Chara and Thomas are our two best players. Rask isn't far behind Thomas, but we'd really be hurting without Chara. He makes any dman look like a #1. I think Pittsburg without Crosby/Malkin is good, they really proved it this year too.
Step 1: Take an nhl team who consistently allows the most shots on goal in the entire league, forcing their goalie to stand on their head for them every game and watching him save over 200 more shots than his closest competitor.
Step 2: Take away the all-star goalie who accomplished this, allowing some back-up to face this same kind of pressure.
Step 3: Take away the best defensive forward on the team who has 40+ goal potential, plays both PP and PK, and is more competent defensively than 75% of our defenseman
Not a bad lineup. Probably would finish 7th place or so without datsyuk and Lidstrom.
To be honest I think they would finish out of the playoffs with that lineup. But you could say that about most teams.
I'd say Vancouver or San Jose are the best. Pittsburgh surprised people with how they played without Crosby/Malkin but it wasn't strong, it just wasn't completely awful. Doubt they could keep it up a full season though. They were perfectly suited for the end season grind with that lineup.
I don't even know how Colorado's lineup would look at forward without Duchene and Statsny (don't consider EJ yet since he only played about 20 games for us). Bottom 6 has been so much of a juggle I don't really know how it would be either.
Not exactly setting the world on fire without Nash and Carter, but, hey, we'd probably at least be pseudocompetitive - especially since with guys like Keith, Weber, Suter, and Lidstrom no longer in the division our blueline actually starts to look halfway decent.
Remember - when you're a hockey fan, it's not "reckless driving", it's "good forechecking".
"Viqsi, you are our sweet humanist..." --mt-svk on the CBJ boards
Thanks, Howson, for cleaning up MacLean's toxic waste. Welcome, Kekalainen; let's get good things built!
Two teams that haven't been mentioned but should be is Flyers and Caps. Their depth is underrated. I think they'd do well even without Ovechkin+Bäckström/Green/Carlson/whoever you want out, as would the Flyers without Giroux/Pronger.
If Marc Savard had played all year at the level he can play at, I don't think there's any doubt that he'd be considered the best player on the Bruins. That said, he'll never play the way he did in 08 ever again, if he plays at all.
That's really a tough question. Because if your best player is a goalie, and you have no backup, like Anaheim last year, your team will drop. I think taking Lundqvist off the Rangers would be their end. Otherwise, a good coach can win without his stars. Claude Julien has exemplified this, especially when he coached Boston into the playoffs with an AHL roster a few years ago. However, Boston isn't very good without Bergeron, yet he's not likely considered their best player, although he is in my opinion. Montreal could win without Markov, could probably win without Price too, if they play the system right. But Montreal has depth at many positions. Detroit too. The obvious ones are take Iginla and Kiprusoff, and oh my, that is a very ordinary team, or Spezza and ?(Karlsson?), yikes. I like Buffalo, you can take anybody off Buffalo, Lindy Ruff will still put a team out that will compete hard against you.
Decided to try my hand at standings for the Western Conference with this concept. I'm sure they'll go over very well.
In case it's somehow unclear, the player names listed next to each team name are the two players removed from the roster.
#1: Los Angeles (Kopitar, Doughty) - President's Trophy candidate with a deep offense, the best blueline in the West, and quality goaltending.
#2: Chicago (Toews, Keith) - A solid if unspectacular blueline, a capable goaltender, and a high quality offense led by Kane and Sharp. Darkhorse contender for tops in the League.
#3: Vancouver (Sedin, Sedin) - As Kesler goes, so goes this team. The blueline isn't half bad either. That said, they only rank so high because somebody has to win the Northwest.
#4: San Jose (Thornton, Boyle) - One of the best in the West with a quality blueline and some of the better scoring forwards in the game.
--[talent drop-off point]--
#5: St. Louis (Backes, Pietrangelo) - A surprisingly effective offense which helps support one of the conference's better goaltenders, although the blueline isn't strong enough to really compete.
#6: Detroit (Datsyuk, Lidstrom) - A middle-of-the-road team saved from hrumdrum existence by All-Star Zetterberg.
#7: Columbus (Nash, Carter) - Good two-way blueline and forwards, but nothing resembling any standout talents. And that's not even taking into account the question marks in goal...
#8: Anaheim (Getzlaf, Perry) - A surprisingly good blueline and quality goaltending don't get past the fact that they have no offensive depth at all.
#9: Dallas (Ribeiro, Eriksson) - Jamie Benn and Brenden Morrow are the highlights of an otherwise talent-poor offense.
#10: Phoenix (Doan, Yandle) - Another middle-of-the-road team; goaltending is questionable but helped by a reasonably solid blueline.
--[talent drop-off point]--
#11: Nashville (Weber, Suter) - The best goaltender in the conference keeps them alive and somewhat competitive. Somewhat.
#12: Colorado (Duchene, Stastny) - A solid blueline, workable goaltending, and no offense whatsoever.
#13: Calgary (Iginla, Kiprusoff) - Dependent on the blueline to cover for the worst goaltending in the West.
#14: Minnesota (Heatley, Koivu) - A patchwork team with little on the blueline and even less down the middle.
#15: Edmonton (Whitney, Hemsky) - The Kids Are All Right. The blueline - far and away the worst in the League - decidedly is not. The goaltending ain't much better.