Thursday, October 13, 2011

East


Here is my son in a picture taken when the Oilers were last in the playoffs. Today he is six.

Happy birthday son.

Nice work Oilers.

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An interesting first week so far. Everything in the first few weeks is so overblown it makes for some good times. Slow starts (we're talking a couple of losses) lead to panic and calls for bloodletting in the Haymarket. Scott Howson is about to be fired, Alain Vigneault should be called on the carpet and what about those Flames??

Of course the exact opposite reaction, the one that says points now don't matter as much as in the spring, is almost as foolish. Best to get as many points as you can now really. The Avs rode a hot start to the playoffs a few years back.

A few quick thoughts:

I liked the Oilers' win on Sunday. They outchanced a good Penguins' club. The PK was excellent. A lot of good things went on. Rumours have Whitney returning next week. If he can stay healthy this will be a better club. Of course Hemsky has already gone down. Dog giveth and Dog taketh away.

Its early but I am pretty sure based on returns so far that plenty of teams are poorer than Edmonton. The Sens, the Jets, the BJs - all look to be pretty sad. And there are more.

Watched a bit of the Flyers' game last night. I thought this was a club that would take a step back with the trades they made but Voracek has had a nice start and how about Couturier being out there with minutes left taking the draw to start the PK? As a raw rookie. Against the Sedins. When's the last time that happened?

Are the Flames as bad as they have looked? That little rush they made after New Year's last year may have just postponed the inevitable. I don't think they are that bad but I sure don't think they're much good.

Now a look at the Wales:

Contenders

Boston


No team has repeated since the late nineties although the Wings would have if they had not had Lidstrom Datsyuk and Hossa hobbled in 2009. I doubt the Bruins will do it but they are a damn good team. Unlike most recent Cup champions (except Detroit) they have loss little personnel, they are deep at every position and one would guess that Marchand and Seguin may take some big strides (Seguin played over 20 minutes last night). Do I think they can repeat? No but just because its hard to do, they are still in the mix.

Pens

Dan Bylsma may be the best coach in the league. I really rate him. Last year the Penguins were excellent despite losing Crosby, Malkin and Staal for extensive periods of time. As usual the stars are surrounded by a great cast of professionals, guys like Kunitz and Dupuis, good solid players. If Crosby and Malkin come back and stay healthy I would take the Pens over anyone in the east.

Caps


Caps are in Sharks and Sens territory now, a great club that hasn't won a damn thing yet. Some would look at their playoff failures and say 'just bad breaks' but at some point the window closes whatever the cause. I like the Caps and I like Boudreau and Ovechkin but I also think the club takes a lot of its personality from those two and (here's my theory) they're a bit hyper. I like my bench bosses and my star players to exude some calm. May be part of the growing process, may (most likely) be bullshit on my part. ;) Like the Sharks and the Canucks though the regular season is just a prelude for this club.

The next tier:

Les Sabres

Buffalo may deserve to be part of the top group but I think they may be a year or two away, just waiting on their latest crowd of youngsters to emerge. I liked their pickups this past summer and I think the guy who may be a lot better than we think is Leino. Buddy can play, remember how he did with the Flyers two springs ago? He'll see more minutes with the Sabres too.

Philly

Not sure about the Flyers yet. They are one team that has a ton of depth up front but dumping Richards and Carter? Wow. The bounty they received looks good but the problem is so many key guys here are aging they need these new kids to grow up quickly or once they are ready they will need to replace Pronger, Briere and Timmonen. Early returns are good, especially for Voracek and Couturier.

Tampa


I loved the work Yzerman did in Tampa last year. Like Boston, like Pittsburgh, Tampa's lineup is loaded with quality veterans now and that makes a big difference. Low cost, low risk moves and they ended up a goal away from the Cup Final. Well done.

Playoff teams:

Habs

I didn't like Jack Martin when he had the Sens, I think he had the horses but held them back with his conservative style. With the Habs though I think he is a good fit. He's got a terrific goalie and some solid steady Dmen and a couple of guys who can score and so they are a team that can win some games 2-1 and 3-2. Adding Cole and having Pacioretty return will help.

Chiefs


I like the work Burke has done. Of course so much depends on Reimer here but the GM has added quality guys at every position year by year until a guy like Aulie, who showed well last season, got sent down this fall. The Grabovski/Kulemin/MacArthur line is fabulous and if Connolly can get healthy he will help as well. Throw in Lombardi and Armstrong and suddenly the forwards look decent, not top top drawer but not bad. And the blue has improved as well. Not a bad club at all I think.

Bubble:

Rangers

Something about New York I don't like, not sure what it is but I see them on the outside looking in. Missing Staal for any period of time will really hurt. Not sure why and if anyone falters they'll get in there but something about them just doesn't do it for me.

Joisey

Again, not a big fan of this club. No explanation really, maybe its just because they're Jersey.

The dregs:

Isles

Team on the rise, I think we'll see them move up the ladder this year. Don't think they are good enough or deep enough to challenge for a playoff spot but next year. Love how Snow fills his roster out every year.

Canes


Meh, they have a few nice players but I think Paul Maurice gets canned this seaosn. Again.

Florida


Weirdest off season spending spree ever and really? If you wanted to fill out your roster and get to the salary floor you could have done better than to go out and give a bunch of plugs long term deals. Christ, go out and give clubs cap relief by picking up their one year and two year deals. Like Khabibulin for example. Relentless in their mediocrity.

J.E.T.S.

This team is bad. I think they are worse than the Oilers.

Sens

This team is awful and their two best players are injury prone. First pick overall.

Speeds asked me a few days ago who I figured would finish behind the Oilers - I figure the Avs, BJs, Sens and Jets and then somebody will have enough injuries or bad luck to get the Oil out of the lottery.

Big year!! Big steps!!

3 comments:

Olaf Peacock said...

I love the description of the Jets. How bittersweet it must be to finally have a team back, but having it be THAT team.

Hopefully Cheveldayoff can do some nice things the next couple of years, it'd be nice to see them do well.

Black Dog said...

They have some nice young talent but its going to take a while. I doubt Cheveldayoff can do worse than Waddell did.

Olaf Peacock said...

Well there you go! Best of luck to em anyways.

I thought my excitement at Winnipeg getting a team again would turn to my typical scorn for the other Canadian teams (well Van and Cgy anyways) as soon as the puck dropped, but so far I'm still pretty positive toward them.