By Professor Fred Whitted NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — The title above...
The 2011-2012 NHL Season Eastern Conference
PART I Eastern Conference
OAKLAND, CA. (BASN)—The more things change the more they remain the same. The three beast in the east, the Washington Capitols, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Philadelphia Flyers should make this winter on ice interesting.
The Boston Bruins can be called the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey; many don’t respect the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup Champion. The Baby Bears are going to have to prove to the world all over again that they are worthy of the cup.
The Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets are at a great disadvantage in the Eastern Conference. This team moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg over this summer and will play in the great Canadian Northwest. The Jets will surely move into the Western Conference after the end of this season.
The four Goal Brothers (Black players) will receive many frequent flyer miles this year. Goalie Chris Mason will have to have the legs in net this long season. America and Canada will see a better team when they move to the Western Conference in 2013.
After 15 years, the city of Winnipeg welcomed this team with open arms. Goal Brothers Dustin Byfuglien and Johnny Oduya will solidify the Jets defense with scoring from the wings and bouncing opponents off the walls. Scoring has to double if Jets want to be in playoffs this year and Goal Brother Evander Kane should be the answer.
The Leading contender for the Cup this year would be The Philadelphia Flyers. They let Goal Brother Ray Emery go to the Chicago Blackhawks this summer as a free agent and picked up Jaromir Jagr from Russia via the Pittsburgh Penguins and Goal Brother Wayne Simmonds from the Los Angeles Kings. During spring training Wayne Simmonds had to deal with banana throwing fans on the east coast.
Simmonds will add fire power to the Flyers volatile scoring machine. The Broad Street Bullies are back in style after cleaning house and remembering what happened last year with a rude exit. The Flyers want to rectify it with the orange and black fan base. Chris Pronger was named captain this year after Mike Richards went to Los Angeles and that should change attitude on the ice. The Flyers still have questions in net with veteran Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergi Bobrovsky. Veterans centers Danny Briere and Claude Giroux should get the Flyers to finals again.
The Washington Capitols started out hot with 6-0 opening with the Great 8 Alex Ovechkin. Goal Brother Joel Ward has joined this fire power in the District of Columbia. The issue with the Capitols, defense will rise up again. Goaltending with Michal Neuvirth will take the heavy load while Tomas Vokoun and Dany Sabourin will substitute. The Capitols have to make a decision in net before playoff time. The Capitols have to play defense to win and after five years, here is hoping the organization can grasp this concept.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are still waiting for their two young stars Sid the Kid Crosby and Evgenni Malkin. The Pens started out hot with 4-1-1 record. Marc- Andre Fleury might need more rest in net and Brent Johnson might give him just that. High scoring Jordan Staal once again will have to light the lamp. Love the two American born players Ben Lovejoy and Brent Johnson. James Neal also has to play better this year.
The Boston Bruins 2010-2011 Stanley Cup Champions have to gain respect all year and with all star goalie Tim Thomas in net that should be easy.
This is the best defensive team in the East with defensemen Zdeno Chara, Joe Corvo, and Johnny Boychuk. They have to repeat their performance to gain back to back titles.
The Montreal Canadiens might finally bring the Cup back across the northern boarder. These speed demons on ice could upset people with good old hard mid line passing. Goal Brother P.K. Subban found a place as one of the high scoring defensemen. The Jersey Line of Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta will have Canadiens on their toes. Carey Price has to perform as he did two years ago in net. Peter Budaj will also have to play more in net to relieve Price this year if Habs are going to Finals. Les Habs are not off to good start with 1-5-2 record.
The Tampa Bay Lighting were a pleasant surprise last year but teams will be watching and waiting for them this year. Martin St. Louis, Dwyane Roloson, and Steven Stamkos will be the bell weather for this team. Love the speed of the Lighting but they have to stop teams from scoring. Roloson in net will be the key on breakaways which Tampa Bay gives up with their offensive style of play. The team feels the lose of Simone Gagne who went to the Los Angeles Kings. The Lightning Bolts could strike again in 2011-12.
The New Jersey Devils are off and running not the usual slow start with 3-2-1 record and many Devil fans hope the team remembers what happened last year. Their new coach Peter DeBoer will remind them.
In January, February, and March last year New Jersey got hot and moved up 8 spots missing the playoffs by only 9 points with a 17-7-2 record. Martin Brodeur has to stay healthy as he keeps breaking goalie records with each game he plays. Brodeur cannot play 60 games in 2011; Johan Hedberg will help this year. The Devil defense as always will be the strong suit with Goal Brothers defensemen Bryce Salvador and Mark Fraser.
The Devils have to score more goals this year to make the Stanley Cup playoffs veterans Dainius Zubrus, Petr Sykora, and Zach Parise have to turn on the red lights in 2011-2012. Everybody will be tying to stop big center Illya Kovalchuck. Many hockey experts expect the Devils to miss the playoffs again, not enough fire power.
This team might be in for a major change at the end of this season if this happens. Then you can also look for number 30 (Brodeur) to retire.
The New York Rangers will lean heavily on veteran goalie Hinrick Lundqvist to make the playoffs again. Veterans Martin Biron, Brian Boyle, and swing man Brandon Prust have to play better this year and light the lamp if the Broadway Blueshirts go on in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Winger Brad Richards from the Dallas Stars might make it easier. The release of malcontent Sean Avery might mean the Blueshirts are serious at a playoff run this year.
This team can be called the major underachievers of the Eastern Conference with its major talent and major disappointment of the past three years. Will 2011 be different? The Blueshirts started off right with 3-2-1 record.
The Carolina Hurricanes have the best 1-2 goalie roster in the Eastern Conference with Cam Ward and ex Philadelphia Flyer Brian Boucher. Now they have to prove it to the rest of the Eastern conference.
The Sutter brothers have to carry the Cains scoring load this year. Veterans Eric Staal and Jussi Jokinen will be the stars of this team. Cains have slim hopes of making playoffs in this tough conference.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be the most improved team in the conference. They will fly on the wings of Clark MacArthur and Phil Kessel. Love the play of left winger Philippe Dupuis. Goalie James Reimer got the Leafs on the right track in 2011 with a 4-0-1 start.
The Buffalo Sabers and all star goalie Ryan Miller are in need for more scoring power. They overspent on Christian Ehrhoff and Villie Leino and may still not move on to 2nd round of playoffs. They are off to great start with 5-2 record.
The Ottawa Senators only have one line and that’s not enough in the NHL. They hired a new coach Paul MacLean and that’s not enough either. The Daniel Alferdsson, Jason Spezza, and Milan Michalek line won’t cut it. The Sens are in for another long season.
The New York Islanders are still a franchise in trouble they might have fixed the problem in net with ex San Jose Shark goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Goal Brother Kyle Okposo and Tervor Gillies will score for the Isles but there are many other issues this organization needs to address. Too many to list here.
Â©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod
Â©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod