Saturday, December 11, 2010
&&$#%#$^ WTF ISLANDERS!!! And the Destruction of John Tavares
I honestly think this Isles team is one of the worst I've seen in the last decade. I mean absolutely no disrespect as I'm a closet Isles fan but as a guy who watches a lot of hockey this team talent wise is just impressively bad. I really admire Tavares' game and I think he has an insane amount of talent. However he has absolutely no one to play with and other teams key in on him. There are some legit knocks on his game in my opinion. The fact that he diminishes in physical games and the fact that he seems to get absolutely leveled on a regular basis. Also despite vast and encouraging improvements in his speed from last year, he's still a very awkward skater. Honestly right now Tavares' development curve reminds me a lot of Joe Thornton who had similar precocious years when first entering this league. The Islanders desperately need to get Tavares someone to play with though, it's like their trying to hurt his development.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
John Tavares has arrived
John Tavares has arrived with five goals and two assists in four games while displaying unbelievable offensive acumen for the New York Islanders. I've been watching a lot of the Islanders as I've been a Tavares fan since his junior days and I think he has one of the most unparalleled minds for the game. If you're a fantasy hockey player, consider going big on getting Tavares now because he's going to be untouchable in most leagues by the mid-point of the season. Tavares shows a freakish ability to go unnoticed in the offensive zone and then seemingly come out of nowhere with a perfect pass or to be in the perfect spot to snipe a goal. If you get an opportunity, catch an Islanders' game in the near future as there's some really special things going on with that team including the beginning of a prodigy's ascent to greatness in the best league in the world.
Also keep your eyes on Josh Bailey who's come out of nowhere to play very dominant hockey and form an excellent one-two-three punch down the middle with Tavares on the top line and Doug Weight on the third line. Bailey was scoring at a point per game pace before suffering a hip injury that held him out of the lineup for a week or so. However at the time of this writing except Bailey back in the line-up as soon as tomorrow.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Vote BizNasty for 2011 NHL All-Star Game
|The Greatest Man Alive|
We here at BVB hope you'll consider voting for the greatest man alive Paul Bissionnette to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. The Phoenix Coyotes pugilist not only deserves to go for being the toughest man in the world nor does he deserve to go for being the funniest son of a bitch in the NHL. The Great BizNasty deserves to be there simply because he's the fans' champion and after we got screwed by the NHL in the Rory Fitzpatrick campaign, we deserve to finally have our pick play. So vote for Bissionnette this Feburary not only because it's the right thing to do but it's a vote against the tyranny of the NHL!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
2010-2011 Vancouver Canucks Preview
|Who knew God would look so tired all the time?|
Last Year's Results
49 wins, 28 losses, 5 OTL, 103 points, 5th overall in the league
The Vancouver Canucks emerged from a dark ages of bust prospects and illogical hockey decisions to enter the realm of the elite under the guise of GM Mike Gillis who's instituted several innovations brand new not just to hockey but in pro sports at large. Gillis has also made a number of key moneypuck decisions to supplement the depth of this team and address the weaknesses. The Vancouver Canucks have been the pick by a lot of the hockey media to be the Stanley Cup winner this season. However after choking dramatically in two straight post-seasons to the Chicago Blackhawks the Canucks are at the tipping point of whether or not they're worthy of the hype. The question for the Canucks this season will be can they finally make it the promised land on their 40th anniversary as a team?
The Canucks are led up front by two of the most talented players in the league who also happen to be twins. Daniel and Henrik Sedin have a freaky hockey IQ and ESP for one another that enables them to have perhaps the finest chemistry of any duo in hockey. Henrik Sedin emerged last season as perhaps the top player in the world becoming the first Canuck to ever win the Art Ross and Hart trophies. Henrik is a brilliant playmaking center who's dangerous every time the puck is on his stick. Henrik also developed a decent shot last season setting a career mark in goals with 29 while dominating the passing game with 83 assists. Daniel is a scoring winger who also has a freaky ability to distribute the puck and is the shooter of the two possessing a deadly wrist shot while developing an impressive slap shot over the off-season. Daniel still managed to score 85 points despite missing 19 games last year. The Sedins are arguably the best hockey duo in the world looking more like magicians than hockey players when they're on the ice and the scary thing is they've gotten incrementally better each season. Look for both to shatter the 100 point barrier if they can remain healthy. Complimenting the Sedins will be agitating grinder Alex Burrows who's been the foretold triplet after a lot of failed experiments trying to find the right compliment to the Sedins. Burrows is a gritty winger who's made his career on an insane work ethic working his way from the ECHL to play on arguably the best line in the NHL. Burrows has developed quite a wrist shot and has the intelligence to get himself into scoring position while thriving in the Sedins cycling game. Burrows eclipsed the 30 goal plateau last season for the first time in his career and he routinely notches over 100 penalty minutes but Burrows will sadly miss the first two to three months of the season.
Ryan Kesler has gone from whipping boy to fan favorite in his time in Vancouver resulting in his signing of a fat five year contract last year. Kesler has made his career on hard work and bravado which resulted in his exploding offensively last year with 75 points and eclipsing the 100 penalty minute mark. The perennial Selke candidate will once again be relied upon to carry the second line and contribute his gritty two-way game. It might be a little optimistic to expect him to repeat his offensive totals from last season but Kesler is the type of player you go to war with and he'll be relied upon to play in virtually every situation this season for the Canucks. 25-year old Mason Raymond has had a surprising pro career so far going from relative unknown draftee to crafty scoring winger. The progression of Mason Raymond has been impressive as he broke in as a fast unpolished kid who didn't look like he belonged in the league. However Raymond has quietly blossomed into one of the fastest skaters in the league and a very shifty goal scorer. Raymond announced his presence to the league last year with a 25 goal 53 point campaign and will look to improve on those numbers this year. Keep an eye on this kid because he has the potential to break 30 goals. Mikael Samuelsson was one of GM Mike Gillis' moneypuck signings coming to the Canucks from the Red Wings with the promise of an expanded role. Samuelsson didn't disappoint scoring 30 goals in a complimentary role for a thrifty 2.5 million cap hit. Samuelsson believes in scoring by volume of shots as he's one of the most potent triggermen on this team. Samuelsson also offers a respectable two-way game and can play on the dark side if the need arises. The 33-year old Swede also has clicked with the Sedins in the past and will look to fill in for Alex Burrows on the top line until he returns from injury on.
The Canucks got an entire new third line this off-season. Probably the most impactful of these will be the signing of Manny Malhotra who'll aid a penalty kill that had some issues last season. Malhotra is a capable defensive center who is adept at locking down a defensive zone and can play a physical game. Malhotra also is one of the better face-off men in the league while contributing a respectable amount of points for a bottom sixer and is also quite versatile being able to shift to either wing. Raffi Torres was another moneypuck signing by GM Mike Gillis coming to Vancouver in hopes of a bounce back season after playing for some miserable teams the last few years. Torres is a capable grinder who plays a straight forward gritty game that involves his crashing the net and getting his nose dirty in the corners. Torres also has a respectable amount of offensive pop having eclipsed the 20 goal mark three times in his career. Torres will be bouncing between the second and third line this year and will be relied upon to add a physical element to the bottom six that was lacking last year. Likely playing the opposite wing will be the great Dane Jannik Hansen who's developed into a toolbox player for the Canucks. The 24-year old Hansen has an impressive set of wheels and is one of the best forecheckers in the league. While Hansen has hockey IQ in spades the offensive side of his game hasn't quite developed yet. Look for him to bounce between the third and fourth line this year.
Rounding out the Canucks forwards will be surprise grinder Alex Bolduc who won the fourth line center job out of camp and looks to be an Alex Burrows clone with a similar hard work ethic and journey to the NHL. Training camp invitee Peter Schaefer won a contract and will look to be a tool box player for the Canucks while helping out on the penalty kill. A Canuck retread, Schaefer can also pop a few points from the bottom six and will likely compete with Jannik Hansen for third line minutes when Burrows returns from injury. Tanner Glass is the prototypical grinder in that he does everything you want in a fourth liner. Glass plays a fearless kamikaze style while offering protection for his linemates as evidenced by the 15 fights he was a participant in last season. Rick Rypien is arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the league having destroyed players a good 10 inches bigger and 60 pounds heavier than himself in fisticuffs. Rypien also plays a respectable defensive game and is decent on the forecheck. Look for Rypien to be a fixture on the fourth line if he can maintain his health. Gritty power forward Guillaume Desbiens has worked his way up through the organization making the team out of training camp and will look to fill in as a depth forward when needed.
The Canucks have arguably the deepest defense in the league having signed one of the most coveted free agent defensemen this off-season and trading for a premiere physical defenseman. Hometown boy Dan Hamhuis signed with the Canucks this off-season after being phased out of Nashville's plans. Hamhuis shows the potential to be an excellent top pairing defenseman and should enjoy a bigger role on the Canucks as he'll be relied upon to carry the first pairing while playing a shutdown role in key defensive situations. Hamhuis plays an intelligent three zone game that's marked with an occasional big hip check. Keith Ballard was brought to the Canucks in an off-season trade with the Florida Panthers to add a physical element to the blue line that had been lacking since the departures of a few key Canuck defensemen. Ballard is one of the better hitting defensemen in the game and plays a big man game on the blue line despite his 5-11 stature. The 27-year old American defender also offers a decent puck moving game and can play offensive minutes if the need arises.
Alex Edler quietly bloomed into a legit number one defenseman in the second half and post-season last year without anyone really noticing. The 24-year old Edler has been a pleasant surprise since arriving in the Canucks organization four years ago. Edler has shown steady improvement every season playing the very distinct Swedish defensive style while also finding a surprising physical element to his game last year. Edler also has steadily gotten better in the offensive zone turning in sequentially better offensive performances each season. Last year was no exception with the Swedish blueliner turning in a 42 point performance and offering a much improved cannon of a slap shot on the powerplay. The Canucks will look to Edler to continue to develop and lead their blueline for the next decade. Sami Salo has quietly been one of the better defenseman in the league since his arrival in Vancouver. The dependable 36-year old defenseman offers an excellent shutdown game in the defensive zone while being accomplished in the offensive zone with one of the best slap shots in the league. The only problem with Salo is that he's literally made out of glass and has become so injury prone as to be unreliable. Even at the time of this writing Salo is facing a career threatening Achilles' tendon injury and there's doubt about whether or not he will return this season.
Rounding out the defensive group will be home town punching bag Kevin Bieksa who's completely fallen off the map from his impressive first few years in the league. When Bieksa is at his best he offers a strong offensive game with quite a bit of sand paper. However Bieksa has become something of a boat anchor for the Canucks as his defensive acumen has dropped off the charts and he makes the Canucks faithful facepalm on a nightly basis. Bieksa will start this season on the top pairing with Hamhuis because Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault is something of a sadist. Competing for the sixth spot will be two depth defensemen who offer different games. Andrew Alberts was being burned in effigy with regularity on the streets of Vancouver last post-season. The 6-5 gritty depth defenseman was acquired in a deadline deal with the Carolina Hurricanes and has reasonable settled into the Canucks lineup with a simple defensive oriented game. Alberts also is a physical defenseman who is able to lay the body and drop the gloves. Competing with Alberts for ice time will be Aaron Rome who's a versatile depth defender than can play just about any role asked of him. While Rome doesn't necessarily excel at any one facet of the game, he can quietly eat minutes while thriving in a physical game. Also in the mix this season might be depth defender Ryan Parent who was recently acquired from the Nashville Predators. The 23-year old Parent was a former 18th overall pick and entered the league with much hype from a distinguished international juniors career but has had injuries derail his progress. Parent is a big bodied defensive defenseman who could get a significant look from the Canucks before being sent to their AHL affiliate.
In net the Canucks have franchise netminder Roberto Luongo who was the backstop for the Canadian gold medal winning Olympic team last season. Luongo has been somewhat shaky in the last two years seeing his numbers dip a bit and his choking in big games. However the Canucks have done all they can to relieve the pressure off of Luongo's shoulders by asking him to relinquish the Captaincy. The Canucks have also brought in top goaltending coach Roland Melanson to work with Luongo on a daily basis, something that was missing in his entire stay in Vancouver. It's certainly within the realm of possibility for Luongo to have a bounce back season with so many positive things being instituted around him on this team. Backing up Luongo will be Cory Schneider who will finally see the NHL after developing for three years in the AHL. The 24-year old is a big butterfly goaltender who has the potential to be a starter in this league but much show consistency at the top level. Schneider will begin the season in the AHL due to salary cap constraints but will soon be recalled. In lieu of Schneider's absence, Swedish import Eddie Lack will take the backup duties until Schneider returns.
The Vancouver Canucks are arguably the best team on paper in the league with showing top end talent at every position. However mental lapses have been this team's undoing and the question of whether or not this team has the fortitude to be a success has got to be hanging in the minds of the Canucks faithful. The season won't really begin for this team until April but until then the Canucks will be a power house in the West. Expect them to come in anywhere from 1st-5th overall in the league.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
Daniel Sedin 39 G/76 A 115 P
Henrik Sedin - 25 G/91 A 116 P
Mikael Samuelsson - 27 G/27 A 54 P
Mason Raymond - 28 G/31 A 59 P
Ryan Kesler - 27 G/42 A 69 P
Raffi Torres - 21 G/16 A 37 P
Peter Schafer - 8 G/16 A 24 P
Manny Malhotra - 13 G/22 A 35 P
Jannik Hansen - 13 G/18 A 31 P
Trevor Glass - 4 G/8 A 12 P
Alex Bolduc - 5 G/9 A 14 P
Guillaume Desbiens - 6 G/8 A 14 P
Alex Burrows - 25 G/24 A 49 P
Rick Rypien - 3 G/2 A 5 P
Dan Hamhuis - 7 G/29 A 36 P
Kevin Bieksa - 4 G/20 A 24 P
Christian Ehrhoff - 13 G/31 A 44 P
Alex Edler - 8 G/39 A 47 P
Keith Ballard - 5 G/21 A 26 P
Andrew Alberts - 2 G/9 A 11 P
Aaron Rome - 1 G/6 A 7 P
Ryan Parent - 0 G/2 A 2 P
Sami Salo - 1 G/5 A 6 P
Roberto Luongo - 41-19-3 | 2.39 GAA | .921 Sv%
Cory Schneider - 12-5-2 | 2.69 GAA | .911 Sv%
2010-2011 Toronto Maple Leafs Preview
|Brian Burke wants to melt your icy heart with a warm island tune.|
30 wins, 38 losses, 14 OTL, 74 points, 29th overall in the league
To compare Brian Burke's tenure as Maple Leafs' GM to a historical event, it was like the beginning of the crack epidemic in the ghettos of America. The biggest and most prestigious hockey team in the world brought in the fiery Brian Burke two years ago to reconstruct a largely woeful team with a fan base that was preparing to storm the gates of the Air Canada Centre and take a page out of the French Revolution. Burke promptly set out to create a cult of personality for himself while reshaping the team in his image. After finishing second to last in the league and making a couple of questionable decisions the Leafs are teetering on the edge as the success of Burke's mini-rebuild remains in question. This season will be the definitive year in whether or not Burke's plan will lead to success or the Leaf fans bring the guillotine to the ACC.
The first line this year will be an entire Burke creation. The Leafs ran head long into Murphy's law last season when they acquired sniper Phil Kessel for two first round picks and one second round pick. The 23-year old Kessel is already one of the most dynamic goal scorers possessing an extremely deadly shot and a keen offensive acumen that will see him as an elite player in this league sooner rather than later. However Kessel has faced health concerns though his career and has gained the label of being fragile. The Maple Leafs' offense will be built around Kessel as the Maple Leafs hope he can realize his destiny as one of the best goal scorers in the league. Tyler Bozak has been a pleasent surprise for the Maple Leafs. The 24-year old center was signed out of college as one of the top UFA prospects. Bozak impressed immediately scoring 27 points in his 37 game debut last year and will be centering the top line to open the season in Toronto. Bozak has excellent vision with the ability to distribute the puck to his teammates. It will be interesting to see how Bozak responds to the 82 game schedule and if he can continue his progression as a legit top six playmaker. The versatile Kris Versteeg will begin the year on Toronto's top line. The 24-year old was an impressive role player on the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks last year and the Maple Leafs think there's more potential offensive upside in him.
Clarke MacArthur signed with the Leafs after failing to come to terms with the Atlanta Thrashers. MacArthur will be a fixture on the Leafs second line providing respectable secondary scoring and a fair two-way game. MacArthur has often been criticized for his work ethic and intensity levels but he'll be in an optimal situation to produce in Toronto. Mikhail Grabovski is a German playmaking center who's found his way to anchoring the Leafs' second line. The 26-year old is adept at moving the puck and generating offense but lacks the polish to his game to fully capitalize on his innate talent. 24-year old Nikolai Kulemin has been something of an enigma having been unable to realize his offensive potential in the NHL. Kulemin possesses a decent work ethic and instincts in all three zones but has had difficulty finding consistency. This will be a key season for Kulemin as the clock on whether he'll can be more than a pseudo top sixer may be ticking down.
Colby Armstrong was the Leafs' biggest free agent acquisition getting a fat three million dollar deal. Armstrom is one of the better grinders in the league offering an extreme work ethic, sound two-way play, and the ability to get the other team off their game. Fredrik Sjostrom found his way to the Leafs in the blockbuster trade with Calgary from last year. The former 11th overall never really found himself in the NHL and has bounced around the league offering a sound defensive game. Sjostrom will be one of the key penalty killers for the Leafs. Unknown 26-year old Tim Brent will fill in as the Leafs' third line center. Brent doesn't excel at any one facet of the game but plays an adequate worry free game while being a something of a leader on the ice.
Rounding out the forwards group will be noted pugilist Colton Orr who will be getting regular shifts and knocking out opponent's teeth for the Leafs. On the opposite wing will be energy grinder Mike Brown who excels in the defensive zone and will also drop the gloves with anyone. Depth center Mike Zigomanis will center the fourth line but could be moved soon as he's already been placed on waivers once by the Leafs this off-season.
GM Brian Burke made one of the biggest trades in Leafs history in a seven player deal that saw the center piece premiere defenseman Dion Phaneuf arrive in Toronto. The 25-year old Phaneuf is a top defenseman in this league offering an elite offensive game with an impressive physical dimension. Phaneuf has had difficulties in recent years regaining the flair he entered the league with but the Leafs are placing a lot of hope that Phaneuf can regain his All-Star form. Phaneuf was named captain of the Leafs this off-season. Francois Beauchemin will be Phaneuf's defensive partner this year. The 30-year old Beauchemin is a minute eating defenseman who can play in all three zones while offering a bit of bite on the back end. Beauchemin is at his best when he plays a simple game but had difficulties rising to the expanded opportunity he received in Toronto last year.
Tomas Kaberle is one of the best offensive defensemen and powerplay quarterbacks in the world. The Czech defenseman excels in the offensive zone with creative vision and an unmatched playmaking skill. Kaberle has been one of the most consistent point producers from the back end no matter how poor the team around him is. Kaberle will be anchoring the second pairing and first powerplay unit. Playing with Kaberle will be 20-year old Luke Schenn who's developing into a premiere shutdown defenseman. The former fifth overall boasts decent skating for a man of his size and the intangibles necessary to lockdown a defensive zone. This year should be huge for Schenn in the course of his development as he is relied upon to be the de facto defensive defenseman and key penalty killer for the Leafs.
Mike Komisarek signed a huge contract two years ago as one of Burke's first big moves with the Leafs. Komisarek is a big physical defensive defenseman who thrives in a dirty game. Komisarek was the subject of much loathing by the Leafs' faithful last season as he had some hiccups and inconsistent play but he'll be a key defender on the Leafs' blue line. 23-year old Carl Gunnarsson has been a surprise for the Leafs developing into a decent depth player and puck moving defenseman. Gunnarsson will get the opportunity to generate offense playing consistently on Toronto's bottom pairing.
In net the Leafs were lucky to acquire former Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winning goaltender JS Giguere from the Ducks for spare parts last year. Giguere had fallen out of favor with his previous team and was largely forgotten by the hockey world after two rough seasons in Anaheim. However Giguere is one of the most venerable goaltenders in the league and possesses a wealth of experience while being in an optimal situation for him in Toronto. The big butterfly goaltender has already been named the Leafs' number one and will look to have a bounce back season this year. Backing him up will be much hyped Swedish netminder Jonas Gustavsson who hasn't found himself yet in the NHL. 'The Monster' was one of the most hyped European players when Burke signed him last year and the Leafs hope that he'll develop into their franchise netminder. It remains to be seen whether Gustavsson really has number one potential in this league but he'll be an adequate backup to Giguere this year.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a lot of talent on this team. The Leafs have a decent defense and finally have some stability in net. However the question for the Leafs will be can their offense hold out and can this team that's been thrown together rather quickly gel to become a contendor? I personally don't think they can this year. Look for them to come in somewhere between 21st-26th in the league.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
Kris Versteeg - 23 G/32 A 55 P
Tyler Bozak - 17 G/43 A 60 P
Phil Kessel - 39 G/30 A 69 P
Clarke MacArthur - 18 G/22 A 40 P
Mikhail Grabovski - 15 G/29 A 44 P
Nikolai Kulemin - 17 G/22 A 39 P
Fredrik Sjostrom - 4 G/12 A 16 P
Tim Brent - 5 G/12 A 17 P
Colby Armstrong - 16 G/17 A 33 P
Colton Orr - 3 G/3 A 6 P
Mike Zigomanis - 1 G/2 A 3 P
Mike Brown - 2 G/1 A 3 P
Francois Beauchemin - 4 G/22 A 26 P
Dion Phaneuf - 14 G/29 A 43 P
Tomas Kaberle - 8 G/40 A 48 P
Luke Schenn - 7 G/19 A 26 P
Carl Gunnarsson - 5 G/18 A 23 P
Mike Komisarek - 3 G/12 A 15 P
JS Giguere - 23-23-6 | 2.87 GAA | .915 Sv%
Jonas Gustavsson - 12-15-3 | 2.96 GAA | .904 Sv%
2010-2011 Tampa Bay Lightning Preview
|From boy to man in less than 365 days.|
Last Year's Results
34 wins, 36 losses, 12 OTL, 80 points, 25th overall in the league
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had one of the more roller coaster like experiences in recent years going from premiere Stanley Cup winning team to three years of missing the playoffs as the team's ownership group treated it like their personal fantasy team and fought amongst themselves. The Lightning got it's act together this off-season with a new owner bringing in hall of famer Steve Yzerman to become the team's general manager. Yzerman set about making a number of player and organizational changes including bringing in AHL coach of the year Guy Boucher to be the team's head coach. The Lightning have a wealth of talent on both ends of the ice but it remains to be scene if the change in management can return the Lightning to success from the cluster of problems it's been suffering for the last three years.
Steven Stamkos exploded in his sophomore campaign scoring 51 goals and lighting the league on fire. The former first overall pick was the subject of criticism for having a weak rookie campaign in his debut but is now considered one of the best centers in the game. Playing with Stamkos will be one of the best right wingers of the last decade in Martin St. Louis. The diminutive forward has been one of the most consistent point scorers since his arrival in Tampa Bay. St. Louis is the James Brown of hockey in that he's the hardest working man in the league who's talented at playmaking but can also rip the puck. Completing the first line will be Steve Downie who seems like a relic from a by-gone era. Downie plays an extremely aggressive physical game that saw him sitting in the penalty box for 208 penalty minutes last season while still displaying a top notch scoring touch. It's pretty much a certainty that Downie's penalty minute count will fall in a new structured system under Boucher but he remains one of the more versatile and interesting players in the league.
Centering the second line will be another former first overall pick in Vincent Lecavalier who's also the captain of the team. Lecavalier has been one of the most consistent scorers in the league before finding a plague of injuries and a hellish hockey experience quelling his production somewhat in recent years. It will be interesting to see if Lecavalier can find his mojo again under a new coach in a new culture. If Lecavalier can rebound to his elite form, the Lightning will be one of the scariest teams down the middle. Simon Gagne waived his no-trade clause this off-season specially to be traded to Tampa Bay to play under GM Steve Yzerman. Gagne is a fantastic complimentry player who's a very quick skater and has an excellent offensive acumen. The only concern with Gagne is that he's a bit fragile and faces injury concerns each season. The Lightning hope that Gagne will click with Lecavalier resulting in both finding their best games. Completing this line will be power forward Ryan Malone. The American power forward isn't the most natural offensive player but he makes up for it by being a pest around the crease and playing a gritty brand of hockey. Malone also displays a respectable defensive game while being able to contribute on the penalty kill.
Dominic Moore was one of Yzerman's off-season acquisitions as he was signed to center the Lightning's third line. Moore is a defensive oriented center who offers a hard work ethic and decent penalty killing. Moore also contributes a respectable amount of points for a bottom six player. Teddy Purcell was acquired in a trade last season to be a depth player in the Lightning organization. Purcell is a second tier scorer who's had difficulty sticking in the NHL but looks to be a fixture on the third line this year. The big 6-2 Purcell has been the recipient of praise from Yzerman this pre-season for his surprising skill level. Rounding out the third line will be Islander refugee Sean Bergenheim who's another of Yzerman's signings. Bergenheim is a decent role player who can plug into virtually any role asked of him while being adequete in the offensive zone. It will be interesting to see how Bergenheim will respond in the Lightning's system now that he's out of a largely bad situation with the Islanders.
Rounding out the forward group will be depth winger Adam Hall who's another versatile player that can play any role asked of him. The former Seattle Thunderbird (Go T-Birds!) Nate Thompson will be centering the fourth line and be the toolbox player for the Lightning. Thompson is an adept penalty killer who also provides energy and physicality to the lineup. Completing the fourth line will be 21-year old role player Dana Tyrell who will be getting his feet wet in the NHL this season.
Perhaps the biggest signing of Yzerman's this off-season was of minute eating defensemen Pavel Kubina who's quietly one of the better and more consistent defensemen in the game. At 6-4 Kubina has the size to excel in the defensive zone while having a booming shot and a respectable offensive game. A re-tread in Tampa Bay, Kubina broke into the league with the Tampa Bay Lightning and was a member of their Stanley Cup team. Mattias Ohlund has been one of the most consistent defensive defensemen since his arrival in the league over a decade ago. The big Swede possesses the the size and strength to shutdown a defensive zone and occasionally throw bone jarring hits. Ohlund can also be an asset in the offensive zone with his big slapshot as well. Unfortunately Ohlund will miss the first two weeks of the season with a swelled knee.
Former second overall pick Victor Hedman has been one of the most promising defensemen to come through the draft in recent memory. The 6-6 Swede was reminisicent of Chris Pronger in his debut last season in that he displayed an intelligent offensive IQ, great defensive instincts, and a bit of a dark side to his game. Hedman is going to be a downright scary player when he hits his stride and should blossom into a premiere franchise defenseman. Another key signing by Yzerman, versatile shot-blocking defenseman Brett Clark will look to add stability to the Lightning's blueline. Clark offers a respectable transition game and decent speed but lacks the consistency to be more than a second tier defenseman.
Randy Jones is like that Christmas fruitcake that gets passed from person to person every year. The depth defender became the punching bag for the faithful of his last two teams respectively. Jones is an adept puck-moving defenseman who can eat minutes when paired with the right partner. However his defensive zone work is questionable bordering on maddening. Big depth defenseman Mike Lundin will likely play his first full complete season with the Lightning this year. Lundin is a capable minutes eater who doesn't necessarily excel at any one aspect of the game but can adequately eat minutes doing all the little things well. Physical defenseman Matt Smaby will fill in as the seventh defenseman.
The Lightning will be going with a pair of former teammates to form a goalie tandem with no clear number one. Mike Smith had a god awful season last year struggling on a lousy team and hampered by injury concerns including a frightening bout with PCS. Smith is one of the most competitive goalies in the league playing a technical style that suits his big 6-4 frame. Smith hasn't been able to play up to his innate abilities but could be one of the bigger sleepers this year. Splitting time with Smith will be another Yzerman off-season signee in Dan Ellis who comes to Tampa Bay after a few quality seasons in Nashville. The finanically downtrodden goaltender is a respectable 1B goaltender who can take over the reigns when he gets hot. Look for the two to split time down the middle and for whoever is hottest at the moment to be the one the team rides.
After three miserable years as the play toy of a couple disinterested billionares the Lightning look to be a team on the upswing with hockey people finally running the organization. There's a lot of good things going on in Tampa Bay and on paper this team looks downright frightening to play against. The question for this team will be how quickly can they gel and how quickly can they put the years of hockey hell behind them? Right now the Lightning are a bubble playoff team. Look for them to come in somewhere between 12th-17th this year.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
Martin St. Louis - 31 G/53 A 84 P
Steven Stamkos - 51 G/51 A 102 P
Steven Downie - 24 G/35 A 59 P
Simon Gagne - 24 G/36 A 60 P
Vincent Lecavalier - 27 G/45 A 72 P
Ryan Malone - 23 G/27 A 50 P
Sean Bergenheim - 12 G/14 A 26 P
Dominic Moore - 9 G/15 A 24 P
Teddy Purcell - 11 G/14 A 25 P
Adam Hall - 3 G/4 A 7 P
Nate Thompson - 2 G/9 A 11 P
Dana Tyrell - 5 G/14 A 19 P
Pavel Kubina - 7 G/30 A 37 P
Brett Clark - 2 G/15 A 17 P
Victor Hedman - 6 G/23 A 29 P
Randy Jones - 4 G/20 A 24 P
Mike Lundin - 4 G/15 A 19 P
Matt Smaby - 0 G/3 A 3 P
Mattias Ohlund - 2 G/16 A 18 P
Mike Smith - 24-20-5 | 2.81 GAA | .910 Sv%
Dan Ellis - 17-13-3 | 2.90 GAA | .903 Sv%
Friday, October 8, 2010
2010-2011 St. Louis Blues Preview
|Redemption comes from the Czech Republic|
40 wins, 32 losses, 10 OTL, 15th overall in the league
The St. Louis Blues are a team of ups and the St. Louis Blues are a team of downs. After having made the post-season 23 straight years, the Blues have been feeling the growing pains of an attempted rebuild missing the playoffs four of the last five years. The Blues are a team on the upswing after acquiring arguably the best goaltender of last year's playoffs and witnessing some of their youth develop into key players. This team is close to returning as the venerable challenger it was for so many years and perhaps to another post-season appearance streak. This season could be St. Louis' breakout party as this team really responded under new head coach Davis Payne when he was brought in mid-season to replace former head coach Andy Murray last year. The talent level is finally there for the Blues and the question for this team will be can they return to being a contendor.
The Blues are led up front by Blues captain David Backes who has a rare blend of skill, size, and tenacity for the NHL. The large 6-3 American thrives in the physical game by being an excellent checker and a very intimidating presence on the ice. Backes also has a decent pair of hands having a 30 goal season on his resume. Since moving from wing to center Backes has been more concentrated on distributing the puck but he's one of those rare players who exceeds 100+ penalty minutes every year while offering a very respectable offensive game. This is also a contract year for Backes so expect an excellent performance out of him. Likely playing with Backes on the top line will be 22-year old David Perron who's emerged as probably the most potent offensive player on the Blues. Perron is a quick shifty forward that can play both wings that excels at playmaking but can also bury the puck if the opportunity arises. The Blues hope that Perron can regain his 2008-2009 form where he helped carry the Blues to the post season as there were some questions about his work ethic and intensity last season. Perron remains probably the most likely player to breakout this season as he's received rave reviews from training camp about his conditioning and off-ice training. Completing the first line will be Brad Boyes who had a disappointing season last year. Boyes is an intelligent sniper who's adept at generating offense and finding the twine. Boyes scored 33 and 43 goals respectively before having a hiccup last year with 14 but Boyes should be a likely candidate for a bounce back year.
Centering the second line will likely be 22-year old Patrik Berglund who's another player that had a disappointing campaign last year. The big bodied Berglund fell into a hellacious sophomore jinx after impressing in his rookie debut. However the playmaking former 25th overall pick spent all but one month of the off-season in St. Louis training for the upcoming season and rehabbing an injured shoulder. Berglund has been compared to Evegni Malkin when he's playing at the top of his game but lacks the consistency and work ethic to dominate to the levels he should with his innate abilities. This will be a defining season for Berglund as the training wheels are off now and he needs to define himself in this league. Occupying the wing on the second line will be Andy McDonald who will be relied upon as a veteran presence as only one of three players on this roster over 30-years old. McDonald is one of the fastest skaters in the league and has been one of the most consistent scorers since the lockout. Likely occupying the opposite wing will be 23-year old roller hockey god T.J. Oshie. The former 24th overall pick has developed into a hard working energy player who can do just about anything and play just about any role that's asked of him. It will be interesting to see what Oshie does this season as he says his focus is on scoring goals.
Starting on the third line will be two-way winger Alex Steen who's virtually the only Blues player not to have an off-season last year. The 26-year old seems to be finding the scoring touch and consistency that's been projected in him since his arrival in the league. Steen is also a toolbox player for the Blues being able to play in virtually any situation or role. Jay McClement has made a career of being a shutdown center and is one of the more underrated defensive centers in the league. Look for McClement to get the bulk of penalty kill minutes up front. Gritty grinder B.J. Crombeen will fill in on the opposite wing but could see himself fall to the fourth line during the season. Crombeen is an agitating defensive minded winger who's adept at the throwing the body and his fists.
Rounding out the Blues forward group will be defensive winger Brad Winchester renowned for his ability on the forecheck. Enforcer and hometown hero Cam Janssen will be protecting the lineup. Depth player Matt D'agostini will fill in at center until energy center Vladimir Sobotka returns from a shoulder injury.
Former first overall pick Erik Johnson leads the Blues defense. The 22-year old 6-4 defenseman oozes top end skill and the ability to play a mean game. However Johnson has been unlucky with injuries including missing his entire sophomore season. If Johnson can remain healthy he's already an elite defenseman while projecting to only get better in the next several years. This year will be Johnson's opportunity to prove he's a franchise blueliner. Paired with Johnson will be one of the finest defensive defenseman in Barret Jackman who will free up Johnson's offensive game and take the bulk of penalty kill minutes. Jackman has faced injury concerns through the course of his career but when he's healthy he's a shutdown defenseman who can lockdown a defensive zone while playing a nasty punishing brand of hockey.
Anchoring the second line will be big Eric Brewer who's a capable minute eating defensemen. The 31-year old never really lived up to his fifth overall pick hype but has settled into being a capable three zone defenseman who doesn't necessarily excel at any one aspect of the game but can play any role. Brewer has been plagued with injuries throughout his career but will be entering this season healthy for the first time in three years. Roman Polak is a smooth skating Czech defenseman who's developed into a shutdown defenseman on the Blues backend. The 24-year old Polak (I feel I just committed a racial slur) isn't the most offensive gifted nor the most physical but he can safely handle 20 minutes a night while playing a significant role on the penalty kill.
Probably the most exciting player to watch this season for the Blues will be 20-year old Alex Pietrangelo who's absolutely dominated at the junior level. The former fourth overall pick projects to become one of the finest offensive defenseman in a few years but needs some work in the defensive zone. Pietrangelo's innate offensive gifts should be on display this season as he'll begin the year on the top powerplay unit with Erik Johnson. Beginning the season paired with Pietrangelo will be Carlo Colaiacovo which should be an interesting test of faith. Colaiacovo is an extremely adept offensive defenseman who can move the puck with the best of them. However Colaiacovo is injury prone and has some serious questions about his defensive zone work. It will be interesting to see how these two defensemen compliment each other. Physical depth defender Tyson Strachan will fill in as the seventh defenseman.
There were near riots in Montreal when 25-year old post season hero Jaroslav Halak was traded to the Blues this off-season. Halak emerged last season as a first tier goaltender with the ability to excel in pressure situations. For the first time in recent memory the Blues will actually have a legit number one goaltender between their pipes while Halak shows all the signs of being in the perfect situation for him in St. Louis. Backing up Halak will be one of the finest number two goaltenders in Ty Conklin who's made his career on hard work. Conklin found his way to St. Louis last season and had a very respectable campaign as the backup. Look for Conklin to get 25-30 games this year.
The Blues are a team on the rise as they experienced an immediate improvement under a new coach last season. This team has a lot of talent and unrealized potential that could snowball into a very frightening team to play against if everything goes right. The Blues also have a legit number one netminder who should be able to carry this team through rough stretches. The Blues are a bubble playoff team.
Look for them to come in somewhere between 9th-14th in the league.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
David Perron - 26 G/29 A 55 P
David Backes - 23 G/33 A 56 P
Brad Boyes - 28 G/31 A 59 P
Andy McDonald - 25 G/27 A 52 P
Patrick Berglund - 19 G/28 A 47 P
T.J. Oshie - 23 G/29 A 52 P
Alex Steen - 25 G/29 A 54 P
Jay McClement - 10 G/19 A 29 P
B.J. Crombeen - 6 G/10 A 16 P
Brad Winchester - 2 G/6 A 8 P
Matt D'Agostini - 2 G/3 A 5 P
Cam Janssen - 0 G/1 A 1 P
Barrent Jackman - 3 G/16 A 19 P
Erik Johnson - 12 G/35 A 47 P
Eric Brewer - 6 G/12 A 18 P
Roman Polak - 3 G/16 A 19 P
Carlo Colaiacovo - 6 G/23 A 29 P
Alex Pietrangelo - 7 G/22 A 29 P
Jaroslav Halak - 32-26-3 | 2.48 GAA | .918 Sv%
Ty Conklin - 10-8-3 | 2.61 GAA | .915 Sv%
2010-2011 San Jose Sharks Preview
|Post-Season God Joe Thornton|
51 wins, 20 losses, 11 OTL, 113 points, 3rd overall in the league
The San Jose Sharks are a team that have gained a bit of a nefarious reputation. Despite having some of the best teams in recent years, the Sharks are known for their dramatic post-season collapses. Last year was no exception as the Sharks despite being the top team in the western conference were dramatically swept in the conference finals by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. This season shall be interesting for the Sharks as their window of opportunity to make it to the hockey promise land is gradually closing and there's no telling how many more chances the current incarnation of this team will get. The question for the Sharks this season will be can they rise above their choker label and win the Stanley Cup this season?
The Sharks are blessed to be led by three elite forwards up front. Centering the top line will be former first overall pick Joe Thornton who was recently named the captain of the Sharks. Thornton has been one of the most consistent regular season scoring players since his arrival in the NHL. The 6-4 pivot is perhaps the best playmaker in the NHL while occasionally showing a bit of a fiery streak. The Sharks pulled off quite the coup when they traded for controversial sniper Dany Heatley from the Ottawa Senators. Heatley is an uber-talented winger who's blossomed into a superstar and one of the best goal scorers in the league. Another second overall pick in Patrick Marleau surprised with a career year in goals (44) and perhaps the best season of his career when he was moved from center to wing last year. Marleau is a smooth skating constant scoring threat who also can play a decent two-way game.
The Sharks historically have always had one of the better scouting and player development programs. That will pay off this year with three players under 23-years old who are expected to play a huge role in the Sharks' top six. The Sharks were heavily criticized when they moved up in the 2005 draft to select Devin Setoguchi eighth overall. However the 23-year old Setoguchi has developed into the goal scoring sniper they were looking for. The young winger has fantastic goal scoring instincts while being competent in the defensive zone. Setoguchi will likely start on the top line with Thornton. The 22-year old Jamie McGinn has found himself as an effective toolbox player for the Sharks. McGinn offers a honest hard working two-way game with flashes of offensive potential. The Sharks believe there's some offensive upside in McGinn as he'll likely compliment the top line to be begin the season. Logan Couture is a bit of a question mark for the Sharks. The 21-year old is a silky smooth intelligent forward who has an innate gift for generating offense. Couture dominated the AHL last season but has some questions about whether or not he's going to be a third line or a first line talent in this league.
Ryane Clowe is a power forward who does all the little things that teams covet. Clowe plays an old school physical game that involves roughing up the opposition and playing dirty in front of the net. Clowe isn't the most gifted or consistent scorer but he's a fantastic complimentary player. Joe Pavelski seemingly came out of nowhere to develop into an excellent top six center. The former seventh round pick boasts a balanced scoring acumen with decent vision and an underrated shot. Despite Pavelski's talent, due to the depth of quality forwards for the Sharks he'll likely start on the third line. Torrey Mitchell is a hard working checking center with a bit of a scoring touch. The 25-year old Mitchell has evolved into the Sharks' de facto toolbox player and will likely start the season on the wing for even strength minutes.
The Sharks in the past have loved to sprinkle long time veterans into their lineup to serve in complimentary roles. The most recent of these is defensive center Scott Nichol who's an effective energy player and intergal part of the penalty kill. Recent UFA signee Jamal Mayers has made a name as a hard nosed depth forward who can play any forward position. Mayers will be looked upon to be an asset to the penalty kill and to punish the other team with his gritty style. 22-year old depth winger Frazer McLaren will likely occupy the opposite wing on the fourth line. The huge 6-5 McLaren plays a decent gritty two-way game while displaying a decent pair of fists when needed. McLaren will be looked upon to be something of an enforcer this season for the Sharks.
The Sharks' defense is this team's weakness as it gets rather thin beyond their top two defensemen. Dan Boyle has been one of the best offensive defensemen for the last decade. The 34-year old rearguard is considered to be one of the best powerplay quarterbacks with elite vision and offensive instincts. Boyle is one of the most consistent number one defensemen in the league. 23-year old Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been very impressive since entering the league three years ago. Vlasic is a versatile minute eating defenseman who can play virtually any role asked of him on the backend. Vlasic doesn't excel at any one aspect of the game but is extremely competent in the defensive zone, adequate in the offensive zone, and shows the potential to only get better.
Douglas Murray is a big mean Swedish defenseman who's blossomed into the de facto shutdown defenseman in San Jose. Murray will never threaten to win the Art Ross trophy but he's a consistent physical defenseman who can lock down a defensive zone and intimidate the other team. Murray will be San Jose's main penalty killer on the blue line. The Sharks are excited about 22-year old Jason Demers who displayed a flair for offense in his rookie debut last season. Demers is a puck moving defenseman who excels in the offensive zone while being adequate in the defensive zone. The Sharks will look to Demers to play an expanded role on their blue line and compete for top four minutes.
Rounding out the Sharks' defensive group will be veteran Niclas Wallin who will be asked to play a bigger role in San Jose this year. Wallin is a capable defensive defenseman who plays his best when you don't notice him. The 35-year old has had problems staying healthy through his career with this season being no different. Wallin will be entering the season with an ankle injury but he shouldn't miss any playing time. Big depth defenseman Kent Huskins will likely be a fixture on the Sharks' bottom pairing. Huskins plays a simple game and will safely eat minutes without drawing much attention to himself. 25-year old gritty depth defenseman Mike Moore will likely get his first year in the NHL as the team's seventh defenseman.
The Sharks made a controversial decision to let long-time franchise goaltender Evgeni Nabokov walk this off-season in favor of going with a pair of 27-year old goaltenders who have much potential but even more question marks. The reigning Stanley Cup winning goalie Antti Niemi signed with San Jose this off-season after being unable to come to terms with the Chicago Blackhawks. Niemi is a big technically sound goaltender who excels in pressure situations. However Niemi is largely unknown as a number one since he's only spent one year in North American hockey bouncing between the AHL and NHL last year. Niemi will look to make his case as a top goaltender this year with the Sharks. Competing with him for games between the pipes will be Antero Niittymaki who's been one of the best 1Bs in hockey since his arrival in the league six years ago. Niittymaki put in a heroic effort last season on a sinking ship in Tampa Bay and shows starter potential if he can rise above the plague of injuries which have held him back from more in the NHL.
The Sharks are a team that desperately need to win the Cup. The Sharks are slowing beginning to see their core of playing disappear through free agency or retirement. The clock is ticking for this team. One might even think that they're starting their down swing with the quality of their defense and the question marks in net. Look for them to come in somewhere between 4rd-8th in the league and may god have mercy on their post-season souls.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
Jamie McGinn - 17 G/15 A 32 P
Joe Thornton - 22 G/65 A 87 P
Devin Setoguchi - 28 G/25 A 53 P
Patrick Marleau - 38 G/39 A 77 P
Logan Couture - 19 G/38 A 57 P
Dany Heatley - 41 G/42 A 83 P
Ryane Clowe - 17 G/27 A 44 P
Joe Pavelski - 24 G/24 A 48 P
Torrey Mitchell - 6 G/15 A 21 P
Frazer McLaren - 3 G/11 A 14 P
Scott Nichol - 3 G/14 A 17 P
Jamal Mayers - 4 G/12 A 16 P
Dan Boyle - 14 G/40 A 54 P
Douglas Murray - 3 G/16 A 19 P
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - 4 G/19 A 23 P
Kent Huskins - 2 G/12 A 14 P
Jason Demers - 6 G/22 A 28 P
Niclas Wallin - 0 G/6 A 6 P
Antti Niemi - 26-16-5 | 2.80 GAA | .916 Sv%
Antero Niittymaki - 20-12-3 | 2.90 GAA | .911 Sv%
Thursday, October 7, 2010
2010-2011 Pittsburgh Penguins Preview
|Yeah... This F***ing Guy|
47 wins, 28 losses, 7 OTL, 101 points, 7th overall in the league
The Pittsburgh Penguins are arguably the best team in the world right now. Having gone from the most woeful team in the league to a perennial Stanley Cup contender. While the Penguins are an extremely lucky franchise to have drafted a couple premiere talents and two generational players. The Penguins also have a supreme front office headed by general manager Ray Shero who's made several excellent moves including bringing in head coach Dan Bylsma who had guided this team into an elite company. The only question for the Penguins this year will be can they win their second Stanley Cup in three years?
The Penguins are led up front by arguably the greatest player in the world today Sidney Crosby who's already conquered the hockey world before the age of 23. Crosby is literally such a good player I really don't feel the need to analyze him because you should already know he's a generational hockey talent that eclipses 100 points every season. The Penguins are blessed to not have just one generational talent but two in Evgeni Malkin who could also have a case made that he's arguably the greatest hockey player in the world. Malkin is an uber-talented Russian center who also routinely shatters the 100 point barrier on a yearly basis. What's really intriguing this season is that Crosby and Malkin who normally center the first and second line respectively might play together on the first line with Malkin on the wing. The Penguins are so stacked down the middle that there's a good chance Malkin will move to right wing to accommodate another premiere young center in Jordan Staal who the Penguins want to take a more offensive role this season. Staal was the de facto third line and shut down center for the Penguins. However the Penguins feel the 6-4 22-year old has too much offensive upside to not give him a role in the top six. Look for Staal to center the Penguins' second line when he returns in three months from a foot injury.
Chris Kunitz found his way to the Penguins last season to finally get Crosby a decent winger. Kunitz is a tenacious complimentary winger with a bit of a dark side to his game. Kunitz isn't a natural scorer but makes up for it with his hard work and defensive play. Pascal Dupuis is a depth winger who managed to click with Crosby after bouncing around the league. Dupuis is another hard working gritty player known for his board work and forechecking. It's not a certainty that he'll remain on Crosby's line through the season but he will start there. Mike Comrie was signed as a moneypuck acquisition this off-season to supplement the talent in the top nine. Originally intended to be the third line center Comie has been bumped up to the second line pivot in lieu of Staal's injury. Comrie is a versatile complimentary scorer who could shift to the wing if needed.
Matt Cooke has become one of the biggest villains in the game. The hard working grinder is known for throwing questionable hits and for shirking retribution. Cooke will be a fixture on the third line while providing some reasonable offensive pop. Likely occupying the opposite wing will be gritty grinder Aaron Asham who's known for his hard work along the boards and for being one of the best middleweight fighters in the league. Asham is another player who can pop a respectable amount of points for a bottom six player. Maxime Talbot has blossomed into a very effective two-way gritty forward and will likely now be the de facto defensive center with Staal moving up the depth chart.
Rounding out the forwards group is Michael Rupp who's a big bodied hard nosed power forward who who will be a fixture on the fourth line. Enforcer Eric Godard will be providing protection for the Penguins' star players. Tyler Kennedy is a fantastic bottom six grinder who displays endless energy on the ice and will bounce between the third and fourth line. Depth center Mark Letestu made the team out of training camp and will start out centering the third line. Youngster Eric Tangradi seemed likely to be a fixture in the Penguins' top six this year but was a cap causality. Although the Penguins may call him back up when injuries strike. Depth defensive player Craig Adams will look to factor into some games and help out on the penalty kill.
The Penguins had arguably the best off-season of any team in the league signing two of the most talented defensemen on the UFA market. Paul Martin has spent years as one of the most underrated players in the game as New Jersey's number one defenseman. Martin is a minute eating defenseman who can play in all three zones and excels in the offensive zone. Martin is going to be a huge addition to the Penguins powerplay and transition game. Zbynek Michalek has quietly been one of the best defensive defensemen in the game and will be the de facto shutdown defenseman for Pittsburgh. Michalek has limited upside in the offensive zone but will likely be paired with Martin to free up his offensive game.
The Penguins are blessed to have two premiere offensive defensemen under 25-years old. Kris Letang has become a intergal part of the Penguins' blue line since his arrival on the team three years ago. Letang is fast skating puck moving defenseman who is decent in virtually every aspect of the game. The 23-year old shows the potential have a break out season with his off-ice training and focus on improving on the power play. Alex Goligoski has developed into perhaps the best offensive defenseman on the Penguins' back end. The 25-year old puck moving defenseman defined himself last year with a 37 point campaign. It seems likely that Goligoski could shatter the 40 point barrier this year with greater opportunity for offensive minutes with the departure of previous de facto PP QB Sergei Gonchar this off-season.
Brooks Orpik is a premiere shutdown defenseman who also brings a physical style of hockey to the game. The 30-year old American defenseman is also a first tier shot blocker and brings a surprising offensive game for a defensive oriented player. Orpik will be one of the key defenders on the penalty kill for the Penguins while logging a lot of even strength minutes with one of the young offensive defensemen. Depth defender Deryk Engelland will likely take the sixth spot on the depth chart. Engelland is a physical defensive oriented defenseman who has no problem dropping the gloves to protect teammates. Ben Lovejoy is a puck moving defenseman who will likely be the Penguins' seventh defenseman.
Marc-Andre Fleury is an enigmatic goaltender who's been through the best of times and the worst of times in his hockey career. The 25-year old Fleury has already won a Stanley Cup and has the talent to be the best goaltender in the world on any given night. However he's prone to inconsistency while giving up soul crushing goals at the absolute worst time. Fleury had a very rocky season last year performing far below his expectations and got pulled in the Penguins' final game of the season. With the Penguins' new defensive core look for Fleury to have a bounce back season. Backing up Fleury will be veteran netminder Brent Johnson who's bounced around the leagues as a venerable number two. Look for Johnson to get 20-25 games this season.
The Penguins are arguably the best team in the league with a top three offense and a top five defense. This team's season doesn't begin until April. Look for them to come in somewhere between 1st-5th in the league.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
Chris Kunitz - 26 G/34 A 60 P
Sidney Crosby - 55 G/60 A 115 P
Pascal Dupuis - 16 G/20 A 36 P
Eric Tangradi - 10 G/18 A 28 P
Mike Comrie - 20 G/24 A 44 P
Evgeni Malkin - 49 G/55 A 104 P
Matt Cooke - 13 G/16 A 29 P
Mark Letestu - 7 G/14 A 21 P
Tyler Kennedy - 13 G/10 A 23 P
Michael Rupp - 10 G/10 A 20 P
Maxime Talbot - 3 G/7 A 10 P
Eric Godard - 0 G/3 A 3 P
Jordan Staal - 21 G/33 A 54 P
Aaron Asham - 9 G/13 A 22 P
Craig Adams - 0 G/9 A 9 P
Paul Martin - 4 G/33 A 37 P
Zybnek Michalek - 4 G/24 A 28 P
Brooks Orpik - 1 G/23 A 24 P
Kris Letang - 11 G/30 A 41 P
Alex Goligoski - 9 G/30 A 39 P
Deryk Engelland - 0 G/7 A 7 P
Ben Lovejoy - 1 G/15 A 16 P
Marc-Andre Fleury - 39-24-2 | 2.63 GAA | .910 Sv%
Brent Johnson - 11-5-1 | 2.80 GAA | .904 Sv%
2010-2011 Phoenix Coyotes Preview
|From Russia with Love baby|
50 wins, 25 losses, 7 OTL, 107 points, 4th overall in the league
The Phoenix Coyotes are a rags to riches team in the NHL. Facing severe economic pressure in the non-traditional Arizona market the league itself took control of the team last season and the Coyotes responded with it's first playoff appearance in seven years. The Coyotes seem to be a team on the upswing with intelligent moneypuck decisions and a nice influx of youth. The pressure on this team is paramount though because the Coyotes are not only playing to win the Stanley Cup but they're playing to keep this team in Phoenix. The question for the Coyotes is can they keep this momentum from last season and become a profitable team?
The Coyotes are led up front by captain Shane Doan who's the absolute epitome of what a hockey player should be. Doan is a gritty goal scoring winger with a flair for clutch play. The 33-year old also has a wealth of international experience but struggles with scoring consistency. Kyle Turris has been the subject of much hype since being drafted third overall in 2007 but has needed some time to refine his game in the AHL. The young speedy center offers a excellent offensive game with both creative vision and an underrated shot. Turris has made the team out of camp and looks to be a fixture in the Coyotes top six. Keep your eye on this kid as he's gone off a lot of people's radars but has huge sleeper potential. Likely to start on the first line will be Polish scorer Wojtek Wolski who was acquired last season in a change of scenery trade with the Avalanche. Wolski blossomed on the Coyotes scoring 18 points in 18 games while having a respectable playoffs. Wolski will bounce between the top two lines while being a significant contributor on offense.
Competing with Turris for top six center minutes is 23-year old Martin Hanzal who's an excellent two-way center with a 6-5 big bodied frame. The former 17th overall pick has struggled to find his scoring touch in the league but remains a candidate to break out this season if he can bring a consistent effort every night. Hanzal is also one of those rare skill players who will attain a high penalty minutes count each season. Radim Vrbata has found a home in Phoenix seeming to only play well for that team. The Czech sniper had a solid bounce back season with the Coyotes last year after bouncing around three teams and two continents. Vrbata is a player who gets his goals simply through sheer volume of shots on net and is a decent complimentray scorer for the Coyotes. Ray Whitney was brought in this off-season as another intelligent moneypuck move by the Coyotes brass. The 38-year old Whitney has quietly been one of the most consistent scorers over his near two decades of professional hockey and will be looked upon to mentor the kids in Phoenix this year.
Another intelligent moneypuck decision was to bring in gritty two-way center Eric Belanger who arrived in Phoenix after a contract spat with the Washington Capitals this off-season. Belanger is an intelligent hard nosed player who's competent in all three zones while being able to contribute on both special teams. Taylor Pyatt has never lived up to his eighth overall draft hype but has been yet another intelligent moneypuck move for the Coyotes when he was brought in as a free agent last season. Pyatt is a large 6-4 winger who's developed into a tool box player being able to contribute in any role he's placed in. Pyatt is also known for his excellent board work and pretty eyes but has never found a scoring touch in the NHL. Lee Stempniak is another player who seems to have discovered the Fountain of Decency in Phoenix. Arriving last season in a trade from Toronto, the 27-year old sniper exploded for 14 goals and 18 points in 18 games with Phoenix. Stempniak has bounced around the league in the last few years having been unable to find scoring consistency but remains a player who could explode offensively in the right situation.
Vernon Fiddler was yet another intelligent moneypuck signing for the Coyotes having developed into one of the better defensive centers in the game. Fiddler will be the de facto penalty killer of the forwards group with his strong hard-nosed defensive play. Petr Prucha has managed to hang in the NHL as a complimentary sniper but has never been able to find the consistency to live up to innate talents. Prucha will likely factor in the Coyotes lineup bouncing around the depth chart through the season. Scottie Upshall will be returning to the Coyotes this season after a hellish knee injury ended what was shaping to be the best season of his career. Upshall scored 32 points in 49 games last season and seems poised to be a sleeper this year if he can find the same scoring touch.
Rounding out the forwards group is Internet UberGod Paul Bissonnette who will be the Coyotes' enforcer this season. Defensive forward Lauri Korpikoski will also factor into the Coytoes' lineup for a significant number of games this season.
Leading the defensive group is former first overall pick Ed Jovanovski who is probably one of the most naturally talented players in the game. Jovanovski offers excellent physical and offensive play however Jovanoski has garnered the nickname "Special Ed" for his defensive zone work. Keith Yandle has come out of nowhere to suddenly be one of the finest offensive defensemen in the game. The 24-year old Yandle exploded with 41 points from the blue line last season. The scary thing is there's a good chance Yandle will improve upon those numbers this season.
This season will be the first for highly touted prospect Oliver Ekman-Larsson who was drafted sixth overall in 2009. Ekman-Larsson has made the team out of camp and offers a very intelligent smooth skating game reminiscent of a young Joni Pitkanen. Ekman-Larsson remains one of the most promising defensive prospects in the game and it's going to be an absolute joy watching him progress in Phoenix this year. Likely playing with Ekman-Larsson will be long time veteran Adrian Aucoin who's been a rock of consistency through his NHL career. The 37-year old Aucoin doesn't necessarily excel at any one aspect of the game but he safely contributes 20+ minutes of worry free hockey a night.
In another intelligent moneypuck move the Coyotes acquired retread Derek Morris from the Boston Bruins last season. Morris is a capable three zone defensemen who can safely play any role asked of him. With the depth on the Coyotes blue line Morris is in a great situation to have a career year for the Coyotes. 25-year old Sami Lepisto found a home with the Coyotes last year after bouncing around in the Washington Capitals' system. Lepisto is a talented puck moving defenseman who displays a strong three zone acumen but hasn't been able to discover himself in the NHL yet.
The Phoenix Coytoes were ridiculously lucky in 2007 when they acquired franchise netminder Ilya Bryzgalov from waivers. Bryzgalov has blossomed into an elite goaltender for the Coyotes coming second in Vezina Trophy voting last season. The 30-year old Russian netminder is an uber-talented big goalie who can absolutely dominate games when he's at his best. Bryzgalov also has a fantastic mindset for the game and behind the Coyotes excellent defense looks poised to have another top five season. Backing up Bryzgalov will be long time number two Jason LaBarbera who has put together two great seasons after bouncing around various leagues and teams for the last decade. LaBarbera will tender some decent performances in his 15-20 games this season.
The key word for this team is "depth" as the Coyotes don't have elite talent in their forward or defensive core but have several top tier players and promising prospects. This season is going to be fun for the Coyotes' faithful and hockey fans in general to watch the progression of Turris and OEL through the season. It's hard to imagine this team will repeat it's epic performance of last year. However this team remains a strong playoff threat. Look for them to come in somewhere between 7th-13th in the league.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
Wojtek Wolski - 26 G/31 A 57 P
Kyle Turris - 22 G/35 A 57 P
Shane Doan - 23 G/38 A 61 P
Ray Whitney - 19 G/35 A 54 P
Martin Hanzal - 14 G/29 A 43 P
Radim Vrbata - 26 G/21 A 47 P
Scottie Upshall - 21 G/19 A 40 P
Eric Belanger - 14 G/25 A 39 P
Lee Stempniak - 22 G/18 A 40 P
Taylor Pyatt - 13 G/14 A 27 P
Vernon Fiddler - 7 G/20 A 27 P
Petr Prucha - 9 G/10 A 19 P
Paul Bissonnette - 2 G/2 A 4 P
Lauri Korpikoski - 3 G/5 A 8 P
Keith Yandle - 13 G/35 A 48 P
Derek Morris - 3 G/30 A 33 P
Ed Jovanovski - 9 G/22 A 31 P
Sami Lepisto - 2 G/15 A 17 P
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - 5 G/19 A 24 P
Adrian Aucoin - 6 G/19 A 25 P
Ilya Bryzgalov - 40-23-5 | 2.36 GAA | .921 Sv%
Jason LaBarbera - 6-5-2 | 2.68 GAA | .917 Sv%
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
2010-2011 Philadelphia Flyers Preview
Last Year's Results
41 wins, 35 losses, 6 OTL, 88 points, 14th overall in the league
The Broad Street Bullies have consistently been one of the powerhouse teams in the league since the team's inception in 1967 and have only missed the playoffs once in the last fifteen years. The Flyers are entering the year after a miracle run to the finals. The Flyers were lucky last year to sign former Stanley Cup winning head coach Peter Laviolette mid-season who saved the ship that was sinking under former coach John Stevens. The Flyers are a very well balanced team boasting one of the best forward and defense groups but they still lack that franchise netminder which has been the number one problem in Philly since the departure of Ron Hextall over a decade ago. The Flyers enter the season as one of the premiere teams in the league but with serious questions in net.
Leading down the middle is Flyers captain Mike Richards who's evolved into one of the best players in the game. Richards is a gritty two-way center who will contribute a point per game while displaying a keen defensive acumen. Richards is the absolute personification of what a hockey player should be while being only 25-years old with the potential to get even better.. The Flyers are extremely lucky to have another premiere 25-year old center in Jeff Carter who's become one of the most consistent goal scorers in the league. Carter may get significant time on Richards' wing this season as the Flyers have so much offensive depth they can afford to have their two best offensive players together. Likely getting significant time on the first line will be former second overall pick 21-year old James van Riemsdyk who had a respectable 35 point campaign in his rookie debut last year. JVR boasts excellent size and plays a strong power forward game in front of the net. it seems very likely that this will be the break out season for the young American power forward.
Daniel Briere was a force of nature in the playoffs last year. The small scoring forward was the target of ridicule and loathing by the Philly Faithful for his large contract contrasting his place on the depth chart. However the critics turned into believers when Briere scored 30 points in 23 games and spearheaded arguably the best line of the post-season. Briere will be entering the season as the Flyers' second line center showing elite offensive instincts but stricken at times with inconsistency. Playing on Briere's line will be Scott Hartnell who also had a fantastic post-season. Hartnell is the embodiment of a Philadelphia Flyer with his gritty approach to the game and a high penalty minutes count. Hartnell is one of those rare players who will consistently score 40 points while notching 100 penalty minutes every season. Completing this line will be 26-year old surprise Ville Leino who was quickly approaching bust territory before coming out of nowhere to score 21 points in 19 games in the playoffs. Leino is a tough player to project as his post-season performance last year was such an aberration in comparison to the rest of his North American hockey career. Leino will be a fantastic complimentary scorer if he can maintain the magic he found for himself in the post-season but I remain skeptical. Look for Leino to bounce around the Flyers depth chart this season.
Claude Giroux is yet another talented player who arrived to prominence last year after being developed in the Flyers' system. The 22-year old former 22nd overall pick displays flashes of creative brilliance in the offensive zone but still lacks polish to his game. Giroux was another post-season warrior scoring 21 points in 23 games in a complimentary role. The Flyers made a strange move signing former NHL defector Nikolai Zherdev from the KHL this season. The 25-year old former fourth overall pick is stereotypical Eastern European skill winger in that he oozes offensive skill but lacks the work ethic or polish in his game to fully utilize his innate abilities. Look for Zhedrev to bounce all over the top three lines for Philly. Also likely to bounce around the depth chart is agitating winger Daniel Carcillo who's another classic Flyers player. The agitating winger has embraced his role as the Flyers' villian and has the ability to enrage the opposing team. Carcillo also offers a respectable two-way game but would be a better player if he wasn't so focused on being a pest.
Rounding out the Flyers' forwards group is Blair Betts who will be the de facto defensive center on the fouth line. Depth forwards Darroll Power and Andreas Nodl will likely get significant time on the wings on the fourth line. Recent UFA signee and veteran enforcer Jody Shelley will bring his fists to Philly for 50 something games this year. Gritty grinder Ian Laperriere's career is in doubt as he's facing serious PCS and remains "sidelined indefinitely."
The Flyers achieved an absolute coup acquiring arguably the best defenseman in the game trading for Chris Pronger last season. Pronger was born to be a Flyer with his hard nosed approach to the game and his in your face physical play. Pronger will once again be among the top names in statistical categories for defensemen and hall of famer when he retires. The Flyers are fortunate to have another legit number one defeseman in Kimmo Timonen who's been on of the most consistent point producers from the blue line through his career. Timonen will likely anchor the second pairing with Pronger on the first.
The Flyers made two absolute steals to acquire two premiere young defensemen. Braydon Coburn has had difficulty living up to his eighth overall status but blossomed under Laviolette in the second half of the season last year. Coburn is a big bodied defenseman who can play a respectable game in all three zones while occasionally displaying a mean streak. The 25-year old Coburn has been used primarily as a shutdown defenseman has shown the potential to be more. It will be interesting to see how Coburn fares this season as it could be a career defining campaign for him. Matt Carle had one of the best seasons of his career scoring 35 points and playing excellent hockey last year. The 26-year old offensive defenseman has absolutely excelled in Philly as Pronger's defensive partner and will once again see significant offensive minutes in the Flyers' top four.
The Flyers made a pair of strange trades this off-season bringing in two defensemen from Tampa Bay. Andrej Meszaros looked to be on his way to becoming a premiere offensive defenseman in the league before becoming a train wreck in a bad situation in Tampa Bay. 24-year old Meszaros stands a decent chance of having a bounce back season in a premiere system like Philadelphia but it's going to be hard to shake the two years of hockey hell in Tampa Bay. The Flyers also acquired physical defensive defenseman Matt Walker from the Lightning. Walker is a gritty big bodied presence who's not afraid to protect teammates but lacks the skill to be much more than a depth defender. The acquisition is particularly puzzling as it pushes Philly right to the edge of the cap. The Flyers signed 38-year old training camp invitee Sean O'Donnell this pre-season. The long time vet offers a gritty defensive oriented game and veteran leadership. O'Donnell will be a fixture on the Flyers' bottom pairing but is beginning to grind down from nearly two decades of professional hockey. 23-year old Oskars Bartulis will look to factor into the Flyers' lineup as a depth defenseman.
Now here's where this article gets interesting. The trades with Tampa Bay are even more perplexing in that Philly already had one of the best defenses in the league yet are absolutely woeful in net. 29-year old Michael Leighton has bounced around the league as a reserve and AHL goaltender before exploding out of nowhere at the perfect time for Philly after a string of injuries brought him to the starting role last season. Leighton's performance last year is one of the stranger abberations in my memory and it seems unlikely he'll be able to duplicate his fantastic numbers from last season. However the Flyers will look to him to be their 1A entering the season. Leighton unfortunately suffered a back injury in training camp and will be out for the first month of the season. This has opened the door for another long time backup who's bounced around the league Brian Boucher to get the starting job heading into the season. Boucher has been one of the most perplexing goalies through his career going through stretches where he's the best goalie in the world to stretches where he's the worst goalie in the world. Boucher will likely consistentally be the 1B through the season but the consistency of his play remains in question. The real wildcard of Philly's netminders is 22-year old Sergei Bobrovsky who was signed out of the KHL this season and already is something of a fan favorite among the Flyers faithful. Bobrovski has distinguished himself in international competition while achieving excellent numbers on a god awful KHL team. It's this writer's opinion that Bobrovsky is the most talented netminder in the Philly system but may endure some mid-air turbulence adapting to the North American game. Due to Leighton's injury and a fantastic training camp Bob is entering the season as the backup to Boucher who's consistency we've already discussed. Keep your eyes on this kid as he has huge sleeper potential at the time of this writing.
The Flyers have a heck of a team this season with a top five offense and defense. The Flyers also are finally in the hands of a capable coach who coaxed an incredible performance out of this group last season. However the Flyers still have some serious questions in net. The Flyers will be a regular season powerhouse but must prove that their key players can repeat their success from last year's post-season. Look for the Flyers to come in somewhere between 3rd-7th in the league and potentially be a cup favorite if one of their three goalies can get hot again at the right time.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
James van Riemsdyk - 24 G/36 A 60 P
Mike Richards - 34 G/50 A 84 P
Jeff Carter - 45 G/40 A 85 P
Scott Hartnell - 25 G/25 A 50 P
Daniel Briere - 28 G/33 A 61 P
Ville Leino - 15 G/16 A 31 P
Dan Carcillo - 10 G/16 A 26 P
Claude Giroux - 21 G/33 A 54 P
Nikolai Zherdev - 23 G/27 A 50 P
Jody Shelley - 1 G/6 A 7 P
Blair Betts - 5 G/10 A 15 P
Darroll Powe - 8 G/8 A 16 P
Chris Pronger - 12 G/40 A 52 P
Matt Carle - 5 G/30 A 35 P
Kimmo Timonen - 6 G/38 A 44 P
Braydon Coburn - 6 G/20 A 26 P
Andrej Meszaros - 5 G/19 A 24 P
Sean O'Donnell - 2 G/10 A 12 P
Matt Walker - 0 G/6 A 6 P
Michael Leighton - 20-12-3 | 2.78 GAA | .908 Sv%
Brian Boucher - 5-9-1 | 3.10 GAA | .896 Sv%
Sergei Bobrovski - 19-11-2 | 2.63 GAA | .913 Sv%
Monday, October 4, 2010
2010-2011 Ottawa Senators Preview
|That "Other" Canadian team|
Last Year's Results
44 wins, 32 losses, 6 OTL, 94 points, 11th overall in the league
The Senators are a team that always seem to be a good middle of the pack playoff contender but lack the depth and identity to go deep in the post-season. The Senators have blended into the NHL landscape in recent years treading water. The question for the Senators this season will be can they find the right mix to make this a franchise defining season and go deep in the playoffs.
The Senators are led up front by former second overall pick Jason Spezza who's developed into one of the best playmaking centers in the game. Spezza has been one of the most consistent point producers since entering the league and absolutely tore up the pre-season with seven points in three games. Playing with Spezza to form one of the finest duos in the league is 37-year old Daniel Alfredsson who also wears the C for the Senators. Alfredsson is an uber-talented winger who plays the smooth Swedish two-way game while still putting up elite offensive numbers at his advanced age. A milestone is nearing for Alfredsson as he's entering the season at 992 career points and should reach the historical marker of 1,000 early this year. Milan Michalek was acquired in a controversial trade with San Jose last off-season and will likely compliment the first line. Michalek is a streaky skill player who's struggled with scoring consistency through his career and had a disappointing season last year. The 25-year old Czech scorer hasn't really found his place on the Senators and is entering the season coming off a torn ACL. Look for Michalek to bounce around the depth chart.
Anchoring the second line is gritty heart and soul player Mike Fisher who's developed into one of the best two-way centers in the game. While Fisher isn't a naturally talented offensive player, he makes up for this with hard work and tenacity. Fisher had a career year offensively last season and remains a player to watch. Playing with Fisher will be veteran Russian scorer Alex Kovalev who's probably the most enigmatic player in the league. Kovalev is the very model for the stereotypical Eastern European winger with a world class skill set but trouble translating his game to the NHL. Kovalev is another player returning from a torn ACL and at 37-years old one has to wonder what he has left in the tank. Likely bouncing between the top two lines will be 24-year old Peter Regin who's become something of a fan favorite in Ottawa. Regin has been in the Coach's doghouse with a lousy pre-season but has the skill to be a factor for the Senators' offense.
The hard-working former 28th overall Nick Foligno absolutely exploded this pre-season and looks to be capitalizing on an opportunity for top six minutes. Foligno has never been considered a premiere offensive talent but seems to be the most likely forward to break out bouncing between the top three lines in Ottawa. Agitating grinder Jarkko Ruutu is a misunderstood genius in the game of hockey. The 35-year old Fin is one of the most infuriating players to play against while displaying a gritty defensive game and a flair for the dramatic. Ruutu is another Senator close to reaching a milestone as he sits at 981 career penalty minutes and will likely eclipse 1,000 career pims early in the season. Role player Chris Kelly is the tool box player for the Senators. Kelly can play any forward position in any role while displaying a consistent two-way game and a surprising scoring touch.
Rounding out the forwards group is gritty pugilist Chris Neil who's one of the more skilled enforcers in the league. Hard working defensive center 22-year old Zack Smith will likely center the fourth line. Depth forward Ryan Shannon finally found a NHL home in Ottawa and will look to bounce around the depth chart playing both wings. Defensive minded Jesse Winchester will likely fill in as the thirteen forward.
Leading the Senators blue line will be recent UFA signee Sergei Gonchar who's consistently been one of the best offensive defensemen in his time in the league. The 36-year old Gonchar is beginning to slow with age but will once again be a top point producing blueliner this year. Gonchar was likely brought in to mentor former 15th overall pick Erik Karlson who's the most likely Senator to breakout. The 20-year old Karlson was impressive in his debut last year and remains one of the most encouraging young blueliners in the league. Karlson already owns a cannon of a shot (recent clocked at 104 m.p.h.) and seems to be poised for a huge offensive season this year.
Moving between Gonchar and Karlson as partners will be lifetime Senator Chris Phillips who's also a former first overall pick. Phillips never lived up to his draft hype but instead blossomed into one of the finest defensive defensemen in the league. Phillips will once again be counted upon to be the Senators shutdown defenseman. 33-year old Filip Kuba has always been one of the finest second tier defensemen in the league and will likely be a fixture on the Senators' second pairing. Kuba is a big bodied minutes eater with an excellent offensive acumen. Unfortunately Kuba broke his leg this pre-season and will likely miss the first month of the season.
Rounding out the defensive core will be surprise Chris Campoli who entered this pre-season playing out of his mind scoring eight points from the backend. Campoli will likely eat minutes on the bottom pairing while contributing his solid puck moving abilities on the second powerplay unit. Likely playing with Campoli is heavyweight pugilist Matt Carkner who exploded into the league with 24 fights last season. Carkner is adequate enough in the defensive zone to allow his main gift of punching people in the face to shine. Former ninth overall pick Brian Lee and depth defensive defenseman David Hale will likely fill in as the seventh and eighth defensemen.
The Senators have a controversy in net without a clear cut number one starter. The Senators will rely upon a 1A/1B system in the hopes that at any given time one of their goalies will be hot. Likely to get the bulk of starts will be former eighth overall pick Pascal Leclaire who hasn't been able to find consistency in the pro game. Leclaire is one of the streakiest goalies in the league and likely get 40 games this season. Competing with Leclaire is 25-year old Brian Elliot who did a respectable job in his 55 games for the Senators last season. Elliot lacks the talent to be a top starter in this league but has the consistency that will make him the Senators best option on most nights.
The Senators quietly have a balanced and hard working team. However the Senators have invested greatly in injury prone, older, and inconsistent players. The challenge for the Senators this season will be to find the right mix of chemistry and to coax strong performances out of it's veterans. Right now the Senators are a bubble playoff team. Look for them to come in somewhere between 15th-20th this year.
BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup
Milan Michalek - 24 G/25 A 49 P
Jason Spezza - 22 G/59 A 71 P
Daniel Alfredsson - 29 G/41 A 70 P
Nick Foligno - 17 G/21 A 38 P
Mike Fisher - 26 G/30 A 56 P
Alex Kovalev - 19 G/38 A 57 P
Peter Regin - 13 G/23 A 36 P
Chris Kelly - 14 G/19 A 33 P
Ryan Shannon - 7 G/12 A 19 P
Jarkko Ruutu - 10 G/16 A 26 P
Zack Smith - 2 G/7 A 9 P
Chris Neil - 9 G/10 A 19 P
Chris Phillips - 7 G/19 A 26 P
Erik Karlson - 9 G/28 A 37 P
Sergei Gonchar - 14 G/39 A 53 P
Filip Kuba - 4 G/22 A 26 P
Chris Campoli - 2 G/19 A 21 P
Mart Carkner - 0 G/5 A 5 P
Brian Lee - 0 G/6 A 6 P
Brian Elliot - 26-25-5 | 2.71 GAA | .910 Sv%
Pascal Leclaire - 10-13-3 | 3.10 GAA | .897 Sv%
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