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08-26-2011, 02:22 AM
  #55
Mike8
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Join Date: Jun 2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hackett View Post
bold prediction indeed... but I can see a scenario for them being in dire need for a goalie
Unlikely that they miss, especially given that they play in a weak division. Not likely for 4 of 5 Atlantic division teams to make it, and only 1 SouthEast. Nevertheless, I don't think TB will be as strong this season.

I don't like their secondary scoring. I find their goaltending suspect, and Roloson is the oldest starter in the league. The defense has improved: Brewer's a nice addition, but the blueline remains as a bluecollar, handle-it-by-committee group and I don't know how sustainable that is, unless Hedman emerges. I think it's one of the weaker bluelines in the Conference. Lecavalier's injury problems plagued him for the first half of last season, but he looked great down the stretch. He remains as a question mark in my book, though. And while Stamkos is terrific, I'm not sure he's ready to drive the offense himself, and I question St.Louis at 36 years old being able to remain the top flight player he's been.

Every team has ifs. TB doesn't have any more than, say, the NYR and probably has fewer than NJ. However, I like the way NYR has come together as a team. I think the Richards signing is great for them, and he'll fit in perfectly. I like Dubinsky and Anisimov, creating great center depth. Richards enjoyed great chemistry with Eriksson in Dallas, and he's a chemistry-maker. I suspect he'll have the same impact on Gaborik.

The young core on the NYR on defense and for their secondary scoring have come together, play a similar style, and Tortorella has had a real positive impact there. Backstopped by a top netminder, I see the Rangers as improving.

With NJ, I'm a big fan of DeBoer's. I think his more aggressive forecheck will complement a faster team that is fundamentally strong. He's also good with young players and will work well with secondary scoring talents like Josefson and Tedenby. While the blueline's suspect and Brodeur's aging, an offense led by Kovalchuk and Parise, supported by Elias, Zajac (though injured for the first half of the season), the aforementioned youngsters, is one of the better forward groups in the Conference. I see them having a real bounce-back season, and may place better than I've slotted them.

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