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Old
10-06-2011, 11:09 AM
  #1
Bunk Moreland
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Staple's Eastern Conference Prediction

I know there's a couple of these preseason prediction threads out there but I figured I'd post our new beat writers (for now) predictions:

1. Penguins
2. Buffalo
3. Tampa
4. Boston
5. Rags
6. Flyers
7. Washington
8. Habs
9. Islanders
10. Carolina
11. Devils
12. Leafs
13. Winnipeg
14. Panthers
15. Ottawa

Eastern Conference Prediction: Sabres over Rangers

Islanders little write up:

Quote:
Improved, for sure, but the top eight is a tough club to get into. With a healthy squad heading into the season topped by an older, wiser Rick DiPietro the Isles do have a real chance at making the postseason, thanks to a pair of top lines that can match with any team and new captain Mark Streit. They will keep things interesting all the way through this season.
http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey...12-1.3225395#9

Western Conference Prediction also:

http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey...1-12-1.3225255

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Old
10-06-2011, 11:28 AM
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KyleBailey12
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In my opinion, Buffalo is too high and Washington is too low.

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10-06-2011, 11:29 AM
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Not a whole lot really needs to break right for the Isles this year. Of course they need to stay relatively healthy, but it isn't like they have to hope that Bruno Gervais can be a #4 Dman or Mike York can play on the 2nd line.

This is a solid team here. Even the goalie situation, which appears to be a mess, can be a strength if the Isles handle it professionally.

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10-06-2011, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Isle Junkie View Post
Not a whole lot really needs to break right for the Isles this year. Of course they need to stay relatively healthy, but it isn't like they have to hope that Bruno Gervais can be a #4 Dman or Mike York can play on the 2nd line.

This is a solid team here. Even the goalie situation, which appears to be a mess, can be a strength if the Isles handle it professionally.

I do agree here. The only thing I'd say needs to break right is for nothing to break at all meaning no significant injuries.

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10-06-2011, 12:19 PM
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For the first time, maybe since 93-94, this club actually has 4 legitimate NHL caliber lines they can roll out every night.

There is only 1 spot where a player will be playing out of position & that's one of the top 4 Dmen. but even then they're asking a guy like Jurcina, Eaton or Staios to be a #4. 3 legitimate #5/6 Dmen. It isn't like they're asking AHL caliber guys to fill that role.

All teams should have a game on opening night in every sport. I don't get why they space it out like this.

DROP THE PUCK NOW!!!!!!!

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10-06-2011, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by KyleBailey12 View Post
In my opinion, Buffalo is too high and Washington is too low.
Buffalo is right where they should be. I see them winning the East this year. I agree Washington is too low, switch them with Tampa and it looks more realistic.

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Old
10-06-2011, 12:32 PM
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I don't think it's far fetched to think that some teams will take a step backwards. Even Chicago almost missed the playoffs last year. I doubt anyone predicted that last September.

It's ridiculous to predict the NYI will make the playoffs. Even Vegas had them LAST as the favourites to win the cup. They get paid to get this stuff right.

With that said, I'm hopefull that a lot of players will take some major steps forward this year. The Isles are one of the FEW teams that has players that have untapped potential.

Tavares, Okposo, Streit, Grabner, Bailey, Hamonic, Dipietro/Nabby/Montoya

These are key players in key positions that can all be SIGNIFICANTLY better than they have been, especially last season (where they finished fairly strong)

The Islanders have the POTENTIAL to surprise, but so do a lot of teams.

Not sure if it's LIKELY, but this will be a fun team to watch.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the following teams take steps back:
Boston - yes they won the cup, but I think it will be hard to keep that level of play in the regular season. If they don't, that division will be tight so who knows what can happen.

Montreal - I know people love their fast players, they are fun to watch, they have a solid goalie. I don't know how they did what they did last year given Markov's injury, Kostytsyn's disappearance (both of them), Gomez playing like, well, Gomez. Pretty shocking. Sure they might be better but I wouldn't be surprised if they took a step back.

Buffalo - They added some "good" players but not great players. They don't have the game-breakers of the other teams in the conference. In tight games, they'll need to rely on Miller too much and if he's not 100% on his A-game, it's plausible that they won't be better than last year. Adding salary and adding bodies doesn't always make a team better (see: NYR of years past and present). I liked the Sabres teams the last few years but all this change in one off-season might not be what they hoped. Like Calgary a couple of years ago.

NYRangers - I like Richards a lot. I like Gaborik a lot. Both are very injury prone, haven't played together and they'll be in tough especially if Marc Staal misses significant time. I'm not sold on some of their young players just yet (Stepan, DelZotto) while others have shown they will be steady. I think they'll be good, but I don't see a team that is a lock to make the playoffs.

Philly - Too much change, too quickly, in key areas. They ripped the soul from the team in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Sure, they have talent, but expecting Giroux, JVR, Jagr to step into prominent, leadership roles is a tough task. Couturier looks to be a solid player and Brayden Schenn too - but not this year. Pronger will get hurt and he's approaching 40. This is a team that can easily take a step back.

Teams that are rock solid: Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa

Teams that will suck: Toronto, Ottawa, Florida, Winnpeg

Teams that may surprise: Carolina, New Jersey (THE NYI FIT IN THIS GROUP BUT LIKELY IN THE ONE JUST ABOVE)

---
I've been pretty tough on the NYI and Snow this off-season (just like the last two) and I do expect a lottery finish this year.

Having said that, this NYI team has the most potential of any NYI team I've seen since the 80s. While that means LITTLE until they SHOW they can make the next step, I wouldn't be shocked if certain players emerge this year, that the team starts to establish itself and make some noise (long overdue noise for this franchise)

A lot has to go right, for sure, but it wouldn't completely shock me to see the NYI climb up the standings.

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Old
10-06-2011, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbull View Post
Buffalo - They added some "good" players but not great players. They don't have the game-breakers of the other teams in the conference. In tight games, they'll need to rely on Miller too much and if he's not 100% on his A-game, it's plausible that they won't be better than last year. Adding salary and adding bodies doesn't always make a team better (see: NYR of years past and present). I liked the Sabres teams the last few years but all this change in one off-season might not be what they hoped. Like Calgary a couple of years ago.
This is EXACTLY why I don't understand why some folks are so sure Buffalo is going to be among the favorites in the East this season. They're no question a very good club, with a deep forward group and deep on the blueline (plus Miller in nets). But IMO, they don't have the gamebreakers to put them among the true favorite category.

What Cup winners over the past decade have done so with a bunch of "very good" players, but not a single guy you'd consider top 10 at his position (other than goaltending)? Even Boston last season, who didn't have any elite scorers up front, had an "elite" defenseman in Chara (arguably the best in the league). And of course they got one of the greatest goaltending performances of the past two decades out of Tim Thomas in nets.

Sorry for the side-tangent, but IMO, for a team to be bumped up from "very good" to "favorite", they need some kind of gamebreaker, either that elite scorer(s) up front, or the best defenseman/goalie in the league in the back end. Buffalo has neither.

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10-06-2011, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidney the Kidney View Post
This is EXACTLY why I don't understand why some folks are so sure Buffalo is going to be among the favorites in the East this season. They're no question a very good club, with a deep forward group and deep on the blueline (plus Miller in nets). But IMO, they don't have the gamebreakers to put them among the true favorite category.

What Cup winners over the past decade have done so with a bunch of "very good" players, but not a single guy you'd consider top 10 at his position (other than goaltending)? Even Boston last season, who didn't have any elite scorers up front, had an "elite" defenseman in Chara (arguably the best in the league). And of course they got one of the greatest goaltending performances of the past two decades out of Tim Thomas in nets.

Sorry for the side-tangent, but IMO, for a team to be bumped up from "very good" to "favorite", they need some kind of gamebreaker, either that elite scorer(s) up front, or the best defenseman/goalie in the league in the back end. Buffalo has neither.
I think Buffalo's one of the deepest teams in the league. They may not have a gamebreaker-but on any given day they have a plethora of guys who can be the gamebreaker. Also I think Miller has become underrated on HFboards, not sure why.

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10-06-2011, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ScaredStreit View Post
I think Buffalo's one of the deepest teams in the league. They may not have a gamebreaker-but on any given day they have a plethora of guys who can be the gamebreaker. Also I think Miller has become underrated on HFboards, not sure why.
Oh, I agree. They are deep.

But in terms of ranking them as highly as some do (which includes some suggesting they're the favorites to come out of the Eastern conference), I just think you need some kind of elite talent either up front, or on the back end, to go that far.

Also, Miller's a great goalie, no knock on him.

But I can't think of the last Stanley Cup champion that didn't either have an elite forward(s), or an elite defenseman(men). The 1993 Montreal Canadiens is the last team that won the Cup that had arguably just a good team, with no real superstars either up front or on defense.

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10-06-2011, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Sidney the Kidney View Post
Oh, I agree. They are deep.

But in terms of ranking them as highly as some do (which includes some suggesting they're the favorites to come out of the Eastern conference), I just think you need some kind of elite talent either up front, or on the back end, to go that far.

Also, Miller's a great goalie, no knock on him.

But I can't think of the last Stanley Cup champion that didn't either have an elite forward(s), or an elite defenseman(men). The 1993 Montreal Canadiens is the last team that won the Cup that had arguably just a good team, with no real superstars either up front or on defense.
They do have Thomas Vanek who isn't far off from "really good" status. And he's not too old.

We will see. Did I really just respond to your post? I guess I'm "over it". lol

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10-07-2011, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by KyleBailey12 View Post
In my opinion, Buffalo is too high and Washington is too low.
So many upgrades for the Caps. Hamrlik, Wideman vs. Hannan, Sloan plus a healthy Green. Added Ward, Brouwer and Vokoun. This could be their year.

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10-07-2011, 07:23 AM
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So many upgrades for the Caps. Hamrlik, Wideman vs. Hannan, Sloan plus a healthy Green. Added Ward, Brouwer and Vokoun. This could be their year.
Exactly what I'm thinking. Especially Vokoun, he's an outstanding goalie that could finally has a better team to play with in the postseason than the 03-04 and 06-07 Predators.

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10-07-2011, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by redbull View Post
I don't think it's far fetched to think that some teams will take a step backwards. Even Chicago almost missed the playoffs last year. I doubt anyone predicted that last September.

It's ridiculous to predict the NYI will make the playoffs. Even Vegas had them LAST as the favourites to win the cup. They get paid to get this stuff right.

With that said, I'm hopefull that a lot of players will take some major steps forward this year. The Isles are one of the FEW teams that has players that have untapped potential.

Tavares, Okposo, Streit, Grabner, Bailey, Hamonic, Dipietro/Nabby/Montoya

These are key players in key positions that can all be SIGNIFICANTLY better than they have been, especially last season (where they finished fairly strong)

The Islanders have the POTENTIAL to surprise, but so do a lot of teams.

Not sure if it's LIKELY, but this will be a fun team to watch.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the following teams take steps back:
Boston - yes they won the cup, but I think it will be hard to keep that level of play in the regular season. If they don't, that division will be tight so who knows what can happen.

Montreal - I know people love their fast players, they are fun to watch, they have a solid goalie. I don't know how they did what they did last year given Markov's injury, Kostytsyn's disappearance (both of them), Gomez playing like, well, Gomez. Pretty shocking. Sure they might be better but I wouldn't be surprised if they took a step back.

Buffalo - They added some "good" players but not great players. They don't have the game-breakers of the other teams in the conference. In tight games, they'll need to rely on Miller too much and if he's not 100% on his A-game, it's plausible that they won't be better than last year. Adding salary and adding bodies doesn't always make a team better (see: NYR of years past and present). I liked the Sabres teams the last few years but all this change in one off-season might not be what they hoped. Like Calgary a couple of years ago.

NYRangers - I like Richards a lot. I like Gaborik a lot. Both are very injury prone, haven't played together and they'll be in tough especially if Marc Staal misses significant time. I'm not sold on some of their young players just yet (Stepan, DelZotto) while others have shown they will be steady. I think they'll be good, but I don't see a team that is a lock to make the playoffs.

Philly - Too much change, too quickly, in key areas. They ripped the soul from the team in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Sure, they have talent, but expecting Giroux, JVR, Jagr to step into prominent, leadership roles is a tough task. Couturier looks to be a solid player and Brayden Schenn too - but not this year. Pronger will get hurt and he's approaching 40. This is a team that can easily take a step back.

Teams that are rock solid: Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa

Teams that will suck: Toronto, Ottawa, Florida, Winnpeg

Teams that may surprise: Carolina, New Jersey (THE NYI FIT IN THIS GROUP BUT LIKELY IN THE ONE JUST ABOVE)

---
I've been pretty tough on the NYI and Snow this off-season (just like the last two) and I do expect a lottery finish this year.

Having said that, this NYI team has the most potential of any NYI team I've seen since the 80s. While that means LITTLE until they SHOW they can make the next step, I wouldn't be shocked if certain players emerge this year, that the team starts to establish itself and make some noise (long overdue noise for this franchise)

A lot has to go right, for sure, but it wouldn't completely shock me to see the NYI climb up the standings.
Actually Vegas is trying to maximize betting on a team that probably won't go all the way. If they put Winnipeg at 80-1 nobody would bet on them because they know Winnipeg won't ever pay off. Having the Islanders at 80-1 will draw interest because the team has the raw pieces to make the playoffs and after that stranger things have happened, but realistically a lot would need to break right with the depth at the top of the Eastern Conference let alone whichever team comes out of the West

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10-07-2011, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidney the Kidney View Post
This is EXACTLY why I don't understand why some folks are so sure Buffalo is going to be among the favorites in the East this season. They're no question a very good club, with a deep forward group and deep on the blueline (plus Miller in nets). But IMO, they don't have the gamebreakers to put them among the true favorite category.

What Cup winners over the past decade have done so with a bunch of "very good" players, but not a single guy you'd consider top 10 at his position (other than goaltending)? Even Boston last season, who didn't have any elite scorers up front, had an "elite" defenseman in Chara (arguably the best in the league). And of course they got one of the greatest goaltending performances of the past two decades out of Tim Thomas in nets.

Sorry for the side-tangent, but IMO, for a team to be bumped up from "very good" to "favorite", they need some kind of gamebreaker, either that elite scorer(s) up front, or the best defenseman/goalie in the league in the back end. Buffalo has neither.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScaredStreit View Post
I think Buffalo's one of the deepest teams in the league. They may not have a gamebreaker-but on any given day they have a plethora of guys who can be the gamebreaker. Also I think Miller has become underrated on HFboards, not sure why.
What makes it ideal for Buffalo to have all these guys and even with no ideal gamebreaker is that Buffalo is a hard hat/lunch pail team under Ruff. Always has been. They have B+ talent guys, but lots of them, so that makes them dangerous. They will all battle hard. This is why I loved Nolan being hired - he fit the role that same way as coach.

Cappy looks like he has no issues getting effort, thankfully, but we'll see this year if it was Cappy or the guys worked hard for the emancipator after ****head got fired. (me thinks Cappy is a dark horse type solid coach who players will continue to work hard for)

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10-07-2011, 01:23 PM
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How I see the playoffs this year

The way I see it in terms of figuring if the Isles will make a playoff spot, there are three categories we should put each team in the Eastern Conference in:
  1. Teams the Isles will definitely finish behind
  2. Teams the Isles will probably finish behind
  3. Team the Isles could finish ahead of
Based on those categories, here's how I place the teams in the Eastern Conference:
  1. Penguins, Flyers, Bruins, Buffalo, Washington, Tampa
  2. Rangers, Devils, Carolina
  3. Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Florida
Since the Isles have been a lottery team for years now, you don't take anything for granted about where they will finish. I do think if they stay healthy they'll be playing meaningful hockey in March, but I kinda see them falling short of a playoff spot.

To me in the East 6 spots are locked up (Penguins, Flyers, Bruins, Buffalo, Washington, Tampa), and that leaves probably about 5-6 teams competing for two spots. When push comes to shove experience usually wins out, and that is certainly something the Isles are lacking.

I kind of see the Islanders of 2011-2012 mirroring Niederreiter's situation. He's really close to making the NHL, but is teetering and might not be ready just yet. If the Isles send him back to Portland you wouldn't be surprised, but you have no doubt that he makes the 2012-2013 squad no question.

Here's to a fun season. It's good to finally believe at least there's a realistic chance we'll be in the playoffs. Onward and upward from here forward.

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Old
10-07-2011, 01:47 PM
  #17
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The Islanders are like the Yankees of the early 90's.. they are slowly awaking from there nightmarish slump and putting together a young solid core. (like Pettite,Bernie,Mariano,Jeter,Posada) It is like 1994 for us with youngsters still waiting to explode onto the scene. We are not there yet but these guys can be surprising and if they stay healthy look for them to be the least favorite team to play against. There are not the Doormat Islanders anymore!!!!


ofcourse they can go on an 20 game losing streak and we will be talking about the draft in November again.

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