It’s been a helter-skelter week for me, and I’ve not been doing my due diligence on here. Thankfully, my nonsense didn’t keep the rest of the network from soldiering on with our 30-in-30 project, so I’m going to do a bit of catch-up here while watching the rest of this Leafs-Sabres game. This could get a bit long, with four teams to catch up on, but here goes. Up first, we have our friends at SenShot.
You won’t catch me saying many complimentary things about the Senators, but I’ll do my best to be objective here. From what I’ve seen through the preseason, Mika Zibanejad will be a legitimate NHLer. The goaltending will be the Sens’ biggest issue, but it certainly won’t be their only one. I just can’t see the Sens being competitive in most games this season, but Tony Mendes has a couple of ways that they could see some success this season after the jump.
For the Sens to be successful this year, a lot has to go right. Health was a major concern last season and it will be again this year. All the veterans on the team have a history of injuries and will need to stay healthy for Ottawa to have any chance of staying out of the NHL basement.
With at least half the team under the age of 25, the Sens will need all of them to learn very quick how to play in the NHL or there might be some very long nights for Sens fans.
Read the rest of his preview here.
On to Philly, where Paul Holmgren decided to take a team that was, less than 2 years ago, just 2 wins away from the Cup, and literally blow it up by trading away his two most recognizable core players. To fill the void left by Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Holmgren will be relying on Jaromir Jagr, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Max Talbot and Jakub Voracek. Adding those five guys to JVR, Giroux, Briere and Hartnell gives the Flyers a pretty solid forward group, if not as deep as it has been in years past. Eugene Markman explains why.
He is the main reason the Flyers began reshaping their roster. Ilya Bryzgalov did not come cheap, signing a 9-year, $51M contract. Management decided they will no longer stick to their philosophy of having an incredible group of skaters, and a pretty good goalie. Now, they have an elite goalie, with a bit less depth in front of him…The new look Flyers will be very, very different from last season. If healthy, they’re coming back with a stingier defense than last season. Chris Pronger is now the captain, taking over the role vacated by Mike Richards. Aside from a new title, that doesn’t really change Prongs’ role on the team. He’s been a very vocal leader since coming over a few years ago. The goals should be a bit harder to come by for opposing teams because of Ilya Bryzgalov in net. While Bobrovsky was very, very good, he wasn’t great. He could play, but he didn’t seem to be able to handle the workload. Maybe that’s the coaches fault, but that’s a different discussion.
Be sure to read the rest of his write-up here.
Out in Phoenix, the team whose loss was the Flyers’ gain, things might be looking a little bleak. A team that relied on superstar goaltending and solid defense to prop up a passable offense suddenly has a very weak situation in net. Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera are both more suited for backup duty than a full-time gig, and the ‘Yotes don’t have the offense to win in a slugfest. That said, they still have one of the best captains in hockey and some solid veterans, but I’ll let Glenn Brewer fill you in on that.
You can’t begin talking about the wings without mentioning Shane Doan. This man is a true warrior, and is not showing signs of slowing down. The power play has grown since Doan’s arrival at the point last season. Ray Whitney has brought the offensive creativity that this team has been missing the last few years. He truly proves why he is nick named the wizard. Whitney is able to keep the power play out of prolonged slumps, while contributing with several line mates. Whitney brings a unique style to the wing, similar to Ales Hemsky on the Edmonton Oilers. The playmaking ability is much needed due to the lack of offensive production at the center position.
Be sure to read the rest of his preview over at Howlin’ Hockey.
Finally, we have the Penguins, a team that should be rolling into this season with some real confidence after they showed they could still compete, even with two of the game’s best players on injured reserve. A big part of that was the additions they made to their defense last offseason, but an even bigger element of their success (after putting a rough start behind him) was Marc-Andre Fleury. More on the man they call “Flower” in Pitt from Bill Mayer.
Fleury has established himself as a legit #1 goaltender. He was incredible last season after a terrible start. Unfortunately, he sputtered ever so slightly in the playoffs and was outplayed by senior citizen Dwayne Roloson. All that said, the Pens are lucky to have Fleury, who should win over 35 games for the fourth straight season. Brent Johnson gives the team a more-than-capable backup. Need proof? He went 13-5-3 with a 2.17 GAA last season and was awesome early on when Fleury struggled.
Make sure you read the rest of his season preview here.