Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scouting the Enemy: Northeast Division

Reverse order of finish (predicted).

Ottawa Senators
Notable additions: none
Notable losses: none
Outlook: lottery

Craig Anderson is an upgrade in goal, Chris Philips is a top pair defenseman, and David Rundbland could step right into the top four. Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson make for a legit top line as well. Other than them, Ottawa is a mess. With guys like Mika Zibanejad, Nikita Filatov, Robin Lehner, and Erik Karlsson improving every day, the future looks bright. Just not the present.

Season series gameplan: just go out there and play

Playoff series gameplan: good thing I don't have to worry about this section

Toronto Maple Leafs
Notable additions: Tim Connolly
Notable losses: Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Outlook: lottery

I'm not convinced Reimer is the real deal. And if I'm right, Toronto is in trouble. Their defense is okay, forwards thin but getting better, but again, goaltending.

Season series gameplan: don't be afraid to shoot, and keep your head up.

Playoff series gameplan: same

Montreal Canadiens
Notable additions: Erik Cole
Notable losses: Jeff Halpern, Roman Hamrlik, James Wisniewski
Outlook: borderline playoff team

The Habs are a mixed bag. You have aging veterans like Hal Gill, young players like PK Subban and Lars Eller. I think losing a top pair D in Hamrlik and losing Wisniewski cancels with gaining back Markov and improvement among skaters. I'm not sure Price can replicate what he did last year, though.

Season series gameplan: navigate matchups to get Ovechkin and Semin against checkers, not Plekanec or Gomez.

Playoff series gameplan: same. And get those darned special teams working. Montreal annually has strong units.

Buffalo Sabres
Notable additions: Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff
Notable losses: Tim Connolly
Outlook: playoff team

Ryan Miller had a down year last year. Meanwhile, Leino is a more durable version of Connolly, they should get back Roy, Ehrhoff is the puck mover they needed after losing Tallinder, and Myers will get better percentages. They are still over the cap, however.

Season series outlook: attack. The Sabres among skaters should be able to play any style well, but not great, so may as well do what the Capitals do best. Attack.

Playoff series gameplan: same.

Boston Bruins
Notable additions: Joe Corvo
Notable losses: Tomas Kaberle
Outlook: Cup Contender

The Bruins of course just won the Stanley Cup, and got better. Corvo is an upgrade over Kaberle, and young guys like Marchand and Seguin should improve. Losing Recchi and not being able to bank on a generational season from Tim Thomas hurts, but I'm a believer in Tuukka Rask.

Season series outlook: like with Montreal, avoid the checkers, here Krejci and Bergeron. The Bruins defense isn't all that good, so patience is key. Quality over quantity.

Playoff series outlook: that, and try to get on special teams. The Caps had two top six units by shots last season, while the Bruins were  mediocre.

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