September 29, 2009

Pointless Predictions for the 2009-10 NHL Season, part I

Some highlights from last year's predictions:

  • Said that Maxim Afinogenov would have a bounce back year (6-14-20 in 48 games).
  • Said the Bruins would "sneak" into the playoffs (#1 seed in the East).
  • Said the Stars would finish 2nd in the West.
  • Said the Sabres would make the conference finals.
  • Said the Blackhawks would miss the playoffs.
  • Said the Coyotes would make the playoffs.

I know that Coyotes thing probably made you stop reading already, but in 2010 I'm all money, baby. I swear on it. You can take this shit to the bank, or better yet your seedy Russian bookie because I'm basically going to spoil the future for you. (*Note: The Triple Deke is not responsible for the loss of your life savings, home, wife/husband/children and/or any personal possessions; all picks below are made with roughly 3% confidence, are loosely based on factual evidence and incorporate a large amount of "gut feeling", which right now is being severely affected by that chicken gordita ranch thing from Taco Bell.)

Today we have the predictions for the East, tomorrow we'll have the West.



The Islanders have 17 goalies on their roster. I looked it up. Unless the league allows them to use two in the net at once, they'll be competing for the #1 pick next year once again. Any hopes of John Tavares having a storybook rookie season that elevates the Isles toward playoff contention were ruined when he ended up on my fantasy team.


With Phil Kessel they have a guy who is first-line-caliber talent, and also rumored to be a huge douche bag. Brian Burke is also a douche bag, and assembles teams that fit his douche baggy image. But Kessel is a different kind of douche bag in that he's apparently a prima donna who doesn't work as hard as he should, while Burke's teams are a goon type of douchey that, while still douchey, are gritty and tough and don't douche well with Kessel's douchiness. I picture this ending like a lousy cartoon where the two dim-witted bad guys end up turning on each other while the good guys escape and save the day. I don't know exactly what I'm referring to but it sounded at least marginally familiar so I'm sticking with it.


Pascal Leclaire has had one good season and is coming off major ankle surgery, so I don't picture him being the savior of anything, at least not this year. They could also struggle to find a consistent offense this year if the additions of Kovalev and Cheechoo are too streaky and fail to support the Spezza/Alfredsson tandem -- a tandem in which one guy is 37 and declining, and the other sounds like this.


Nowhere to go but up after last year's depressing, mullet-y season, although they won't stray too far from the bottom of the pack. I actually kind of like what they did over the summer and really wouldn't be surprised if they pose as playoff contenders for some part of the season, but ultimately they won't score enough outside of their top 4 or 5 guys.


This isn't an overly horrible team, despite the name "Atlanta Thrashers" weighing on the entire franchise. Defensively they could be righting the ship with Pavel Kubina joining Zack Bogosnian and Tobias Enstrom on the blueline. A full year of a healthy Kari Lehtonen in goal would obviously be huge. Offensively they won't have much of a problem as Ilya Kovalchuk -- probably my favorite non-Red Wing, although this might be something I have to look into -- will score about 120 goals as this is his contract year.


I'm really not sure. I think they could finish as high as 3rd or as low as 11th. While it's hard to bank on Marian Gaborik playing even 65-70 games, they've got enough talent to make things interesting when his inevitable absence occurs. I guess the bottom line is that I thought the sound of "Gaborik to the Rangers" was so hilariously ironic that I'm not confident enough to say they'll make the playoffs.


They're coming off a deep playoff run, so according to their history the Canes are due to miss the playoffs in 2010. That's just math, really.



My inexplicable crush on the Sabres permits me to overlook their defensive flaws, think MSU alum Ryan Miller will be healthier and better than he actually is, and leads me to believe they won't miss the playoffs for the 3rd straight season. They don't have the same caliber of top-level talent on their scoring lines that other teams do, but the first two or three lines are better than many. To actually make the playoffs though they're going to need for a lot of things to go right, like having Miller and their blue line hold up for the duration of the year.


Is it such a bold prediction that the Panthers will jump only two spots ahead of where they finished last year, with a good goalie duo, a new coach who they seem to be excited about (grasping for straws here), some promising young talent (really grasping), you have a bias toward former Spartan David Booth (not relevant), and you think Jay Bouwmeester is a bit overrated (100% hunch)? I won't insult you by backing this up with an argument, but I just have this feeling that after they trade their star defenseman and have all this talk about the team getting sold that they're going to surprise all 28 of their remaining un-alienable fans and push for their first playoff appearance in 10 years.


Chris Pronger. Ian Laperierre. Ray Emery. Scott Hartnell. Danny Brierre's salary. Even Flyers fans don't like the Philadelphia Flyers.


Aside from the awesome Zach Parise -- another non-Wing favorite -- there isn't a ton of offense to be excited about. The good news is that their defensive corps, which going into last season was suppose to be a weakness, is actually a pretty solid group who helped allow the 4th fewest goals in '08-09. By bringing back Jacques Lemaire the Devils not only guarantee that they'll be a tough out in the East but they also have me feeling a bit nostalgic. Despite the '95 Devils being one of my least favorite teams ever, I have to concede that anything that reminds me of the mid 90's nowadays makes me happy in comparison to my growing fear of adult life in the 2010's. Dear God somebody please turn on Darkwing Duck and help me find my pogs.


Deep defense and a blind hunch are the reasons for having the Habs so high. But will the ridiculous roster turnover be too much of an adjustment? This summer their front office looked like somebody playing a video game and seeing how many deals they could pull off. "Dude, I just traded Chris Higgins and three people I don't know to the Rangers for Scott Gomez."


"I don't know. Maybe because I can. That's why. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to sign Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri so that I have a first line that totals 11 feet in height."


Something about this team is just screaming "let down" to me, but I can't really back that up with anything, nor summon the balls to say that Montreal will win this division. They shed Phil Kessel's douchiness but also his team-leading 36 goals, which has to hurt. I guess I think that they just had so many things fall into the right place last year, and duplicating that would be tough. I'd put them lower but they're .... well, they have a lot of good players. Guess that would contradict or something. Oh and I change my mind, Tim Thomas is my favorite non-Wing.


The easy thing for an emotionally crippled Red Wings fan to say is that this team will experience the Cup hangover, struggle through the first few months and then make a joke about them moving to Kansas City after a four game losing streak, which then of course brings up the "empty seats at the Joe" thing, which then leads to the "who's fans suck more" slap fight that occurs every other day and turns the Internet into a terrible, horrifying black hole from which you can never escape. So let's not go there. The more difficult thing to admit is that they're actually a really good team that should challenge for the Cup again this season. Anything less than a return trip to the Finals would be a disappointment to them.


I struggled to settle on a #1 seed in this conference. What I'm ultimately thinking is that Ovechkin is so pissed about losing a Game 7 at home to the Penguins (hey now) that he's going to be playing this season on fire. Like literally in flames. Anything he does wouldn't surprise me -- posting 70 goals; kicking the goalie's head off like Shawn Michaels every time he scores; eating his own feces during one of those bizarre Russian interviews; having sex at center ice with Evgeni Malkin's parents... anything could happen. But aside from Ovie's accomplishments, this should be a slightly better team as the great young talent gets even better, and Mike Knuble brings them some of that late 90's Red Wing mojo.

Capitals over Sabres
Penguins over Panthers
Bruins over Flyers
Devils over Canadiens

Capitals over Devils
Bruins over Penguins

Bruins over Capitals


mrfluffy said...

"Anything less than a return trip to the Finals would be a disappointment to them."

And I can't wait for them to loose. Rosby's face will be oh so phunny. Sad Panda, even.

cmk said...

Any team not feeling slightly nauseous at the thoughts of playing against Philadelphia is deluding itself. I think they're scary--and not necessarily in a good way. With adding Pronger, they seem to be getting back to the Broad Street Bullies days. However, it will be fun to watch them go against the Pens. I can't wait to see whose head accidentally gets in the way of Pronger's elbows.

Osrt said...

DarkWing Duck reference = shiny balls awesome.

I don't know the East like I do the "West"––where we don't fuching belong––but I'm rooting for Ovie, despite some of his insanity. I'm good with the Bruins too.

J.J. from Kansas said...

My prediction is that the Flyers will rack up so many penalty minutes, it will tear a hole in the space-time continuum, causing a playing-shape Gordie Howe and a grown up grandson of both Nick Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman* through the rift to take over spots on this year's Red Wings lineup and guaranteeing a cup for the Motor City.

* (after one of Nick's sons falls in love with and marries one of Stevie Y's daughters, as fate demands)

Triple Deke Staff said...

"after one of Nick's sons falls in love with and marries one of Stevie Y's daughters, as fate demands"

Sometimes I wonder if players ever hop on the internet to see the weird shit that fans say about them. I know I wouldn't be able to resist.

The Flyers are certainly not going to be easy to play against this year. They seem like a team that's not really built for a marathon season but rather a brutal playoff series. The thing that held me back from predicting success for them (aside from the psychosis of Emery) is the humongous dropoff in talent after their top 6 forwards. They go from Richards/Carter/Gagne/Hartnell/Brierre/Giroux to like Pat Falloon.

- Tyler

Osrt said...

Other genetic experiments:

Fil + Alyonka Larionov = prettiest playmaker of all time. Ovie is just Ron Jeremy in this scenario.

Me + Stevie's legal daughter = pure win. (But can you imagine the pressure to make her "win" at least three time)

Too bad Sega doesn't make a game about this...

Osrt said...

Tell me you saw this:

He grew up in Norrkoping, which is about 90 minutes south of Stockholm, and first became enamored with the NHL when he was 8 years old. NHL Hockey, the first installment of EA Sports' NHL video-game series, came out on Sega Genesis and Ericsson thought it was "really cool" that you could shoot hard enough to break the glass.

"I was 8 and I started to play a lot of video games with the NHL on Sega," Ericsson said. "After that I got more interested in watching games. It started with those video games, though."

Side bar story of this article:

Triple Deke Staff said...

I'm speechless. That is just too fantastic.

Chris said...

And don't forget, Hartnell is the dumbest mammal alive. Noone that dumb has ever won the cup, including Meathead himself, Pronger. Just imagine the conversations between those two though.

Note on that, I just had to use spell check to figure out how to spell mammal. And the first two times it didn't recognize the word. Fuck, the irony.

Chris said...

And did you know, that 20 year old Pat Falloon was the leading scorer on the initial expansion year for the Sharks? Also on that team that year, 20 year old Ray Whitney. Falloon had 59 points. Whitney had 2.

Last season Whitney had 77 points for the Hurricanes, while Falloon was arrested for doing blow off a hookers ass-crack. (Note: may or may not be factually true.) Oh how times change.

The more you know...

Fox said...

Hey, some of like Pat Falloon! And Whitney. And deny that the Al Sims era ever happened. It didn't, you know.