Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The HoG's 2008 NHL Preview

Two hockey games have been played thus far, and they've both been of the Eastern-Conference variety. On the one hand, it's lame to do a season preview when the season has actually started. On the other hand, the Western Conference's season has not. So there. Either way, it's time to break down the 2008 hockey season. And by "break down," I mean lightly touch on so that we may satisfy our readers The Lone Reader. And since he's the only one interested in reading this post, we'll kick it off with some notes of complete randomness associated with his favorite pasttime, playoff baseball.

My primary bandwagon team is gone, so I suppose I'll move on to another...

I mean, just for the sake of having some team to pay attention to, anyway. Plus, if Boston keeps winning, it'll be interesting to see if these two teams meet up, especially given this guy's "resurgence."

Speaking of Boston, Bugs & Cranks thinks their roster is full of villains. James Bond villains, even. Ultimately, Boston may very well win another title this year, but it'd be a lot cooler if they didn't. I'm glad that the two best records in baseball are gone, solely for the sake of making the playoffs more interesting. It is a shame that the Cubs bowed out the way they did, and it would've been nice for Los Pornaheim to knock off Boston just for the sake of getting them out of the way. And yes, I would've loved to root for the Brewers to go the distance. And no, just because I'm a Royals fan doesn't mean I'm "supposed" to root for Tampa Bay. Fuck Tampa Bay. I don't care how they got it done. Florida baseball is for spring training and shit. Go ahead though, Rays. Win one. We'll just lump that ring in with the Marlins' and continue to laugh. So yes, I'm pulling for an LA-Boston series, coupled with sweep in favor of ManDingo's (Editor's Note: It should be noted that the House of Georges believes that Manny Ramirez was in fact raised by dingos, and dingos alone.) team over that of his former. But enough about that. Let's talk hockey.

The East

Atlantic Division

The New York Rangers have won their first two games, but who cares. Everyone wants to talk Pittsburgh Penguins hockey, right? Wrong. They let Marian Hossa and Gary Roberts go, and failed to replace them with Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko. Well, they re-inked deals with Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, and their coach, but it won't be enough to compete with the real powerhouse of this division. And I don't mean the Rangers. They let Jagr, Sean Avery and Martin Straka go and acquired Markus Naslund, Wade Redden and Dmitri Kalinin to the mix. They have a porous D at best, mediocre goaltending, and no massive firepower with Double J out of the mix. And I don't mean the Devils, either. Marty Brodeur is old, as are all the dudes they signed. They'll be middle of the pack again, at best. The Islanders will remain a work in progress, and that's as nice as I can be about that. The club to look out for in the Atlantic are those Flyers from Philadelphia. Their off-season moves aren't worth mentioning, just like their need to make moves wasn't. Philly might not take the division, but they'll be the toughest team in it, and go the farthest in the playoffs.

Northeast Division

Teams worth mentioning in this division: Montreal Canadiens.

Teams not worth mentioning: The rest of them.

Ottawa came on strong last year, but choked like they always do. Toronto is trying hard to become the NHL's Detroit Lions, while Boston will likely scrape into the post-season with an eight spot, and Buffalo is all over the map, a step or two removed from becoming a perennial force. They might have a fighting chance at success this year, but Boston will give them fits, and neither club will be able to fend of the Habs.

Southeast Division

In a nutshell, the Washington Capitals have Jose Theodore in net, the Lightning signed Barry Melrose to be their Bench Boss, the Panthers are re-building, and the Hurricanes will look to take this division once again. What? Oh, yeah: Atlanta. They'll suck. Washington could be relatively tough, but their roster is devoid of enough playmakers, and the netminding will be oopsish. I love that Barry Melrose is back in the mix, but it will take some time for the ink of his signature to dry on this club; I imagine he's a tough bastard to play for. He nabbed some big names, like Vaclav Prospal, the aforementioned Roberts, and Mark Recchi, but those moves could be Kansas City Royalsesque. I give the Southeast to Carolina.

The West

Central Division

Lots and lots of hype for the Chicago Blackhawks leading up to their opener, and I've got three words for all of that: Not gonna happen. Sure, they plopped Sir Scotty Bowman into the front office, and they've got some great young talent on this roster. They need more time, though. In this division are the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that still has yet to sniff the post-season in its seven-year existence, so forget about them. There's also the St. Louis Blues. They've parted ways with Doug Weight (again), Jamal Mayers, and Martin Rucinsky, and also have a heap of young talent. They also have Andy Murray teaching that talent, but they're a season or two away from competing with the big dogs. The big dogs of course would be the Nashville Predators, who for consecutive seasons, have managed to play consistent-and-tough hockey. That should continue unless William "Boots" del Biaggio crumbles the franchise with more shenanigans. This leaves none other than the Detroit Red Wings, who will remain the team to beat not only in the Central, but in all of the NHL. They'll take the Central again, and likely the conference.

Northwest Division

The Calgary Flames hired Mike Keenan, let Alex Tanguay go, and signed Cecil's all-time favorite hockey player, Todd Bertuzzi. (Note: It should be mentioned that Cecil loves all hockey players, but really, really loves Todd Bertuzzi.) The point, though, is that that doesn't help much. They still have Craig Conroy and Jarome Iginla, and Mikka Kiprusoff in net, but that'll only get you an early-playoff exit. Colorado has Tony Granato behind the bench again. Peter Forsberg is gone again. Joe Sakic is still around again, and Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth will likely be the all-stars for this club. Again, lots of youth, but lots more work to do. The Edmonton Oilers will win this division. Why? Because they will have Calgary's number, and the Avs, Canucks and Wild won't offer much competition. The Canucks dumped some long-time Vancouver favorites, and the Wild don't have anyone on their roster not named Marian Gaborik that can score. Calgary will wrestle Edmonton for bragging rights here, but go ahead and give Edmonton the Northwest.

Pacific Division

This division is shaping up to be the best in the NHL. The San Jose Sharks are going to fuck some people up this season. They managed to keep Jeremy Roenick and Joe Thornton around, and they still have Cheechoo, Marleau and Grier on the roster, with Nabokov in net. Count it. The Anaheim Ducks will be good. Better than good, actually. But not as good as the Sharks. The Dallas Stars suprised the shit out of me with their post-season reach last year, but that's why I be like "Fuck Dallas." I don't care who they signed, or how "good" Marty Turco will be tending goal. That franchise can burn in a Texas fryer for all I care. As for Phoenix, much love to the Great One and all, but that team is still going to be terrible. The Kings? They'll be pretty awful, which is a notch above terrible, but still really bad. So, with a terrible and a pretty awful team in the same division, how is it a great one? It is because the other Western Conference divisions have roughly one really good team and then some other mediocre ones thrown in there. San Jose, Dallas, and Anaheim are top-tier clubs in the West. This division rivals the Atlantic in the East, and combined, many a playoff squad will emerge from these two divisions.

How it shakes down:

In the East, Philadelphia and Montreal will wrestle for one of those trophies nobody wants to touch. The Flyers have Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Martin Biron, and Antero Nittymaki as goaltenders on their roster. Each is good; none is great. The Canaidens have Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price slated to tend net. Both are young; neither is proven. Philly gets the edge and advances to the Finals.

In the West, San Jose and Detroit will grapple in the Conference Finals, and the grizzled age of certain Sharks will be their downfall. Detroit has Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek with caged masks, which edges Nabokov's play and San Jose's older roster.

As much as it pains me to say it, Detroit wins another cup, but the Flyers give them a battle. A six-game battle.

There's your 2008 prognosis. Now maybe The Lone Reader will get off my back. Well, after he blasts me for not hyping Pittsburgh enough and not going out on a limb (Wings-as-Champs pick) far enough from reality.


The Lone Reader said...

Not bad for an ex-NHL fan.

I actually agree with most of your breakdown, though I think the Pens will win their division. They lost some players, but their youth produces consistently and the new guys will fit in well. There biggest lost was neither Hossa nor Rogers, but Malone.

On that note, I think the Lightning will take their division, as well. Too many good players to blow it.

Other than that, not bad. I like the Philly pick. It's a popular one, though unlikely. They'll fold under the pressure early in the playoffs.

Detroit is a good, but sad, pick. With the addition of the whiney, sack of shit Hossa, they'll be pretty tough.

However, the back-to-back championships are tough. Lidstrom (82 years old) goes down late in the season, and the Red Wings are knocked-out in round 2.

Who cares who comes from the West? The winner of the Pens/Habs playoff series takes the Cup.

The Pens are a hugely popular pick, and the Habs are celebrating their 100yr anniversary.

Who's it gonna be? Hard to say and I won't jinx my team. Sadly, the Habs walk away with another one.