Wednesday, January 9, 2008

First Half Analysis- East


1) Firstly again thanks to FAUXRUMORS2 for their projections and 'Desperation' posts. Now we will do an an analysis of each team's first half going in their approximate current order in the standings at the 1/2 way point.

OTTAWA SENATORS: While they've been the best team in the East so far, led by the best forward line in hockey (Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and captain Daniel Alfredsson) they have had their share of headaches as well. Also on the positive Mike Fisher has become a significant 2nd line offensive threat. However their goaltending remains a question as both Martin Gerber and Ray Emery don't look like legit starters and will fight it out (hopefully not literally) in the second half.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: After a dreadful start, which many attribute to both a long road trip and adjusting to new coach Brent Sutter, the Devils have returned to their previous winning ways. Perennial Vezina candidate Martin Brodeur has looked like the Brodeur of old. The team defense, maligned by many, has improved and Zach Parise has continued to become an offensive star. The oft overlooked change has been the return of Jamie Langenbrunner. We liked naming him captain in place of the struggling/over paid Elias

CAROLINA HURRICANES: The 'Canes have had a very poor 4-6 weeks following a very hot start. This mostly due to very inconsistent goaltending, and some injuries. Rutherford showed how desperate the team is for goaltending with the acquisition of Mike Leighton (his 7th team in 5 years) One of the rumoured destinations for Cujo. With a very weak division the Canes should still win their division even with this glaring weakness, but won't go far in the playoffs . We also agree with FR2 that Samsonov hurts, not helps their cause


MONTREAL CANADIANS: To many Habs fans this years team seems eerily similar to last seasons squad that got off to a hot start only to fizzle and miss the playoffs. Both teams thrived on a great PP. The possible differences? For one, young players like Komisarek, Higgins and both Kostitsyn brothers have stepped up their game. Also unlike last year the Habs have 2 capable goalies so an injury to one won't sink their playoff hopes. (One could be trade bait as well as could underachiever Mike Ryder) (The absence of Samsonov also can't be discounted!)

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Like last season got off to an uneven start. Unlike last year, there are expectations this time around. Fleury has remained inconsistent when healthy. Amazingly 3rd string goalie Ty Conklin has played very well. Reining Hart winner Sidney Crosby seems to have picked up his performance of late, as have Malkin and Armstrong. If Staal can regain his confidence/scoring touch, and especially the goaltending becomes consistently good the Pens should make the post season.

BOSTON BRUINS: Claude Julien has proven his worth with the turn around in Beantown. In our opinion he was one of the better head coaches last year despite his late season termination. His brilliant defensive system has made the goaltending of Tim Thomas and Alex Auld look like Marty Brodeur. Now imagine if Patrice Bergeron is able to return in the next few weeks? A playoff team perhaps, but unlikely a real contender

NEW YORK RANGERS: Much like last season they have had an ordinary start. Unlike last year they can't blame this on inconsistent goaltending. So far Lundqvist has been amazing (in most games). UFA acquisition Scott Gomez has played well the past month, and emerging young defencemen like Marc Staal and Daniel Girardi have provided unexpected steadiness on the backline. Unfortunately the scoring from the Europeans led by Jaromir Jagr and high priced American UFA Chris Drury have struggled this season. Can they turn it around like last year? Sure, they have the horses, but it'll take a return to form of JJ and Drury to make it so.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Habitually looked upon as being worse than they are. Overlooked and written off as non-contenders. We at FAUXRUMORS have been guilty of this as much as anyone. Yet the Isles remain in the playoff hunt due to Ted Nolan's coaching and their goalie forever, Rick DiPietro. This is one of the hardest working teams in the NHL and the Isles will have to keep working hard to make the playoffs. Ricky will also have to stay healthy and on top of his game to have a shot. Still their lack of scoring will make it tough down the stretch



PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Much like Carolina started off the season hot but have come back to the pack since. Playing .500 more or less the past month. As expected the Flyers have good offensive power, led by star Mike (don't call me Kramer) Richards, and Danielle Briere. However the overall defensive game has been been average at best. They've made substantial improvement over last season but will need to play better the second half to qualify for the post season and be a threat to win the East.



BUFFALO SABRES: Seemed lost the first month. Most thought they'd struggle somewhat to overcome the loss of veterans Briere and Drury to free agency last summer, but few expected the team would suffer this much. As expected Thomas Vanek is struggling to play up to the expectations a big contract brings. Ryan Miller has been good but not looked sharp at times. The Sabres still have the talent and offensive depth to make a playoff push but they need a better effort in the second half. Perhaps Lindy Ruff isn't as good a coach as many(including himself) believed?



FLORIDA PANTHERS: As we at FAUXRUMORS projected before the season, the Panthers will be about the same as last year. The anticipated improvement due to the acquisition of Vokoun hasn't happened(as we foresaw all last fall). On paper this team that has the talent to be doing much better, which means to us that they might benefit from a new head coach. Jacques Martin is not getting it done and management/ownership won't put up with mediocrity forever. If somehow they can put it together they could challenge the Canes for the division.



ATLANTA THRASHERS: As we anticipated, the Thrashers had a playoff hangover and started the season as bad as they started, costing Bob Hartley his job. Their subsequent improvement then plateaued and incompetent GM, now coach Don Waddell is now responsible for all aspects of the teams failure. If they fail to make the post season he should be fired. The biggest news around Atlanta in the next month will be who will be traded. Look for the Hossa trade rumours to heat up big time!



TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: The sky is falling! Well, not really, but that's what you'd think if you lived in the Toronto metro area where they take they hockey seriously. The Leafs have been struggling and are now in danger of falling out of the playoff race. Only Mats Sundin has been scoring consistently. The defence remains shoddy and despite Vesa Toskala's decent play before he got hurt, their goaltending has been terrible. We're certain many trade rumors will commence surrounding almost every Toronto player!



WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Seem/look like a different team since Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach on Thanksgiving. Many Caps fans wonder why it took so long? The wait may have cost a chance at the post season. Alexander (the great) Ovechkin continues to be one of the most exciting players in the game aided by Michael Nylander, and the emergence of youngsters Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green. The ladder reminding us of a young Paul Coffey. Still, the Caps defense and goaltending needs work if they're to make a serious run for the playoffs. Its unlikely as they are too far back this late, but it won't be boring in DC this winter!


TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Where do we begin with this mess. Many picked them to win the weak SE division. yet VERY bad goaltending an ill timed injury to Dan Boyle as well as a lack of second line scoring from over paid BradRichards have sunk the Bolts to the bottom. As we've mentioned oft before, the firing head coach John Tortorella might be the only real move left. With ownership in flux that is in doubt as are any big trades

6 comments:

The Good Staal said...

Like the site guys. I think we're gonna have a strong second half. We are about the same team that won the cup 2 years ago. Ward has been playing great. We're gonna sneak up on a few teams

Antzmarching said...

Ok, this post belongs HERE

Quick comment on each team:

Ottawa - WILL be number 1 in the East - can't win the Cup unless either Emery or Baby Food visits with Brian McNamee...

NJ - The goalie is still the best... Team is finally aware that Sutter is the coach, although they continue to answer to John MacLean... Elias is coming on... Devs will be a toough out in the playoffs...

Carolina - The worst first place team in sports... Brind'Amour, Stillman, Wesley, etc. are getting older and not better...

Montreal - Great PP and extremely fast... With two above average goalies, the Habs can challenge in the weak East...

Pittsburgh - Fleury stinks! This team is still not ready to win a Cup... They are a defenseman or two short, and who is going to step up after Crosby and Malkin?

Boston - A pleasant surprise this year... The roster is better than one might think... With Big Z leading the way, the B's are competing every night unlike past years...

Rag$ - I watch the majority of games this team plays... WOW, did I OVERestimate their team in August... They are weak in EVERY facet of the game... Even King Hewnrik is beyond beatable lately - bad goalS every game... Jagr, Prucha, Straka, Hossa, Drury - WHERE ARE YOU GUYS?

Islanders - A horrible group who Ted Nolan manages to get just enough out of to win some games... If this team makes the playoffs, Nolan MUST get the Adams... Granted, DP is pretty good, but the Isles are not...

Philadelphia - Better than I gave them credit for being, but I am not really impressed... The Richards contract was ill-advised, and I am not yet sold on Biron or the combo of Gagne-Briere...

Buffalo - Perhaps Lindy Ruff is doing his best job THIS year... Is anyone on Buffalo playing well? They will get into the playoffs, but should lose in round 1... Vanek - BUST!

Florida - They should have re-signed Eddie "Mace" Belfour... Jokkinen is great and Horton is decent... But they can't play the Caps 20 times a year, so the playoffs will elude them again...

Atlanta - Bad Finnish goalie, bad Hossa means continued trouble in HOTlanta... Does anyone believe that the Heatley-Hossa deal worked out for the Thrash? Just wondering what y'all think...

Toronto - Keep Maurice around... What a great formula for ineptitude... Even Sundin, who is having a great year, cannot save this sinking ship... Another team who should be interested in Mace or CUJO...

Washington - GMGM fired Glen Hanlon too late... Boudreau has this team playing as well as it can, and they are a pleasure to watch now... Mike Green will lead defensemen in scoring within the next couple of years... Note to Fat Ted - EXTENSION FOR OVIE!!!

Tampa Bay - Has the head of the coach exploded yet? Richards is stealing from the organization, St. Louis doesn't care, and Bolyle is out for a long while... Despite Vinny's great year, this team will end up 15th in the East...

Good post, Faux

DMG said...

I'm glad someone gets that the Caps have good player other Ovechkin and have had a huge turnaround under Boudreau - look around at Yahoo! or TSN power rankings and such everyone's basically just a variation on the theme of 'this team is doomed and their only good player is Ovechkin'.

I wonder how these people who write about hockey for a living can't know that the Caps were 11-6-4 since Boudreau took over (now 12-6-4) and that the idea of getting rid of Ovechkin because the Caps "dont have enough young talent" is idiotic given Green, Semin, Backstrom, Alzner, etc, etc, etc.

Thank God for bloggers who are better informed and more willing to do research than people who get paid to do so

Antzmarching said...

What impresses me about the Boudreau Caps is that he has managed to get everyone involved offensively... Matt Bradley, who I thought was one of the worst players I had seen in some time, has been placed in a situation where he is effective on almost every shift... Donald Brashear is playmaking - Amazing! The so-called experts obviously haven't been watching, because this team has done a 180...

Also, the Caps are winning in a variety of ways... One night, its the power play and the next, the defense steps it up and plays great... Good for Bruce Boudreau...

Pucks on Broadway said...

I agree with the general assessments, but I am curious to see how people think this parity is going to pan out.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Parity is what Bettman and the owners seemed to want to achieve with the salary cap. If that was their goal, then in our opinion they have succeeded.
2) The season is now past the 1/2 way point and only 1 team is out of the playoff race(LA). The other 29 teams can say they are within a winning streak from getting to the 8th spot
3) We guess thats good for those teams. We miss the days when there were dominent teams(Detroit aside)
This also makes the possibiity of any big trades less likely as there will be MANY potential 'buyers' and few 'sellers'

 
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