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08-21-2006, 02:17 PM
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Atlantic division

TC's 2006/2007 Preview: The Atlantic Division

Same format applies as the NE. Although there is an obvious X factor with the Devils as they will likely lose a key player from their roster in a cost cutting measure. Also, to fans of other Atlantic Division teams, my projected lineups are purely speculative. Line combos/Defensive pairings should be considered more a depth chart then anything else.

Previous Previews
Northeast: http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=282443

The Atlantic Division

The New Jersey Devils
Projected Lineup
Gionta-Gomez-Elias
Mogilny-Brylin-Parise
Lagenbrunner-Madden-Pandolfo
Marshall-Rupp-Tallackson

Rafalski-Martin
White-Hale
Matvichuck-Lukowich

Brodeur
Doyle

Offence: For years the New Jersey Devils have been known for trap hockey, defensive juggernauts. This perception which was sometimes embedded in reality helped lead them to 3 Stanley Cups. However, this perception is past its due date. The Devils boast numerous offensive threats including Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Zach Parise, a possible return of Alexander Mogilny and the explosive Patrick Elias. This depth of talent allows the Devils to survive the loss of one of them in a salary dump as they attempt to get back to the cap. The Devils have not abandoned their philosophy of sound defensive hockey. Jay Pandolfo, John Madden and Jamie Lagenbrunner lead a group of solid two way contributors ensuring the Devils history of strong two way play among the forwards will continue. As mentioned above one or two of these forwards could very well be gone by camp. Look for someone from the farm to take over a full time roster spot, and that person could wind up being 2005 first rounder Niklas Bergfors.

Defence: The Devils defence is lead by the mobile Brian Rafalski. While his size is hardly ideal for a #1 dman, Rafalski is a strong PP Quarterback who can log heavy minutes. Paul Martin also helps manage the offensive load from the backend and should continue to grow as a player entering this season. The rest of the defense consists of defensive dmen, including the hard hitting Colin White, a solid shotblocking prescence in Richard Matvichuck and the emerging David Hale. The Devils defence could lose a member as well if Lou decides to rid one in order to get to the cap number.

Goaltending: The Devils are set in net with Martin Brodeur. Some guy named Frank Doyle is the backup. It really doesnt matter. Devils are set in nets with the durable Brodeur who will no doubt play a ridiculous number of games again.

Outlook: The Devils are, if anything, consistent. They should find themselves in the playoffs once again with a solid defensive awareness, great goaltending and with a few explosive players on the roster, the offence should be in good shape. While its essentially impossible to given a good prediction on this team given that a core player or two could be gone, I'm willing to bet that regardless of who goes, this team is put together well enough to make it into the playoffs.

The New York Islanders
Projected Lineup
Blake -- Yashin -- Nilsson
Hunter -- York -- Satan
Tambellini -- Sillinger -- Asham
Simon -- Bates -- Hilbert

Zhitnik - Campoli
Poti -- Witt
Hill, Martinek
Bouchard

DiPietro
Dubielewicz

Offence: The Isladers offence goes into the season as a fairly solid unit but without the explosiveness of some teams in the division. The much maligned Yashin is no longer even counted on for a PPG and if it wasnt for Charles Wang he'd probably be public enemy #1 on the Island. The Isles have the dynamic and dangerous Miroslav Satan on the wing and he'll be counted on to carry a large load of the offence. The Islanders have solid depth up the middle even thought Yashin has regressed in the past few seasons. Mike York is a solid 2nd line centre who will be looked to repeat a strong 05/06 campaign. The middle is rounded out by the capable veteran Mike Sillinger and a solid checker in Shawn Bates. Outside of Satan the Islanders have some solid wingers in Trent Hunter and possible surprise breakout years from Robert Nilsson and Jeff Tambellini.

Defence: The Isles Blueline got a facelift over the offseason with the additions of Brendan Witt, Tom Poti and Sean Hill. They join a group led by Alexei Zhintek and sophomore Chis Campoli. The Isles lack a true #1 defenceman, but Zhitnek and Campoli are both capable of Top 4 play. The addition of Witt in particular should help in making the blueline a more solid unit to play against, while Poti could help on the PP. Hill will likey be used more for depth then anything else but can be counted on to provide some leadership in the dressing room. Radek Marinek will likely round out the Top 6. While not necessarily anything special, Martinek is decent enough if not thrust into a role that he can't handle.

Goaltending: The Islanders will rely heavily on goaltender Rick Dipietro. The former first overall pick will look to continue to grow as a goaltender and should post numbers that build on last year's solid season. The Isles will likely see Wade Dubielewicz in the backup role for the coming season. Up from the farm to replace former backup Garth Snow, Dubie will have his first NHL job this season and this could lead to more games for Dipietro.

Outlook: The Islanders are seemingly always in a state of flux. At the start of the offseason fans were invigorated with the additions of Ted Nolan, Neil Smith and Pat Lafontaine to the management team and thought the Isles were coming out of the shadow of the Milbury era. Then only weeks after being hired Smith was canned as GM and Garth Snow was brought in as his replacement. Needless to say the Island was shocked, and mostly appalled by the situation and the team was pushed back into the woods once again. Its difficult to envision the players not being at least a little bit miffed by the events of the summer, so it will be up to new head coach Ted Nolan to get the most out of this team and ensure the focus is on hockey. A step behind the Devils, Rangers and Flyers, the Islanders will fight with the potentially emerging Pittsburgh Penguins for the 4th spot in the Atlantic Division.

The New York Rangers
Projected Lineup
Straka-Nylander-Jagr
Prucha-Cullen-Shanahan
Dawes-Immonen-Ward
Hall-Betts/Helminen-Ortmeyer

Malik-Rozsival
Tyutin-Rachunek
Kasparaitis-Ward


Henrik Lundqvist
Kevin Weekes


Offence: Any offence that featues Jaromir Jagr is sure to be dangerous and the Rangers are no different. Jagr rejuvenated his career under Tom Renney and his 123 point season was a huge reason the Rangers rebounded and made the playoffs for the first time in years. Jagr's chemistry with Michael Nylander is apparent and the two will play together again this coming season. Martin Straka provides his own solid scoring punch on the other side and should be the 3rd part of the top line. Free agent addition Matt Cullen will likely centre a 2nd line with Brendan Shannahan who hopes to have at least one more great season in the tank and rookie sensation Petr Prucha who scored 30 goals last season and was lost in the shuffle with the emergence of Ovechkin, Crosby and Phaneuf among others. A potential wildcard in the Rangers offence is Jarkko Immonen. Aacquired in the Brian Leetch deal, Immonen is ready to make the jump and could find himself as a solid contributor to the Rangers offence. The checking duties will fall on a handful of players including the recently acquired Adam Hall, rookie Nigel Dawes and the gritty Blair Betts. The bottom 6 outside of Immonen isnt great, but they do their job decently enough. Luckily for the Rangers, their Top 6 should ensure that the bottom two lines will hardly have to shoot the lights out in order for the Rangers to be succesful.

Defence: The Rangers defence lacks a bonafide #1 guy, but as a whole the unit is relatively solid. Fedor Tyutin probably has the most potential of anyone on the back end and a big season from him would go a long way to establishing a solid top pairing. Michael Roszival is the most versatile of the bunch and because of that he will be counted on to log a lot of minutes in various situations. Darius Kasperitis is still the agitator everyone loves to hate and Marek Malik should have another decent season, perhaps without the cult shootout following of a year ago. Aaron Ward was brought in from Carolina to help make the unit more solid and will bring more stability to the blueline. Not really a star by any means, Ward will block shots and do his job as asked. A few years down the road teams will have to watch out for a Rangers Defence that should feature Tutyin and first rounders Marc Staal and Bobby Sanguenetti.

Goaltending: The emergence of Henrik Lundqvist last season propelled the Rangers from also rans to contenders. The Vezina nominated Lundqvist should continue to perform in the coming season which makes the Rangers a force to be reckoned with in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. Kevin Weekes provides decent depth in the backup position and will play well when called upon (particularly in Toronto ).

Outlook: The Rangers stormed out of the gate last season and for awhile it looked as if a division crown was in the offing. But a late season surge by the Devils and a blip at the end for the Rangers changed all that. Provided Lundqvist continues his great play in the coming season the Rangers should once again contend for the division and conference crowns. If Lundqvist falters however, the Rangers will find themselves on the outside looking in again.

Philadelphia Flyers
Projected Lineup
Gagne - Forsberg - Knuble
Calder - Richards - Carter
Umberger - Nedved - Sanderson
Dimitrakos - Robitaille - Kapanen

Rathje - Pitkanen
Hatcher - Meyer
Gauthier - Baumgartner

Nittymaki
Esche

Offence: When on his game Peter Forbserg is as good as anyone in the league. A great playmaker, a healthy Forsberg makes Simon Gagne a contender for the Rocket Richard trophy. Offseason ankle surgery was supposed to put Forsberg back until the winter but a quicker then expected recovery should put him back in time for the start of the regular season. The 2nd line has arguably the most potential. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards provide a great youg duo that will be stars in Philly for years to come and Kyle Calder could very well put up career numbers in a new environment. The Flyers lack a lot of grit in their bottom 6, so the 2nd line will be expected to carrty part of that burden. On the flip side, there is a lot of offensive potential on all 4 Flyers lines. The Flyers should be one of the higher scoring teams in the division and conference. Offence is certainly a strength of this team.

Defence: The Flyers defence is much more suited to the old version of the NHL then the current one. Mike Rathje and Derian Hatcher lack mobility but have the physical tools to be effective. Nolan Baumgartner and Freddy Meyer provide some offence from the back end, particularly Meyer who looks to build on a solid rookie campaign. The key to the Flyers back end however is Joni Pitkanen. Emerging as one of the better blueliners in the league, Pitkanen looks to stay healthy this season. If he does the Flyers back end wil be in much better shape then if he misses time again.

Goaltending: Not many teams can rival the achilles heel that has been the Flyers goaltending for the last 10 years. An array of netminders have passed through Philadelphia and none of them have been lights out enough to lead the Flyers to a Championship. Once again the Flyers hope they have their answer in Nittymaki. If he can emerge as a clear cut Number one, Philadelphia will be in solid shape. If he falters, he could be in a platoon situation with Esche.

Outlook: The return of a healthy Forsberg is great news for Philadelphia. A full season with him centring the first line makes Philadelphia a legitimate threat to take the Atlantic division crown. Their offence is in great shape, although some grit in the bottom 6 forwards would be a great help and Flyer fans would be thrilled to see Steve Downie crack the roster with a great camp. The defence lacks the mobility of some of its Eastern counterparts and the situation in nets while potentially solid, still has an air of 'what if' too it. Despite a couple of question marks, the Flyers should contend for the division crown and make the playoffs once again.

The Pittsburgh Penguins

Projected Lineup
Ekman-Crosby-Armstrong
Malone-Malkin-Recchi
Rutuu-Moore-LeClair
Roy-Talbot-Petrovicky

Gonchar-Eaton
Whitney-Welch
Scuderi-Orpik

Fleury
Thibault

Offence: Penguin fans are over the moon with the news that Malkin will likely be with the club this season. Despite only having one year of experience between them entering the season, he and Sidney Crosby represent one of the best one two punches down the middle in the NHL. Crosby put up a ridiculous amount of points as a teenager and there is no reason to think it wont continue throughout his career. He'll play with Nils Ekman and Colby Armstrong and should help them put up good numbers. Malkin should find himself with the potentially strong Ryan Malone and veteran Mark Rechhi. A Calder win should be in the offing for Malkin and his talent will help Rechhi and Malone have good seasons as well. The Top 6 should score enough to make the Pens more competitive then last season. The Pens bottom 6 is much better suited then it was last year. The addition of Ruutu helps in the development of a solid checking line and the 4th line should be able to perform its role as well. The Penguins have a solid offence that should be in good shape and even better shape in the future with the arrival of Jordon Staal in the coming years.

Defence: Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar lead the offensive charge from the blueline. Whitney has much more all around talent, but the two make for a dangerous combo on the PP. The rest of the defence includes hard hitting Brooks Orpik, solid defender Mark Eaton, all around defender Noah Welch and a good depth guy in Robert Scuderi. The Pens defence should be better then last year as they continue to grow together as a unit. Gonchar should be better adjusted to the Pens and will help make their PP even more dangerous and Whitney should progress and show why he's on

Goalteding: The Penguins thought they had acquired a goaltender last summer that could help carry the load while Fleury adjusted to life as an NHLer. However, Thibault disappoinited and Fleury was thrown to the wolves again. However, with a season under his belt and a handful of NHL games before that, Fleury has the potential to breakout. The former first overall pick should shoulder the brunt of the load in Pittsburgh this season. If he has a Lundqvist like season the Penguins will be battling for a playoff spot.

Outlook: Things look great once again in Pittsburgh. This years version of the Penguins is better put together then last year and this should be evident in the standings at the end of the year. They have enough veterans to lead the young kids, and the kids are explosive enough that success happening a year early is possible. However, a more likely scenario is the Penguins exploding onto the scene in 07/08. They should be able to get out of the Atlantic basement this year though.

Division Outlook: The Atlantic has the potential to be quite competitive. The Devils and Flyers have been competitive for years and 06/07 should be no different. The Rangers seem to have found a formula that will allow them to join the ranks of the division's elite for quite sometime. The Penguins are on the cusp of breaking out but are likely a year away from seeing it happen. A great season for the Islanders would be a great story for the season, but a playoff spot is unlikely. The competitiveness is up in the NHL and the Atlantic is no exception. Each time is solid and can compete with each other on most nights, but the Devils,Flyers and Rangers should win out once again, leaving the Pens and Isles to think about 07/08.

Projected Final Standings
1. New York Rangers
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. New Jersey Devils
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
5. New York Islanders

I agree. I think Rangers (on paper) are a better team Flyers are right behind them. I do not think Devils are a threat even know they won the division last year. If only Clarke could trade Hatcher somehow. This D is our biggest concern.

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08-21-2006, 02:22 PM
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Great read, thanks a lot!

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08-21-2006, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Kaktus View Post
I do not think Devils are a threat even know they won the division last year.

We know better than to think this. Hell, we all thought the Devils weren't a threat in the middle of March.

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08-21-2006, 02:49 PM
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nicely done....... looking forward to more in the future !

thanks

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08-21-2006, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by go kim johnsson 514 View Post
We know better than to think this. Hell, we all thought the Devils weren't a threat in the middle of March.
they weren't... swept the Rags (arguably the worst team in the east going into the playoffs) and went quick and quiet to Carolina. the Atlantic was a disaster down the stretch... as was proven by playoffs.

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08-21-2006, 03:18 PM
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Atlantic is still impossible to figure out.

Devils: who knows what is going to happen there... because of the salary cap their final roster is a complete mystery.

Rags: still need to prove that they belong... made some nice moves this offseason, but Jagr could easily get depressed about some model not returning a phone call this summer and go into a funk... not to mention they came back to earth last year when they stopped getting otherwordly goaltending...

Isles: mess from top to bottom.

Pens: they're a couple of years away... but if MAF really puts it together and Crosby/Malkin turn them into a nightmare to play defense against quicker than expected, then they could make some noise.

Flyers: the problems with our defense are much exaggerated, though it certainly isn't a strength. if Carter, Richards, and Umberger continue to develop without bumps this season we should be very strong at forward (Umberger and Carter, in particular, are capable of providing 30 goal seasons in my opinion...). if we get what we expect from Nitty this year, then goaltending will be better... but not perfect. we have the best coach in the division.. and a fair amount of flexibility with this roster in trades (i would expect a slew of minor moves to create cap space and roster space).

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08-21-2006, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
they weren't... swept the Rags (arguably the worst team in the east going into the playoffs) and went quick and quiet to Carolina. the Atlantic was a disaster down the stretch... as was proven by playoffs.

You don't win 19 games in a row because you aren't good

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08-21-2006, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Atlantic is still impossible to figure out.
I wouldn't say impossible. I'd say the first quarter of the season will give us a somewhat realistic expectation of what to expect from all the teams in the division.

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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Devils: who knows what is going to happen there... because of the salary cap their final roster is a complete mystery.
I laugh when people talk about New Jersey. I'd still say that they are the division leaders simply because of the fact that they always hit on a roll in the 2nd half of the season and really dominate. As well, New Jersey is always a team that takes heavy losses in personnel every off season and they always come back to challenge every year. They've got one of the best development systems in place. Everyone makes a big deal about Gionta, but what if someone like Parise steps up. Or what if Travis Zajac or Barry Tallackson steps forward. Nobody ever counts on that. That's what makes New Jersey such a factor is that they've always got players that can step in and play without missing a beat. Not many teams have that. As for losing in the second round in the playoffs, no biggie there. They lost to the Cup champions. How can anyone complain about that......

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Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Rags: still need to prove that they belong... made some nice moves this offseason, but Jagr could easily get depressed about some model not returning a phone call this summer and go into a funk... not to mention they came back to earth last year when they stopped getting otherwordly goaltending...
They'll be good in the regular season. They have a team designed specifically for the regular season. However, they'll tank again in the playoffs. That defense just doesn't strike fear into anyone and they'll need more than just Shanahan to lead them. Adam Hall had a great rookie season, but what has he done since then? The goaltending in New York though is great. I'll give them that. Lundqvist should have been rookie of the year when you consider the impact he had on the Rangers. Yeah, Ovechkin and Crosby scored a ton, but when you look at how much Lundqvist was a factor in the Rangers turnaround, to me anyways, he was much more valuable. As well, when he went down with injury, you saw how much the Rangers missed him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Isles: mess from top to bottom.
You know something, I've got a funny feeling that Isles could surprise everyone. When you think of it, there's a lot of talent in Long Island. Yeah, upper management is a complete fiasco, but there is little expectation in New York and that could work in Nolan's favour. Think of it. Nobody is expecting them to do anything and to tank miserably. They could actually play themselves into a playoff spot simply because there is no expectations on them. When you look at the Isles roster, there's good goaltending, a decent and mobile defense, and there is a lot of talent in the forward ranks. They could be a real darkhorse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Pens: they're a couple of years away... but if MAF really puts it together and Crosby/Malkin turn them into a nightmare to play defense against quicker than expected, then they could make some noise.
Pittsburgh is interesting simply because Therrien called out his team last year and they proved him right. They were horrible and soft defensively. I think you're going to see more youngsters play and more veterans will be walking the plank. As well, they'll have a full season with a rigid defensive system in place to protect Fleury. The days of the country club atmosphere in Pittsburgh are over and players will either be onboard with what's going on or they'll be sent packing. Ray Shero is exactly what they need in a GM - no ties to the glory days of the past and can put people on the spot and call players out and not worry about having to coddle them afterwards. The youngsters in Steel Town are going to grow up in a hurry and it might be the best thing that has ever happened to that franchise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jester View Post
Flyers: the problems with our defense are much exaggerated, though it certainly isn't a strength. if Carter, Richards, and Umberger continue to develop without bumps this season we should be very strong at forward (Umberger and Carter, in particular, are capable of providing 30 goal seasons in my opinion...). if we get what we expect from Nitty this year, then goaltending will be better... but not perfect. we have the best coach in the division.. and a fair amount of flexibility with this roster in trades (i would expect a slew of minor moves to create cap space and roster space).
Well, well, well. The boys of the Orange and Black. The city of brotherly love. Well, the good news is that the forward core didn't change too much and the additions of Calder and Sanderson add yet more speed to the front lines. The bad news is that the goaltending hasn't changed and the mobility issues of the defense weren't really addressed. I'll start with the forwards. I really, really, really like this group of forwards we have, and that doesn't even include the unsigned Gagne. We have got some great, great, great talented youngsters that are ready to take the next step and some that are ready to step in right now (Downie, Ruzicka, Potulny, Eager). As well, we signed a great 25 goal guy in Geoff Sanderson who at age 35 or 36, is still faster than most guys in the NHL. We'll also have a healthy Forsberg and Calder should be amped to play for a contender. If we get Gagne signed, great. If we deal, no big loss because we've got the depth to make up for him. This is a great group of forwards we have and all can skate and add offense.

The defense though, wow, it still stinks. The loss of KJ and the retirement of Desjardins is going to hurt and hurt real bad. We have nobody in place to compensate for their losses. I'm sorry, but Nolan Baumgartner and Lars Johnsson do nothing to compensate for those losses and they don't keep my mind at peace. As well, we have three defensive defensemen on the roster that are big, but add nothing else. Gauthier, while being a physical presence, is so inconsistent in his play that you never know what he's going to bring. Hatcher has bad wheels. His knees are done and watching him skate is incredibly painful. As for Rathje, well, I'm willing to see how he recovers from the torn hip labrum. If he gains some mobility back, all is not lost on the back end.

As for the goaltending, the Flyers had an opportunity to address the potential ugliness that's going to arise by naming a starter and dealing the other. They didn't. And yes, it will get ugly, particularly if Niittymaki outplays Esche for the top spot. However, with Hitch firmly in Esche's corner, Esche is going to be given every opportunity to be the number one guy. That could be a problem though in that if Niity outplays Esche, Hitch will have a dilemma on his hands because of his ungrating loyalty to veterans. This organization needed to make a statement in the offseason about who they were going to go with as their number one and they failed to do so. Instead, they're bringing on a potentially ugly and lockerroom splitting situation into camp. They need to name one guy the starter and deal the other guy immediately to prevent any sort of lockerroom issues.

Finally, coaching. Perhaps the most important move over the summer was made when John Stevens was brought on board to be an assistant. Yes, Hitch is the head guy, but the promotion of Stevens was a move that will fly under the radar. This is a guy who has worked with most of the youngsters we have in place. Who better to get the most out of these young guys and act as a buffer with Hitch? This could be the singlemost important move the franchise made over the summer. As well, with Wayne Flemming gone to Calgary, Terry Murray takes over our special teams. We should see a dramatic improvement in our special teams and we should at least finish in the top 10, or dare I say it, top 5 in both Power Play and Penalty Killing. Our special teams were attrocious last year. Injuries or not, they should have been much better than they were. I like the fact that Hitch has already said they were going to be much more aggressive on the penalty kill and power play this upcoming season. That should be more than enough right there to move up at least 8 spots from where we were last year.

Last year was a transition year in that we had three rookies play integral roles on the forward lines. I think this year will be a transition year on defense in that Pitkanen and Meyer will be the leaders of the defensive squad and that the team will make the transition of giving these guys big minutes as they cut back on the number of minutes Hatcher, Rathje and Gauthier will receive. As a result, we should make the playoffs again, but I think we might be one and done again simply because of the defense.

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08-21-2006, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by go kim johnsson 514 View Post
You don't win 19 games in a row because you aren't good
streaks don't impress... streaks are anomalies in a larger sample set. team X wins Y% of their games in a given sample size. is it nice to win a lot of games in a row? sure... it's nice to have a 35 game hit streak... it's nice... it doesn't really mean anything other than saying, "hey, i won a bunch of games in a row."

they won 19 games. good for them. they beat a crappy Rangers team... and then Brodeur went into one of his funks (which he did throughout the past couple of seasons) and they went down fast against Carolina... which was exactly what i predicted would happen in that darkhorse thread way back when.

in fact... you'd much rather have a high win% without the volatility that they displayed in their play last year, if you want to really get down to it. they went through fits where they were very tough... then they would go through a spin where they were very weak. a consistent constant 6.5/10 is much better than getting there by stringing together two long winning streaks...

were the Devils one of the better teams in the east? yes, they were one of the top 8 teams and deserved their spot in the playoffs. however, they weren't anything special last year. they have an extremely good goalie -- who is prone to bouts of struggles now -- a few very good forwards (one of whom isn't signed as of now and without moving other salary from the roster, can't be signed)... and outside of Rafalski, no one all that special on D.

that mean we're better than them? if we're healthy (which, people forget, we were at the beginning of the year when we were a pretty tough team), i think we are... however, this group needs to stay healty this year to prove that hypothesis. if they don't have to make an awful trade to fit everyone, they're going to be a good team, but they're nothing scary.... which is where everything is heading in the salary cap environment.

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08-21-2006, 11:24 PM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by go kim johnsson 514 View Post
We know better than to think this. Hell, we all thought the Devils weren't a threat in the middle of March.
agreed. As long as they have Brodeur they will allways be a threat. I dont care If they have the Lowell Devils playing in front of him.

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08-22-2006, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by go kim johnsson 514 View Post
We know better than to think this. Hell, we all thought the Devils weren't a threat in the middle of March.
Still IMO Devils can not score enough goals, they are not very deep team and as someone said.. we do not know what their final roster is going to be.
As of now the do not have good 4th line and their top 2 lines do not look that impressive. If not for both Hatcher and Rathje I would say that the Flyers would win 6 out of 8 games next season. If only we could replace one of them.

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08-22-2006, 09:03 AM
  #12
Jester
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Still IMO Devils can not score enough goals, they are not very deep team and as someone said.. we do not know what their final roster is going to be.
As of now the do not have good 4th line and their top 2 lines do not look that impressive. If not for both Hatcher and Rathje I would say that the Flyers would win 6 out of 8 games next season. If only we could replace one of them.
Rathje will be fine if his hip is healthy... and i would say Hatcher would be fine if we had effective pairings. Hatcher was very strong playing with KJ last year... the problem is that we don't really have a KJ to stick with him. MAYBE Meyer can be there with him...

Rathje was very effective until his hip exploded... people forget this.

Devils are not the bogey-man they once were. They do not have the intimidating defense of Stevens/Nieds (which is part of the reason Brodeur became so scary... not that he isn't good) and they aren't as deep through their forwards as they once were... not to mention they may have to shed some forwards in order to get under the cap w/ Gomez on their team.

doesn't mean we're going to blow them away, or even beat them... but they're not a scary team.

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08-22-2006, 09:13 AM
  #13
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Rathje will be fine if his hip is healthy... and i would say Hatcher would be fine if we had effective pairings. Hatcher was very strong playing with KJ last year... the problem is that we don't really have a KJ to stick with him. MAYBE Meyer can be there with him...
I really hope Meyer will take one step forward this season.

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Rathje was very effective until his hip exploded... people forget this.
He was but I still think Hatcher and Rathje on one team is not such a great idea especially on PK.

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Devils are not the bogey-man they once were. They do not have the intimidating defense of Stevens/Nieds (which is part of the reason Brodeur became so scary... not that he isn't good) and they aren't as deep through their forwards as they once were... not to mention they may have to shed some forwards in order to get under the cap w/ Gomez on their team.
I do not think Gomez is going to go but who knows. I think someone insignificant will be traded and some rookie will step up.

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doesn't mean we're going to blow them away, or even beat them... but they're not a scary team.
Last season Flyers were distroying Devils but then Stevenson (not that he was a big loss) went, Kapanen was injured, Primeau, Rico, then Pitkanen, Johnsson, Gagne and Forsberg missed few games, no excuses. I give credit to the Devils, they picked up their game in the end of the season but they didn't have any injuries. Elias for 40 games thats about it.


Last edited by Kaktus*: 08-22-2006 at 09:33 AM.
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08-22-2006, 09:22 AM
  #14
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There is no way the Devils can ice that line up. They are already over the cap by the allowed 10% without Martin, Hale, and Gionta signed.


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08-22-2006, 10:43 AM
  #15
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I think the Atlantic will be the most competitive this year, not the best division, but the closest matched among all teams. Any of NYR, NJD and our Flyers could win it and I really like the look of that Pittsburgh offense. What it will take for the Pens to push for a playoff spot is a good season long performance by Fleury (or another goalie). The Islanders don't look good but they aren't absolutely horrid.

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08-22-2006, 02:23 PM
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Still IMO Devils can not score enough goals, they are not very deep team and as someone said.. we do not know what their final roster is going to be.
As of now the do not have good 4th line and their top 2 lines do not look that impressive. If not for both Hatcher and Rathje I would say that the Flyers would win 6 out of 8 games next season. If only we could replace one of them.
They had absolutely no problem scoring goals against us at the end of the season, trust me, I was there for two of the slaughters they lodged against us.

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08-22-2006, 05:08 PM
  #17
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They had absolutely no problem scoring goals against us at the end of the season, trust me, I was there for two of the slaughters they lodged against us.

The thing about the Devils though is they will NOT be able to ice the same team they did last season. There will need to be at least two significant cuts in salary with AHL replacements to fit under the cap.

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08-23-2006, 09:04 AM
  #18
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They had absolutely no problem scoring goals against us at the end of the season, trust me, I was there for two of the slaughters they lodged against us.
our team was a disaster at that point... not a good comparison group.

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08-23-2006, 09:23 AM
  #19
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our team was a disaster at that point... not a good comparison group.
Irrelevant...you play with who you got.

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08-23-2006, 10:22 AM
  #20
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Irrelevant...you play with who you got.
Well in that case we should run away with the division this year and the devils shouldn't score many goals on us because "what we've got" right now beats "who we got" at the end of last year even if they are the same guys because the guys last year needed surgery and the guys this year don't. We've got healthy players right now sans Primeau.

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08-23-2006, 11:03 AM
  #21
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We also have speed at forward now, on all 4 lines

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08-23-2006, 11:13 AM
  #22
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Well in that case we should run away with the division this year and the devils shouldn't score many goals on us because "what we've got" right now beats "who we got" at the end of last year even if they are the same guys because the guys last year needed surgery and the guys this year don't. We've got healthy players right now sans Primeau.
You're right, we should. The team staying healthy is key for our up-coming season. Injuries are a part of the game, not an excuse to tolerate getting humiliated right before the playoffs.

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08-23-2006, 03:45 PM
  #23
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Well in that case we should run away with the division this year and the devils shouldn't score many goals on us because "what we've got" right now beats "who we got" at the end of last year even if they are the same guys because the guys last year needed surgery and the guys this year don't. We've got healthy players right now sans Primeau.
Don't get too far ahead of yourself. We've got a great crop of forwards, but that defense is going to give us nightmares. It's attrocious at best and there's going to be some long nights with some of the guys we've got back there. I'm willing to bet that Pitkanen and Meyer are going to average 27+ minutes a night to try to keep things afloat.

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08-23-2006, 04:10 PM
  #24
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].

Rags: still need to prove that they belong... made some nice moves this offseason, but Jagr could easily get depressed about some model not returning a phone call this summer and go into a funk... not to mention they came back to earth last year when they stopped getting otherwordly goaltending...

).
They came back to earth when Lundquist went down with a hip injury and Malik and Kaspar, the 2 steadiest defensive dmen we had mised 75% of the games down the stretch.Not an excuse because we were extremely lucky on the injury front last year for the most part, especially compared to you guys.

One other very important factor about the NYR's going into this year is that we still have 6 million in cap space still available so they aren't done trying to improve this team by a long shot.

Slats will probrably try to land a bonafide 2nd line center which would allow Cullen to go to his better suited 3rd line center spot.

I expect the Atlantic to come down to the NYR's and Philly being close all year with NJ 10pts behind.

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08-24-2006, 05:58 AM
  #25
JerryGigantic
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streaks don't impress... streaks are anomalies in a larger sample set. team X wins Y% of their games in a given sample size. is it nice to win a lot of games in a row? sure... it's nice to have a 35 game hit streak... it's nice... it doesn't really mean anything other than saying, "hey, i won a bunch of games in a row."

they won 19 games. good for them. they beat a crappy Rangers team... and then Brodeur went into one of his funks (which he did throughout the past couple of seasons) and they went down fast against Carolina... which was exactly what i predicted would happen in that darkhorse thread way back when.

in fact... you'd much rather have a high win% without the volatility that they displayed in their play last year, if you want to really get down to it. they went through fits where they were very tough... then they would go through a spin where they were very weak. a consistent constant 6.5/10 is much better than getting there by stringing together two long winning streaks...

were the Devils one of the better teams in the east? yes, they were one of the top 8 teams and deserved their spot in the playoffs. however, they weren't anything special last year. they have an extremely good goalie -- who is prone to bouts of struggles now -- a few very good forwards (one of whom isn't signed as of now and without moving other salary from the roster, can't be signed)... and outside of Rafalski, no one all that special on D.

that mean we're better than them? if we're healthy (which, people forget, we were at the beginning of the year when we were a pretty tough team), i think we are... however, this group needs to stay healty this year to prove that hypothesis. if they don't have to make an awful trade to fit everyone, they're going to be a good team, but they're nothing scary.... which is where everything is heading in the salary cap environment.
I think the Atlantic will be highly competitive, up and down the division, and wildly fun to watch. Can't wait for hockey to begin, already...

But this view of the Devils is fogged over by homer glasses and doesn't hold up at all.

In Elias, The Devils had a point-plus per game player, who also plays perfect two-way hockey, is the sniper on the PP and a key PK player out for half a season... After his return, he played at a 97 point pace, despite being nowhere near 100% and suffering injury in the Olympics. (Yet carried the team on his back during "The Streak".) He will be totally healthy this year -- so look for 105-115 points from Patty. Bank on it.

And despite cap troubles, they have decent forward depth to pick up the slack and the best goalie in the division (maybe in all of Hockey) -- who despite ONE really bad game in the playoffs (Game One against Carolina -- after a long layoff which he doesn't like... But the extra time off was the result of CRUSHING the RANGERS). Other than that, his playoff stats were tremendous, as always. And, AS A TEAM, they lost to the champs, who played better hockey than anyone, by far, during the playoffs. Carolina were a juggernaut, and earned their cup. Discounting that, or trying to rationalize it away is very disrespectful and wrong headed (IMO) in the face of their dominance in their cup run.

You can't sell the Devils short for 19 in a row, either, as only a couple of teams have ever pulled that off... "The Streak" wasn't an anomaly -- just a remarkably gritty and clutch team effort. (The kind of thing you'd see with a healthy Elias...) And the exact opposite of "The Choke" performed by the Rags down the stretch, where despite injuries, Jagr also disappeared as a leader -- ultimately cheap-shoting his own way out of the playoffs as his team's chances faded from slim to none. (Which Devils and Flyers fans alike, along with the folks from Long Island, must ALL find both hilarious and very satisfying...)

Count on the Devils being there at the end and performing well in the playoffs, as always.

The Flyers have the best group of forwards in the division (maybe the entire conference), despite names like Crosby, Jagr and Elias on other rival teams, and it should lead to some crazy shoot-outs. And should prove to be very, very exciting hockey. But this team will need to win a lot of games 7 to 6 if they are going to take the division. (Which they may well do...)

But relative to the other elite teams in the Eastern conference, Philly's defense pretty much sucks and their goalie situaiton is unremarkable. And despite the "new rules" NHL, the play of all six players counts towards the results. So this is at least as big a question mark as the salary cap is with Jersey, and even with an injured Matvichuk, the Devils "D" is better all around and add Marty and the Madden/Pando "shut down" line -- and this really is "strength against strength" and should lead to some epic battles.

But, in the end, defense wins chapionships, and I think the Devils and Flyers -- both with 100+ points, will finish 1-2, again, by a very narrow margin, with the other teams looking up. (With these two teams being the class of the division for more than a decade running now... And the only winners of the Atlantic/Patrick during this period.)

Ranking the bottom three teams, for third place -- I predict the Pittsburgh Penguins. They played the best hockey of any eastern team after the all-star break last year, and with Crosby already starting to perform like the best player in the league, and Crosby II, in Malkin, sneaking into this country in the back of a shipping container because he wanted to play for the Pens so badly... This team could pick up right where they left off, rather than where they began last season. And their defense, although still highly flawed, looks to be less of the gaping sieve it was last season -- and MAF seems to be maturing rapidly and could become one of the better goalies in the league. They could end up with nearly 100 points, despite expectations to the contrary.

Despite an arguably stronger team on paper than last year, I think the Rangers will finish in fourth place -- gasp! -- and will struggle for points in the low 90's. I have a very strong feeling Jagr's shoulder will continue to pay negative karmic dividends and trouble him all year -- causing him to miss a lot of games and be frustrated in the games he does play. No way does he repeat 123 points, in fact, I'm predicting under 100 points, possibly significantly under. And without his production at the highest level, the young roster will be a headless snake, the life wrung out of it. And with the high expectatons of the New York media and fanbase, it has the makings of another glorious fiasco season. They may have a better core, but their youth and questionable leadership at the top will be exposed -- and the media will kill them for it (a la Arod...). No playoffs, again, I'm afraid, for the Blueskirts. The status quo asserted back into place, rightfully, despite their up and coming goalie, improved depth and relative youth.

And bringing up the rear, for another year, the now perrenial fifth place Islanders. They made only marginal improvements to a terrible team, have a streaky goalie that doesn't measure up, and a front office that is a well discussed travesty. They will try hard, compete every night, and finish a few points ahead of their performance last season. But will ultimately disappoint.

In conclusion;

DEVILS*
FLYERS*
PENGUINS*
RANGERS
ISLANDERS

(*Playoffs)

Enjoy...

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