Petersen’s 2011 Stanley Cup Prediction

October 7, 2010

There has been a ton of hype over the last few days from hockey fans and media on the 2011 NHL season just days away. I have seen too many preview shows and read too many analysis’s predictions, so I decided to post who I think is the favourite to win it all. First I checked to see who other NHL experts picked to win it all:

  • NHL.com predicted the Detroit Red Wings to defeat the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals
  • The Hockey News looked into their crystal ball and saw Henrik Sedin and the Vancouver Canucks lifting Lord Stanley
  • Hockey nut, Pierre McGuire said that the Detroit Red Wings will win another Stanley Cup over the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • James Duthie predicted John Toews to once again lift the Stanley Cup, beating out Philly once again
  • Sportsnet analysis’s Darren Millard and Mike Brophy both picked the Washington to win it all, meanwhile Doug Mclean picked the Nucks and Nick Kypreos picked Pittsburgh

So with all the rumours and speculation from around the league, I have picked the Vancouver Canucks to win it all. Yes the Vancouver Canucks. On paper Mike Gillis and the Canuck management has put together the best team in the league.

But why the Canucks? : It has been 40 years since the Vancouver Canucks have entered the National Hockey League and through those 40 years the Canucks have been cup-less. The city is desperate for a winner. Well Vancouver finally has a team. The Sedin’s have ripped apart other teams defence and have given goalies a sore neck from looking in the back of the net. Luongo is one of the best goalies in the league and has backstopped team Canada in the 2010 Olympics that won the gold medal. Luongo has come into training camp determined to win and shredded some pounds for easier side to side movement. Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard were brought in this offseason adding onto a defence core that already contains Elder, Ehrhoff, Bieksa, and Salo. Gillis did an amazing job at improving the blueline without giving up too many picks and prospects. Also the depth up front is strong. Burrows, Samuelsson, Kesler, Raymond, and Torres all can provide secondary scoring for the Sedin twins.

The thing that gives me the most hope is that Vancouver has been knocked out of the playoffs for two straight seasons and underachieved both years, and the team has taken it personally. The Canucks were pissed off for being knocked out of post-season play in the second round against the ‘Hawks. Vancouver is now on a mission to prove to the rest of the league and themselves that they can win in the playoffs. Luongo lead by example by gave up his captaincy and has focus on improving all offseason, not taking the recent failures lightly. With all the adversity, I believe has brought the team together and made them even stronger building up to this year. Things are starting to fall in place for the Canucks and it is a do or die year for the Nuckleheads.

It was a tough decision for me to pick the Canucks, as I think that the Penguins are a threat to take home the Stanley Cup. We all know how good the Penguins offence is, improving defence, and Flower is bound to play better this season. Crosby and Penguins are a close second in my books.

It is early to pick anyone to win the Stanley Cup and a lot can change between now and June. Let’s sit back and have fun seeing on how things will play out.


Petersen NHL Preview – Vancouver Canucks

October 3, 2010

Can Hank have build off of last years success?

After a year of many positives for Canuck fans, the season ended with fans scratching there heads wondering what went wrong. The Sedin’s had a monster year with the Nuckleheads, ending with Henrik winning the Art Ross and the Hart Trophies. Alexander Burrows had a nice 2010 campaign, leading the Canucks in goals with 35. Kesler, Raymond, Samuelsson, and Erhoff all had solid offensive numbers last season. It surprised everyone when the Canucks finished a top of the league with goal scoring, coming from a defence first hockey team. Luongo had a good season in net, but wasn’t himself. By the time the playoffs rolled around it caught up to Luongo. Once again the Canucks lost in the second round to the Chicago Blackhawks. Another factor for the second round exit was the Canucks defence looked bad against the high flying ‘Hawks offence. Mitchell missed the playoffs due to a hit from behind by Evgeni Malkin and it showed on Vancouver’s blue line.

With the offseason additions by Mike Gillis, the expectations are weighing on the club. Many fans are all ready saying, “this year is the year”.

Last Season: 49-28-5, 103 points, 3rd in the Western Conference

Incoming: Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Jeff Tambellini, Victor Oreskovich, Joel Perrault

Outgoing: Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, Pavol Demitra, Willie Mitchell, Kyle Wellsood, Andrew Raycroft

Reason For Hope: The city is buzzing about the Vancouver Canucks and there chance to make a run at Lord Stanley. The Canucks are pegged by many experts to win the Stanley Cup. Vancouver was close last year, but after a few offseason pickups, adding depth to the blueline and grit to the bottom six forwards, the Canucks have the best team in the league on paper. UFA singing, Dan Hamhuis was thrilled to sign with Vancouver on July the 1st. He returns to his home province and comes to a team that has a shot at winning something. Hamhuis will play top 4 minutes on defence and has high expectations. The other UFA signed by Mike Gillis was Manny Malhotra who is expected to eat up minutes on the third line and help out a struggling PK unit. Keith Ballard was traded to Vancouver before the trade deadline for Grabner, Bernier, and the Canucks first rounder. Ballard will add both depth and a physical presence on the ‘Nucks defence. Mike Gillis has made sure this offseason to pick up as much depth as he can. But, the main reason for all the optimism around this Canuck team is Henrik Sedin coming off a career best year winning the Hart and Art Ross trophies. Fans are excited about Henirks follow-up year and to see what he has in store. Also anytime you have Luongo in net there is a chance to go far. He has come to training camp this year shredding a few pounds (will hopefully help out his side to side movement) and a chip on his shoulder, Luongo is a determined man. With a core of the Sedins, Luongo, Burrows, Kesler, Raymond, Hamhuis, Edler, and Ehrhoff, what’s not to like about this Canuck team?

 

This is Roberto Luongo's team and how he plays will dictate the outcome of the season

What Could Go Wrong? : For the past 40 years, the Canucks have been in the league and have never won a cup. As a religious Canuck fan, it seems the Canucks just find a way to lose when it counts. The last couple of season’s the Canucks have been cup contenders but have collapsed under pressure. It worries me that the same will happen this year. Luongo has looked shaky his last few post-season appearances and is hoping to forget the past and have a great 2011 playoffs. This is Roberto Luongo’s team and how he plays in the playoffs is how the rest of the team will play. Also I know it’s only preseason, but Keith Ballard hasn’t look like anything special and if making the Canucks was based on how he played, he would be starting the year with the Moose. Kevin Bieksa has been in a slow and steady decline over the past few years, which really worries me. Vigneault’s headache, Shane O’Brien was placed on waivers on Saturday and isn’t likely to wear a Canuck uniform this season. Finally Salo is expected to miss a big chunk of the season coming off surgery from a torn Achilles tendon. With all these factors the Canucks blue line isn’t as deep as we thought it was.

Prediction: 1st-3rd in the Western Conference


Cook’ 2010 New York Islanders Preview

October 2, 2010

Where to start with the Islanders…. Season after season the team just doesn’t see improvement. I question the ownership group with Charles Wang the majority owner and the other is in prison for tax fraud. Garth Snow didn’t know how to play goal in the NHL so what made them think he is a half decent GM of the organization? No clue..

I think they need a change in GM and scouting but that’s just my opinion. They also have to bring in younger guys and not be affraid to pick up a guy like Sheldon Souray off waivers or a Wade Redden. They seem to have money with all the facility upgrades they plan on making throught 2014. Their was a number going around in the range of 250 and 300 million dollars possibly spent the next few seasons.

Alright enough with the criticism…I like a few young guns they have in Bailey, and Taveras of course but 2 prospects with how many first rounders over the past 2 decades? Another thing is if you look at the team they could have if they kept the young players they could be competing every year with,Todd Bertuzzi, and Roberto Luongo. It’s not the entirly the draft choices that’s the problem but they forget to grow them and give time and money to develop…
Prime example is Bertuzzi, Luongo, and also Jeff Tambellini.

Now for the 2010 season I don’t see Doug Weight, Jon Tavares, and Mark Streit carrying this team to a playoff spot. Look to see them finish anywhere from 12 in their Conference to 15.

Thanks for your time


Cook NHL Preview – New York Rangers

September 28, 2010

When healthy, Marian Gaborik is one of the most deadly snipers in the league.

Where to begin with the Rangers… The 2009/2010 season came down to the final game in regular season which went to a shootout which was lost, costing the New York Rangers a playoff birth. The Rangers didn’t add much, Nikolia Zherdev and I believe Alex Frolov as well. The departure is Wade Redden ( sent to the minors today Which relieved 6.5 million for the next 3 seasons).

New GM in New York? I do think if Glen Sather doesn’t smarten up and lay off the terrible off season signins It will catch up to him possible costing him a job. He has signed 3 headsratcher deals lately, Wade Redden-6 6.5 million per, Scott Gomez who Sather was lucky to trade away – 5 year 7.15 million per , and also Chris Dury to a 6 year deal worth just under 6 million per season.
These signings cost cap space which they don’t have. After sending Redden down to the minors they have just under 59.4 million committed to this season. It isn’t the old NHL where you could have a 80 million dollar pay roll.
I do think Glen Sather has to adapt to the “new” NHL. One thing I like about Sather is that he drafts well. He has drafted Marc Staal, Brandon Dubinsky, Mike Del Zotto, and Matt Gilroy which will be key parts of the New York Rangers moving forward.

Hopefully the Ranger will do well, I do like Marc Staal, Brandon Dubinsky, Sean Avery, and Mike Del Zotto. Their Goaltending hasn’t changed but they did bring In some offence.

I think the Rangers will finish 7th in the conference for the 2010/2011 season.


Petersen NHL Preview – St. Louis Blues

September 28, 2010

The Blues are hoping for another productive season from Erik Johnson.

St. Louis was singing the blues last season. After coming off a promising 2008/2009 season where they finally made the playoffs with a young talented hockey team, the Blues took a step back last year. The horrible start to last season, cost coach Andy Murray his job. Davis Payne replaced Andy Murray but couldn’t pull together the Blues season. If the St. Louis Blues want to improve off last season, they hope that veteran’s Andy McDonald, David Backes, and Brad Boyes can continue to increase their offensive production and lead the young group of players up front.

Last Season: 40-32-10, 90 points, 9th in the Western Conference

Incoming: J. Halak, V. Sobotka, T.J. Hensick, N. Oystrick

Outgoing: C. Mason, K. Tkachuk, P. Kariya

Reason For Hope: The fate of the Blues season relies on new goalie Jaroslav Halak. The question every hockey fan has: Can Halak pick up where he left off from the playoffs? Jaroslav was a MONSTER in the playoffs for the Habs and was a big reason why the team made it to the third round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. Halak shut down deadly snipers; Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, and Backstrom. Now he has a new job and new situation. Halak will have to backstop a team that will be on a team that will struggle to make the playoffs, similar to the scenario in Montreal. The pressure is on for Halak to lead this young Blues team. Halak will have some help, as the teams blueliners are pretty solid with Brewer, Johnson and Jackman leading the defence core. Also St. Louis fans have some exciting youth that can hopefully have breakout seasons. The Blues management will hope Erik Johnson, Alex Pietrangelo, David Perron, Patrik Berglund, and TJ Oshie can continue to develop and get improve their games, as the Blues can hopefully pull the team out of re-building mode.

What Could Go Wrong? : This offseason the Blues lost Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk on offence and didn’t find any replacements. The Blues are expecting Perron, Berglund, and Oshie upfront to step up and play bigger roles this season. GM Doug Armstrong could look like a genius giving the young players bigger roles and thriving or an idiot rushing his youth and studding there growth. Really there isn’t much other of a choice.  I see St. Louis taking a bit of a hit offensively this year and as a result I predict the Blues to fall a few spots. I also believe that Halak won’t live up to his hype and his playoff form. All good things come to an end and the Habs traded him while his stock was high.

Prediction: 7th-10th in the Western Conference


Petersen NHL Preview – San Jose Sharks

September 27, 2010

Can the deadly, Heatley-Thornton combo figure there $h!t out in the playoffs?

The 2009-2010 season was another disappointing finish for Joe Thornton and the Sharks. After being predicted by many to have a serious shot at the Cup, the Sharks fell to Chicago in round 3. Not only did they get knocked out, by San Jose didn’t win a single game in the Western Conference Finals. The San Jose Sharks have built up quite a reputation for having amazing regular seasons and choking in the playoffs. Center, Joe Thorton is a big reason for the Sharks highs and the Sharks lows. In the series against the ‘Hawks, he looked invisible and finished the playoffs with just 3 goals and was minus 11. If the Sharks want to finish any better in the post –season, Big Joe has to raise his level come spring time.

Last Season: 51-20-11, 113 points, 1st in the Western Conference

Incoming: A. Neimi, A. Niittymaki

Outgoing: E. Nabokov, R. Blake, M. Malhotra, J. Ortmeyer, B. Staubitz

Reason For Hope: Obviously things had to change in San Jose this offseason. The core group Doug Wilson had assembled wasn’t working. As a result we saw starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov head home to the KHL along with a lucrative deal, captain Rob Blake retired, and depth players Manny Malhotra, Jet Ortmeyer, and Brad Staubitz will all be donning new jersey’s this season. Also Doug Wilson was able to lock up Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski to long-term contracts. But the move I liked the most of what the Sharks did was bringing in Stanley Cup winning goalie, Antti Neimi. Neimi had a great season with the Blackhawks and was a rock in the playoffs ending up with a Stanley Cup ring. Also the Sharks signed UFA Antero Niittymaki to back up Neimi this season. Doug Wilson is hopeing the shake up can light a fire under his players butt’s and get them going. I really like the Sharks offence, with deadly Heatly-Thornton-Marleau line, which is a huge headache for Western Conference goalies. The secoundary scoring lays in the hands of Pavelski, Clowe, Setoguchi, and Couture.

What Could Go Wrong? : The Sharks are hoping that they can finally take the next step in the post-season. San Jose is relying on Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau to take it to the next level in the playoffs. If the past means anything, the Sharks are going to continue to struggle when it counts. The Sharks must battle these demons and overcome the hurdles. Also Antti Neimi has to prove to everyone that last year wasn’t just luck and he is a full time NHL starter. Coach Todd McLellan and Doug Wilson are under the gun to get a Cup to San Jose or they could be working elsewhere. Overall the Sharks are under the most pressure they have ever been under and it’s do or die for San Jose.

Prediction: 1st-4th in the Western Conference


Petersen NHL Preview – Phoenix Coyotes

September 21, 2010

The fate of the Coyotes lies in goalie Ilya Bryzgalov's hands

The desert dogs were the NHL success story of the 09-10 season. Even with all the ownership problems, the Coyotes still put up a great year. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was the X-factor, putting up career best numbers and leading Phoenix Coyotes to the playoffs.  Also the pick-up of Lee Stempniak at the trade deadline thrived in the West scoring 14 goals in just 18 games. Because of a winning 2010 season, the ‘Yotes defiantly feel the pressures and expectation growing in Phoenix. Yet with all of the success stories and being one of the best Western Conference teams, the Coyotes finished bottom of the league in average attendance with an average of only 11,989 fans out to each game.

Last Season: 50-25-7, 107 points, 4th in the Western Conference

Incoming: R. Whitney, A. Ebbett

Outgoing: M. Lombardi, A. Michalek, D. Winnik, J. Vandermeer

Reason For Hope: Aside from the ownership problems, things are looking bright in the desert. The Coyotes are finally a playoff team and have some strong NHLer’s on the roster. The re-signing of Wojtek Wolski and Lee Stempniak, and the signing of UFA Ray Whitney boosts the Coyotes offensive to pose a threat at both ends of the rink. In net things are solid with Vezina finalist, Ilya Bryzgalov back again for the ‘Yotes. If he has plays like he did last winter, Phoenix is bound to make the playoffs. The thing I like most about the Coyotes is there prospect group. Hitting a home run at this year’s NHL Entry Draft the Phoenix Coyotes selected Brandon Gormley with their first round pick, stunned that he was still available. Gormley is added to a group that already contains Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Kyle Turris, and Mikkel Boedker. Overall I really like what Don Maloney has done with the team short-term and long-term sustainability.

What Could Go Wrong? : Having one of the best goalies in the league is great, but if Ilya goes down to injury things might turn into a bit of a mess. Nothing is the matter with back-up Jason LaBarbera, but relying on Bryzgalov could prove to be a mistake. Also the ‘Yotes lost Zbynek Michalek this offseason to the Penguins, but didn’t replace him with another NHL defenseman. The Coyotes are hoping that Ekman-Larsson can fill in and make the team out of training camp. The biggest thing that the Coyote players will have to deal with is all the off-ice turmoil. Having a team losing millions of dollars each year and no owner, it has been a focal point around the NHL. Coach Dave Tippett and his players are going to have to overcome this media frenzy and have his team focus on this season.

Prediction: 5th-8th in the Western Conference