CFN – The Toronto Maple Leafs are 3-0 in the early season. I like the team this year. I don’t think they’ll have their name on Lord Stanley’s cup, but they certainly will make the playoffs.
They have an awful lot of offense and a lot of depth. While I think the Kessel contract is a smidgen high, especially for eight seasons, Phil is a force. The have Franson back and Phaneuf is playing for a contract as well.
While there are not really any overall superstars, there are some players that are close and they simply are a very deep team which is huge in the regular season; more so than in a cup run where your top stars are supposed to earn their big contracts.
Big Free Agent signing David Clarkson hasn’t even played a regular season game for them yet!
Jonathan Bernier is off to a very hot start as well. GM Dave Nonis has managed his team through an off season with many expectations. He’s added assets without trading away his core and he’s managed to stay within the cap.
In Montreal things are quite as rosy; but there’s reason for optimism. The Youngun’s are leading the way with Lars Eller showing no long term signs from his play off injury.
The big questions in Montreal are goalie Carey Price and the defense. Price has yet to show that this season will be different than last and the defense is still scary. The Habs have scored 7 goals so far this year and given up 5 in two games. PK Subban is leading the Habs in TOI as he should at this point. Playing Andrei Markov in Short Handed situations isn’t really the way to go.
David Desharnais is still struggling and if I were Habs GM Marc Bergevin I’d seriously consider putting him on waivers to send him down. If nobody snatched up his contract he might get his edge and game back with the Bulldogs? And if someone did grab his contract that would help the cap situation.
The Habs still have some cap space to add a key piece or two to the puzzle if they feel they have a shot this year. At this point they are definitely a bubble team at best.
Ottawa is looking very very good as well. Inspite of the Alfredsson controversy this is a very good team. They are all about puck control. They are fast and have some very talented players and a great mix of up and coming and veterans. They also have Erik Karlsson who possesses the kind of talent that can be the difference in many games. His only goal was a one timer that beat the Sabres in a 1-0 victory that was an amazing game of hockey to watch.
As long as Craig Anderson is healthy the Sens are in the game. After two games he’s still blocking shots at a .948 clip.
Kyle Turris looks to be about to have a breakthrough season as well. Patrick Wiercioch has shown some spark as well. Sens fans should be in for a great ride.
Philly should just be about ready to fire coach Peter Violette. The Flyers 0-3 start is scary for a team that added some expensive and talented pieces. Those pieces have produced so far with both Vincent Lecavlier & Mark Streit putting up 2 points in 3 games. It’s the veteran core that have not done it for the team with Captain Claude Giroux with zero points after three contests.
And the team I think will surprise a lot of people this year will be the Florida Panthers. Dale Tallon has pieced together some interesting parts that are capable of winning games as they showed this weekend.
Florida is 1-1. They were smashed in one game and inspired in their other. Goalie Tim Thomas is the total wild card. The Florida fans should have some fun this year watching their squad and Tallon should have some good trade piece come deadline time. With some luck though this team could make the playoffs. There are some players with something to prove from wiley old vets like Scott Gomez, Brad Boyes, and Ryan Whitney, to younguns Alex Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Never underestimate a Dale Tallon team.
Buffalo is 0-3. Poor Ryan Miller is off to an amazing start. His .963 save percentage is amazing, but if your team can’t score (2 goals in 3 games total) you won’t get the wins.
Buffalo should be doing better. It should be interesting to see if the bounces start to go their way or if Miller and Vanek get traded sooner rather than later as both are UFA’s.
What do you think Atlantic Division hockey fans?
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