Friday, 7 January 2011

Prediction Reviews-Eastern Conference

Before the season began, I took a shot at predicting the end of season standings. As we are now halfway through the season I thought it would be a good idea to revisit my predictions. As it turns out, predicting where teams will finish is a lot more difficult than I had thought.

Atlantic Division
rank-team-(my prediction)
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (1)
2. Philadelphia Flyers (3)
3. New York Rangers (4)
4. New York Islanders (5)
5. New Jersey Devils (2)

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

Southeast Division
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (2)
2. Washington Capitals (1)
3. Atlanta Thrashers (4)
4. Carolina Hurricanes (3)
5. Florida Panthers (5)

Here is a look at the conference as a whole:
rank-team-points-(my prediction)
1. Pittsburgh Penguins 56 (2)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning 53 (7)
3. Boston Bruins 48 (3)
4. Philadelphia Flyers 55 (5)
5. Washington Capitals 52 (1)
6. Atlanta Thrashers 50 (12)
7. New York Rangers 49 (11)
8. Montreal Canadiens 47 (9)
9. Carolina Hurricanes 42 (8)
10. Buffalo Sabres 39 (6)
11. Florida Panthers 38 (14)
12. Ottawa Senators 37 (10)
13. Toronto Maple Leafs 34 (13)
14. New York Islanders 30 (15)
15. New Jersey Devils 22 (4)

Biggest Surprises
Atlanta Thrashers: The Southeast Division as a whole is much better than I had anticipated. Steve Yzerman has done a phenomenal job in his first year as GM in Tampa Bay, revamping the team and speeding along their resurgence, but the Thrashers have really impressed me the most. that they are having their best season ever leads mt to believe there is a "Kovy Curse" and any team he plays on will greatly underachieve (more on that soon). The trade that landed them four players from last years Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks has really paid dividends for them. New captain Andrew Ladd has quietly been a great leader for them, s they have gone 15-6-3 since he was named captain on November 18, and Dustin Byfuglien has emerged out of nowhere to become one of the league's best defenseman. they are getting contributions across the lineup and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has recovered from a scary incident during the first game of the season and has been terrific so far this season.

New Jersey Devils: There really isn't much I can say here that hasn't already been discussed. Nothing has gone right for them this year. Somehow, the entire team is out of shape and Martin Brodeur looks like he can't stop a beach ball on most nights. He has set numerous records in the past few seasons, but now it seems since he has nothing else left to prove, he has given up. Good news for Devils fans though, they only have 14.5 years left of Ilya Kovalchuk. Every team he has played on has underachieved; the Thrashers had a few promising teams in the early mid-2000s but could only muster up one playoff appearance in which they were swept by the New York Rangers, Team Russia completely flamed out during the Olympics last year, and the Devils hardly showed any life in a five game loss to the Flyers last year. Usually his team loses while he gets pretty goals, but this year they aren't even getting that. Changes have begun recently with the firing of coach John MacLean and today's trade of captain Jamie Langenbrunner back to Dallas, but they still have plenty of work to do before they get back to respectability.

As it looks now, the playoff picture is pretty much set. The Carolina Hurricanes are in 9th place, five points behind Montreal for the eighth and final spot. There is always a chance for the 'Canes, or even the Sabres, Panthers, or Senators to go on a hot streak and pull closer to playoff position, but unlike the Western Conference, there is a clear distinction between the upper echelon and the bottom feeders of the conference.

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