Monday, September 30, 2013

Metropolitan Division Thoughts

1. Pittsburgh*

What conventional wisdom gets right: Crosby, Malkin, and Letang can carry this team.

What conventional wisdom gets wrong: This team isn't that deep anymore. If Crosby and Malkin go down, they're done—no Jordan Staal-level player to pick up the slack. Their goaltending also looks merely average or slightly below—Fleury hasn't been bad during the regular season in awhile now. I highly doubt the situation in net can derail this team, unless Fleury and Vokoun are simultaneously out for a long period of time.

Recent developments: Kris Letang got hurt. Out indefinitely. Tomas Vokoun was also hospitalized for a blood clot and although he's been discharged, he's out indefinitely as well.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Atlantic Division Thoughts

1. Boston*

What conventional wisdom gets right: The Bruins are deep up front and have great goaltending.

What conventional wisdom gets wrong: Their defense isn't proven to be that good—I think their success has been mostly forward- and goalie-driven, Chara aside, of course—although with young players like Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug it could be. Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson may not be an upgrade over Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin. But given how good Tuukka Rask is, I'll give Boston the edge over the rest of the teams in this division.

Recent developments: none

Friday, September 27, 2013

Central Division Thoughts

1. Chicago*

Losses: F Michal Frolik, F Dave Bolland, F Viktor Stalberg, G Ray Emery
Additions: G Nikolai Khabibulin

Forwards: Still stacked (although perhaps not quite as much as last season). Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa make for a strong top-six, and younger players like Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad, Jeremy Morin, Jimmy Hayes, and perhaps Brandon Pirri add talent across the rest of the lines. The only real weakness is having Michal Handzus—if last season is any indication, he'll be a 2C, and he's a bad 2C. (It's just that Sharp and Kane/Hossa are more than good enough to carry him.) Bolland and Stalberg should be easy to replace; Frolik will be a little tougher to replace, but there's so much talent in the system that it's hard not to see a couple of players stepping up in the next couple of seasons.

Defense: Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook make a terrific top pair, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya make for a surprisingly solid second pair, and developing Nick Leddy and veteran Michal Roszival make a good third pair. (If you haven't noticed, there's a common theme here: "good".)

Goaltending: We can be pretty sure Corey Crawford is a competent starter. Probably not much more or much less.

tl;dr : Pretty much the same team that won the Cup. Not way better than anyone else (like 2012 Los Angeles), but one of the two or three best teams around for sure.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Testing my optimism

I thought this would be a fun exercise. I'll project every player's goal, assist, and point total. At the end, I'll add them up and see whether the totals make sense.


And throw in a little extra from Volpatti, Latta, and the other irregulars.


And throw in a little extra for Strachan, Orlov, Kundratek, and other irregulars.


Total: 243+ G, 407+ A, 650+ P

Let's say the irregulars bring that up to 245 goals. That's 2.99 goals per game—pretty reasonable, actually. In 2011-12, it would have ranked fourth in the league, and in 2010-11, fifth. (The Caps were fifth in the lockout-shortened season.)

Yeah, so I'll stick with these.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pacific Division Thoughts

Lots of interesting storylines in this division, from potentially the last hoo-hah of Thornton, Marleau, and Boyle in San Jose, to seeing if Phoenix can rebound with Mike Ribeiro in the mix, Edmonton's experiment with saying they'll do things their fanbase loves (puck possession), seeing if Anaheim can become that decent puck possession team we've seen glimpses of each of the last two seasons, and, of course, John Tortorella versus Canadian media.

I vacillated a lot between Anaheim, Phoenix, and Edmonton—I can see a good case for any order there. I felt there was a lot of uncertainty with Vancouver. Other than that, I feel pretty good with my picks here...unless I missed something huge.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Magical Metro Effect

A lot of people have discussed about how the Capitals will struggle in the new Metropolitan Division, being a borderline playoff team at best. Their arguments basically are derived from this:

Caps vs Southeast, last two seasons: 27-11-4 (a 113pt pace)
Caps vs Metro, last two seasons: 19-20-7 (an 80pt pace)

I have several issues with that reasoning.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

AO/Backstrom WOWY

In the vein of what MC79 did here:

It's probably worth noting that the decline in 2011-12 was in large part thanks to Backstrom's injury—it led to Ovechkin being centered by players like Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson instead. I'm guessing Green's injuries had to do with the downturn in 10-11 and 11-12, too.

Regardless, not a pretty picture.