Sports Blog Movement NHL Preview: Atlantic Division

SBM NHL Crystal Ball

bosBoston Bruins (28-14-6)

Key additions- Jarome Iginla-RW, Chad Johnson-G, Loui Eriksson-LW, Reilly Smith-RW

Key loses- Andrew Ference-D, Nathan Horton-RW, Jaromir Jagr-RW, Aaron Johnson-D, Anton Khudobin-G, Tyler Seguin-C, Rich Peverley-C

Out is Jaromir Jagr, tops on the list of active goal scorers. In comes Jarome Iginla, second on that same list.

Gone is bruising power forward Nathan Horton. In comes the slick puck moving winger Loui Eriksson.

Boston made a lot of moves, but has the look of a younger more balanced team than the one that looked overmatched against the Chicago Blackhawks. What they may have lost in grit and toughness (which they always have in abundance. It’s the Bruins after all) they gained in speed and skill.

The Seguin/Eriksson deal was easily the off-season’s biggest move. The loss of Seguin might hurt the feelings of 20k squealing teenage girls in the greater Boston area, but Loui Eriksson is a better all-around hockey player. And he isn’t a complete douche and that’s really what the Bruins were trying to accomplish anyways. And fear not misanthropic hockey girls of Boston, Loui may not be boy band hawtness, but from what I’m told he is still easy on the eyes.

The loss of Ferrence was inevitable when Tukka Rask owned the eastern conference in the spring and commanded a huge payday. But the emergence of blueline studs Krug and Bartkowski will make sure the honor of playing defense for the Bruins doesn’t slip.

Whatever they may have lost they gained back, and a little bit more. The only thing keeping this team from a return trip to the finals is injury. Prediction 51 wins

ottOttawa Senators (25-17-6)

Key additions- Clarke MacArthur-LW

Key loses- Daniel Alfredsson-RW, Andre Benoit-D, Joe Corvo-D, Peter Regin-C

For years Ottawa has been planning for the day when Daniel Alfredsson would retire. Spezza has been groomed since he was drafted in 2001 (my god, has it been twelve years?!) and saddled with unfair and unrealistic expectations.  He handled the mantle of being labeled as the “next Gretzky” (can we stop doing this to 18 year old kids every 5 years? There will never be another Gretzky, let it go) so I’m sure her will be able to handle the expectations of being captain of the 4th most popular team in Ontario.

I’m honestly torn on the Bobby Ryan trade. Obviously the guy has talent but his inconsistency is either:

  • a byproduct of being stuck behind the loaded group of forwards in Anaheim.
  • Laziness.

We will find out if it’s the latter fairly quickly since the former certainly will not be a problem. If Ryan doesn’t have 30 goals/80 points on a line with Spezza and Michalek he should be embarrassed. And the people of Canada aren’t going to tolerate that bitchy, temptermental, feud with the coach over minutes behavior. Bobby needs to start playing the team game soon or he’s going to find out what it means to play hockey in Canada the hard way.

It would probably help if he started going by “Bob Ryan” instead of Bobby. You’re a grown ass man playing the roughest sport in the world., not some 10 year old kid on his first Huffy.

Erik Karlsson will be back for a full season (hopefully. There’s a reason the league isn’t full of 175lb defensemen) and the Senators have a solid collection of two-way players behind their dynamic top line of Ryan-Spezza-Michalek.

Craig Anderson was by far and away the most important player last season. It’s unrealistic to expect him to put up the insane 1.69 GAA average for an entire season, but there’s also no proof he can’t compete for a Vezina.

They are well coached, disciplined, a solid mix of youth and veterans, grit and style, speed and power. All around Ottawa just might be the best hockey team in Canada. Prediction 44 Wins

detDetroit Red Wings (24-16-8)

Key additions- Daniel Alfredsson-RW, Stephen Weiss-C

Key loses- Damien Brunner-C, Valtteri Filppula-C

Lindy Ruff is the coach of the Stars, Martin Broduer isn’t the starting goalie in New Jersey to start the season and Daniel Alfredsson plays for the Red Wings. The last time Alfredsson laced them up for a team not named the Senators his teammate Landon Ferraro was 3 years old.

But some things never change. Detroit being a legitimate Stanley cup contender is one of them.

The addition of Alfie is nice but I don’t expect him to contribute more than the acquisition of greatly under rated Center Stephen Weiss. Like Alfie he is a solid two way forward that always makes the smart play and never gets caught out of position. He is exactly the type of player Coach Babcock covets and exactly why the Red Wings are always mentioned as Cup favorites.

The loss of Filppula is significant not just because he was an integral part of their team but because the Red Wings don’t lose good players, they take them. Losing Brunner to New Jersey isn’t a big deal right now but 3-4 years from now it might be.

But the wheels of The Machine are powered by the likes of Ditsy, Zetterberg and Howard. Most people thought the loss of G.O.A.T defensemen Nick Lindstrom would be franchise crushing. It wasn’t. So I’m sure they will be able to survive the loss of Filppula and Brunner.

The real enemy of the Red Wings this year won’t be free agent defections or a switch of conferences but the Olympics. They could send as many as 7 players to Sochi, 4 players to team Sweden alone. That’s a lot of extra hockey and mental fatigue for players on the wrong side of 30.

The Olympics will be a stiff test for this veteran group, but one that they will pass. Prediction 41 wins

torToronto Maple Leafs (26-17-5)

Key additions- Troy Bodie-RW, T.J. Brennan-D, David Clarkson-RW, Mason Raymond-LW, Dave Bolland-C

Key loses- Mikhail Grabovski-C, Ryan Hamilton-LW, Mike Komisarek-D, Mike Kostka-D, Clarke MacArthur-LW

Sometimes I wonder if the Maple Leafs is trying to go another 40+ years without winning a Cup or if they really think the entire point of a hockey game is just to hit people.

Replacing Grabovski with Clarkson accomplishes little more than giving the Leafs just another rugged forward, which was something they have had plenty of over the years. What they haven’t had are playoff teams and by spending 37 million dollars on a player who has scored more than 17 goals once in his 7 year career. To compare the two players:

Clarkson-     426 games, 97g/170pts,-32  7yrs 36.75mil

Grabovski-  368 games, 97g/221pts, -7   1yr    3mil

Am I missing something? Clarkson scored more than 17 goals once (2011) while Grabovski scored 20 or more in three of his 5 seasons as a Maple Leaf. Oh but wait…Clarkson is from Mimico, Ontario and Grabovski is from….well he isn’t Canadian. And apparently being Canadian is worth an extra 33 million dollars.

Included in the investment in sloth footed lumberjacks are Bozak and Bolland. They got better defensively just by getting rid of perpetual disappointment Mike Komisarek but then replaced him with TJ Brennan, previously of the Buffalo Sabers, who were one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL.

And they still don’t have anything close to a playoff quality goaltender. When (if) he wins his next playoff series it will be his first.

They have a talented roster. JVR is a dynamic forward and Kessel is, well he’s a complete tool and looks like he should be delivering pizza for Papa John’s, but he can skate and shoot. If he ever decides to learn how to skate backwards instead of back to his own bench when the puck crosses his own blueline he might become a valuable hockey player.

Until the fans of Toronto demand to have a team that wins playoff series instead of leading the league in hits and majors then every offseason will be met with face palms and each season will end with soul-crushing overtime losses to Boston. Prediction 40 wins and a 47th year of playing golf early.

monMontreal Canadiens (29-14-5)

Key additions- Daniel Briere-C, Douglas Murray-D, Nick Tarnasky-C, Christian Thomas-RW

Key loses- Michael Ryder-RW, Frederic St. Denis-D, Yannick Weber-D

I said last year that the Canadiens would make the playoffs after the hiring of Coach Michel Therrien and everyone laughed at me. I didn’t prance around telling everyone “I told you so” when they finished first in the Northeast and claimed the #2 seed in the playoffs. So I’m going to do it now:

I told you so. And Coach Michel Therrien is long overdue for being mentioned as one of the games great coaches. He flat out knows how to play the game of hockey and is a master of developing defensemen. His reputation as a harsh task master is greatly exaggerated.

Offensively they will be challenged. Danny Briere is a nice pickup but his best years are certainly behind him. To get back to where the Habs want to be they are going to need to get more than a 35 year old winger. I really thought Montreal would have been a great landing spot for Vinny Lecavelier, but apparently Vinny decided he would rather put himself through the masochistic hell of playing hockey in Philadelphia rather than Hockey’s holy land. So maybe Philly and Vinny deserve each other….

I didn’t expect the Habs to finish first last year, and I think they were helped by the shortened season. I don’t think they are good enough to make it into the conference finals, but then nobody thought Therrien could get the 2008 Penguins into the finals against Detroit with a roster full of kids who weren’t even old enough to drink the champagne in the locker room.

Did I mention Michel Therrien is a great coach? Prediction 38 Wins

tamTampa Bay Lightning (18-26-4)

Key additions- Valtteri Filppula-C

Key loses- Vincent Lecavalier-C, Benoit Pouliot, J.T. Wyman-RW

Its about damn time Martin St Louis got to wear the “C” in Tampa. In my mind he has been the real captain of that team for years. That such a small guy was able to carry Lecavalier on his back for the better part of a decade should get him into the Hall of fame before he even retires.

Filppula in my mind is an upgrade over Lecavalier if for no other reason than it saves about 5 million against the cap, which would have been nice if they had spent it on, you know, other players. But there has never been a professional team , in any league or any sport, in Tampa that has a single clue what it takes to be good for more than 2 years. To this day I can’t remember how the &@(*#&@ the Lightning won a Stanley Cup. Seriously did that actually happen?

But the Lightning also lost Pouliot and they didn’t exactly have a wealth of defensemen to spare. And let’s not even talk about their issues in goal.

Honestly this team could be the first team to have a Hart trophy winner (St. Louis) and a Rocket Richard winner (Stamkos) and not make the playoffs.

I will now hear arguments as to why this team should stay in Florida and not be forcibly relocated to Seattle. Prediction 31 Wins

bufBuffalo Sabers (21-21-6)

Key additions- Drew Bagnall-D, Henrik Tallinder-D, Jamie McBain-D,

Key loses- Alex Biega-D, Nathan Gerbe-C, David Leggio-G, Adam Pardy-D, Nick Tarnasky-C

I’m still trying to adjust to a world in which Lindy Ruff is not the coach of the Buffalo Sabers. It’s just not right.

The Sabers return to relevance started with a rebuilding of their defensive corp. After freeing themselves of the bloated contract of Regher last spring they signed Tallinder and McBain to help solidify their blueline. It’s not nearly enough, but if Tyler Myers can return to the form that made him rookie of the year, it’s a start.

But it’s going to be a long road back for the Sabers and the worlds most tortured fans. About the only thing the Sabers are going to lead the league in is teenagers (4) and heartbreaking loses. Prediction 27 wins

flaFlorida Panthers (15-27-6)

Key additions- Brad Boyes-C, Joey Crabb-RW, Tom Gilbert-D, Matt Gilroy-D, Scott Gomez-C, Tim Thomas-G

Key loses- Zach Hamill-C, Tyson Strachan-D, Stephen Weiss-C

Why is this team still in Florida? Seriously. Just move them to Quebec City already.

Hell, move them to Arkansas,  just get them out of Florida. We’re on year 14 of the Florida Panthers rebuilding project and this year’s plan involves Scott “I can’t believe people still pay me to play hockey” Gomez and Tim “can I wear my tin foil hat instead of my helmet” Thomas.

Did we just pick names out of a hat? Did he let a simulation of NHL 13 build his roster? I’m over this abortion of hockey in Florida. Bettman’s legacy will be his insistence in putting franchises in cities with apathetic fan bases and incompetent ownership. Florida being prosecution exhibit “A”.

Four playoff appearances in 20 years?! Only ONE in the last 12 season?! In a league that allows more than half its teams to qualify?!? And the best offseason moves are for Brad Boyes and Tim Thomas?!

Florida, you suck. Stop making hockey suck by association. Prediction 25 more wins than they deserve.



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6 responses to “Sports Blog Movement NHL Preview: Atlantic Division

  1. Alright, I’ll take a stab at it.

    Because the Lightning are the only professional sports team in the the Tampa Bay area that draw a crowd.

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