Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Preason Rankings Revisted

Harkening back to my "Great 8: Preseason Rankings" posted just prior to the season, it's now time to revisit since we're almost a month in...

At the time of that post, I felt there were 4 Western and 4 Eastern Conference teams with legitimate shots at the Cup. Let's take a look at how these 8 teams are doing now with their current records and prospects:

Western Conference

Preseason # 1: Detroit Red Wings - 7-1-1... all is well.

Preseason # 2: San Jose Sharks - 8-2-0... need to limit the # of goal allowed, but no need to fear. The pieces are all there.

Preseaon # 2A: Dallas Stars - 3-4-2... most goals allowed in the league (15 more than the Sharks), not good.

Preason # 6: Anaheim Ducks - 5-5-0... a horrific start, but have been much better of late. On the right track.

Eastern Conference

Preason # 4: Pittsburgh Penguins - 5-3-2... not looking too hot. Have injury problems to overcome on D, but also not getting the offensive production (11 shots against the Sharks Tuesday). Scary times in Steel City.

Preason # 5: Philadelphia Flyers - 3-3-3... pretty muddling start for the Bullies. Would like for Martin Biron to revert back to the form he showed in last year's playoffs, but goalies not named Martin Brodeur can be quite the enigma.

Preason # 7: Washington Capitals - 5-3-1... Not bad, could use some more scoring from Alex Ovechkin, but should feel going knowing that he's a superstar and will come around.

Preason # 8: Montreal Canadiens - 6-1-1... Looking good. Much of their success will hinge on the continued maturation of goaltender Carey Price who looks to have a much better playoff than he did in his rookie season.

Off these 8 teams, I'd say the ones facing the steepest climb to maintain/get back to the elite Cup contender level are Dallas in the West and Philadelphia in the East. For the time being, Pittsburgh gets a bit of a pass because even though they definitely need to fix some things, they've got Sidney Crosby and Evegeni Malkin.... they're good.

New Kids on the Block

This has all been about the teams that I thought in preseason had a legitimate shot at the Cup, but there's a been a few squads that look to join the group of contenders. The three with the best records are below:

New York Rangers - 9-2-1... very good hockey team. Scott Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky are playing like stars and if Wade Reddon can play D like he did a few years back, they appear to have a definite shot of coming out of the East.

Buffalo - 6-1-2... Buffalo? Really? I didn't see this one coming... won't be convinced until they can do it over a longer period of time.

Minnesota - 6-0-1... You have to respect the record achieved thus far (and without star player and trade bait Marian Gaborik), but I'm also still not convinced (though, it could be that I just find them to play kind of boring hockey and don't want to see that in the Cup Finals).

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