Monday, October 20, 2008

Slow Starts

Pre-season predictions are always risky. No matter what a team looks like on paper, you can never know how those players will gel. For some teams, they adapt over time and right the ship, while others never find their way and have a season they would like to forget.

Three of the best teams in last years Western Conference find themselves as the worst three teams in the West. Dallas, Calgary and Anaheim all are off to terrible starts. Calgary's goaltending has been their weakest point, as well as Iginla's slow start. For the other two teams, there have been very few bright spots.

On the top half, Vancouver is slowing down after a hot start. St. Louis, a team many had as the worst team in the league before the season began, currently sits atop their division with a 4-1 record. I expect them to fall back to earth.

The team to watch in the West is the Oilers. Some, like Hockeyleaks, had them as a playoff team, while others had them on the outside looking in. After a 4-0 start, this team has looked good. It will be interesting to see where they sit at the 20 game mark, when you have a good representation of where a team will finish.

As far as the Eastern conference goes, it's pretty much like a lot of us predictied. The Leafs, Islanders, Panthers and Thrashers are all near the bottom, while the Habs, Rangers and Capitals are tearing it up. The Flyers are the biggest
surprise, as they are the only winless team in the NHL.

So as teams continue to struggle, it will be interesting to see what types of moves are made. If the Flyers can't right the ship, Holmgren will be the first to make a move. Look for a player like Lupul to be dealt soon.

In Anaheim, the team is right up against the cap. They have great defensive depth they could move for some help up front, while I'm hearing a player like Kunitz could also be traded if things do not improve.

In Calgary, they need a centre. Langkow is not the answer, while Keenan has yet to give Cammy a chance to prove he can play up the middle. The Flames will move a defensman for some offensive help, and I'm hearing the Flames may add another goalie to put the pressure on Kipper should he continue to struggle.

As far as Dallas, I'm hearing they will be patient. They like the team they have, and feel it will simply take time for their team to gel. If anything, look for them to add a depth player.

Other rumours:

Watch Phoenix, they have noticed their defensive problems and have had many discussions this week about bringing in a top 3 defenseman.

The Penguins like their team, but would also love to add a defenseman, or maybe even two. They are not looking for a top 2 defenseman, more of a 3-4.

Two great games I'm excited for tonight (no offense to FLA/MTL or COL/LA):

Pittsburgh @ Boston

- both teams are off to a great start, look for another big night by Marc Savard, though I think Crosby is in for a repeat of his great game against Toronto on Saturday

Dallas @ NYR

- Sean Avery returns back to NYR, cannot wait to see the reaction of the Ranger faithfull. Can Brunnstrom keep it going, and can Dallas snap out of their funk? This one is going to be great to watch.