I remember now.
During the 3 weeks that there was no NHL hockey this summer I was finally able to sleep without grinding my teeth, my hair stopped falling out and the chest pains subsided.
Ok, so maybe it's not as bad as that. But did you realize that of the 8 teams that played on "Opening Night" last night, 7 of them got points. No joke - look it up. The points for everyone league continues. Where the incentive for teams to actually try to win games in the third period? The current mindset in the league seems to be that if the game is tied in the third period both teams are content to go to overtime and maybe get an extra point. And even if they lose the game in overtime they still get a point. Not exactly do or die, is it?
I just don't understand this system and never will - surely there's got to be a better way. I don't think going back to ties is the answer but there must be something else.
Even though the season is a game or two old already, I thought I could still make a couple predictions without being slandered. I should say too that I haven't read anybody else's predictions about the NHL this year - so if these end up being the same as everyone else's out there it's purely by coincidence.
These are teams that weren't in the playoffs last year that I think will be in this year. And I'm not talking about teams like Colorado and Toronto that only missed by a couple points - I'm talking teams that weren't even on the radar. I'll pick one from the East and one from the West.
My sleeper from the East - the Florida Panthers... and I have no idea why. But my original rationale was that they have a goalie now - Tomas Vokoun, not realizing that they were one year removed from having one of the best goalies in the league - Roberto Luongo. I still have a feeling about them though.
My sleeper from the West - the Edmonton Oilers... I know, I'm as sick to my stomach as you are. And I hate to see totally inept management by Kevin Lowe be rewarded by a trip to the playoffs... but there seems to be some youthful exuberance around this team and a renewed energy. Of course I wish them nothing but the worst of luck.
These are teams that won their division last year or were highly seeded in the playoffs but will come crashing back to Earth in an ugly way this year. Same rules - one East, one West.
The nose dive from the East - the Atlanta Thrashers... they were an embarrassment in the playoffs last year and I can't see them even getting back this year. Every other team in their division should be better this year (Washington, Carolina, Florida and Tampa). I can't see them getting in again this year.
The nose dive from the West - the Nashville Predators... this wins the award for most obvious selection in an NHL prediction column. The Predators had a serious fire sale in the offseason and now it appears they are not going to have new owners - and possibly no owners at all. There is just too much turmoil on this team. And too many other teams in the West got better, while Nashville got worse.
I'm not going to pick all the playoff teams because that's just too much work - did you realize that half the league makes the playoffs in NHL? That's absurd. And they're talking about possibly adding more teams to the playoffs...
So here's just some random stuff that I can think of without doing any research...
First Coach to be Fired...
Probables - Bob Hartley (Atlanta), whoever the Philadelphia coach is (Philadelphia), John Tortorella (Tampa Bay)
Sleepers - Mike Keenan (Calgary), Tom Renny (NY Rangers), Guy Carbonneau (Montreal)
Biggest Possible Disappointments (high expectations, low payoff)...
Teams - NY Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs (perennially in this category)
Players - Sheldon Souray (Edmonton), Scott Gomez (NY Rangers), Jason Blake (Toronto)
Rookie of the Year
I know everybody loves Jonathan Toews to win this... or Jack Johnson - Pierre McGuire can now go back to having Mangasms about both of them. But I'm going off the board and picking Jonathan Bernier, who appears to be the starting goalie for the L.A Kings. I think he's eligible but who knows.
First NHL-Related Issue to Give Me a Stroke
Hits to the head is the Vegas favorite but I'm going to go with the point allocation system - nothing drives me nuts more consistently than that.
The Buffalo Sabres. You might ask how the top team in last year's regular season can be this year's Cinderella. Well the Sabres lost both Daniel Briere and Chris Drury - their top two players. Now just about everyone has written them off. I think the Sabres are going to be a lot better than people think they're going to be. I'm not sure if Bill Simmons' Ewing Theory can apply to two people but it might just apply to this year's Sabres. They've still got a lot of young talent and they're still lightning fast. I'm not sure how far they can go but look for them in the playoffs.
Stanley Cup Champions
The Detroit Redwings... I hate hockey.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I remember now.