Since our regular Blue and White contributors haven't got hockey on the brain yet, I'm putting up this guest post from regular commentor Five-O:
With the fourth PGA major now out of the way (Jesus Woods wins again), the Jays all but eliminated from the post season and my three weeks “drinking”… err, “annual” leave completely used up, I think it’s officially time to start analyzing the upcoming NHL season and more importantly, the BoO…
Actually, I’m somewhat optimistic that this year we will be provided with more of a battle and not the “rape and pillage of lower Ontario” that we witnessed last year. Or so I’m told… You see, as a Leafs fan I was born with selective memory so the only thing I really remember from last year was the Leafs 10 game unbeaten streak near the end of the season, which included a solid 5-1 trouncing of the Sens. Man we kicked your asses that game! It’s just too bad the playoffs were cancelled and no one won the Stanley cup last year… again! I mean seriously, it’s been like what, 40 years or something since anybody has won it?
Anywho, I’m sure the trash talking will escalate heavily over the next month or two so let’s just ease into this and take a look at the summer transactions from each of our respective teams.
Chara/Pothier out, Corvo/Preissing in: Will Ottawa be the same without the NHL’s tallest and most imposing player? All statistics and circus freak jokes aside, Ottawa loses the only guy in the NHL since Zarley Zalapski who’s nickname is “Z’ and they pick up two defenceman named Joe and Tom… an obvious downgrade.
Smolinski out, McAmmond in: Personally, I think this is a slight upgrade. “Smoke” seemed to be a good guy to have in the locker room but really, does anyone ever remember him scoring a critical goal during his time here? Ottawa has never had a problem scoring goals (in the reg season at least) and the departure of Smolinski shouldn’t have any impact on their ability to do so this year (See Havlat out below). McAmmond should provide some decent leadership and defensive play.
Hasek out, Gerber in: It would be hard for any goalie let alone Gerber to match the level of play that Hasek provided early last season. The tandem of Gerber and a more experienced Emery should provide some solid goaltending but the verdict is still out… will Ottawa ever get the type of top notch goaltending required to put an offensively elite team over the top.
Havlat out, Eaves in?: Ottawa’s second line took a huge hit. As much as I’d love to kick this guy in the crotch with my skate, there’s no way I can deny how disgustingly talented this guy is… Short of trading for Datsyuk or Kovalchuk, there’s no way you replace the offensive punch that this guy brought to the team. Vermette, Eaves and Fisher definitely need to step it up a notch this year.
Berg/Khavanov,/Klee out, Kubina/Gill in: Toronto’s squad is instantly better with the departure of Berg and the addition of Kubina and Gill, but who will take over from Berg as the official Leaf Nation goat? Until we win a cup we must always have one. Macoun, Murphy, Cross, Berg. I think a defensive pattern is starting to emerge here… I’m gonna put my money on Gill.
Allison/Lindros out, Peca in: Yes, Toronto will obviously miss the PP points that Allison can put up but more importantly, he’ll truly be missed for the speed that he brought to the forecheck and the craftiness he displayed during shootouts…ugh! I’m not expecting Peca to put up big numbers this year (45-50 would be nice) but he should bring some stability to the penalty kill and overall defence of the team. At least Lindros won’t have his final, career ending concussion in a Leafs uni.
Belfour out, Raycroft in: I’m cautiously optimistic about this one, however, Toronto never seems to have a problem getting the most out of their goalies (last year being the exception) so I don’t anticipate this year being any different. The verdict on Raycroft is still out after his poor performance last year, but if he’s healthy he should put up solid numbers. Aubin seems to be capable of moving into the starting role in the event that Raycroft pulls a Jim Carey.
Quinn out, Maurice in: Although I’ll never say anything bad about a guy who brought this team into the playoffs for seven of eight years, got them to the final four twice, and brought gold back to Canada, this move was absolutely necessary. Quinn was always able to get average players to play above their abilities and he was great with the veteran’s, but he never, EVER matched lines and didn’t seem interested in giving any of the rookies any playing time. Hey, that’s probably what I would’ve done too if I were the GM/coach with an unlimited budget…
I’m looking forward to that season opening home and home… should be a beauty!
BoO regular season prediction:
You guys always stomp us in the fake season and I don’t see anything changing this year. I’m just hoping we can make it into the playoffs so we can continue to build on the 4-0 record against the Sens in the real season.