The 15 Teams in the WC, Sundin Next Week? And More…

Hello my fellow hockey fans. We’re just about to enter mid-way through September, which only means…..closing in on the puck drop. It is unfortunate that I will miss BOTH games between the Rangers and the Lightning. The teams will face off in the Czech Republic on October 4, and 5 at 12-pm et. But, I will finally get to see Washington DC as I’ve only passed by it going back and forth between New Jersey and South Florida. Nothing wrong with missing your favorite hockey team play twice after going through months and months without watching hockey. After all, I am adding more culture to my knowledge. Yep….., nothing wrong……. (insert a lot of cussing).

SO! Ok, I am going to briefly look at the 15 teams in the Western Conference.

Will we know what happens to Mats Sundin next week? Probably something new will come up.

I will further explain the HTR Experts idea, and in addition I will just give some off-topic talks. The Rangers will play against the Lightning back-2-back games in Czech Republic. Who will have the time to watch those games at noon? I mean really. Anyway, whatever the results are for those two games, I don’t see any meaning as to what to expect throughout the season for either team. Both teams made a lot of changes to their respective rosters. Both teams will struggle to adjust. It is a different setting. Is it different ice too? I don’t know. Good luck to both teams, but hey…. Let’s Go Rangers!

15 teams:

Detroit

Another year of Cup contention except think of the Wings as a software version. They were Red Wings v3.1 last season, and this season they will be Red Wings v4.1. Why? Marian Hossa. The team is not that much different, which is a big plus. One only concern is the goaltending. Do we expect Chris Osgood to perform the way he did last season? Will Ty Conklin be good enough if he is called upon? Ok fine fine…… Does it really matter who is in nets? No, of course not. Any average goalie will look like a solid goalie behind the Red Wings.

San Jose

They finally fixed their defense by landing Dan Boyle and signing Rob Blake. Experience, and unique talent for both players. Is it me, or does San Jose now have two players that have won the Cup and are the only ones to do so on their roster? That will make a difference. I’d highly fear the Sharks this year. I think we will see a completely different Sharks team come playoffs hockey. This is no longer the Sharks team that you expect not to reach the Finals, since they either choke or just lose to the Wings if they face them. Big Joe needs to take control of the situation in the playoffs this time, though. Point totals are nice, but how about showing a physical and dominating side on the ice? San Jose’s biggest advantage this year is their coach, who may know how to defeat the Red Wings. This is the year that i actually expect to see the Sharks reach the Finals and indeed win a Cup.

Minnesota

So they lose Rolston and Demitra, and Parrish. Three forwards. They added Zidlicky to their blueline, so that should bring more offense from the blueline. Antti Miettinen is a perfect fit for the Wild and I actually consider him a bit of a sleeper scoring 20 goals and 40 points. They also obtained Owen Nolan for physicality, experience, and leadership. In the end though, where will Minnesota go? I expect them to make the playoffs, since their goaltending is solid, and Lemaire always executes a brickwall defense. Yet, the team will never go too far nowadays with Lemaire as coach, and if that is the case then will Marian Gaborik be traded? Most likely he will be by either the deadline (depending on Wild’s position/situation), or the June Entry Draft.

Anaheim
The hangover from winning the Cup must be over now. Not much has happened with this team, though, and it could be more of the same. Their offense needs to be better as it was ranked rather low last season. They are always a scary team to play against in the playoffs. I expect Getzlaf to be a dominant presence this year.

Dallas

I am just not convinced about this team for this season. I hope they actually know what they are getting in Sean Avery, the fashionista of the hockey world. Good thing that Brendan Morrown will keep him under control, but you never know what can happen. Dallas seems to be getting old, and it was a superb move to acquire Brad Richards for the future. I expect him to have a very good season. The Stars will make the playoffs, but they do not seem threatnening.

Colorado

Does anyone have a friggin clue what this team is trying to do? I have absolutely no idea. They sign some good players, but they seem so disorganized. Almost as if they are losing their identity. I don’t know how a team could re-sign Joe Sakic, sign Darcy Tucker, and have Petr Budaj-Andrew Raycroft as the goalie tandem. I mean, seriously…..??? Double-u, teee, effff! Yet at the same time, while taking this huge gamble, if Raycroft actually settles down and plays good goaltending, playing 50 games or so, then talk about a steal. Otherwise, the Avs are marginally a playoff team.

Calgary

Congratulation to the Calgary Flames organization for actually making through one season with nutcase Mike Keenan. I think Kipper has handed the situation extremely well as he is playing his game with Mike. A player that head-butts with Keenan is a player that will go through a living hell and most likely be dealt. So, Kipper did a fine job last season whenever Keenan actually pointed a finger at him for poor play. Still, how long will this last? The Flames are a better team now with Bertuzzi and Mike Cammaleri, or Fried Calamari as I like to call him. I don’t know, but for some reason it goes well. Does it not? Besides, who doesn’t like fried calamari? Anyway, back to hockey. The Flames are a hell of a team now, and look for them to compete for a top seed throughout most of the season.

Nashville

So, it now seems that Nashville may get Alex Radulov back, and if they don’t want him back then why not trade the guy? And for the other 29 teams, why not acquire the guy? He has exceptional talent. I mean, this is where I think Pittsburgh should jump in and try to acquire him, and then sign him long-term. The Pens don’t have a good future on the wings, and I’d take Radulov over Satan and Fedotenko any day. The Predators did not do much this year other than keep their main core; however, this guy Ville Koistinen will certainly replace Marek Zidlicky, and expect him to have a break-out 38-46 point season. He’s got a nice shot and I like his offensive thinking. Also, can Dan Ellis repeat what he did? Never a sure thing, which may mean that Pekka Rinne may finally become a regular NHL goalie. I actually do not expect the Predators to make the playoffs. They are not any better than……….

Edmonton

This team can totally kick ass. Young, skilled, fast, and very offensive minded now. People talk about how certain teams have scary defenses, but who is not afraid of Tom Gilbert, Sheldon Souray, and Lubo Visnovsky? Andy Cogliano (I laugh at that last name since coglione is a faul word in Italian; they sound similar. And, by the way, the correct way to pronounce his last name is Co-yah-no. The ‘gl’ is like a ‘y’ in Italy). So, the Oilers also have Sam Gagner, who should have a hell of a season. They acquired Erik Cole to give them veteran leadership. Dustin Penner may finally feel more fit to play mentally. Goaltending should not be such a problem with Garon and Roloson. Who would not love this team? I had high praises for this team last year and even…..

Chicago

What a cool team. Finally the Blackhawks are back in action and looking to claim their reputation. Signing Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell added more smooth pavement to their future road to success. Not much else was added to the roster, but it did not needed either. Not yet. Let these young guns develop some more. Pat Kane is just such a show to watch. Jon Towes is a hell of a player, although I hope wearing the ‘C’ does not impact him a bit negatively. I still think he is too young to have it. The Hawks have the best goalie tandem in the NHL with Huet-Khabi, though he is expect to be dealt at some point. Their defense is also very good. Who wouldn’t want to watch this team play? I think they could use some more wingers, but they will come. Edmonton and Chicago are my two favorite teams in the West. I hope they both make the playoffs, and I expect them to.

Vancouver

Ever since landing Luongo, as he is entering his third year with the Nucks, this team has now added any more establishment. No key center, winger, or defenseman….though a solid defense as is already. I just don’t understand this though. You get Luongo, and there is already a management change. And quite frankly, what has Gillis significantly done other than take two risks with Wellwood (well worth it though) and Demitra (too risky). While injuries have hurt the Canucks, it’s not an excuse since they were not the only team to suffer injuries. The Canucks lack depth on the forward lines and not in a sense where you look at the depth chart and see a bad line-up. The Sedins, Demitra, Bernier, Wellwood, Kesler. That’s a good top six. Not great, but good. Thing is, will Wellwood and Demitra stay healthy? If not, then the Canucks have nothing to replace the two. Trading away Shannon made no sense either. Anyway, going back to the point I was making, the Canucks are thin as far as having a core for the future. Most of these players, save the Sedins and Kesler, are just additions, or otherwise known as gap fillers. This team has no forward core! How do they expect to be a strong team for the next few years? It’s not a sure shot to make the playoffs this season as teams such as the Oilers, Blackhawks, Columbus, and Phoenix, could add more competition to the Conference. Certainly, the Canucks will not have an easy time defeating the Wild, Oilers, Flames, and though the Avs are a decent team, they are not an easy team to beat. If the Canucks miss the playoffs again, then they face a high chance of losing Roberto Luongo the following year. And if that is to happen, then what was that trade for? Absolutely nothing. Wellwood and Demitra are good short-term additions, but why even bother offer $20M to Mats Sundin in the first place? Why not use such money to offer contracts to solid depth players? In the end, I believe that the Canucks have the ability to make the playoffs with Luongo alone, but the competition may be so high in the West this year that it’s like a 50/50 chance that they make it. If they do, that’s of HUGE importance as far as trying to then extend Luongo’s contract. If they don’t, then I sense a moment of Dark Ages for the Canucks to commence.

Phoenix

I honestly do not understand how people think this team is much improved. Acquiring Olli was great, and it certainly helps their offense, which was top 10 low in the NHL last season; however, it was already expected to see Peter Mueller, and Martin Hanzal, have career highs for this season. Phoenix was already in the bottom half of the league for ranked defense, and they absolutely made their defense a lot worse by trading Ballard and Boynton for Jokinen. Ok, that was a good trade, but the team did not improve. It got better, though not by a mile, on the offense, yet it got worse, by a mile, on defense and GM Maloney did not replace either defensemen. They have a core in Derek Morris, upcoming UFA and unlikely to re-sign, Zbynek Michalek, and Ed Jovanovski. Kurt Sauer is a good defenseman, but for the third pair. Then they have Keith Yandle who is average. David Hale is now a 7th d-man for some teams, and a minor leaguer for most. And, Matt Jones. Who? Matt Jones…..yeah….you know…. Matt. Right…… Ok so my point is their defense will likely allow more goals than usual, and a lot more shots than usual. Can Ilya Bryzgalov handle it? God I hope so because he is a cool goalie to root for. Still, it’s not set in stone he can be heavily depended on. I think Maloney will notice their poor defense by the end of pre-season, and make a trade to acquire some defensive help. Why not Malik? I don’t see the Yotes making the playoffs. No defense in the West means no playoffs.

Columbus

If I were to be an NHL center, at 26 years of age, played a solid number of NHL games, with a good reputation, I’d file a lawsuit towards the Blue Jackets for descriminating centers. WHAT IS THIS TEAM DOING!? How long has it been that they lacked an actual 1st line center? Who was it, Knutsen their last decent center that put up numbers? I don’t know. But this team just traded Nik Zherdev for two defensemen. Fedor Tyutin will undoubtedly have a breakout year in my opinion. I see him scoring 35+ points, and having a respectable +/-. Christian Backman may also have a breakout year. I think St. Louis did not understand what his abilities were. The Rangers definitely failed to use him properly in my opinion. Yes, the guy is weak defensively, but his main talent is brigning offense from the blueline. He can skate, but best of all, the guy has a wicked wrister when joining a play around the net. Let the guy loose, let him be the fourth forward. He easily has the ability to score 15 goals if he is allowed to be free. So, going back, they replaced Zherdev, a winger, with Kristian Huselius, another winger. Frankly, I don’t see how Huselius is an upgrade over Zherdev, but not my problem. Still, doesn’t this team understand that Rick Nash desperately needs a 1st line center? Now, many people will suggest that RJ Umberger is the guy. Has he ever played as a #1, or #2 center in the NHL? I don’t believe so. The guy is a solid winger and that’s where he kicked up his career, playing wing. Am I right Flyers fans? I think I am. I think the Jackets are a much better team now, but they evidently will lack depth down the middle, and they don’t have too strong of supplemental scoring. You will see Nash score 70+ points. Huselius 65-70 points. Umberger 60-65 points. Torres 45 points. They have to hope that the Russian duo in Nikita Filatov and Max Mayorov can breakthrough in the NHL. Filatov? I have no doubts the guy will be an impact NHL player. Here is the problem, though. Neither Filatov or Mayorov are centers! Hopefully good man Mike York will find his playmaking game again. Columbus will be tougher to beat this season, but can they get themselves ahead of Edmonton, Chicago, Bashville, Minnesota, and Vancouver? I don’t think so. Do you?

St. Louis

Blues fans should be happy with the way this team is turning out to be. It is in transition, so it is evident that players like Kariya, Tkachuk, Legace, and Mason are gap fillers. There is something that St. Louis needs to do first and foremost, and that’s getting a goalie for their future. This team has been the worse in the league in finding a goalie since the days of Roman Turek. That’s no excuse for a hockey club. You need a goalie, go get one. If your scouts are not good in finding a goalie within nearly a decade through drafting, then clearly some people ought to be fired, but how about actually getting a future goalie via trade? I know they are still hoping on Marek Schwarz, but the guy doesn’t seem to adjust to North American hockey. I like the young Blues players in Brad Boyes, David Backes (this guy can become a surprising power forwardish type of player), and Erik Johnson. They have some good prospects that may come up as well. I don’t see them making the playoffs, obviously. I actually see them competing for the #1 pick in the Entry Draft.

Los Angeles

Will this be the year we see Jonathan Bernier be the best teenage goaltender? I drooled over this guy’s potential last season. The Kings are bringing in freshly drafted Drew Doughty, who will impress Kings fans to a very promising future. Jarret Stoll was also a great addition. They no longer needed Lubo Visnovsky with the young defensemen they are bringing in, and besides….Stoll plays that powerplay point very well. Kings are putting themselves in a good situation. They will finish bottom five again, or quite possibly, and will draft another stud.

Training camp now starts next week, and for the Rangers it starts the 16th, so I read. What does that mean? We will know if the Rangers will still be in the hunt for Mats Sundin. If Sundin is not signed by next week, then expect Brendan Shanahan to be re-signed, and if that’s the case, then Sundin either retires, or signs in Montreal. Keep an eye out next week.

More on the HTR Experts idea.

First of all, I want to applaud Leafy for writing a heck of an article on 9/11. Yes, I usually do it, but I was out most of the day and of course, not even in the best of moods. Anyway, more on that shortly. I want to say, Leafy, that I was kidding around in my previous article, the one that you kinda blasted me with foul language. It was a sarcastic joke with the (cough cough) thing. I know you’re a very good contributor to this Web site and evidently you were someone that we’d look at. You still are after that 9/11 column.

Anyway, an HTR expert is pretty much someone like nordiques100. He is the perfect example of what we are looking. Now, it’s not a popularity contest. I want people that deliver quality, not quantity. So, if you are truly interested in taking such a responsibility, because it IS a respondibility, then any article that you write should have the subject headline of whatever the title of the article is, but at the end you have to include “EXPERT TO” (TO = tryout). That way we can examine it better. This is by no means a quick process and frankly we are not sure how many HTR Experts we are willing to have. Obviously, most like a few to see how it works out. I am also strongly considering disabling the posting of comments to an expert’s article and focus very much on ratings, voted by members.

What we want to try and do at HTR.com is keep it away from getting stale, and always keep moving it forward. Having so many members is not an easy upkeep. So, expansion is never out of the question. In fact, I will be looking for European hockey fans that frequent HTR.com. We have ideas in mind that could result in big changes. Thing is, Lint07, Trademan, and moi are busy, so it’s a slow process altogether.

But on the Experts thing, I like consistency, and grammar has to be acceptable. Definitely avoid having a lot of topics involved in an article. That’s my column, that’s my job! Talking about a bunch of hockey stuff. So, concentrate on specific topics. I really get fond of articles that are based on research too. In other words, don’t put much emphasis on personal opinion based on feelings and thoughts. One article per week is required for an HTR Expert. We’re definitely going to start small on this, so….considering that nordiques100 is already chosen, I’m not looking for many more.

While I am very busy, I am still very open to helping anyone who wants me to check out a written article before submitting it. Contact me by private messaging or by e-mail (m__peroni@go.com). I like to help, so I encourage that.

Anyway, more on what I felt yesterday….

I was also very upset with the people down here in South Florida as it felt like nothing but an ordinary day. Shame on them, and how easily they forgot. Unfortunately, there is a lot going on now with the elections, and unfortunately I’ve seen too much of political attacks from message boards I have visited late last night. Very disappointing and yesterday felt worse than years before. Too many people forgot. I even got so angry because the past three years I watched the 9/11 documentary on HBO and this time it was not aired on HBO. I have Dish Network, and HBO has plenty of channels. Instead, they showed their usual crappy movies. I was wondering why they did not do it this time. I mean really, why? I guess HBO forgot as well.

My favorite part of any 9/11 documentaries shown on TV that tell stories from people is the one of the firefighter named Dan Potter. This photo is quite popular:

http://www.fdnylodd.com/images/stories/9-11wtc/hero9.jpg

The story is the kind that gets you very emotional, especially for any man who is married. I don’t want to tell it here, it’s a bit of a story to tell, but I am sure you can find it on the internet.

All I want to say are such things as God Bless this beautiful country that has welcomed me with open arms when I was nine years old, and for giving me a life that I am grateful for.

Thank you for reading as always,

Micki Peroni