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Friday, September 17, 2010

NHL Preview: Atlantic Division Forwards

New York Islanders
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey - Rob Schremp - Blake Comeau
Jon Sim - Frans Nielsen - Trent Hunter
Trevor Gillies - Doug Weight - Zenon Konopka

The Islanders are a team with no more than a top line. And really, it’s not much of a top line…I’m sure Scott Gordon can make something happen with these guys since he’s been coaching for two years in the NHL and is very consistent(ly bad). Ok, so maybe this won’t be the year for the Isles, and the same may go next year. But rebuilding a team is tough, and you have to live with a few shortcomings…or many shortcomings. The top line is very young and showed they know how to stir a defense when on top of their game last year. The only problem is they have no history of repeating that. 2010-11 will be the year that tests whether the top line is or isn’t for real. Players like Okposo and Moulson need to continue last year’s production or Gordon won’t be afraid to throw in replacements. Bailey, Shremp, Comeau, Nielson, and Hunter all showed signs of talent and really could fit anywhere on this roster. In fact if you put this roster through a random generator, I bet you’d come out with roughly the same output. They will be the team that whoops up on a high seed a couple times this year because of the consistent lines, but they most definitely will be at the bottom of this division…again.

New York Rangers

Vaclav Prospal - Erik Christensen - Marian Gaborik
Alexander Frolov - Brandon Dubinsky - Ryan Callahan
Sean Avery - Chris Drury - Todd White
Brandon Prust - Artem Anisimov - Derek Boogaard

The Rangers have been in limbo for the last 15 years and are due to challenge the division leader. Their top line will be great, and their second will be as good as the Isle’s first. Their third is perfect and their fourth is just plain scary (Boogeyman). The only problem is you never know what happens within the Rangers’ locker room (apart from Boogaard getting snapped in the ass with a wet towel). I don’t think the coach has real control over his team and I think his team is trying to figure him out, without success. Torts is such a strange fella (probably the guy on the other end of the wet towel). He will flip out, and he will sit with all his Torty looks:
These looks are what make the lines for the Rangers so unpredictable. When Torts stops shuffling lines and “teaching his players a lesson” the Rangers will level out into a strong competitor.

New Jersey Devils
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac – Ilya Kovalchuk
Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston – Dainius Zubrus – David Clarkson
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond – Rod Pelley – Vladimir Zharkov

The rise of the Devils is always as scary as their top lines, and this year will be deadly. Parise has proven he is the young foundation of this team and Zajac will forever be at his side. With last year’s addition of Kovalchuk, and 
the possibility of Kovy moving over to the right to accommodate Parise, line 1 could be in the top 5 of the NHL.
They have sufficient depth that was proven by big performances last year by Zubrus and occasionally Clarkson. The comeback of Arnott will solidify the defensive side of the game. Expect a rock solid performance that could land them in the top spot in this division.

Philadelphia Flyers
Scott Hartnell - Mike Richards - Nikolai Zherdev
James van Riemsdyk - Jeff Carter - Claude Giroux
Ville Leino - Danny Briere - Ian Laperriere
Darroll Powe - Blair Betts - Daniel Carcillo

The Flyers loss of Gagne may just work with the addition of Zherdev. Zherdev’s second attempt at the NHL could pay off after having a pretty good season in the KHL (52 games, 13 goals, 26 assists, and 39 points). The youngsters of years past should be primed enough to fulfill the roles they are expected to. If Hartnell gains back what he once had, the outlook for Philly could be a repeat with a better ending. Their depth is near perfection, and the only thing they don’t have is a forward who we know will put up a point-per-game, though at least two forwards certainly could. The possible addition of Guerin (signed to a tryout) would top the tank. Their depth is the strongest in the division.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Mike Comrie
Eric Tangradi - Jordan Staal - Evgeni Malkin
Tyler Kennedy - Max Talbot - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Mike Rupp - Arron Asham

Can the Penguins do it again? It’s hard to say. We all know they have two of the best in the league, and their power play is superb (though less now without Gonchar). They do have a new top-line right wing that we all don’t believe in. Comrie has proven he’s not what everyone hoped he’d be. I will be upset however if he’s the target of high expections just because he can occasionally fumble around with a pass from Sid. I know the Penguins try to create depth, but the truth of the matter is we’d like to see Malkin and Crosby together.
It’s like taking Backstrom away from Ovechkin; no one needs to see that. Kunitz has proven he was a fluke in Anaheim and will continue his sub-Saku numbers here in the Pitts. I do like the last two lines because they play the way the team needs them to play. With the addition of Asham, I think the fourth line will get a little more time than most others in the league and it will show on the scoreboard. Look for them to squeak out a top spot in the division.

This division is a crap shoot for the top three, and I may even be inclined to say four, but the only thing I can say for sure is the Islanders will hold strong at number 5.

Atlantic Division Forwards Ranking 

1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. New Jersey Devils
4. New York Rangers
5. New York Islanders


  1. Best BN Picture ever. By the way, could we just avoid typing out Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond's name by calling him P-Triple-L? That way, he doesn't lose his hyphens but we all get a well-deserved rest.

    I hate you for putting the Rangers fourth, but I also can't argue. The truth hurts sometimes.

  2. I also have to say that I'm not sold on putting Parise and Kovalchuk together as a good idea. Elias on the top line and Kovalchuk on the second would make for a far better set-up. Otherwise, I'm seeing visions of the Jokinen-Iginla headache from last year, where two volume-shooters did not work well together.


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