Friday, September 22, 2006

WEAK TEAM - STRONG DIVISION

The face of the NHL landscape keeps changing, and the cap era is levelling out the playing field. This year looks to prove that fact even more. Unfortunately there are some teams that really aren't keeping pace. Others are feeling the cap sting and are being forced to downgrade. Here is a quick overview of what I'm talking about.

CENTRAL DIVISION
Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis

This is one of the weakest divisions in the NHL. Chicago is tanking, and the Blue Jackets could follow suit. At least the Blues made moves to make themselves competitive again, and they are due to achieve the biggest point increase of any team this year, IMO. This division almost guarantees Detroit and Nashville making the playoffs, and that is unforunate.

NORTHWEST DIVISION
Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado, Minnesota, Vancouver

I really like this division. It has competitive written all over it. At the same time, you can almost see why I predict the Canucks to miss the playoffs. The Flames, Oilers, Avalanche, and Wild are better teams on paper hands down, with maybe the Avs being a question mark. But look out for Minnesota this year.

PACIFIC DIVISION
Anaheim, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Jose, Phoenix

This division will give the Battle of California a good time this year. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Phoenix and Los Angeles will miss the playoffs. The Sharks, Ducks, and Stars are going to tear them apart all year. Kudos to L.A. for taking the right rebuilding steps though.

NORTHEAST DIVISION
Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto

It also doesn't take a brainiac to figure out that this is the best division in the NHL. This is why I pick the Leafs to miss the playoffs, and that their goaltending would need to save them. I just don't see it. Every other team in this division is taking the next step..the right step...while the Leafs continue their cluster fuck ways.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION
Atlanta, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Washington

This is a weak sauce division, and technically the Hurricanes should get a free ride this year (even if they have a Cup hangover). Bold prediction? The Lightning will miss the playoffs. Don't believe me? Look at their defence. It's depleted. They have only gotten worse since their Cup win, on ice and on paper. The Thrashers took a step back as well in the offseason. Gone is Kovalchuk's set up guy Marc Savard. He was replaced by Steve Rucchin or Niko Kapanen..enough said. If you think Richard Zednik will be enough to get the Capitals into the playoffs, you need to lay of the crack pipe. All of this adds up to..you guessed it...the Panthers making the playoffs this year, as they are the most improved team on paper. Don't argue with me, I'm fucking right!

ATLANTIC DIVISION
New Jersey, Islanders, Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh

Once again, this should be no problemo for the Devils, Rangers and Flyers to make the playoffs. The Devils need to sign the rest of their D soon though. The Islanders are screwed until Yashin either dies, or retires..and the Penguins are a few years away yet. How good will the Rangers be this year? Shanahan is a nice fit there, as is Matt Cullen and Aaron Ward. The Rangers could take over the East.

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Waiting For Stanley was created in June 2006.