Team By Team Analysis Through October 25, 2007

So far the 2007-08 NHL season has been quite surprising through the first 8-10 games. Just doing a quick analysis of all 30 teams.

Anaheim Ducks: Are really feeling the losses of Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer. Haven’t quite had a healthy team as J-S Giguere started the year on the IR and same goes with Matheiu Schneider. Corey Perry has stepped up and made his presence known by scoring and leading the Ducks in Penalty Minutes. Most likely going to turn it around and should go fairly deep in the play-offs. Current Record: 4-6-1, 9 Points

Atlanta Thrashers: Disappointment is an under-statement. Can’t score goals even though they have Kovalchuk and Hossa. Bob Hartley’s regime shouldn’t have carried over to this season. Kari Lehtonen has been nothing but a disappointment before going down with a groin injury. They desperately need a coach and a true #1 Centre to pass pucks to Kovalchuk and Hossa. Could be a long season for the Thrashers. Current Record: 2-7-0, 4 points

Boston Bruins: Have been a real surprise to open the season. Tim Thomas leads the NHL in GAA and Save Percentage and looks like he may be stealing the #1 goalie tag from Manny Fernandez. But seriosuly, how long can this stretch last? They’re running on Bergeron, Murray, Chara and Savard. Current Record: 5-3-0, 10 Points

Buffalo Sabres: Have been a disappointment thus far and are really showing the effects of the loss of Briere and Drury. Pominville has been fairly solid. Ryan Miller hasn’t shown any real sign of brilliance thus far but I expect that to change as he is the real deal. Should be seeded around 6th in the East when the play-offs come. Current Record: 3-5-0, 6 Points

Calgary Flames: Have caught fire of late after a slow start. Managed to come back from a 3-0 deficit to beat Minnesota 5-3 Wednesday night. Iginla has returned to his 50 goal form and leads the team in points. Shouldn’t really let up because Kiprusoff is gonna want to earn that big contract next summer. Curent Record: 5-3-2, 12 Points

Carolina Hurricanes: Being led by Cam Ward so far as he is showing his 2006 Cup Run wasn’t a fluke. Eric Staal has returned to form and Rod Brind’Amour and Jason Williams have been on fire all season. Should continue to dominate the weak South East Division. Current Record: 6-1-3, 15 Points

Chicago Blackhawks: Got off to a fast start for a team projected to be a bottom tier team. Loss of Havlat hasn’t really impacted the team as Toews and Kane have led the offence. Robert Lang seems rejuvenated as he has 5 goals so far. If the key components can stay healthy and if Havlat can return to 100%, their is no reason to believe that the Hawks can’t make the play-offs. Khabibulin has been fairly solid but could definitely be better. Current Record: 5-4-0, 10 Points

Colorado Avalanche: Being led by a surprising sophomore, Paul Stastny. Need to improve their road record as they have been perfect at home. Budaj must improve his play in order for the Avalanche to do well. Sakic and Brunette are their consistent selves again. Current Record: 5-4-0, 10 Points

Columbus Blue Jackets: Who could have thought that the Blue Jackets would be over .500 after 8 games? Ken Hitch***** is definitely what this club needed. Rick Nash is returning to his old self as he has 7 goals and 12 points so far. An unexpected fan favourite has emerged from the Blue Jackets depth in Jared Boll. He pretty much fights every game and really gets the crowd into the games. Pascal Leclaire has stolen several starts away from Frederik Norrena with his shutouts. This might be the year Columbus becomes a Play-Off Challenger. Current Record: 4-3-1, 9 Points

Dallas Stars: Playing boring hockey again this year, as evidenced by their 22 Goals For and 19 Goals Against. Unexpected emergence of Niklas Hagman as he is thriving in Dave Tippett’s system. Brendan Morrow seems to be returning to his old form as he has 4 goals and 6 points through 8 games. Mike Modano is a shadow of his old self but could turn this around. Both Marty Turco and Mike Smith have been battling some nagging injuries but should be 100% soon. If they can keep the defensive play working all year, they could make the Play-offs as a middle seed. Current Record: 4-2-2, 10 Points

Detroit Red Wings: Are yet again thriving in one of the NHL’s weakest divisions. But their Dominant ways could end as early as this season but most likely will end next season as both St. Louis and Chicago are proving they are better then before. Allowing less then 20 shots pretty much every game, which makes Hasek’s job that much easier. Could be in trouble if Hasek gets injured. Division Title is theirs to lose. Current Record: 7-2-1, 15 Points

Edmonton Oilers: Pretty much have been playing like expected. Losing both Souray and Pitkanen for 2-4 Weeks won’t help the team. Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano have been nothing but great so far. Question is, will the NHL scheduele have it’s effects on these 2 promising stars? Most likely will be better then expected but not by much. Current Record: 3-6-0, 6 Points

Florida Panthers: Started off slow but have somewhat picked it up. Vokoun has been fairly decent thus far and should continue to improve. Bryan Allen, the last remaining link to the Luongo deal, has been a major disappointment and one of the leagues worst +/- guys. Cory Murphy has carved himself a nice niche on Florida’s Power Play. Olli Jokinen has achieved some milestones lately and should have his annual 40 goal, 90 point season. Vokoun may be Florida’s key to the Play-offs. Current Record: 4-5-0, 8 Points

Los Angelas Kings: Promising start in England was erased with a 5 game losing skid, which ultimately led to Jonathan Bernier’s demotion to Lewiston. Jason LaBarbera has been solid in his last 2 outings, picking up 2 wins and a shutout. Mike Camalleri has been on fire all season long, leading the NHL in goals with 10. Anze Kopitar is quickly eliminating the possibility of a sophomore jinx as he has 12 points through 10 games. Not quite a Play-off team yet but if they get a certified #1 goalie, they could quickly find themselves in the play-offs. Current Record: 4-6-0, 8 Points

Minnesota Wild: Are utilizing the theory “If we don’t let you shoot, we won’t lose” to the fullest. Niklas Backstrom has been brilliant in all but one of his starts. Eric Belanger has been a pleasant surprise, playing very well under Jacques Lemaire’s defensive system. Marian Gaborik has been more of a disappointment with his one goal so far. Brian Rolston and Pavol Demitra are proving that age isn’t a factor in the new NHL. They are the real deal and they should win the Northwest. Current Record: 7-1-1, 15 Points

Montreal Canadiens: Have been surprising everyone so far with exceptional forechecking and defensive play. Huet’s been brilliant in all but one game. Higgins is off to another fast start and should keep it going all year, baring injury. Kovalev has not been a distraction thus far and has seemingly regained his old form. Play-offs aren’t out of the qustion and in fact, should be quite attainable. Current Record: 4-2-2, 10 Points

Nashville Predators: Expectations and performance are about that same as the Preds are noth
ing like they were last year. After starting 2-0-0, they have since dropped 6 in a row and showing the effects of all the talent lost during the summer and all the talks about moving the franchise. Side note, through 4 home games, the Preds are averaging 13 687.25 people per game, just under the necessary 14 000 people per game needed to keep the team in Nashville. Current Record: 2-6-0, 4 Points

New Jersey Devils: Have unexpectedly started slow. Marty Brodeur has shown some signs of aging. Take it, that could just be the effects of a depleted defence. Zach Parise has been great so far and has been one of the lone bright spots to start the year. Also, the Devils season opening 9 game road trip comes to an end after tonight. Current Record: 3-4-1, 7 Points

New York Islanders: Have exceeded expectations as DiPietro continues to earn that 15 year contract. Mike Comrie has stepped into the Isles 1st line Centre role with 10 Points in 8 games. Bill Guerin has proven to be an effective Captain, sharing the team lead in Points with Comrie. If this team can stay healthy, they might be able to squeeze into the Play-offs again. Current Record: 5-3-0, 10 Points

New York Rangers: Who knew that with the Rangers off-season signings, the Rangers problem’s would be on offence and not the expected defence? This team should be able to rebound and hit their stride right around December, like they did last year. For a 3rd consecutive season, Henrik Lundqvist is showing why he’s one of the NHL’s elite. This team’s just too good to score just 13 goals through 8 games. Current Record: 2-5-1, 5 Points

Ottawa Senators: What can I say? This team is just that damn good. Heatley-Spezza-Alfie just seem unstoppable at this time. With Emery coming back, the Sens may struggle a wee bit if they play Gerber and Emey in a rotating style. The Northeast is the Sens to lose and if they do end up losing the Division Title, it’ll be because of *****iness and just lack of effort by the whole team. Current Record: 8-1-0, 16 Points

Philadelphia Flyers: Early season success has most hockey fans saying the Flyers are Cup Contenders. One little problem with that. They have yet to face a real challenge. The only team they have played that hasn’t been struggling is Carolina and Philly beat them. Let’s see how they stand once they face the likes of Ottawa, Pittsburgh and the Rangers when the latter two are hitting their stride. Briere’s been great so far and is leading the team. After leaving the game against Florida with dizziness, Gagne’s health could be in question. However, he is supposed to play against the Bruins on Saturday. Current Record:6-2-0, 12 Points

Phoenix Coyotes: The Desert Dogs have begun the 07-08 season as expected, struggling. With Alex Auld and Mikael Tellqvist splitting the goaltending duties, the Coyotes could potentially hold upsets over several teams as both goalies are NHL capable. Scoring is the biggest issue in Phoenix as 7 players are tied for the team lead with 4 points. Frederik Sjostrom leads the team with 3 goals thus far in 4 games. Current record: 2-5-0, 4 Points

Pittsburgh Penguins: Got off to a very slow start but have since won 3 in a row. Sidney Crosby still has yet to hit his stride despite having 8 assists and 10 points. The Pens are just hitting their stride and should start winning more games and eventually taking the Atlantic. Current Record: 5-3-0, 10 Points

St. Louis Blues: The St. Louis Blues are vastly improved from last year and could potentially challenge Detroit for the Division Crown as early as this year. Take it, the Blues have been rolling along since hiring Andy Murray as their head coach last year. Paul Kariya has worked some great chemistry with Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk early on thus far. Manny Legace has been solid, giving up just 13 goals in 7 games. This could be a Play-off bound team come April. Current Record: 5-2-0, 10 Points

San Jose Sharks: The Sharks have been pretty much average so far this season and have been powered by the emergence of Milan Michalek, Jeremy Roenick and Craig Rivet. They should get moving soon and should take advantage of the struggling Ducks to gain a big lead in the Pacific Division. Current Record: 5-3-1, 11 Points

Tampa Bay Lightning: Inconsistent start thus far this season, going unbeaten at home and winless on the road. If everything clicks, they could be the only team to challenge the Canes for the Southeast Division. Vaclav Prospal has emerged as an unexpected goal threat as he leads the team with 7. Paul Ranger has done a tremendous job replacing the injured Dan Boyle. This team has loads of offence and could surpass the Leafs as the highest scoring team in the NHL. Current Record: 4-3-0, 8 Points

Toronto Maple Leafs: Have shown signs of being a brilliant offensive machine as well as a line-up full of defensive liabilities. The emergence of Nik Antropov as an offensive threat has surprised most. Sundin’s been nothing short of brilliant but is 37 and in all likelihood won’t keep this type of pace much longer. Simon Gamache has played very well since his call up. Hal Gill’s been the Leafs best defenceman thus far with a +6 rating. If the defence doesn’t improve soon, the Leafs will be on the outside looking in. Current Record: 3-4-3, 9 Points

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks worries of offence have come true as they have been outscored 32-27 through 10 games. The Sedins seem to be in on all the Canucks goals and if that trend continues, the Canucks could be on the outside looking in. Luongo’s been a major disappointment thus far, losing 6 of his first 9 starts. Things aren’t looking too bright for the Canucks but things should turn around and they should be making some noise come Play-off time. Current Record: 4-6-0, 8 Points

Washington Capitals: Ovechkin and Semin have finally got some offensive help in Nylander, Viktor Kozlov and Nicklas Backstrom. If Semin can comeback from his ankle injury and post similar numbers as last year, the Caps could potentially be on their way to the Play-offs, but a more realistic goal is a season record above .500. Kolzig’s been playing mightily thus far, going 3-2-0 with a 2.42 GAA in 5 starts. Current Record: 4-4-0, 8 Points

Those are just my thoughts on all the teams. Love to hear what you have to say.


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