Monday, February 16, 2009

Atlantic Division and NHL Update

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted on hockey, mostly due to the Steelers winning their sixth Super Bowl title, or twice as many as the Patriots (six more if you take away the ones they cheated to get). But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention to what has been happening in the hockey world. And since the fans of this blog all center around the Atlantic Division teams, that will be the focus, but you’re still going to get some NHL updates.

Atlantic Division

New Jersey Devils
If you haven’t learned by now not to count this team out shame on you. In a way they're like the Patriots of the NHL: it’s the system that makes them successful. Only the Devils don't cheat at all (John Madden never getting called for all his obstructions aside). It doesn’t seem to matter who is playing there, who’s running the bench or what injuries they have, it’s always the same, and it’s because of the system. And as long as Lou Lamoriello is there it’s not going to change. Hell, even Brodeur’s been out most of the season and they're sitting on top of the Atlantic (cue Brodeur haters who claim he is only good because of the system). This team better hope Lou never kicks the bucket (I have no doubt he’ll be GM until he keels over) because chances are they could fall apart after they hire a guy not so obsessed with a single system.

New York Islanders
The Isles, like most people predicted, are near the bottom of the standings. Ok, they are at the bottom. With a commanding lead, five points behind the Thrashers and nine points behind the Lightning. In my preview I guessed Atlanta to finish behind them because the Isles had a better goalie in DiPietro. Rick though suffered another season ending knee injury (that 15 year deal isn’t looking to good now is it?), and the Isles don't even have him to steal games. There is no hope for them this year accept getting the first pick which is the highly touted Jonathan Tavares. Of course, I think we all know they won’t get that right and someone will leap frog them for the first pick. Hell, even the guys they can deal at the deadline like Doug Weight are getting injured and won’t be worth anything at the deadline. Just no luck from this team, and the fans are starting to give up, getting under ten thousand in attendance for more than a few games.

New York Rangers
I think Tom Petty’s song “Free Fallin’” is appropriate because that’s exactly what this team is doing. Amid fans calls for Renney to be fired and the top players not producing the Rangers have been looking lost in recent weeks. Defensemen Wade Redden and Michal Roszival, making a combined $11.5mm a year are proving why no other team would think of giving them such big contracts, and also proving (should anyone have doubted) Glenn Sather is a moron. The Rangers don't have a true anchor for the team, and let’s face it, Lunqvist can’t really run things from the net. Drury is a good player and clutch in the playoffs, but he’s not the glue of a team. Nor is Scott Gomez the guy who will take them over the hump. So bad are things seeming there is rampant speculation they are looking to bring Sean Avery back, but waiting until he is put on re-entry waivers so they only have to take on half his salary. Well, don't hold your breath because I think Dallas would rather let him rot in the minors than let another team have him for half price.

Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers have been having a good season, and most has come without Daniel Briere who has been injured much of the time. They are having cap problems, so they will most likely have to let a few guys go, or deal them like they did RJ Umberger to free up space, meaning they’ll want to win now. Goaltending has been shaky this year, ranging from “Biron is god” to “shoot that %@#*ing asshole” on the Philadelphia scale. Look for them to make another run into the playoffs and try and get some extra pieces at the deadline with what little room they have left.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Flightless birds indeed. After a good opening month the Pens have looked like crap, sitting 10th in the east and out of the playoffs. Most nights they look like they just don't care, which is more infuriating to fans than anything (and why I mentioned in a past post they were pissing me off so much). There is a lot wrong with this team right now. No one is really playing well, the wingers are horrid, giving Crosby and Malkin no help, he defense is underperforming and Marc-Andre Fleury can’t decide if he wants awesome or a douche, going from all star performance one night to Dan Cloutier the next. They finally did the right thing and fired head coach Michel Therrien (which Mahatma celebrating by going out and getting sloshed),but it’s too little too late. Barring a major turn around they will go from within two games of winning the cup to missing the playoffs. Even if they get to the post season, they're probably going to be the one legged man in an ass kicking contest.


Paul Kariya has surgery on both hips
Apparently Karyia’s hips are bad enough that both needed to be repaired. One apparently wasn’t that bad, but he figured if he’s out the rest of the year might as well get both done. Once an elite player recent years have seen him getting more injuries, and age isn’t on his side anymore. He won’t call it quits, but don't expect him to be at the elite level anymore.

Atlanta deals Mathieu Schneider to Montreal
Getting a jump on the trade deadline, Montreal acquired Schneider for a 2nd and 3rd round pick today. Schneider has had a bad season, but that’s pretty common in Atlanta. At 39 his best days are behind him and it was obvious he was trade bait. The Habs are hoping he gives them some punch on their failing powerplay, but if his play this year and last is any indication, his leadership will be more a factor than his on ice play.

Brian Burke is already trying to tear up the Maple Leafs
Burke isn’t one to cherry coat his opinion, and his bluntness often earns him a chastising from fans (who for some reason also complain there isn’t enough personality in the NHL, go figure…). He’s publicly stated soon to be UFA Nik Antropov hasn’t warranted a new contract offer, and has gotten defenseman Tomas Kaberle to give him a list of teams he is willing to waive his no trade clause for. The Leafs roster was blown up last year under interim GM Cliff Fletcher, and will be again under Burke. Look for a lot of trades from this team going into the deadline and during the offseason.

Fired Ottawa coach blames GM for team troubles.
John Paddock was fired 48 games into his coaching tenure (better than Melrose’s ten mind you) as the Senators were once again choking. They sit at the fourth worst spot in both the East and the league, and things aren’t looking up. Despite four coaches in three years, the team continues to struggle with nearly the same roster that got it to the finals two years ago, leading Paddock to come out and say the only constant has been GM Brian Murray. And he’s right. Murray has been using coaches as the scapegoat, and trying to keep his roster intact as much as possible, but it’s become obvious neither is working. He is the guy pulling the strings and the team continues to fail. Owner Eugene Melnyk needs to wizen up and can him.

Claude “The Lesser” Lemieux is back, and he’s been invisible
And that’s a good thing, because it means he’s not doing his best Tie Domi impersonation and purposefully hurting people with flying elbows, sucker punches and hits from behind.

Dallas has gone from worst in the league to 6th in the West
They started off as the worst in the league, then after dumping Sean Avery seemed to get themselves back into sorts. Granted he wasn’t the whole problem, but they sure as hell did their best to blame him. Since the New Year they have played some good hockey and clawed their way back to the top. They may not be strong enough to go very far, but they're not embarrassing themselves like they were earlier in the year.

1 comment:

devo said...

Chris Drury, at his best, is basically a somewhat better version of Jamie Langenbrunner. Good thing the Rangers paid him and greeted him as the white Jerome Iginla. That said, as a Devil fan, Henrik still scares the Jeff Beukeboom out of me.