala, and their offensive power, defensive depth, and productive youth will make them the cream of the crop during the regular season. It's scary how many young, talented players San Jose produces under the radar. Guys like Christian Ehrhoff, Josh Gorges, Matt Carle, and Steve Bernier got very little attention before making the big show.

Nashville: They added the size down the middle that they needed (Arnott and Vasicek) and they have a lot of offensive power all around. Their lack of size on defence is still an issue and will probably hurt them in the playoffs.

Calgary: Great goaltending, tight defence, and the addition of Tanguay should easily vault them to win the Northwest Division.

Anaheim: The lack of proven offensive talent (though not for a lack of potential) up front is their current Achilles heel, and the goaltending, who skilled, has many question marks (Bryzgalov = Cechmanek, IMO), so I can't pick Anaheim to win over SJ, but I do believe they'll be very close to the top all year long.

Detroit: They'll take a hit, but not as much as most people think. Hasek should give equal goaltending to what Legace provided for the regular season, barring another groin snap. Jiri Hudler may finally get a chance to show himself, and the Wings have more young talent than you might think. Beating up on the Blues, Hawks, and Dinner Jackets will help their record.

Minnesota: The ultimate wild card, thanks to a whole new makeover. I believe that great coaching + offensive improvements + good goaltending will get them the #6 spot over the rest of the 2nd tier. Of course, they have PAVOL, which is tilting my bias meter.

Dallas: Eric Lindros? An unhappy Mike Modano? A suddenly shaky Marty Turco? This team is still a playoff team, IMO, but they have a lot of question marks and they aren't a true powerhouse until proven otherwise.

Vancouver: Yo, Luongo! I want to see this tattooed on Alanah @ VCOE as much as the next Slav, but what I really want is for the Canucks to make the playoffs and then Luongo win the Conn Smythe as he leads the Canucks to their first cup.

Edmonton: Losing Pronger, Spacek, Samsonov...too much to overcome, IMO. I like their offensive potential and Roloson, even at partial strength, will give them better goaltending that Conklin gave them last year.

Columbus: The loss of Fedorov and the late-coming of Zherdev will definitely hurt them early on, and their lack of defence will kill them overall. Any team giving significant minutes to Bryan Berard and then relying on a young goalie is asking for trouble.

Phoenix: Gretzky isn't a horrible coach, but he's not making me think of the next coming of Al Arbour. Goaltending is a serious issue as people forget CuJo was very bad after a hot start last season. They have quite a nice bunch of risky pool picks though, with names like Nagy, Jovanovski, and Comrie.

Colorado: Svatos' shoulder is mush and will ultimately, I fear, kill his career eventually. He's already experiencing more pain. Colorado's goaltending issues mirror Phoenix, as does the fact they have a few enticing pool options. This is not a playoff team.

Chicago: Some good young players, but still a long way off. Not nearly enough quality depth, and a goaltender who lost his game last year.

Los Angeles: The Curse of Pavol combined with the usual injury curse and the dependency on DAN CLOUTIER, of all people, will lead to an awful demise for the Kings this year.

St. Louis: Vladimir Orszagh's gone for the year, so the countdown is on to another #1 draft pick. Relying on a bunch of old Americans is not going to improve them from the train-wreck that was last season.


Overall, the Eastern Conference looks severely weaker to me compared to the West. Yes, yes, I'm well aware of where the past two Stanley Cup champions have come from, but compare the top teams in each conference and compare the top 8 overall. You know that most of the talent resides in the West and that more times than not, the Western teams would come out head in the long haul.

Buffalo: Ryan Miller is a Primeau...err primo goaltending. The Sabres have lots of offence, speed, and enthusiasm. The defence has issues, but I like them to come out on top over the Senators by the slimmest of margins.

New York Rangers: Adding Brendan Shanahan adds some instant offence to a team that needed some help for Jagr. The Rangers have some quality goaltending, capable supporting cast for Jagr, and an underrated defensive corps. I think they'll take their rather weak division.

Carolina: They'll take a hit from injuries, departures, and the Stanley Cup hangover, but they should take their division barring a complete collapse.

Ottawa: I think Senators fans will be ultimately disappointed by Martin Gerber, but ultimately thrilled with Ray Emery when all is said and done. The departure of Chara will hurt, definitely, as will Corvo's injury but this team has amazing offensive talent and depth and Andrej Meszaros is finally getting the respect he deserves. ISS had it right when it ranked Meszaros much higher than the idiots at CSB and most mainstream mediots.

New Jersey: This is the team that keeps getting it done, but their lack of offensive depth is still going to kill them in the end.

Philly: You've got some great young talents, and a bunch of injury-prone underachieving old farts mixed in with one of the worst goaltending corps in the league. This team has enough talent and wily coaching to finish in the top 8, but they'll never go anywhere in the playoffs with Rebound Machine as their #1 goalie. Even Antero Niitymaki, who did well in the Olympics, has been poor otherwise.

Tampa Bay: Yes, I still think they are a playoff team in the East, thanks to their powerful offence. Is Marc Denis going to give them a big boost in goaltending? Not really. Would this team make the playoffs in the West? No, but they'll make it in the East.

Boston: Don't underrate this squad. I think Tim Thomas and Hanu Toivonen will give them better goaltending than most pundits give them credit for. They have some fine young talent, and Captain Chara is here to save the day!

Atlanta: I'm not getting suckered in because Kari Lehtonen's groin is less reliable than Tie Domi's alibi for invading the nation of Belinda Stronach. Too many goals against + loss of Marc Savard's offensive help = no playoffs.

Montreal: As awesome as Tomas Plekanec is defensively, it's not enough for me to take this squad as a playoff team. Something just tells me that won't make it. They could easily pilfer the #8 spot, but their offensive struggles may continue, even with the addition of Samsonov.

Florida: They weren't a playoff team when they had Roberto Luongo, so do you really expect them to make a leap now? Sure, Bertuzzi will float and score 35-50 goals, but Alex Auld, as solid as he can be, is no Roberto Luongo. An average goalie like Auld, or an old fart like Ed Belfour, will not be enough behind this year youthful defensive corps.

Pittsburgh: They'll make a leap, but they have so far to go that it won't be this year that they'll be back in the show. Look for Gonchar to have a big year, and Crosby to take the scoring title. Ultimately, they'll lose too many 5-4 games.

Toronto: Pass.

New York Islanders: Signing Sillinger and Brendan Witt is not a bad idea, but signing them for the terms the Islanders did was just foolish. I don't have to tell you how bad their management is. Their goaltending? Below average? Their defence? Below average? Their offence? Maybe average... Satan is good for 60 points, as is the under-motivated Yashin. I love Jason Blake's style, and the Islanders could use another 3-4 of him.

Washington: It's still Alex Ovechkin and the anonymous filler squad. Sure, Semin could make some noise, and Zednik might get back to 25 goals (though who will feed him the puck?), but there isn't much to get excited about here, otherwise.

Three minutes into game one, and I'm comfortable saying that all of my predictions were spot on.

Sorry about my lack of respect for your Minnesota Slovaks. If it eases the pain, I couldn't decide among Dallas, CBJ and Minnesota for that last spot. When in doubt, pick the team with Jaroslav Modry, I guess.

For such bold predictions someone should probably inform you that the correct abbreviation for Montreal is MTL not MTR.

I guess you put a lot of in depth analysis into that team. Hours of scurtiny and analysis must have taken place.
For such bold predictions someone should probably inform you that the correct abbreviation for Montreal is MTL not MTR.

Oh dear, when you were mowing the lawn, you forgot a 1cm patch of grass near the fence.

Who the hell cares?

Methinks somebody needs a visit from the Care Bears.
Good, another dude predicting the Bruins to make the playoffs! That team is really improved. I will disagree with your TBay prediction. I actually predicted them to finish 10th. I don't like their defence, it is pale to what it was in recent years after the losses of Sydor and Kubina.
Nooooooooooo! Not my precious Leafs! They must get into the playoffs, this will not stand.
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