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Monday, October 18, 2010

NHL Preview: Northeast Division Defense

Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara - Andrew Ference
Dennis Seidenberg - Mark Stuart
Johnny Boychuk - Matt Hunwick

Tuuka Rask - Tim Thomas

This is the most consistent set of blueliners in an otherwise rather deep crop of Northeast defensemen. I gave the edge to Boston because Chara will be a Norris candidate, while Toronto has a few guys that might be and Tyler Myers may be some day. Additionally, Rask played very solidly as a young goalie and if he suffers a slump, the Bruins have a Vezina Trophy winner keeping the bench warm.

Buffalo Sabres
Tyler Meyers - Shaone Morrison
Jordan Leopold - Steve Montador
Andrej Sekera - Craig Rivet

Ryan Miller - Patrick Lalime

Tyler Myers is a young, up-and-coming stud and will likely be a Norris Trophy candidate some day. The only reason I don't have the Sabres up higher is because we have only seen one season of young Tyler. The other guys are very solid -- Morrison, Leopold, Montador, Sekera, and Rivet aren't going to hurt the Sabres.

That said, the Sabres have the best goalie in the division -- and one of the best in the NHL in Sparty the Goalie. The returning Vezina Trophy winner has a steady blueline in front of him. Expect another fantastic year from Sparty -- and keep an eye on Myers.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Tomas Kaberle - Dion Phaneuf
Mike Komisarek - Luke Schenn
Francois Beauchemin - Jeff Finger

Jean-Sebastien Giguere - Jonas Gustavsson

Toronto is starting to put together a very respectable team on the blueline and are decent in net. They should start to shut some teams down with these respectable defensive pairings and if Phaneuf and Schenn can find the game that they are capable of playing, this team could be very scary in the back -- and that's even with Jeff Finger on the team!
Note: Finger has been since waived.

Giggy and the Monster are both capable goalies who have even more upside. If either of these guys find their games, the Maple Leafs may have the most stout defense in the Northeast. However, if neither of these guys find their game (or injuries linger for the Monster), this could be a very bad team, especially without much scoring up top.

Montreal Canadiens
Jaroslav Spacek - Roman Hamrlik
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Hal Gill - Ryan O'Byrne

Carey Price - Alex Auld

The Candiens defense is pretty respectable. P.K. Subban is an interesting blueliner. He's young with a rocket of a slap shot and could be a stud waiting in the wings. Hal Gill is Hal Gill, which really isn't all that bad for a third-pair guy. Spacek and Hamrlik have been top-pair guys for quite a while.

Now we get to the netminding situation. Umm.... Hmm... Yeah... Carey Price is apparently the man again in Montreal, and he needn't worry about Jaroslav Halak taking his net from him -- not from St. Louis. As a Carey Price fan, this must make you incredibly enthusiastic. As a Montreal Canadiens fan, this must make you incredibly worried. Price is going to get his shot...again. If not, I guess Alex Auld is okay -- nah, not so much. Price better man up.

Ottawa Senators

Sergei Gonchar - Chris Phillips
Chris Campoli - Matt Carkner
Erik Karlsson - Brian Lee

Brian Elliott - Pascal Leclaire

The Senators goaltending and blueline situation is just as precarious as the Canadiens goaltending situation. Gonchar is awesome if this were 1998 and you were in a bet with your best buddy that a Senators blueliner wouldn't add 20 power play goals this season. A more respectable bet might be Gonchar going minus-15 this season, though Chris Phillips is a respectable pairing for him.

In net, Brian Elliott might as well be Billy Elliott and Pascal Leclaire has a lot of questions to answer.

Northeast Division Defense Rankings
1. Boston Bruins
2. Buffalo Sabres
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
4. Montreal Canadiens
5. Ottawa Senators

1 comment:

  1. You are insane to put the Bruins on top in this division. Seidenberg was a good add, but I think the bottom could fall out in the goaltending department.

    Carey Price will make a believer out of somebody. Maybe not me, or you, though.


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