Thrashers preview and predictions with Magic 8-Ball

After again watching 16 other teams compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup last spring, seeing Evander Kane taken with the fourth overall selection in the draft, learning of the trades and signings that brought players such as us Pavel Kubina and Nik Antropov, observing training camp activities and becoming reacquainted with the team in preseason…we have now finally made it through to the other side. One more summer has come and then taken it’s leave of us as we find ourselves now standing at the threshold of the tenth season of Atlanta Thrashers hockey. As such, it’s time for me to gaze into my crystal ball and see if I can properly prognosticate what lays ahead for the residents in Thrasherville.

Well, actually…I don’t really have a crystal ball. I did asked the AJC to procure one for me but the request was denied. The guys downtown were, however, kind enough to forward me this old Magic 8-Ball from the 1970’s. But I’m sure it’ll work just as good…right?

First we’ll review the offense, defense and goaltending… then we’ll get to my prediction on how many points they’ll earn and where they’ll finish in the standings. Let’s begin first with the strength of this team, shall we…the offense.

OFFENSE:

Take a look at the potential top three lines here…Kovalchuk-Antropov-Little…Kozlov-White-Afinogenov…Peverley-Reasoner-Armstrong. On paper, that’s about as potent an offense as we’ve come to see in these parts. Last season the Thrashers attack scored goals at a clip of 3.05 per game…which was the ninth-best in the NHL. During the second half of last season that was closer to something like 3.44 G/G.

Maxim Afinogenov joins a very potent Thrashers offense (AP photo Gerry Broome)

Maxim Afinogenov joins a very potent Thrashers offense (AP/Gerry Broome)

I’m very excited about seeing Antropov on Kovy’s line with Bryan Little. This is a guy the captain lobbied heavily to get in here, so you can bet your bottom dollar that Ilya’s all geeked-up about it himself. My only concern is Nik being in the center.

Count me in as one of those who sees the signing of Maxim Afinogenov as a very good thing for Atlanta. Oh, and the price is right too…a mere $800,000.

Also, It’s great to have the likes of Marty Reasoner, Colby Armstrong, Todd White, and Slava Kozlov returning as well as the fourth-liners of Jim Slater, Eric Boulton and Chris Thorburn. There was a good deal of chemistry formulated via their great run to end last season and I think it’s something that will carry over this fall.

And I’m very excited about seeing a full season of The Pevs Dispenser dishing out his passes and serving up good, responsible play in the defensive end of the ice.

So, my first question for the Magic 8-Ball is…can this year’s offense perform at or above last year’s?… shaking Magic-8 Ball…”Outlook Good”!

Next…will Kovalchuk score 50 goals and 100 points?…shaking Magic 8-Ball…”As I See It, Yes”.

What about the power play…can it do better than last season’s 11th best 19.3% efficiency?…shaking, shaking…”Most likely”.

Honestly, John Anderson’s O-fense is going to do just fine overall.

DEFENSE:

The addition of Kubina is a big plus for the Thrashers…not just on the blueline, but on the power play as well. He’s big, 6-4 and 244 pounds, and can use his size well. He’ll probably be paired with Ron Hainsey, who’s entering his second year as a Thrasher. Zach Bogosian gets to officially drop the title of “rookie” from in front of his name and should see Super-Swede Tobias Enstrom alongside of him. Rounding out the defensive corps will be Boris Valabik, Mark Popovic and Anssi Salmela…two will play 3rd line defensive minutes, the third will observe the action from the press box.

Gotta tell ya folks, this has the potential of being the finest group of defensemen this organ-I-zation has assembled. But I say this for different reasons than the offense. Whereas the front lines have been fairly decent at times over the years, the words “Thrashers” and “defensive powerhouse” have rarely ever been used…uh, OK make that “never”…never been used in the same sentence together. But this group appears to be more solid than what we have grown painfully accustom to in these parts.

Look, nobody expects this defense to operate with the efficiency of a finely tuned Swiss watch…but as long as they don’t more closely resemble Swiss cheese, they’ll be fine. Especially if the offense is crankin’ out goals the way I think they will be.

Shots against are usually a problem with defenses past. Normally opposing teams will take 32-34 per game on the average…40+ games are not uncommon. This is especially troublesome when so many come at close range. Last spring this improved some…both in overall numbers of shots taken and proximity. And while I look for that trend to continue, one should not expect anything near the Red Wing-esque 25 or 26 SA/G numbers.

But the main issue on defense is the penalty kill. This particular aspect of the Thrashers’ game has been weak for years…at or near the bottom of the league. If last Sunday’s 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay is indication…giving up 3 power play goals…then this is going to be a major problem.

Solution? Well…stay out of the penalty box, I guess.

One last thing…team defense requires forwards to back check and help in the defensive zone. A lot of the problem in the past has been the lack of this. One of Anderson’s biggest chores this fall is to address this and improve it. Doing so will go a long way in determining the team’s success.

Now, back to the Magic 8-Ball. Can this defense hold teams to at or below 30 shots per game on a regular basis?…shaking Magic 8-Ball…”Signs Point To Yes”.

OK, what about the penalty kill…can it at least look respectable?…shaking, shaking…”Don’t Count On It”.

Goals per game…can it hold teams to 3.00 GA/G or less? …shaking, shaking…”My Sources Say No”.

This defense looks to be bigger and stronger than those of the past. The question is…will it be less porous?

GOALKEEPING:

Early on in the summer, this was seen to be an area of strength for the team. Kari Lehtonen played very well down the stretch and we have the ever-reliable Johan Hedberg backing up. Ondrej Pavelec was available if need be to be called upon in case of an emergency…just as he was during “Kari Down ‘07” and “Kari Down ‘09”. However, it was a given that he would otherwise spend his time with the AHL Chicago Wolves.

The fact that we were so deep in goalkeepers led general manager Don Waddell to openly discuss how one of them could/would be used to trade for a player that could sure up other areas of concern for the team.

Hopefully Opie will have a better showing than he did last Sunday (AP photo/ John Amis)

Hopefully Opie will have a better showing than he did last Sunday (AP/John Amis)

However…

Kari went under the knife in July to address a herniated disc in his back. Before you knew it, “Kari Down ‘09” came about sooner than expected.

The organization was prudent enough to invite veteran netminder Manny Legace into camp for a tryout…but ultimately Waddell & Co. decided to offer Manny…and his 177-92-18-18 record, 2.38 GAA, .912 SV% and 23 career shutouts… a contract to play in Chicago with the Wolves. According to C-Viv, he chose to try to find another team in the NHL or in Europe.

Pavelec…with his 6-10-0 career record, 3.42 GAA, .890 SV% and as many career shutouts as your or I do, zero….will more than likely be between the pipes on opening night.

Now, all that means is Opie once again has a chance to be a hero. If he can help welcome Kari back…whether that’s in two games, two weeks or two months…to a team that has a winning record, or even just break even, then he’s done his job and everyone is happy.

Returning then to our Magic 8-Ball… overall, how will the goalkeeping be for the Thrashers?…shaking, shaking…”Cannot predict Now”.

I would assume this is because Kari’s return is still yet unknown and Opie’s abilities as the starter is still a big question mark. Quite frankly, the sooner Lehtonen returns, the better.

Recap And Prediction Time

So then what do I predict will be the fate of this Tenth Edition of the Atlanta Thrashers during the 2009-10 NHL campaign? Well, I think that a lot of the good play we saw last spring was not a fluke…that we’ll see more of the same through the course of the season. There was a good amount of team chemistry that was created by their success then and we should see the benefits of that throughout the season.

Shake up your Magic 8-Ball and tell me what it says about the Thrashers playoff chances

  • Don't Count On It: Fewer Than 76 (5%, 8 Votes)
  • My Sources Say No: Between 76-81 (12%, 19 Votes)
  • Very Doubtful: Between 82-88 (30%, 47 Votes)
  • Most Likely: 89-94 points (45%, 71 Votes)
  • Yes-Definitely: Above 94 points (8%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 158

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The defense looks a lot better to me then what we’re used to seeing…especially that top-four group. While I’m not expecting them to lead the league in stats, if they are simply average we’ll be fine.

Goalkeeping, especially at the beginning of the season, is a concern of mine. But I think…no hope…no pray… that Opie and Moose will be able to handle the first few games until…crossing fingers…Kari returns in a few weeks. Lehtonen showed us last spring what he could be once healthy and focused and I would have been a lot happier if he were starting and not Opie. Sure wish I knew who was in charge of deciding to wait until July to have the procedure done and not earlier on.

As for special teams, the power play will be fine, penalty kill…not so much.

Bottom line, I have this team pegged for anywhere from 86 to 90 points and making a run at the postseason. How well the defense is improved and what happens in goal will decide where in that range they’ll fall. For the sake of Brendan’s Points Prediction and Placement Contest… think we will see a team that’ll finish with 88 points, say a record of 39-33-10, and fall just short of the postseason…third place in the Southeast Division and tenth place in the Eastern Conference. Unlike last year, I don’t see them being quite so Jekyell and Hyde by playing very poorly one half then very well the next. I think they’ll be more consistent as the season progresses.

Oh, I almost forgot… one last, very important question for the Magic 8-Ball.

Will Ilya Kovalchuk re-sign with the Thrashers soon, or will we be dealing with this throughout the season…possibly into the summer?

shaking the Magic 8-Ball…”Reply Hazy, Ask Again”.

shaking again…”Ask Again Later”.

shaking again…”Cannot Predict Now”.

Ugh…

220 comments Add your comment

goose

September 30th, 2009
9:34 pm

Buzz

September 30th, 2009
9:52 pm

Where does Kane line up? I predict a trade of Armstrong perhaps.

I think Bogo will play alongside Kubina and Hainsey and Enstrom will be the 2nd pairing.

Our goalie situation is bleak, even healthy you have to wonder if Lehtonen is good enough. Roberto Luongo (or even Tomas Vokoun!) could have made this a playoff team some time ago. Pavs has not been as good as hoped for. He looked bad in the Lightning 5-1 preseason loss.

I think they can make the playoffs, but if they lose Kovalchuk to another team, the Thrashers should move to Phoenix and die a slow death like the Coyotes.

Krust

September 30th, 2009
9:54 pm

We will make the playoffs

Rawhide

September 30th, 2009
9:58 pm

Where does Kane line up? I predict a trade of Armstrong perhaps

Buzz – That makes me scratch my head too. Once Army is ready to go…I see no room for Kane.

We will make the playoffs

Krust – Hope you’re right…my prediction of 88 points indicates not but I do think they can make a run…depending, of course, on the defense and in goal.

rightshot

September 30th, 2009
9:59 pm

Nice overview. Better than anything I have seem else where. I think once the goal tending situation is worked out (looking skyward) we should be ok.
Hopefully the immediate road trip will have a similar, if not better, bonding effect on the team than last years trip out west and they can start off well and keep it up all season. (Again looking skyward)
Over all I think it will be an improved team and hopefully enough so that Kovy will resign a long term contract.(Clasping my hand together, falling to my knees and looking skyward with much earnest and humility and hope)
GO THRASHERS!

NYC

September 30th, 2009
9:59 pm

Silver? Holy s^*t!

Darkhorse

September 30th, 2009
10:19 pm

OK Brendan-I have much angst over this, but I’ll let the optimistic side show through a little. Thrashers-93pts, 3rd in division, 7th in conference. If things are progressing well, they will have cap room to make a move at the deadline. Just hope it’s not Kovy going the other way. The goal situation scares the hell out of me though.

World Be Free

September 30th, 2009
11:15 pm

I am going back to one of my recent themes-team defense.

This team must back check, reduce the odd man rushes, clear the front of the net (are you listening Boris?), cover the points and get the centers involved in neutralizing scoring chances down the middle. Limiting the opponent to 27 shots or less should be our “goal” for every game. We have had the entire summer watching teams on NHL Netwaork playing great defense in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Also-get Kovy’s name on a contract now. You wanna get everyone fired up? Get his commitment, so we can move forward starting Saturday night.

mehoff

September 30th, 2009
11:17 pm

I’m gonna go 98 points, 2nd in divison, and 5th in conference.

I agree with rightshot, i think the the road trip at the beginning will be a good thing.

As far as Kane goes, he’ll get his shot… I don’t see them trading Army. Most likely, he’ll play his 9 games, and if he over performs, he’ll make the team and thors/slater will be scratched. But most likely, the penny-pinching ownership group will send him back for another year in vancouver.

the goalie situation is still a gigantic concern. This is the chance for Pavs, like it or not.

If Kovy’s not signed by Dec. 1st, he’s gone…. we have to get off to hot start

Sara

September 30th, 2009
11:25 pm

I’ve been watching NHL Network’s “Is This the Year” and the thing they keep coming back to is a real dogfight for the bottom 2 or 3 playoff spots in the East. The problem is almost every team either stayed flush or improved. Tampa got a defense. Toronto is grittier and sure looked good in the preseason. Ottawa may well have improved via the ol’ addition by subtraction by moving out Heater and his attitude. The list goes on.

I think the Thrashers *can* be a playoff team this year. However, the competition is going to be fierce and I’m starting to worry that we may miss out by a nose because of the tight race. But that’s why they play the games as they say and we won’t know until the puck officially drops on this season for the team. I’d say my biggest hope is that if things do not get off to a good start, that both the coaching staff and management/ownership react quickly to that. If Valabik keeps screwing up, hopefully they bench him for someone steadier and less penalty-prone. If Pavelec and Moose aren’t up to the task, and Kari isn’t available, get someone else in here – heck even if it’s MacIntyre. If the PK is faltering, stress staying out the box and spend every practice reviewing tape and working on it til they get it right.

A big problem in the past (particularly under Hartley) was a lack of swift action when things did not work well. It was a bit better last year in that some guys that were not working out here (Williams and Christensen) were jettisoned. Even that took much of the season however and we can’t wait until January to make changes if they are still needed.

I’m generally optimistic but this season there is so much on the line that it’s hard to be blase about any of it.

Brendan

September 30th, 2009
11:37 pm

Buzz, like I was telling Dwayne on the other blog, if Waddell is targeting a high dollar player in a trade, Colby Armstrong’s $2.4 million going the other way is a nice way to keep the cap around $50.0 million. That is, if Waddell really has been ‘greenlighted’ to spend $50 million. Hey, who said speculating isn’t fun? My guess is that Colby Armstrong would prefer to be playing second line minutes. Somewhere, ANYWHERE. If Colby got that chance, he might even welcome the trade. Colby was an RFA this Summer, but he opted to sign a 1-year deal.

LAC

September 30th, 2009
11:37 pm

Long season folks, #17 gone at trade deadline, out of playoffs again, nowhere close and I believe waddell WILL get fired FINALLY after all of his screwups ! Just another tough season to endure…

ben

September 30th, 2009
11:43 pm

waddell won’t be fired. i feel that his job has nothing to do w/ point totals. a trade is coming

Brendan

September 30th, 2009
11:54 pm

Well Rawhide, I finally pried it out of you! You’re in … at 88-points, 3rd in SE Division, and 10th in Conference. I think that’s an excellent pick. FYI, at 88-points, 3rd in the SE Division, and 8th in the Conference is five_hole. At 88-points, 3rd in SE Division, and 10th in conference, AN IDENTICAL VOTE TO YOURS, Rawhide, is Viking. At 88-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 8th in Conference, is Get The Puck Out. That’s quite a logjam at 88-points.

Mehoff, you’re entered at 98-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 5th in the Conference. So that you know, at 98-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 6th in Conference is Jameson. At 98-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 8th in Conference, is “rightshot.” That one might be a nail-biter for the three of you at 98-points. Good luck to all of you.

Darkhorse, I got you locked-in at 93-points, 3rd in SE Division, and 7th in the Conference. So that you know, at 93-points, 3rd in SE Division, and 8th in the conference is WBF.

At 94-points, is “Putting On the Foil,” tied to 2nd in SE Division and 6th in the Conference. At 92-points, are “ben,” “DWTOO,” and “mutton.” Ben and DWTOO have a 2nd place finish for the Thrashers, whereas mutton has them 3rd. Ben has them 4th in the Conference, DWTOO has them 5th, and mutton has them 9th.

frosty the snowman

October 1st, 2009
12:12 am

Brendan, put me down for 76 points, 4th in SE, and 14th conference.
Kovy is gone in free agency

Brendan

October 1st, 2009
12:13 am

ben and LAC, Don Waddell doesn’t get fired. I’ve learned that. But, he doesn’t have to be fired to not be here next season. He could just “not get renewed” during the offseason. Forbes Magazine says Waddell’s contract is up at season’s end. I don’t know that I believe Forbes, however. If I know Waddell, he has clause in his contract that says if he’s still the GM on Opening Night, 2009, then an automatic 1-year contract extension kicks-in. And even if there isn’t any such clause, what are the odds this ownership won’t just renew him in October or November, anyway? Actually, rubbin’ my chin, the moment Kovalchuk is re-signed, that’ll probably also be the moment where the Atlanta Spirit Group, LLC announces a new contract for Waddell.

What?

You doubt that? If the Spirit, LLC wanted to fire Waddell, they’d have done it long ago. They like him. Or they’re at least ‘pleased enough’ by what they’ve seen. Or they’re just plum, too darned lazy to attempt to search for another GM. I don’t know. I can’t apply logic to the Spirit. Though with ASSOCIATE GM Dudley here, they at least have an heir apparent, should they decide to fire Waddell. Which, again, doesn’t happen. Don Waddell doesn’t get fired. That’s the rule. If Don Waddell is no longer the GM, it means he’s been promoted to President or CEO of the Atlanta Spirit Group, to oversee the budgets of both the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers. So, he’s not really gone. And probably controls whatever Dudley would want to go as the “named” GM.

stendec

October 1st, 2009
12:21 am

No playoffs for ice chokers! Thrashers will once again be near or at bottom of league in goals surrendered. Due, mostly to, ah, forget it! Soft goals will be the norm not the exception. Thrashers will continue to be absent without leave on home ice. Most heartless defeats of season will be reserved for home fans. Teams will scheme to neutralize lone Thrasher offensive threat. Ilya Kovalchuk will become increasingly frustrated at being held, punched and hounded by goons from drop of puck to final buzzer every game. This constant attention will result in even more missed open nets and microscopic misfires. I am certain Russian led world in this dubious category for all professed hockey stars. That rage will equate to more senseless penalties being taken. Thrashers will have one of most inept power kills in league. Power play will not be much better as powerless one last season. IK will be shadowed forevermore like that raven said. Numerous bouts will be tied late only to have…oh well, what is the use in even trying to tell unbelievers? I will not have to call for tar and feathers for certain netminder after another nauseating campaign. Many of his most staunch supporters now will be scouring Atlanta for those items. Enjoy KL this season. It will be his last with a bird on his shirt. Peace.

Brendan

October 1st, 2009
12:29 am

Frosty The Snowman was a jolly, happy soul, but not with a picks prediction of 76, 4th and 14th. I don’t know that we can sit through A-N-O-T-H-E-R 76-point campaign. But, nonetheless, you’re registered for just that, Frosty, tied to 4th place in the SE Division and 14th in the Conference.

Brendan

October 1st, 2009
12:40 am

If Kari could be traded for a better goalie, with years left on his deal, perhaps Waddell would do it. Perhaps. Is such a deal possible? I have the feeling that we just have to hope Kari comes back from this injury and has a great year. His trade value isn’t high. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that it’s yet another ‘contract year’ for Lehtonen, where he’s got to produce to command higher dollars. Next Summer, Kari will still be restricted, believe it or not. So, he won’t get paid UFA prices.

Well, this situation is quite ideal for Pavelec, considering that he WANTS to be this team’s #1 goalie. What BETTER OPPORTUNITY is there … than RIGHT NOW … for doing that?

Hockey Biltong

October 1st, 2009
12:41 am

what???!!! you get tired of bashing the Falcons???? sheesh.
Brendan, I know you have me down, but I am now paranoid since you didn’t mention my prognostication…

Brendan

October 1st, 2009
12:54 am

Hockey Biltong, you’re registered at 91-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 5th in the Conference. You can breathe easy now.

Smoothie

October 1st, 2009
1:05 am

Angst and worry are bred by idle inactivity or in this case, a long wait for the season to begin.

Obviously we look better than last season on paper as of Opening Night. BUT we won’t know much more than we do now EVEN IF we trounce the Dolts on Sat. I’m sure most folks here recall the triumphant outcome on 10/10/08 when we opened the season vs eventual EC finalist WSH.

Its a long season and we will not know what we have till late Oct or early Nov after the team has a chance to settle in at home after the 5 game roadie.

Having said that, I’m not quite as optimistic as before considering our GAA over the last 5 pre-season games was 3.4. The offense may have more off nites early on before things click with the new components. As a result, we may come out of Oct 3 or 4 gms under .500, UNGOOD!

Thusly, I’m going to change my prediction to a record of 39-36-7 and 85 pts, good enough for 4th in the SE and tied for 10th in the Conf.

I surely hope I’m wrong and we can eek out another 3 or 4 wins to sneak into the playoffs.

Thrashy Thrashy

October 1st, 2009
1:54 am

I’ll go with 87 points, 3rd in SE, 10th in conference.

five_hole

October 1st, 2009
7:29 am

I’m feeling really good about this team. We’re bigger. We’re faster. We have great goaltending. Ok, maybe not so much on the last one. And that’s what gets teams into the playoffs. We have to pray that Kari doesn’t get a toothache; a blister or too close of a haircut which would send him back to the disabled list.

IF we could get 60 games out of Kari, I think we could make the playoffs. I just don’t think we can count on him.

Sara

October 1st, 2009
7:33 am

You guys should check out Ben’s Blueland Blog – he’s got a list up of the media appearances for the team on the radio in the next couple of days and it’s pretty impressive. Bogosian, Little, Army, Kovy, Thorbs, Reasoner, Anderson, Kane, and Waddell will all get some talk time.

Bogosian was on 680 just a few minutes ago. Very brief (way too brief) but they asked him about his progression after having a season under his belt – Bogey said he has a much better feel for the game now. Asked about the hot finish last season and the response was the typical “we’re hoping it carries over to this year and we get off to a good start.” Talked about how the team is enthusiastic and ready for puck drop. He mentioned his trip to Barbados and then a brief chat about golf and Stewart Cink stopping by the practice facility yesterday. So not a lot of substance to that interview but there it is.

Anyway I recommend checking out the media schedule – tomorrow morning in particular the guys are going to be all over the place covering most of the regular stations (though Q100 is noticeably absent from the list which is a major mistake IMO). We need to divvy up the listening duties since a lot of these may overlap. I’ll go ahead and say though that I’ll be dialing up that Kovy interview for certain.

Puck drops on the new season tonight – sooo geeked that it’s finally back!!!!!!!!

Smitty

October 1st, 2009
7:35 am

Ever the optimist. Pavs has a good start with the help of a steadier defense. I believe last Sunday’s game was an aberration. Tampa is not as good as they looked and we are not as bad as we looked. I look for the Thrash to make the playoffs and finish with 92 points, 2nd in the division and 7th in the conference.

Zoomo

October 1st, 2009
7:39 am

Nice write up, Bill! Excellent analysis. I’m opitmistic, but I always am with this team until they blow four or five in a row and quickly crush my excitiment. I think a better than .500 start is a huge key and will be hard to achieve with Opie in goal. That could get the negative snowball rolling. If we avoid that type of start I think we’ll be one of the teams fighting for the last 2 or 3 spots in the East.

One thing I’ve observed, in spite of the last pre-sesaon game, is that the team has been sharp in practice. It is a noticably different vibe at the practice rink from years past. Drills are executed with percision and there’s a certain energy that I’ve never seen there before. That gives me hope. But, it still comes down to improved defense and goaltending and that is, as you say, a bit of question mark.

Hip Czech

October 1st, 2009
8:03 am

Brendan, I’m in at 89 points, 3rd in the SE, 10th in the conference.

Big margin of error – if goaltending is decent, the D improved like we think it may be and Kovy signs then +7 points; if goaltending stinks, PK continues to be 27th in the league and Kovy is gone at the deadline -7 points.

Putting On The Foil

October 1st, 2009
8:09 am

So far, I’m rooting for Mehoff to win the prognostication award.

Toby

October 1st, 2009
8:26 am

FYI…

Donny Dub will be on 790 The Zone at 10:10 this morning.

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 1st, 2009
9:09 am

That makes me scratch my head too. Once Army is ready to go…I see no room for Kane.

I’m guessing Armstrong will be ready to go within the 9 game tryout session for Kane, at which time they’ll assess if Kane is “ready” or not for the NHL level. I’m hoping Kane is sent down to Juniors and Armstrong is slotted back into his comfortable position of 3rd line RW, once healthy.

Buzilla in CT

October 1st, 2009
9:41 am

My prediction? We shock the world. Stanley. Cup. Champs.

There. I said it.

Now make it happen.

Thrash finish with the presidents trophy and 112 pts.

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 1st, 2009
9:47 am

Buzilla — Are you drunk at 9:40am AGAIN?

h

October 1st, 2009
9:50 am

Brendan, I’ll jump in here as well…..I say 97 points…44-29-9. 2nd place in division and 6th in conference. Also, to me, when Army is ready, Marty goes to line 4 and Slater goes to wing along with a pick ‘em of Bolts/Thor/Grats on the other wing

Bob

October 1st, 2009
9:55 am

It’s too early to be drinking, zilla.

Rawhide, I agree that this club will pot some goals. But hold the other club under 30 shots per game? Not a chance, my friend. The D is assembled for Coach’s system, no shutdown guys anywhere. Kubina is o first, as is Hainsey, as is Enstrom, and Bogosian is still too green. Couple the shooting gallery with our suspect goaltending, and it will be our achilles heel, yet again.

Spud Webb

October 1st, 2009
9:56 am

Brendan, 85 points & out of the playoffs. This goal situation reminds me of the year hartley got fired. Just plain ugly. Not sure why Legace isn’t there. Kari, I have a sneaky suspicion that as soon as the back is healed, his groin will go…Moose is servicable, thats it. UGH. D&mmit. I’m hopeful that I am WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY off with the 85, but i think thats it.

five_hole

October 1st, 2009
10:05 am

The question to me isn’t “Are we better?”; of course we are. I think the better question is; “How do we now stack up with the other teams in the southeast?”. And as I look at the Crapitals (lost Brasheer & Federov), the candy ‘Canes (lost almost their entire D) and the Florida Tabbys (lost Bowmester), I think we improved and they got worse.

I definitely think that Tampa got better, but how much better? That depends on the development of Stamkos. I really hated to see Hedman get drafted by them; that was exactly what they needed. They lost Prospal, but they didn’t need the offense, they needed defense and that’s exactly what they got. If they were smart Saturday night, they’d start Nittymaki.

I am SSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOO looking forward to Saturday night!

Putting On The Foil

October 1st, 2009
10:05 am

A bottle of Glenfidich and a Cohiba Siglo for me too Buzilla.

Darkhorse

October 1st, 2009
10:18 am

My tiebreaker with WBF Brendan- record of 44-33-5. I don’t know where this crazy good feeling’s coming from, but I hope it’s better than that even.

Buzilla in CT

October 1st, 2009
10:18 am

“Expect great things and great things will happen.”

Do you know who said that? Kovalchuk while he was signing his contract extention that will be announced opening night.

What is a good mixer for Jager?

Buzilla in CT

October 1st, 2009
10:19 am

I haven’t been this excited about opening night since…last year. Burp.

3stripes

October 1st, 2009
10:20 am

Long time lurker. Rawhide – really enjoy your blogs here and on HockeyBuzz. Brendan – 87 pts, 4th in SE, 11th in East.

Baldheaded Thrasher

October 1st, 2009
10:21 am

The D men were not the only issue on the high number of SAG ! We turn the puck over and didn’t control it real well. Number will improve but not awhole lot!

The key to the season is the first road trip…if we stink it up the team loses confidence in JA’s system and we are back to square one with a large hole to climb out of.

This is whay KL not being healthy is a such a large concern! Opie has to step up to the plate but those rebounds scare me. Keep the pipeline open for Manny!

William

October 1st, 2009
10:24 am

Great post Rawhide! Thanks.

Kane: I like Evander. From the little I’ve seen him play in the preseason, he looks like he has a lot of the basics down (which you should have to play in the NHL), is a good skater, looks good on the penalty kill, is not afraid to go down the ice or get hit, and above all has a good head on his shoulders. Mentally he seems ready, which is most important. The most urgent question in my mind is “Can he learn quickly enough?” He will learn so much more being around guys like Ilya, Slava, and Nick than playing in the Junior (assuming he doesn’t play on the 4th line). I know we really want to make the playoffs this season, but we can’t completely forget about the future. I think Evander can make it if he puts in the effort at the beginning of the season and will not hurt our chances of the postseason. Maybe he will help? O-yeah, he just turned 18.

Dandylions

October 1st, 2009
10:25 am

I can’t vote for a losing season so I say 96pts, 2nd, and 7th. GO THRASHERS!!

Don Waddell

October 1st, 2009
10:25 am

Excuse me, Excuse me, have you seen my magic eight ball? How am I suppossed to make decisions without my magic eight ball? My magic eight ball is missing. Excuse me, excuse me, someone took my magic eight ball off my desk.

Buzilla in CT

October 1st, 2009
10:37 am

Waddells Magic Eight Ball Reads:

You’re doing Great!
Make a trade now, don’t worry about who
You’re the best GM
Everyone respects you
Do it. Do it now!
What Would Dudley do?

J.B.

October 1st, 2009
10:38 am

Buzzila – I find the best mixer for Jager is in fact more Jager

five_hole

October 1st, 2009
10:39 am

Hey Putting On The Foil – instead of ‘Fitich, try McKellen’s. 25 years old and smooth as a baby’s behind.

J.B.

October 1st, 2009
10:42 am

I placed my guess for Kovalchuk re-signing weeks ago and if I’m not mistaken, my guess was Oct. 1st. (Couldn’t guarantee I made Brendan’s deadline for a guess, but I guessed for fun nonetheless; Dr, Suess anyone?) Anyhow, I just have this feeling that the posturing at the press conference and the timing of these articles about the contract is suspect. I still think DW’s going to have him signed before the start of the season and I still wouldn’t be surprised if it was tonight at the STH event. Of course, I had a feeling Zherdev was going to come to Atlanta too…