Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.

9/28/2006

Three weeks is all it takes

Below are my picks for the season I soothsaid on 09/06/06. Already I am doubting a few, especially in the West.

East
Atlantic
NY Rangers
Philly
Pittsburgh
NJ Devils
NY Islanders

Northeast
Ottawa
Buffalo
Toronto
Boston
Montreal

Southeast
Carolina
Florida
Atlanta
TampaBay
Washington

West
Central
Nashville
Detroit
Columbus
Chicago
St.Louis

Northwest
Calgary
Minnesota
Vancouver
Edmonton
Colorado

Pacific
San Jose
Anaheim
Los Angeles
Dallas
Phoenix

East 8
Ottawa
Rangers
Carolina
Buffalo (Finalist)
Philly
Toronto
Florida
Pittsburgh

West 8
Nashville
San Jose (Champs)
Calgary
Detroit
Anaheim
Minnesota
Vancouver
Columbus

I'm pretty confident with the Atlantic, though Philly could win it just as easily as the Rangers. But with the way Lundqvist is playing and the way Esche has played his entire career, I wouldn't bet on it. I don't like the Devils because this cap turmoil undermines the team feeling that NJ relies on, and can make players feel expendable. Which of course they are, but you don't want your players to feel that way. Pittsburgh will improve its point total, but I'm not confident it will overtake the Devils. No comment on Long Island. What a fucking joke.

The Northeast is a toughie, mostly because I'm most familiar with all five teams, but I still think Buffalo is the one team to advance the farthest in the post season thanks to Ryan Miller, with Ottawa winning the regular season battle. I thought the Leafs had a chance to take third up until last night when I saw Chara play for the B's. He gives them 5-10 more wins, mostly of the not-losing-the-lead variety. Montreal, I'm not worried about at all.

The Southeast is the Canes' to lose, especially if Cole can play 70+ games. I originally ranked the Panthers high because of the forward depth (Bertuzzi, Olli's Olympic linemate Peltonen, Joe and Gary, Horton,Olesz, Weiss) but I'm not sure Martin is the man to bring out the offense in this squad. Now I'm thinking Atlanta with a healthy Lehtonen will be chasing the Canes. If they can reduce the GAs, Hossa and Kovalchuk can win alot of games on the PP all by themselves. Tampa is too top heavy, and Washington is...Washington.

But in the West, I think I messed up the Pacific and Northwest. The Central is a dogfight between Nashville and Detroit, with the edge resting in Vokoun. I thought Columbus had a shot before the Zherdev soap opera and the Fedorov injury. I'm less confident, but a full season out of Nash should be enough to beat out a rebounding Chicago squad and a Blues team led by the U.S. over-50 Olympic team.

In the Pacific, I think I doubted Dallas after their implosion last May, and moved LA too high. I suppose I don't see enough of these two to have a good read. SJ and Anaheim are obviously the cream. Phoenix might be better, but Cujo's reflexes are starting to wane.

The Northwest is even more congested than last year. You've got the Flames trying to score more, the Oilers with a real NHL goaltender for an entire season, the Canucks giving up fire-power for goal-tending but seemingly indecisive in team direction, and Minnesota with possibly the best offensive tandem in the division. Then there is Colorado.

But really, who the eff really knows?

Labels:

12 Comments:

  • At 2:03 AM, Blogger reality check said…

    You picked Montreal to finish behind both Toronto and Boston? By October's end, both those teams will be so far in the Habs rear view it'll be a joke!

    I was gonna say something really nasty when I remembered you are from Jersey. There's too many things I love about that state so I'll just wait 30 days and fire off a nice little "told ya so!" when the time comes. Take care.

     
  • At 2:48 AM, Blogger Alan Linquist said…

    By October's end, both those teams will be so far in the Habs rear it'll be a joke!

    Fixed that for you. Boston and Toronto F-ing Montreal in the B.

     
  • At 5:02 PM, Blogger reality check said…

    Same thing!

    With Raycroft being annointed the Leafs #1 goalie rather than earning it, I doubt Toronto will scare even Pittsburgh or Washington this year. I'm not worried at all.

     
  • At 10:25 AM, Blogger ninja said…

    Alan,

    Beauty tip-in.

    RC,

    Believe me, Janne isn't going to save the Habs' rear, which is the main weakness of the team, and the reason I don't fear them. I could be wrong, but that's my take.

    Pittsburgh, I'll give you as a long shot. But the Caps?! That's just low.

     
  • At 3:51 PM, Blogger JP McGovern said…

    RC, you said, "same thing" which I take it to mean you missed the subtle difference. Go back and read it again.

    And Ninja, don't sleep on them Capitals. Stranger things have happened. I have them at 9th in the East, missing out on the last day of the season when Ovechkin hits the crossbar on a penalty shot late in the 3rd against the Sabres.

     
  • At 4:50 PM, Blogger reality check said…

    I don't know about that "subtle" difference. You say Toronto and Boston will be deep in shit and I agree.

    Janne will do more good than you realize. Once all the D-men are healthy, if it happens, they have 8 NHL defenseman on their roster and a ninth on the farm. If you have any idea what that kind of depth means to the players at the top of the list and in the 5th and 6th slots, you'd realize what a shrewd move it was.

    At forward they have so many young players ready to step up, they can pass on what becomes a second line center in Dallas without flinching.

    Anyone still calling them at fifth in the East simply doesn't have a clue about hockey or the Habs. Watch five of their games and it'll change your mind.

     
  • At 5:46 PM, Blogger ninja said…

    RC,

    Your 'once' and 'if' are what I'm basing my opinion on; a slow start might de-rail post-season plans. What is the injury situation again? I can't keep track. How long are the below out of action?; Markov, Souray, Dandy, soupcube, Komisarek, Janne, Rivet, Streit, and waiver man Traverse.

    Besides I didn't even mention Crystal ball. Or your rookie coach.

    I'll definitely be watching, but for me from an analytical stand point it is a toss up between the Bruins, Habs and Leafs. And I'm going to let a little homerism filter in if it is that close.

    JP,

    Washington would be worse than the Islanders if not for Ovechkin. I suppose stranger things have happened. But Semin and Brashear don't make this team much better than last year, if at all since they gave up their captain. I definitely have more faith in all four of the other SE teams.

     
  • At 9:10 AM, Blogger reality check said…

    Only Oxo Cube is on the injured list. The rest are just little nagging injuries that no smart player already having made a team risks aggravating in training camp. No other injuries to report of any significance. Contrary to rumours, Koivu is not yet a pirate!

    My prediction is that Montreal, Buffalo and Ottawa will be separated by a mere 5 points at the top of the Northwest by seasons end. Boston may make a playoff push but will have to ride their core players to the max to get there. Toronto will give it all they got but miss out by a win or two. The "improvements" they have made are great steps sideways and do not neccessarily make them any better than last year. I see only Boston and Montreal as having steeped up and deepened their rosters while Ottawa and Buffalo was thinned out a bit. T.O is status quo.

     
  • At 11:07 AM, Blogger ninja said…

    From a personnel stand point, I completely agree. Kubina might give the Leafs a bit more punch from the blue line, but the Marlies would've improved the blue line enough. Raycroft may lose his job to Aubin this year, so again, I agree, a step sideways. It could be a case of addition by subtraction in regard to the forwards, but without a significant addition of firepower, getting rid of liabilities can't be seen as a big step forward.

    I think the biggest change, and something that can't be overlooked is the coaching change. This is where I think the most significant difference lies. If the Leafs barely missed the playoffs while only being in shape for 65% of the season, which is how it seems to someone who watched every game save two last year not to mention previous Quinn-coached years, I'm excited to see how the team does when it is closer to optimal performance for more of the season. The Leafs have been lacking in the effort department, in relation to the season, in relation to indivdual games, and most especially for stretches of sixty minutes. These coasting/warm-up/don't burn yourself out periods(which I attribute to Quinn losing to Carolina by running out of bodies) and the short lapses cost the Leafs at least 15-20 games last year. I think Maurice is going to get alot more of the line-up than Quinn did, mostly because he isn't going to wait until December to start cracking the whip.

    Basically, the Leafs aren't as bad as they seem. They just need to get more out of what they already have.

    Whatever happens, thanks for the lively and informative exchange.

     
  • At 2:06 PM, Blogger Zanstorm said…

    Canucks and Leafs in the playoffs? You are a brave man, especially predicting the Nucks to make the dance.

     
  • At 2:07 PM, Blogger Zanstorm said…

    By the way, RC, it is a piece of cake to predict the Bruins ahead of the Habs. You will eat your words, boy.

     
  • At 3:31 PM, Blogger ninja said…

    I was young (about a month younger, actually) and naive (hadn't done my homework) and idealistic(stupid)

     

Post a Comment

<< Home