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Monday, September 18, 2006

Northeast Division Analysis

Since the training camp is on its way, it's time to look at the division where our beloved B's will compete.

Ottawa: It will be a though year for Ottawa since they have lost Havlat and Hasek. The goaltending will be a question mark even if the two goaltenders did do very good in the regular season last year. But, Gerber and Emery are still unproven regarding the playoffs. The big focus in Ottawa is performing in the playoffs. This team didn't find a way to win even when their team was packed withl talents. I don't expect them to do better in the playoffs, this year, since I didn't see on this team, character wise, what it takes to win it all. That said, Ottawa will be a tough client to handle with the like of Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza and we will have to wait, and see if their goaltending can put them on top or make their season under expectations....

Buffalo: If the name of the game is goaltending, Buffalo have definitely the best one-two punch in goal this year. Miller is solid and will be the future #1 goalkeeper of the team while Biron proved, last year, that he's a legitimate #1 especially when he came out of the blue after the injury of Miller to pull out a long strecht of wins for the team. Performing under pressure is something teams are looking regarding goaltending. If the right offer comes, through the season, Biron is a goner. The team was able to keep their defensive squad almost intact, McKee left for another paradise, but the core remains pretty solid. They have played very well last year, and I don't expect the situation to change this year. The upfront is almost the same minus Dumont. We will have to see what will be the impact of that loss on the team but with Briere, Afinogenov and co., they should be fine. Tim Connelly will miss the start of the season and it could slow down a bit their offensive punch at the beginning of the season. With their solid goaltending, I don't see Buffalo anywhere but at the top spot of the division.

Montreal: What can we say about Montreal since, in all the newspaper, they think that the signing of Samsonov will bring them the cup. Overrated is probably the word who can define the most the Habs this year. Expectations are always very high in Montreal but there will be no Lord Stanley parade this year. Their defensive squad still missing a legitimate #1 defenseman and I don't think that the likes of Souray or Markov are fitting the bill. This defensive corps is OK but speedy team will be able to create lots of opportunities against them. The key against Montreal is to pressurse those defensemans who had the tendency to panic under pressure. The goaltending is a question mark even with the success of Huet last season. Huet was a no show before last season and he will have to repeat what he did last year to make the team competitive. I don't think he will be able to do so and Aebeschier is as well. The upfront is loaded with overrated player like Bonk and Ribeiro. The addition of Sammy will add an element of speed but Samsonov is recognized, around the league, to make bad decisions around the net. Don't expect Sammy to change that this year. According to RDS and all the papers, Sammy will play with Kovalev and Ribeiro. The habs expect that the magic between Sammy and Kovalev (in the Olympics) could be repeat in the NHL. Wishful thinking, indeed, if there is anyone. I don't expect the Habs to be better then the B's this year even if, in all the papers and the media, peoples are fully convince that Sheldon Souray is a better defenseman then Brad Stuart... I tell you... Overrating is the key here.

Toronto: Quinn has left and he paid for last season mess. Very few players were added but some bad decisions will haunt the team like the signing of Gill (3 years/6 million) and the signing of McCabe where Toronto had to overpay him to retain his services. In that case, Ferguson cannot be blamed since there was a tremendous pressure from the fans and the media to re-sign him. The defense is, in my perspective, lacking of depth and I expect a very long year from that defensive corp. The goaltending is a HUGE question mark with Raycroft in goal. Do you think Razor will be able to bounce back with a defensive corp worst then what he had in Boston? You can toss a coin on that one. The upfront is very similar to last year except for the addition of Peca. The leafs have to find a player to play with Sundin because O'neill didn't fit the bill, right now. The season could be very long for Leafs fans and I expect John ferguson to be fired if things are not turning around which I highly doubt.

Boston: The most pro-active team this summer. They add Chara and Savard as their new high profile players. They addressed the depth of the team by signing Donovan, York, Dempsey and Mowers. The arrival of Savard will bring to the team a well needed scoring 2nd line. If Kessel make the team, it will be very intesresting to see what kind of chemistry will develop between those 3 guys. The success of the team will depend on the production of that line. The line of Bergeron, Boyes and Sturm will be a permanent threat, night in, night out and the third line composed by Primeau-Axelsson-Donovan should be very good in their role. The defensive squad have finally a legitmate #1 defenseman and they have one of the best. The arrival of Chara will stabilise the squad, remove the pressure of Alberts and Jurcina, and add leadership to a squad that was lacking of that, last year. The signing of Dempsey and York is good since it will permit to Alberts, Jurcina, and Mark Stuart to have to time to really focus on their developement. The question mark is definitely in the net where Toivonen show great skills and composure that he showed last year. The next question is: Will he will be able to repeat?Thomas proved last season that he can play in the NHL but it's always the same thing about Thomas: Which Thomas will be in the front of the net in that particular game. Do it will the stunning Tim saving the day save after save or the other Tim who can make a pass a goal from the red line. The same old question regarding Thomas is the same old question that prevent him to be a legitimate #1 goaltender in this league.

When you look at the division, the B's is the most improved team. The top teams will stay at the top but for the rest, it could be anyone's ball game. Therefore, here's my standing for the next season in the Northeast Division.

1- Buffalo
2- Ottawa
3-Boston
4-Montreal
5- Toronto

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU THINK TORONTO HAS WORSE DEFENCE THEN BOSTON HAD LAST YEAR, YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR MIND YOU FOOL. THE LEAFS HAVE WAY BETTER D THEN THE B's DO. AND THEY WILL, WITHOUT A DOUBT, FINISH AHEAD OF BOSTON, FORSURE!

7:17 PM  
Blogger Latrappe said...

Who talk about last year... And by the way, Toronto didn't the 1-2 puch the B's with Chara and Stuart. If you think that pavel Kubina could make it for the Hal Gill of this world, you will hit the wall fast. Toronto will finish last since they have to rely on aging veterans to make their offense works. But i won't prevent you in any way to believe in Toronto... They will need cheering for sure...

7:29 PM  
Anonymous bruins#1fan said...

I think the bruins will finish second in their division.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Toronto's D this year isn't that bad Latrappe. Don't forget Kaberele.

McCabe-Kaberele
Gill-Kubina
Belak-Colaiacovo

vs.

Leetch-Jurcina
Boyton-Alberts
Slegr-Stuart/Moran

7:47 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Also, I think Ottawa will have a hell of a tough time this season.

Can Gerber handle the pressure of Ottawa?

Will Corvo be able to replace Chara?

Will they miss Havlat and Smolinski?

Can Gerber be as good as Hasek?

7:50 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Can Spezza repeat?

Can Alfredsson handle the load?

7:51 PM  
Blogger Latrappe said...

I hear your points regarding Ottawa Matt. There is lots of question marks and i'm not quite sure of what they can do. They still have a good blueline and a very good first line. Until they prove us wrong, we have to consider them as premium team... But you made very good points Matt...

8:16 PM  

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