Cornwall ON – From the start of round 3 it looks like the NHL Gods want this season over sooner than later and that it will be a Flyer Blackhawk final.
Both teams have jumped out to 2-0 leads in their series with the Flyer’s shutting out Montreal for the 2nd game in a row while Chicago doubled SJ in San Jose 4-2 despite two goals by upcoming free agent Patrick Marleau.
You know if the Habs fold in four there’s no shame. These smurfs have played way over their head and given Montreal fans their money’s worth this season; especially heroes like Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, and of course Jaroslav Halak.
I’m not mentioning the high paid guys because, well, they are supposed to excel and that’s why they get the big bucks. Now it’s time to see if Montreal can weave some magic and not get swept. First step is to actually score a goal against the Michael Leighton goaled Flyers.
What do you think Canada, are these series going to be sweeps and do you think the Flyers can beat the Sharks?
Here were my predictions from October 1 of last year as the first pucks were going to drop.
1st Place and Stanley Cup Champions – Unless the plane crashes I don’t think anyone in the league can touch the Flyers. The Flyers this year look like they’ll be able to do it all, and if they can’t for some reason I have a hunch their GM will get them the horses who can.
Ray Emery I am predicting here will be the hero of this team this season. If the man can play for any NHL team this is the one and if gets out of line Chris Pronger is not someone I’d want upset with me. When you look at Boston you look at Chara. Well if Chara goes down, as giants sometimes do, Boston is cooked. As good as Pronger is, even at his age, this team still has so many different ways to beat you; especially if Danny Briere is back, which it looks like he is.
It’s going to be a good year to be a Philadelphia Season ticket holder.
2nd Place: Washington Capitals – Ovechkin, Ovechkin, and dem guys Actually Washington keeps getting better each year. I really do like their defense. It’s not glamorous , but effective, at least on paper. If Pothier can regain his form that should take some pressure off of Greene. And I think Theodore isn’t quite done. Big question mark is Nylander. That could make or break their season. I just don’t see Washington besting Philly.
3rd: Pittsburgh Penguins – Crosby is already hurt; Malkin is Malkin. This year Staal needs to get his game into overdrive for the Penguins to fly; and Gonchar has to not be hurt. He’s also another year older and it’s a big vulnerability for the Penguins as their defense is looking very thin this year.
4th: Boston Bruins – Darn that was hard to type. As long as Chara is healthy the Bruins stay an elite team. I like their coach. I like their depth although this year a lot of their depth players have some holes or issues and I still don’t get Tim Thomas doing as well as he does.
5th: Tampa Bay Lightning – Ownership silliness aside I do like the Lightnings top six forwards. I think some of them have an awful lot to prove and I think the chemistry can be very good. I also think that Steve Downie could have a break through season for the team. Big question marks though on D and in the net. This team can be fishing for a good draft pick or be a cup contender depending on how the season plays out.
6th: New Jersey Devils – Marty Brodeur adds to his legacy as the greatest goalie in NHL history. It’s been a long time since I took him to some of his first autograph signing sessions. Jacques Lemaire taking over the reins of this team I think is acknowledgment by the Devils that their team depends on their Future Hall of Fame Goalie. The roster looks like it’s built for their new coach and goalie’s type of game. They’re not going to be flashy and the scoring isn’t really there, but Marty is going to get a bunch of Shut outs this year and whenever Marty is on the ice wins are not that far away.
7th: The Montreal Canadians – As much as I pick on Bob Gainey I think he’s done a heroic job of rebuilding this team, and when I say heroic I mean it’s reflective of his style from when he was a player. He’d get lots of opportunity to shoot, but would miss the net a lot.
You can never know unless you’re in the room how something plays out. Almost none of UFAs the Habs had were resigned. Most I can agree with, a few I don’t. Question marks? Not as many as you think. Long term financial health of the team? Well those top 3 signings this year are going to eat an awful lot of cap space for awhile.
My new favorite Hab Mike Cammallieri should do well if he gets to play with Gomez or the Habs find another 2nd line centre. I’m just not sure that Tomas Plekanec is the guy. The Habs definitely have more character, and are very intriguing…. I think they are one or two pieces away from being ready to really contend and if I wasn’t a Habs fan probably wouldn’t even give them 7th on this list.
The question marks are many and large. Carey Price, Josh Gorges, the nicely mixed defensive corps that’s missing a right handed shot. I don’t see this as a cup contending team, but I do think somehow they’ll make it to the play offs.
8th: The Toronto Maple Leafs – I think Brian Burke’s team is going to surprise an awful lot of people. You don’t trade away two 1st round picks expecting to be bad. Yes, they still need to revamp their top six, but the current group won’t be boring and the D is very deep. Keeping Kaberle is a blessing as someone needs to get Jason Blake the puck. Mikhail Grabovski is always fun; albeit it more in practice than on the ice, but he’s not the worst forward in the NHL either.
And by the time Mats Sundin decided to come out of retirement Phil Kessel should be good to go so there’s a lot to look forward to. Also, with the cap space the Leafs have I can see them taking some Michael Nylander type situations this year which will add depth. They weren’t that far away last year from 8th for much of the season. This year I think they’ll squeak in.
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