September 16, 2003

Hey, I was at a fight and a hockey game broke out! There are twenty-odd free agents that haven't been signed, pre-season hasn't started yet and no one's severly injured who's name doesn't rhyme with "Avel Bure" - So, who's winning the Cup?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey to navel gazing at 09:55 AM - 20 comments

Unfortunately - My Mac doesn't let me post links - SpoFi - Mac bad, PC good. I'm going to do a little research - then try to pick the top 8 in each conference in the order that they will finish. Closest at the end of the season wins my grudging respect. Side bets are encouraged. Side bets that result in physical confrontation are better.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:01 AM on September 16, 2003

OK - Let's get Cuppy. First the Eastern conference. East - Overview: The worst teams (Carolina and Pittsburgh) live here which makes this a little easier to guess than the West, but after you get beyond the top three teams, you have a whole buncha clubs with glaring problems that make the actual finish a little tough to call - I wouldn't be surprised if the difference between 10,11th place and 7th and 8th is a couple of road wins in January. Who's better this year? Well, a full year with Carter, Kovalev, Poti (barring injury) and newly signed Greg DeVries and Chris Simon make the Rangers a better club for sure. Still a lot of question marks (Blakcburn, shaky D and the elusive and overrated chemistry) - but should be entertaining to watch - it says here they make the playoffs for the first time in six years. Buffalo is better. Who cares. Phily? Better, worse or the same? I don't know - but Hackett can't be the answer and these guys break pretty easily. Atlanta - this is the team to watch - serious superstar potential up front, a goalie that can put it all together and has back-up and a solid coaching staff. They may not make the playoffs, but watch out. No more taking it easy when Atlanta is in town. Who's worse? Boston, Washington, Islanders, Pittsburgh, Toronto, - this is Ottawa vs. New Jersey country. The rest really don't match up well. Finally - the damn predictions: 1. Ottawa - no weaknesses, came within 2 mintues of the final last year and won't have the same lapse again. New owner and are a better team by virtue of keeping everyone and having Spezza and Smolinski around for a full year. Lalime is now one of the top five goalies in the league with the guys in front of him playing well. 2. New Jersey - Still can't beat that system and Brodeur as the last stop in it. John Madden is the most underrated player in the game, their D no longer relies on Scott Stevens at all (though depth might be a factor) and... what is the deal with Brodeur? Messy, public divorce and all he does is win the cup. No doubt he's world #1. The road to the cup goes through NJ. 3. Tampa Bay - Stupid hockey, with it's stupid divisions and stupid seeding rules. The Bolts are pretty good though - 4 guys with 70 points or more last year (though the lost Prospal) and a solid, sometime superstar goalie. That's all they'll need to win the Southeast. Watch Svitov - he might score, he might stick someone right in the cup. 4. Philly - 'cause they always finish here and are the best of the rest after NJ and Ottawa. Barring injury, they could get 100 points and they have their customary first round collapse. Still deep at defense and play a solid, boring system - great regular season team. But Jeff Hackett? This is the year Clarke starts to worry about his job. 5. Toronto - Setting up the customary first round tilt with Philly. Some things are meant to be. Unbelievably, an even bigger goon squad than last year with Marchment on board and second only to Ottawa in terms of depth at forward. Will be tough to play. However, that's all the depth they have. Expect two kids to have to play 18 minutes a night in front of Belfour - and god forbid he ever goes down. Will be looking to make up for last year's game seven and are a couple players away from being a very good, dangerous playoff team. 6. Rangers - Now it gets ugly. Not much seperates these last three teams. I'm guessing that the depth here at forward makes up for the lack of it anywhere else. Rangers have as many potential gamebreakers as anyone, but can't seem to grasp playing as a team. I'd take half their guys in a heartbeat though, and Sather isn't about to dick around behind the bench. Blackburn and what D? A distant 6th. 7. Washington - The mysterious Caps. On paper they seem to be better than the Rangers in net and on D and have a core of gamebreakers that can electrify. Kolzig is the new Cechmanek, though and these guys operate in total disinterested-land. Fittingly, Olie could end up in Colorado or Philly this year. Caps lost $25 million or so last year ownership could easily abandon ship. 8. I could see the Islanders, Bruins, or Buffalo all squeaking in - hell even Atlanta could maybe put something together. But I just think I'll go with Montreal. Why? Best goalie of the lot, some team speed and a touch more experience. Plus, I hate the Islanders, Buffalo and Carolina. The Bruins are just cheap. All in all - there are two or three genuine contenders here in Ottawa, NJ and one of Philly or Toronto depending on mid-season acquisitions. Still, apparently defensemen of any worth are becoming the left-handed relief pitchers of the hockey set - are we just not producing these players anymore? This looks more and more like Ottawa's year. President's trophy is a possibility and so is the Cup. Back later to talk some jive on the Western Conference.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:59 AM on September 16, 2003

I'll bite. Guessomatic Standings (in order of pts not div leaders bumped to top 3 order) East Ottawa New Jersey Philadelphia Tampa Bay Boston Atlanta Toronto NY Rangers West Detroit Dallas Colorado Vancouver St Louis Anaheim Los Angeles Minnesota E Finals: Ottawa vs Tampa Bay W Finals: Dallas vs Vancouver Finals: Ottawa vs Vancouver Winner: Ottawa Maybe too much fanny picking in there rather than sensible picking, but what do i know. (and to be fair I'll just post this rather than reading yours which has appeared on preview) and whadya mean you can't post links? hard coding the html not an option for you? I thought Macs had keys for < a h r e f = " > and /

posted by gspm at 12:01 PM on September 16, 2003

They do.

posted by lilnemo at 12:14 PM on September 16, 2003

(sorted by points, not division rankings) East: Ottawa Philadelphia New Jersey Toronto NY Rangers Boston Washington Tampa Bay West: Colorado Detroit Dallas Vancouver Anaheim St Louis Minnesota Edmonton Eastern final: Ottawa vs Philly Western final: Colorado vs Vancouver Finals: Ottawa vs Colorado Winner: Ottawa No real risks here. Calling a dark horse isn't easy these's almost like there are exactly eight playoff-calibre teams per conference. As much as I like longshots, there is no way Calgary, Phoenix, Nashville, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Florida, or Buffalo are getting anywhere near the top eight this year. I called Philly high because Hackett is an improvement over Cechmanek. T-Bay don't impress me much. Toronto will live and die by the Eagle. Vancouver could impress this year; Arvedson is a huge signing. They're a team on the cusp of being yet another Western powerhouse. St. Louis is going down the tubes, and I'm calling one-hit wonder on the Ducks. Giguere will catch Theodore-itis. The Kings suck. Colorado has me sold, despite my opinion of Kariya as overrated. They have the depth to compliment the ludicrous top two lines, Forsberg is the best player in the league, and if they get the goaltending, the West is Won. There's no reason to think my Sens won't dominate this year, though. Losing Arvedson will hurt, but there are more than enough able-bodied penalty killers to replace his output. Spezza will go nuts, and they'll have a full season with Smolinski and Varada in the lineup. Hossa is becoming a superstar and Lalime is improving every year. A bigger playoff showing from Chara and Alfredsson will put the Sens over the top.

posted by Succa at 12:46 PM on September 16, 2003

I love you guys. I've missed hockey talk. Work now. Picks later. Weeds, good work!

posted by garfield at 01:59 PM on September 16, 2003

Yeah - but I don't know how to code. At all.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:37 PM on September 16, 2003

Western Conference and final Cup picks: Overview: More superstars, but not nearly as imposing as it was a year or two ago, the West is basically seven teams with it, and seven teams that don't have a fucking prayer - Minnesota and Nashville are on the bubble. Who's better? Jee-bus there's been some long workdays this summer for a few GMs. But the first question: Is Colorado actually better? Sure they have an all-star team for their first two lines (What is this power play going to look like - fucking monstrous, that's what) and should fill the net most nights - they will be a force in the regular season, no doubt. BUT: You still have to factor in the subtractions: Obviously no Roy and you're automatically dealing with a lesser goalie, But no DeVries, Marchment or Muir and oops - Kaspiritis is #3 on the depth chart - Trust me, he wasn't #3 when he played in Pittsburgh in his prime. Abeischer will get his shot - Sounds to me like Pierre thinks just about anyone can win with this lineup in front of them. We'll see. Anaheim - Provided that Giggy doesn't pull a Theodore these guys actually seem improved. Subtract Kariya, but add Federov and Prospal. Maybe they can score a goal or two now. Their D is underrated despite the finals apperance and they may make noise. Still, now you have to teach another 2 front-line barnburners 'the system'. People won't take them lightly though. Detroit - Hasek in , Joseph out. Bye Sergei, hello Derian Hatcher- This team may be a year older, but it certainly is a year hungrier, too. Stevie Y's last kick at the can, and so far reports are that the Dominator looks like he hasn't missed a step (sigh). Wouldn't bet on 'em, wouldn't bet against them. Columbus - making the right moves at the right time. Adding Sydor and Marchant gives them some leadership and skill. Too bad it means they're in 9th or 10th instead of 14th. LA - Luc Robitaille is back. They have to be better - he's some kind of LA demi-god. The smog makes him ten times the hockey player there than anywhere else. Dallas and St. Louis kind of swapped a few parts and stayed pretty much the same. Honorable mention to Vancouver who at least have an option beyond Cloutier with Hedberg. Who's worse? Edmonton - This is going to be ugly. Already down one Marchant and then Comrie looks like he's going. That Anson Carter trade was the worst of last year. Minnesota - they didn't do anything. Lemaire eats humble pie this year.They're worse by virtue of not being able to surprise anyone anymore. I would say Calgary, Chicago and Phoenix are worse, but really they were pretty bad before. Predictions: 1. Dallas - really this could be either Detroit or Colorado, but I'm thinking that Detroit saves a little for the playoffs and Colorado takes a month to get going. Dallas still is as deep as anyone all round and Turco is a top-five tender. Is it time we started to talk about Modano like we should? The best American to ever play and a top five guy right now. 2. Colorado - Will score in bunches. Will be scored on more than they think. Either way firewagon hockey is back. Good. 3. Detroit - Balanced everything, including the approach to the regular season. This out of any team is built for the run to the Cup. Hatcher is a big plus for a defense that wasn't particularly physical after you got beyond the 40-year old Chelios. 4. Vancouver - the best line in hockey is back again and the feeling seems to be that another year of development for the Sedins and a back-up goalie that's probably as good as your starter will lead this team deep into the playoffs. A great, exciting team - but still not in the league of those above. Arvedson signig is good - but if Ottawa is alright without him, then how much of an impact player is he? 5.Anaheim - Will take St. Louis' usual spot, because they're hungry, young and have Giggy. Federov was underappreciated in Detroit, he was their best player and he will show why. Not to be dismissed as a Cinderella. That was Minnesota. 6. St. Louis - Great centres and a full year of Pronger is a good prognosis for a team that blew that 3-1 lead to Van City in the first round. Osgood gets the whole year to show everyone why the Islanders didn't want him. Losing Stillman hurt a bit, but this is pretty much the same team with a big addition in a healthy Pronger. 7. LA - No idea why. They'll just finish 7th. 8. Chicago - Mostly because Thibault is better than people realize, they have a core of guys that have now been playing together for a while, Daze is better than his last couple of years and was coming on late last year - Neiminen was a good pick-up and they have Steve Poapst. Poapst, Poapst, Poapst.... Well apart from a few big free-agents everyone seems pretty eager to see what the labour negotiation will bring before making some radical commitments. Kudos to Colorado for growing the only pair of balls on the block, but I think it all backfires unless the shore up the other end. So: Semis: Ottawa over Toronto Det over Dallas Cup: Ottawa - best team in a team game.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:58 PM on September 16, 2003

Weedy, no comment about San Jose? Any shot to get back in the playoffs without Owen? Bill says he hasn't read nearly enough just yet about the NHL to make picks, EPL and CL are crowding it out. Who's playing goal for the Avs this year?

posted by billsaysthis at 04:19 PM on September 16, 2003

Just a quick comment for now, more later. Ottawa over Toronto guys never learn...

posted by grum@work at 04:46 PM on September 16, 2003

for any hockey starved folk (such as me and the missus for whom the 2002-03 season was the 'lost season' in terms of watching any game and have not seen a game since, well, Hasek last played) the NHL video section currently has three big streaming WMP9 files for periods 1, 2 and 3 (duh) of the Toronto Maple Leafs playing Jokerit in Finland. Sweeeeeet (I'll take what I can get). Just watched the first period and am looking forward to watching the next two. Maybe should save that for tomorrow night and do this right. Get some beer and wings or something. Gotta love the NHL. you don't have to pay to access their online radio coverage (cough NBA, cough MLB), they link to said coverage on their website, they serve up radio coverage for both teams (okay, so I have been enjoying their online radio coverage more than most) and now they've got an entire preseason game to watch. go leafs.

posted by gspm at 05:01 PM on September 16, 2003

I think this is how me & bill might catch up on our NHL.

posted by lilnemo at 05:03 PM on September 16, 2003

I'll 'catch up' after the EPL season finishes, when the NHL playoffs begin.

posted by billsaysthis at 08:59 PM on September 16, 2003

Billy - San Jose didn't do anything in the off-season after essentailly cleaning house last year. Their goalie situation isn't necessarily as bad as some - Nabokov can be great at times - but they've lost any semblance of quality front line talent without Selanne or Nolan or Freisen for that matter. Just don't see them competing with the big boys, though they're not quite as bad as the Columbuses of the hockey world. Who knows? They may take that 8th playoff spot - it's certainly up for grabs, but they will have trouble scoring. Abeischer is playing net for the Avs - now. They will go get a top flight goalie if he doesn't perform (Kolzig may be available, so to may Cechmanek if things go sour in LA, DaFoe could move again, Thibault may come up too - though this is a distant option - I could even see Nabokov moving).

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:01 AM on September 17, 2003

Wayne is having a fire sale on tenders: Burke or Boucher.

posted by garfield at 09:43 AM on September 17, 2003

Or Bierk! I think the 'Yotes will end up giving one of their backups away. Another question: what happens to Thomas, Oates, Ronning, and Graves (and others)? There are strong rumours that Stumpy is about to sign with Ottawa, but I can't see where they'd put him. I could see the Rangers grabbing one or more of these guys.

posted by Succa at 10:18 AM on September 17, 2003

I could see Burke moving to a contenda, leaving a backup and a starter...Right now Boucher and Burke are starters. Burke is the most underrated goalie in the game, has had a few injury issues of late, but would still get AZ a good return.

posted by garfield at 10:25 AM on September 17, 2003

Actually - Burke will probably be the first to move - can't believe I didn't mention that.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:55 AM on September 17, 2003

When did Dennis Leary start writing for The Hockey News? He echoes a familiar sentiment of last year's playoffs....and I couldn't agree more.

posted by garfield at 08:20 PM on September 21, 2003

The moment he saw Wayne Gretzky's trophies...
in the garage.

posted by lilnemo at 11:24 PM on September 21, 2003

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