Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

SETH'S NHL PREVIEW

NORTHEAST:


1. Ottawa -- So much talent if they can get Dany Heatley to sign that contract. Remind me a little of the c. 1995-96 Avalanche, without the Patrick Roy.

2. Buffalo -- Sucks to be small. This team was so awesome last year and getting better -- the Detroit Tigers of the NHL. But they couldn't keep their best players, and keep playing great hockey, especially once the youth movement gets used to the NHL. Just sucks so much to be small.

3. Maple Leafs -- Not that they're hugely better than the team that missed the playoffs, though Vesa Toskala is an upgrade. I just don't believe the Bruins are this year's Anaheim, and if Alexei Kovalev is dissing the Habs, things can't be good. Not that things are great in Toronto, either. Just miss the playoffs.

4. Bruins -- Lost Dave Lewis, gained Zdeno Chara. I love the Chara pickup. But when they said a superstar defenseman turns your team into a playoff contender, they were right, but should have added the proviso that you actually need to put a team around the guy. Um.....oops?

5. What has happened to the Yankees of hockey? They went after some big stars in the offseason and came up empty. Now their only hope is that Carey Price makes the team and starts posting no-no's, 'cause this team ain't scoring 4 a game.


ATLANTIC:

1. Pittsburgh -- How many times have we been through this with the Rangers? Picking up a boatload of the highest-priced free agents never works out for them. On the other hand, when the NHL has made it its priority to get a small market team to the top, they usually get it done. Gary Bettman pulled out all the stops to make his league about Sid Crosby. If a referee calls a penalty on these guys this year, he'll be out the door faster than you can name the biggest league screw-job in sports history.

2. Rangers -- Well, you can't buy a ring. But you can buy Chris Drury and Chris Gomez and Jaromir Jagr, which does help. You also can't by rising star Henrik Lundqvist. With all of those offensive-minded forwards, it's up to Henrik how far this team goes.

3. Devils -- They lost some big pieces, but Martin Brodeur is their goalie. 'Nuff said.

4. Flyers -- Big dropoff here from Pittsburgh the team the NHL built to Philly and New Jersey, the teams the NHL destroyed to build Pittsburgh. They look kind of like themselves again. Let's just say they won't suck as much as last year. But they'll still give Philly fans plenty to boo.

5. Islanders -- Ted Nolan will coach these kids to death, but in the end, they are few talented hockey players on the team.


SOUTHEAST:

What the f--- is hockey? Before Gary Bettman turned his attention to building a dynasty in Pittsburgh, he was trying to make his sport relevant in Dixieland. Even with some stars like Alexander Ovechkin, and whatever Florida's doing down there to look relevant again (i.e. signing Vokoun), I can't get past the fact that 90 percent of people in this division's cities have never worn skates. It's criminal that Tampa Bay doesn't put a goalie on its team. Carolina seesaws every year, so this year they're up. I love Ovechkin to death, but Washington did crappy last year and they were healthy, but quiet good moves could improve them, and Olie the Goalie is the division's only netminder with seniority. This whole division is a pick-'em. You want a prediction? I predict that one of these teams will win their division, and two more will make the playoffs, and that nobody will care.


CENTRAL:

1. Red Wings -- You didn't hear much about them this offseason, except for getting Rafalski to replace Schneider. They got younger, but their division got worse. Look for a late-season push, and lots of regular season wins. They'll win the Central, but by how much and how far they go will depend on whether some of the prospects like Filpulla and Grigorenko and Kronwall come together -- and if Hasek stays together.

2. Blues -- I like what they did in the offseason, and there's more talent on this team than the crappy season last year showed. They're my surprise pick to make the playoffs in the West. Remember: you can never have enough Michigan men.

3. Preds -- They almost got Major Leagued this offseason. Things are settling, but key parts were lost that derailed a franchise that otherwise was building towards a championship.

4. Blackhawks -- They're young and better. But they're not at the level yet. In 2008-09 they'll sign a superstar defenseman and improve by 30 points.

5. Blue Jackets -- The Jackets have a lot of young talent that's overrated, and have big holes on defense and in goal. Teams like that finish at the bottom of the league, despite some hope at the beginning of the season.


NORTHWEST:

1. Vancouver -- You can never have enough Michigan men. And Roberto Luongo helps too. They underperformed for their talent last year. The Sedins and the Naslund/Morrison lines will produce again.

2. Avalanche -- Once they realize Jose Theodore should be the starter and Peter Budaj isn't, they'll be better. Ryan Smyth will get this team going again.

3. Wild -- Gaborik Gaborik Gaborik. If he's healthy, the Wild win. If he isn't, the Wild make the playoffs. If not, they're sunk.

4. Classless Turd Burglurs -- The Calgary Flames have the best fans in the game. The Flames' fans have the biggest bunch of deuchebags ever assembled as their team. They've been immune to Karma for a long time. Here's to it catching up, and this team getting sunk to the bottom with injury after injury. And may all decent folk laugh at their pain, as everything bad that happens to this team is wholly deserved. Sorry fans -- you do deserve something better than headhunters, cheaters, and a coach whose game is more about the refs than the opposing net.

5. Oilers -- Like the Flames, but without the talent. They'll go back to a trap, and be abysmal this year.


PACIFIC

1. San Jose -- It's finally time. They've put everything together for so long in San Jose, and Marleau as Thornton's winger will be good for at least two goals a game. Nabokov better be ready, now that he got them to move Toskala (like he did with Kiprusoff before him). He will be.

2. Ducks -- While Calgary has the least classy team, the Ducks have the league's least classy player in Chris Pronger. They added some huge pieces to last year's team, and they're all anyone could talk about in the offseason after winning their cup. I think there are more holes than they're given credit for, and they'll disappoint, though still be a top wild card team.

3. Stars -- This team just keeps truckin. They kept the guys they needed to keep, and Marty Turco is poised for a big year. You gotta love a team with defense, and they have enough assets to trade for the top scorer at the trade deadline.

4. Kings -- Another team I like in the Pacific. They're really young, but unlike other young teams, these guys are young, big and talented. Their division makes like hard, but L.A. is a better team than most realize. They're like Nashville a few years ago -- expect them to be in the hunt for the No. 8 spot.

5. Coyotes -- Not much to say. Gretzky went big and slow when the league went small and fast. They have some guys I respect, but this team is a pushover.

Playoff outlook:

EAST:
1. Ottawa
2. Pittsburgh
3. [Some team nobody gives two sh--s about (Atlanta)]
4. Buffalo
5. New York Rangers
6. New Jersey
7. [What's hockey? (Carolina)]
8. [What happened to Vanbiesbrouk? (Florida)]


WEST:
1. San Jose
2. Detroit
3. Vancouver
4. Anaheim
5. Colorado
6. St. Louis
7. Wild
8. Dallas


ROUND 1 Winners

1. Ottawa
2. Pittsburgh
6. New Jersey
4. Buffalo

1. San Jose
2. Detroit
3. Vancouver
5. Colorado

ROUND 2 Winners:

Buffalo
Pittsburgh

San Jose
Vancouver

Stanley Cup:

San Jose over Pittsburgh

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