Thursday, September 3, 2009

Atlantic Division Breakdown

Patrick misses his Caps. Arguably, the toughest division in the whole league, with four potential playoff contenders, and the reigning Champs. With the exception of the SC champs these four teams are so close to one another in distance its like a house league.

Lou's biggest acquisition this summer was picking up Lemaire, and making Devils hockey mind-numbingly boring. A while back, I wrote that the regime change in Minnesota might finally end annoying hockey in the League for good. Well, thanks Lamoriello, thanks a fucking lot.
The Devils lost two key members to free agency in John Madden and Brian Gionta, and didn't really pick up anyone to fill those roles. But they've still got Marty Brodeur, and with Lemaire's system it will probably be enough to get them to the dance.
Off-Season Grade: C
Regular Season Finish: 6th in the East, 3rd in the Atlantic

I believe that Charles Wang fucked over a lot of people to get where he is, and karma is taking it out on him and his poor Islanders. After Garth Snow made the no-brainer by taking John Tavares #1 overall, he decided not to give him any offensive help. I'm sure JT will be paired up with Okposo, but who else? Why wouldn't you go out, and throw some money around to add some goal-scoring? There were plenty of guys waiting for phone calls out there, who would have been glad to play anywhere, there still are. But no Snow decided to go pick up some veteran goaltenders to back up his 15year franchise elephant. Its hard to get any worse than last, so lets be optimistic and say they'll finish... second to last.
Off-Season Grade: D
Regular Season Finish: 14th in the East, 5th in the Atlantic

Glen Sather was busy this summer. I guess if you look busy, people won't notice that you suck at your job. But you've got to give him credit, he somehow pulled off moving Gomez's overhyped contract, by getting nothing in return. But he was up to his old tricks again offering ridiculous contracts to players who won't live up to them, like paying for Marian Gaborik's groin to work for five years at $37.5million, or Ales Kotalik $9million for three years to win shootouts. He brought in Brashear, who maimed Blair Betts, to fill Colton Orr's spot as team enforcer. But I guess Sather's thinking was if you don't re-sign Betts it won't be awkward in the locker room. He brought in a couple of other players nobody wanted, (Arnason & Prospal), and told others to take a hike (Zherdev, Antropov). The head-scratcher, not bringing back Brandon Dubinsky, probably the hardest working and eager young kids on the team. He's still out there, waiting for a call, probably a numbers thing, but still, he made $635k last year, give him that last half million of Gaborik's money.
Off-Season Grade: C
Regular Season Finish: 7th in the East, 4th in the Atlantic

A fair amount of hockey fans are predicting that the Cup stays in Pennsyltucky, just not in Steel Town. I am not one of them, but it won't be for lack of trying. Paul Holmgren added a lot to the line-up, and tried to build a true contender almost overnight. The big move was adding Chris Pronger to the defense, and only losing Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa in the process. The big question for the Flyers will be goaltending swapping out Biron and Nittymaki, (which wasn't working) for ticking timebomb Emery and Boucher (which may never work). They also swapped out heart-and-soul guys Mike Knuble for Ian Laperriere, losing a scoring touch for a chip on the shoulder. After pure exhaustion in their first round exit to the cross-state rivals, the front office has re-stocked nicely to go deep, but probably not all the way.
Off-Season Grade: B
Regular Season Finish: 3rd in the East, 2nd in the Atlantic

Pittsburgh Penguins - Its hard to argue with a winner, but no one's repeated in over 10 years. Now that's disparity. The Birds lost back-up netminder, I mean defenseman Rob 'The Piece' Scuderi to LA, and the speedy Hal Gill to Montreal. They did toss a few others to the curb, Satan, Sykora, and Phillippe Boucher, who are more than likely on their way out of the league anyway. Other than that, not a whole lot has changed, no earth-shattering acquisitions, but they did pick up (actual) back-up netminder Brent Johnson, and defenseman Jay McKee. The Pens still look very strong, and could very likely end up in the Finals once again, but I have a feeling that if they do make it that far they'll be losing out to their West counterpart. Who that is will have to wait until the next edition!
Off-Season Grade: B
Regular Season Finish: 1st in the East, and therefore 1st in the Atlantic.

Up next, we'll switch over to the Western Conference and breakdown the Central Division. But don't rush me, I pretend to work for a living.

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