Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Glen and Troy Pre-Season Predictacular - Southeast

Hey remember these? Well you can be excused if you have forgotten about these since both Troy and I have been having some pretty tough conflicting schedules. Anyway, after a few weeks we continue our preview of the NHL's separate divisions as we look at the last and least division, the South East. Enjoy...

Glen says:

Ahh the Eastern Conferences bastard cousin, the SouthLeast...errr Southeast Division. A division which has been lucky to get two teams into the playoffs, but seems to be full of recent Stanley Cup Champions, so very bizarre. Anyway, last year's division champions, the Atlanta Thrashers, broke the tradition of winning the Southeast and winning the Cup by getting swept out by the New York Rangers. Many of the teams in this division tinkered with their teams, but none of them made full make-overs.

The Washington Capitals, home of the NHL's most exciting duo of players who share the same first name, Alexander Ovechkin and Semin, where definitely the team that came the closest to a full-scale overhaul. They were able to add Tom Poti, Vicktor Kozlov, and Michael Nylander to give them some much needed depth, and they should be a very competitive team this season. While they drastically upped their offence, I think that their defense is still lacking, and one must also wonder just how much longer Olaf Kolzig can keep playing. The brother is 37 years old after all. I think that a late season push will be in order for the Caps, but ultimately I see them falling short of the big dance.

Speaking of falling short, we have last seasons kings of crash and burn, the Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers massively paid too much for Keith Tkachuk, only to see him go right back to St. Louis. They replaced him up front with uhhh...Todd White? That's a huge step down and I think that over the long term this team will regret trading away for ol' Keithy, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I think that the Thrashers will once again have a good regular season courtesy of Kovalchuk, Hossa, and Lehtonen. I could see them making some big trades in the regular season to try and shore up for the playoffs. When I look up and down this division a bit more I can say with confidence that these guys will take the title, which really doesn't say a heck of a lot.

Also on the crash and burn front we have the 2006 Stanley Cup Champion, Carolina Hurricanes. It's hard to look at the roster and believe that this is the team that overcame some pretty tough odds en route to hoisting the hardware some 15 months ago. They really didn't make a ton of changes in this past off-season, which probably means that they will once again miss the playoffs.

Does anyone remember when the Florida Panthers last made the playoffs? I think that it was in the year 2000 when they got stomped out in the first round by the eventual champion Devils. Anyway, their run of early season golf tournaments should continue a little bit longer. While Richard Zednik was a solid addition and Thomas Vokoun could be a great one, it won't be nearly enough to get them over the hump. Still this team has a promising young defence and a capable coach in Jacques Martin, so they will probably spend the year in the spoiler role. Not a bad role, but nowhere near the role that they will want to be in.

The Panthers cross-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been much more successful in recent years, including a Stanley Cup in 2005. However, since the Lockout they have been in a fair amount of trouble and I think that it all comes from their insistence on keeping their "Big 3" of St. Louis, LeCavalier and Richards. While all three of them are fantastic players, every season they seem to loose more and more of their supporting cast as this season they lost Fedotenko and Sarich. Richards spent most of last year underachieving in a bad way and his name kept surfacing in a series of trade rumours and you have to wonder just how much longer he will remain a member of the Bolts. Either way, he needs to step it up from last season in a bad way. There really is only so much that the other two can do in order to keep this team competitive. I think that this team will have a long season and will probably not be playing this spring.

So this division continues to be kind of lame but I think that it will end up looking like this:

1. Atlanta Thrashers
2. Washington Capitals
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Carolina Hurricanes
5. Florida Panthers

Troy says:

Well this division is usually the suckiest in hockey and this season will most likely be no different. For the most part the teams stayed pat in the off season with Washington making the biggest changes. By the way, I'm aware that two of the last three Cup winners were from the Southeast but that doesn't matter because I refuse to acknowledge Tampa Bay and Carolina as Stanley Cup Champions. Suck my balls.

Washington Capitals.

First thing, the Retry unies.....lovin' it!! Second thing...Kolzig....is he still kickin'? Good on ya mate. Ovechkin and Semin are bona fide superstars and if you look through NHL most dynasty teams have a great One - Two punch. It's certainly too early to be tossing the word dynasty around but nonetheless this team could be very good very soon. Washington did a lot of work in the off season adding a lot of veteran leadership which should blend with the youthful exuberance and make this team tough to play against.

Atlanta Thrashers

Well last season was a bitter sweet one for the Thrashers. They made the playoffs for the first time, and paid a heck of a high price to make it, but then they lost to the Rangers in four straight. That's gotta hurt. Worst of all their star acquisition, Keith Tkachuk, went right back to St. Louis in the off season. Dems da breaks I guess. They replaced Tkachuck with Todd White. I like Todd White, but a Tkachuk he is not.

The good news is that they play in the Southeast which is a division Glen and I could win blindfolded with both hands tied behind our backs. (We all know I would carry that team, Glen's just the eye candy. He's got no heart) So considering their competition Atlanta should take this division but unless they add something major during the season they will most likely fall flat on their face as they did last season. But again, things can't be all that bad when you've got the likes of Kovalchuk and Hossa upfront with Lehtonen manning the net.

Carolina Hurricanes

You can argue that the fact that a team can win the cup one year, and then miss the playoffs the next is a testament to the parity in the league now which may have a slice of truth attached to it but I prefer to think that it's a testament to how Carolina just plain sucks. But perhaps I'm biased. Either way it was a rather large embarrassment for the Canes and what did they do to remedy the situation? Precisely nothing. The added Matt Cullen but I don't see him being the catalyst they need. This is probably going to be a tough year to be a Hurricanes' fan.

Florida Panthers

Glen seems to have a rather gloomy outlook on this team but me not so much. This is a team with a lot of solid young talent. Jokinen, Horton, Weiss, and Bouwmeester all had career years and if they continue to realize their potential they could get good fast. You put Tomas Vokoun in the net and this team could give some head coaches a headache or two. This team could be nipping at heels when it comes playoff time.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Statistically last season was great for Lecavalier and St. Louis but not for Richards. He was consistent, but didn't put up the numbers expected of him which made it a tough year for the Lightning. Rumours abounded this off season about where the "Big 3" would end up but in the end GM Jay Feaster kept them all together while trying to bolster the supporting cast. Unfortunately I'm not sure they actually improved at all over the off season so the only way this team will better last year is if the Big 3 carries the team on their shoulders. How long can they keep doing it? Well we'll soon find out. The goaltending ever since Khabibulin left has been inconsistent to say the least and Feaster did nothing to address this. Look for this to be a long season for TBay.

Here's how I see it shakin' down.

1. Atlanta Thrashers
2. Florida Panthers
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Washington Capitals
5. Carolina Hurricanes

Can't say I copied you this time Glenny!!!
Glen says:
Until next time,
Achieved Division Previews
Western Divisions Coming Soon....

1 comment:

Robbblog said...

Damn that division outsider of the two Alexander's in Washington make me go YAWN!!!