posted on Dec, 22 2006 @ 01:09 PM
I think this may fit better in the World Sports, mainly because the US does not always give hockey the recognition it deserves.
However, who are my thoughts for early contenders?
Well without a shred of doubt, Anaheim is the clear cut favorite. Gigeure is a proven goaltender, he did win the Conn Smythe on a losing team, and
Bryzgalov backing him up is just as impressive. (Hope I spelled that right)
With their defense and young core of snipers up front, they are a team that everyone should be avoiding come playoff time. Since October they have
lost 4 times in regulation. Can you imagine them losing 4 times in little over a week?
Buffalo was the early powerhouse in the East, but I believe Montreal is nipping at their ankles very closely. I think the Sabres & Habs are the two
favorites in the East. Both have dominant goaltending, Miller & Biron, Huet & Aebisher, with a dynamic core of offense. I think Montreal's defense
has the upper hand, but not by much. The Habs have the best Power Play and the second best Penalty Kill in the league, a league where a high
percentage of the game is played with special teams. So those stats can not be over looked.
All three of these teams have a few guys up front with experience, but are inexperienced as you trickle down through the line up. So it will be
interesting to see how it plays out come playoff time.
Detroit is another team that we can not overlook. Nobody is more experienced than these guys, even with the losses of Yzerman, Shanahan, Federov,
Hull, etc., from recent years. They still have the ageless Hasek and Chelios. Lidstrom on the point is always one of the best in the league, and
Zetterberg and Datsyuk up front provide a one two punch that is tough to match up against.
The grit and determination of Calgary and Edmonton is something that teams should fear. But I don't think Calgary has the offensive output to do too
much damage come playoffs, even with Iginla, Tanguay, Friesen, etc. And I don't think Edmonton has the defense to match up against other teams in
the West. The loss of Pronger will be felt big time come playoff time.
The Dallas Stars are one team that I over look on a daily basis. They've put up staggering numbers every year, and every year I overlook them.
Mainly because they fail to make an adjustment in the net. Turco is one of the best goalies in the league, until you are playing for the cup. He
will flop this year, just like last year, and the years before that.
Outside of Buffalo and Montreal, I see the cup going back to the Western conference this year. Atlanta, New York, and New Jersey are all good teams,
but at this time of the season, it looks like they don't match up.