PUCK OFF!

Thank God…hockey is back! Please feel the enlightenment of our NHL playoff picks for the 2009-2010 season. Some surprises…no, I don’t think the Devils, Avalanche or Oilers will make the playoffs, and yes, The Senators, Habs and Rangers will. Slots 7-11 could all be separated by 5 points or less. Alex Tanguay still needs a job, and could be a huge acquisition for a team on the verge. The fact that he’s still available is mind boggling.

1-San Jose Sharks- Just stealing Dany Heatley from Ottawa is a crime. Throw him in with Joe Thornton and Devin Setoguchi, and that may be the best front line in hockey. The fact that Marleau is now on the second line gives that line a formidable scorer. We’ll see how bad it hurts to lose Ehrhoff from the blueline, and San Jose may actually win a playoff series. But don’t look for them to challenge for the Cup, which will once again be considered a disappointing season.

2-Detroit Red Wings- Losing Tomas Kopecky, Mikel Samuelsen, Jiri Hudler and Marion Hossa is certainly damaging, but the Wings are so loaded and have the best blue liner in the league, they will likely be there I the conference finals again, if not in the Stanley Cup again. With such a dominating fore check, opposing teams rarely get more than 22 shots on goal, and if Osgood only allows 2 of those to go in, he will once again be an average or above average goalie with the team riding its dominant puck possession to the finals.

3-Calgary Flames-Losing high scoring, non-physical Cammalleri will hurt, but they added Olli Jokinen late last year and the top blue liner available in Jay Bouwmeester.
Along with Dion Phaneuf and Mikka Kiprusoff in net, the Flames are built from the back end out, and boast the best group of defensemen in the West, and perhaps the league. If they can get some timely scoring from their captain and superstar Jerome Iginla and Jokinen, this is the best chance in years they will have to go all the way.

4-Anaheim Ducks-The organization built its success on tough defense and great goal tending. They now have gotten rid of some their toughness on defense, losing Pronger and Beauchemin. However, adding Koivu and Lupul gives Anaheim a formidable top 2 lines that could be the deepest in the league. Don’t be surprised if they duke it out in the Western conference finals in another epic series with Detroit. This time, however, the Ducks are poised to bring the Cup back to Southern California.

5-Chicago Blackhawks-The trendy pick to win it all, the resurgent Blackhawks certainly reinvigorated the windy city last year. Going out and signing the top scoring free agent in Marian Hossa, as well as taking Tomas Kopecky away from rival Detroit, means the Blackhawks will have a top-2 line combination rivaling San Jose and Anaheim. The question mark is their goal tending, however, and we just can’t see them riding Cristobal Huett in goal all the way to the Stanley Cup.

6-Vancouver Canucks-their best acquisitions were the ones they didn’t let get away, re-signing the Sedin twins to 12 year deals. Signing forward Mikel Samuelsen from Detroit, an improved blueline, and with Roberto Luongo in net, widely considered one of the league’s top 5 goalies, look for Vancouver to get back to the playoffs again. They don’t have a home game for almost a month and a half with the Olympic break thrown in, but even then, they should be good enough to make some noise. Getting past the second round is another matter though.

7-Minnesota Wild-Although their defensive corps is suspect, Nicolas Backstrom is a stud in goal and will allow them to win some games they would normally lose. Losing Gaborik and replacing him with Havlat is almost a wash, but with the addition of Petr Sykora, and if Pierre-Marc Bouchard comes into his own, this offense should help Saku Koivu stay competitive in a tight race for the final Western playoff spots.

8-Los Angeles Kings- With the acquisition of forward Ryan Smyth, they finally have some experience to go with their young guns. The defense is good enough with Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty starting to blossom, as well as the addition of Rob Scuderi. But again their question will be their goal tending. Look for them to reinstitute some excitement into Southern California hockey, dominated by the Anaheim Ducks for the last 7 years, but don’t look for anything other than a first round exit.

Eastern Conference

1-Washington Capitals-Adding Mike Knuble to an offense sporting the best player in the league (Alexander Ovechkin, in case you live under a rock), and the best offensive defensemen in the league, Mike Green, the Caps should take the # 1 seed in the conference. If they get past Pittsburgh, they could win the East.

2- Boston Bruins-The loss of Phil Kessel will no doubt hurt the offense, but with Vesna Trophy Winner Tim Thomas, and a blue line of Dennis Wideman, Derek Morris, and Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, the Bruins should be right back in the hunt. But was last year an anomaly, or can they go further into the playoffs?

3-Pittsburgh Penguins- With arguably 2 of the top 5 forwards in the league on the same team, the Pens have a good young core with Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Marc Andre Fleury is solid in net, also a young star, and with 2 Eastern Conference titles and 1 Stanley Cup in the last 2 years, they are battle tested and experienced at a young age. Even with the great players on Washington and the rivalry increasing because of both teams’ young stars, not to mention the revenge factor for Pittsburgh eliminating Washington from the playoffs, its hard to imagine Pittsburgh not being back in the finals this year.

4-Philidelphia Flyers-The return of the Broad Street Bullies is official. Bringing in Ian Laperriere and Chris Pronger to go along with Riley Cote and Daniel Carcillo, the Flyers might set an all time record for penalty minutes and fighting majors. With the acquisition of Pronger, the Flyers feel they have a solid enough blue line and physical force to pound the rest of the Eastern Conference into submission. Ray Emery is a big concern in goal, and is the only reason they won’t go all the way. Much like the capped out Blackhawks, they face a radical reconstruction before the 2011 season. They need to win now, and it should be fun to watch.

5-Carolina Hurricanes-Solid all the way around, the Hurricanes figure to be battling for a lower level playoff spot late in the year. The Canes will go as far as Eric Staal can take them. He’s only missed one game in his 5 year career, so if Staal gets hurt, so may Carolina’s chances. Goalie Cam Ward is battle tested, and don’t be surprised if they win a couple series either, although we don’t see them winning the Eastern Conference.

6-New York Rangers-In another huge exodus and influx, the Rangers have quite a bit of talent that has to gel quickly. If they do, they could be a force. Adding sniper Marian Gaborik is great, although with his injury history, they certainly overpaid. If Gaborik can stay healthy, Ales Kotalik, Christopher Higgins, and Vaclav Prospal will join Chris Drury in a formidable offense. Despite some lackluster performances, Henrik Lundqvist is a rock in goal. The main question is, like the Canadians and Senators, can they gel? With so many questions in the East, these 3 teams round our final playoff spots.

7-Montreal Canadians-Losing their captain and some other major pieces, the Habs added even more. Scott Gomez, Michael Camelleri, and Brian Gionta will reform the offense, and Hal Gill, Paul Mara and Jaroslav Spacek join Andrei Markov to make a talented blue-line. Carey Price is solid in net. Like the Rangers and the Sens, the key to their season is how fast can all the new players can gel together.

8 Ottawa Senators
- Trading away their most gifted offensive player for has-been Jonathon Cheechoo and Milan Michalek was not the best move, but disgruntled Dany Heatley didn’t leave them a lot of options. However, when you add in the magician that is Alexi Kovalev, its arguable that getting these 3 players in return for Heatly was an improvement. Obviously Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsen give them a potent offense, but their goal tending is their Achilles and defense is suspect. It’s a bold pick to make the playoffs, but their offense still boasts some good talent, and stranger things have happened.

Feel free to comment below and tell us why we’re idiots. Just make sure your mullet is perfectly groomed before doing so, eh?

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Comments

5 Responses to “PUCK OFF!”
  1. Dan says:

    No love for my Sabres…I dis-credit your entire preview! ;)

  2. Steve Aredas says:

    The LA Kings will be the surprise team in the NHL and I look for them to finish 4th in the Western conference.

  3. MOdaNO says:

    Think it’s Red Wings not Redwings and picking the LA Queens and the not-so Wild over Dallas is a sin against humanity which will result in your beloved ducks missing the postseason. May you roast slowly over a hot spit in hell.

  4. Super Prem says:

    Go Ducks

  5. Rungrat says:

    Guess I missed the whole Hope part, I don’t see it as an adnvatage, but I guess we have to grasp at straws here for any hope-most fans are very concerned. If Kane or Hossa can actually start playing, there may be hope, but with the way it is spending all the money on a so-so Hossa and Hammer is coming back to bite them.

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