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04-07-2012, 12:23 AM
Miller Time
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time for owning up...

Originally Posted by Miller Time View Post
Top-4 group: Serious Cup Contenders and Playoff locks

1- Washington
a veteran netminder of vokoun's caliber can bring up the whole teams level of play, ward/hamrlik/halpern are perfect additions to their young talented team.

2- Boston
i may hate the Bruins, but i think they are a team that will carry the swagger of being cup champions, horton is apparently ready to go and they still have a talented group of young fwds that should only be better this year (Krecj, Bergeron, Lucic, Seguin, Marchand...)

3- Philly
Bryz lifted the Yotes from the basement to the playoffs, he should lift the revamped flyers back to the top of their division. Pronger/Laviolette will control the room keeping everyone on the same page and despite their moves, they still have the deepest collection of fwd talent in the league

4- Pittsburgh
if they stay healthy, will challenge for conference title, Crosby's ? knocks them down a few pegs

5-9 Group: playoff locks, could contend for div title if things go well, but team that suffers worse luck/injury problems will fall out of playoffs

5- Buffalo
might take them a bit of time to gel (but Ruff is the kind of coach to make that a quick transition), but they are probably the most improved team in the conference (with Washington). even without big stars(vanek/miller being only established elite talent), their fwd group is deep and talented, their defense is well-balanced, and Miller is among the leagues best in nets.

6- New Jersey
i think 2nd half was closer reflection to their potential, getting Parise back and Kovalchuk acclimatized should make them a very dangerous team, Brodeur will be ultra-motivated b/c he's close to the finish line(would have them higher, but their division will be toughest in the league, which will cost them points... swap them with Pitt if Crosby/Malkin are slowed by injuries).

7- Montreal
Price (supported by Martin's system) will continue to carry this team. If Eller/DD step up and solve centre depth issue and Cole/MaxPac help fix 5on5 scoring problems, we could contend with the top teams, but ultimately we are still far too thin in terms of reliable offensive talent (and "toughness") to be a contender.

8- Tampa Bay
Boucher will continue to get the most out of this group, but imo goaltending is a ?, can rolosson repeat last year's regular season heroics or will father time catch up to him...

9- New York Rangers
if Richards is/remains healthy, they could easily make the playoffs, but if not (or if Gaborik hits the IR yet again), they don't have the top-end talent to survive the toughest division in hockey imo. Lundqvist + a talented young defense is still their biggest strength.

10-13 group: not likely to make playoffs unless everything goes well AND a few teams above really struggle

10- Florida
if I had to pick a dark-horse to surprise and make the playoffs, I'd go with Florida... no elite talent but lots of solid depth, but with a rookie coach, getting everyone playing on the same page will take time.

11- Toronto
they are to thin up front to be a playoff lock, and Reimer will be a ? until he proves himself over a full season+. My prediction- they will stumble in the first 1/2, finally fire Wilson, and then go on a tear and miss the playoffs despite a big deadline acquisition by Burke.

12- Winnipeg
positive buzz will carry them through early goings, but ultimately the lack of depth up front and relying on too much youth will keep them on the outside looking in.

13- Carolina
last year they suffered virtually no serious injuries, and got solid seasons from all their key-personnel (not too mention Skinner's surprise explosion) and still missed the playoffs... unlikely that they will be that lucky again, losing Cole will hurt, and Kaberle won't be enough to lift them any higher.

14-15: basement teams

14- NY Islanders
did not improve their roster externally (reasoner is a nice depth player, that's it), and while getting Streit and Okposo back for full season will help, they are still far to thin to deal with injuries and every team in their division will be as good or better than last year... another lottery pick is the best they can hope for

15- Ottawa
looking at their moves (or lack thereof), i think the internal plan is to stay in the lottery pick range for one more year... Konopka, Filatov & Auld aren't exactly the kind of players that will lift a basement team into playoff contention. counting on Spezza/Alfredsson/Michalek to stay healthy and carry the offense is optimistic at best.

5 for 8 in terms of playoff teams...

way off on Washington (though looks like they had just about everyone fooled), and on Ottawa (again, seemed like a pretty "consensus" pick for basement fodder... i bet even among their own fans).

I bolded the comments that were pretty close/spot on, and underlined the comments that were way off.

interesting to see how things play out vs. how one predicts they will.

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