Oct 012009
 

Here are my eastern conference predictions:

1. Washington, 109pts – This is a bit of a gamble that the Capitals are going to get good enough goaltending from Theodore and Varlamov, but if they do, 109 points is easily within their reach. They had the pure offensive stars last season and I think that the singing of veteren and more physical winger Knuble will be one of the best free agents signings of this past summer.

2. Philadelphia, 104pts – They lost a bit of scoring up front with Knuble signing in Washington and Lupul traded to Anaheim but a healthy Briere and the progression of youngsters Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk and Pronger gives them a true stud on defense. Like Washington they are going to need better than average goaltending to obtain these lofty point totals but if they get it reaching 104pts shouldn’t be a problem.

3. Pittsburgh, 99pts (fourth seed) – They won the Stanley Cup and they are a great team, but even as a great team they have been streaky from time to time over the past couple seasons and that will probably continue and will stop them from reaching 100+ points. But they will still be a tough team to beat come playoff time.

4. Boston, 98pts (third seed) – The Bruins are going to drop off a fair bit from last season simply because I don’t really think they are really as good as they performed last year. A lot of things went really well for them and not many didn’t, plus they lost Phil Kessel and that will hurt their depth a little. But they are still a good team with Thomas in goal, Chara on defense and several very good forwards.

5. New Jersey, 97pts – New Jersey is no longer the elite team it one was largely due to a far more average defense group than they have in the past, but with some solid offensive players combined with a good team defensive system and elite level goaltending they will once again be middle of the pack of eastern conference playoff teams, right there between great and mediocre.

6. Toronto, 95pts – Now I know a lot of people will scream bias at this prediction but I truly believe that 95 points is relatively easily obtainable if they even get average goaltending. Maybe I shouldn’t assume that but with a healthy Toskala, a promising prospect in Gustavsson and a more than decent third option in Joey MacDonald not to mention one of the best goalie coaches in the game in Francois Allaire getting average goaltending is certainly within reach. They also have a good and deep defense and a significant number of forwards capable of scoring 20-30 goals so they should produce enough offensively. Goaltending is key.

7. NY Rangers, 93pts – The Rangers desperately need Gaborik to remain healthy if they want to make the playoffs. Furthermore, they could definitely use another experienced defenseman or two and I expect we’ll see them address that at some point. They have elite level goaltending and that should be good enough to get them in the playoffs so long as Gaborik can be mostly healthy.

8. Buffalo, 92pts – One could easily argue that if Ryan Miller didn’t get injured and miss several weeks last year they the Sabres would have made the playoffs. The reality is there is enough talent on this team that they could finish as high as 5th in the conference if not challenge Boston for the team lead. I am just not sure their defense is good enough right now so I’ll say they will finish in 8th spot.

9. Montreal, 90pts – If anyone says they are certain what Montreal will do this season they are lying. It is nearly impossible to figure out what Montreal will do because of all the changes they have made. They have bought in some good players in Gomez, Gionta and Cammellari, but they lost some good players too. They are skilled, but very small, especially up front. Their defense is acceptable, but their goaltending is a bit of an unknown quantity, possibly great, possibly subpar. In some ways I compare this Canadiens team to the 2008-09 Tampa team in the sense that they just went though a massive overhaul of players. Now I think the players Montreal got are a better fit for each other but one still really doesn’t know how it will all work out. I don’t see them ever being good enough to be a top 5 team in the east, but could finish anywhere between 6th and 12th so I’ll slot them right in the middle.

10. Carolina, 89pts – Carolina has a history of good year, bad year going for them though I am not sure what last year was as it was a bad first half and a great second half for them. I don’t really know what to expect from them. Their defense has always been unspectacular and yet the seem to get the job done. They have a number of unspectacular players up front that also get the job done. In goal, for the first time Cam Ward showed to me that he might just be an elite level goalie in the second half of last season, but is 3-4 months enough to call him a sure fire great goalie in 2009-10? Not sure. Either way, expect the Hurricanes to be right on the playoff bubble, either a couple points in or a couple points out.

11. Florida, 88pts – Just as Florida’s young forwards are coming into their own they lose their star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester not to mention that they don’t even have a general manager. Up front there are some really good things happening with their young players but I am just not sure how the team will come together as a whole.

12. Ottawa, 86pts – If a lot goes right for the Senators they will have a shot at the playoffs but as it is they are starting a rookie as their second line center (Peter Regin), and their starting defense consists of a 19 year old and very small (Karlsson) and a career AHLer (Carkner) who played right wing last season on defense. Call me a skeptic but you can probably count on one hand the number of small 19 year old rookie defensemen that have ever made an impact at the NHL level. They will have a good first line of Alfredsson, Spezza and Michalek and Kovalev and Fisher should provide some decent secondary scoring but beyond that there isn’t a lot to get all that excited about. Goaltending should be OK as well but not good enough to take a mediocre team to the playoffs.

13. Atlanta, 83pts – The additions that Atlanta has made should make them a better team. They should be able to put out a decent 3 lines and not too shabby of a top 4 defense. The problem is in goal where Kari Lehtonen just can’t remain healthy enough to put together a good season and they don’t have a backup that is good enough to fill in. They will be better but not good enough and may be forced to trade their star Kovalchuk by the deadline.

14. Tampa, 78pts – I am not sure what to think of Tampa. They have some great players in Lecavalier and St. Louis and Malone and Tanguay are good secondary guys and I expect Stamkos to have a big breakout season, but in the end I am just not sure about this team. Ohlund and Hedman will make their defense better but their defense isn’t deep and their third and four lines are questionable and their goaltending is a guessing game as to how good they will be. If some things go right they could end up higher in the standings but I still don’t see them as a great team. They have to show me first.

15. NY Islanders – They may be heading in the right direction with some good young talent up front and they improved their goaltending even if DiPietro doesn’t play, but they are still a bad team not yet ready for prime time. I expect they will be in a season long race with the Avalanche for last spot in the NHL.

  37 Responses to “Eastern Conference Preditctions”

  1.  

    I do believe you have Toronto and Ottawa reversed.

    Your own wishful thinking for the Leafs is merely the inverse rationalisation of your comment on Ottawa.

    Vegas odds have Ottawa at 35:1 to win the cup. Depending on which odds Toronto is 60:1 to 100:1.

    Follow the money.

  2.  

    Let me get this straight… you think that the Bruins will finish 3 points above the Leafs? Boston may take a bit of a dip (although 18 points would seem to be more than a bit of a dip)….but you’re seriously talking about the Toronto Maple Leaf’s when you say that “95 points is relatively easily obtainable if they even get average goaltending” ? Quite frankly, that’s the most ridiculous statement I have read on any 2009-10 NHL preview.

    Also, what’s with Leafs fans continually citing Joey McDonald, 3rd string goaltender, as one of their strengths? Leafs fans seem to be attempting to collectively talk themselves into believing that a mediocre 3rd string goalie has a good chance of legitimately impacting the fortunes of their franchise. Good ole Joey has basically 1 season under his belt (where he’s played more than 8 games), with a 14-26-6 record, a 3.37 G.A.A and .901 save percentage – and, for the record, he’s already 29. Keep this in mind: if you’re down to your 3rd string goalie, chances are things may not be going so well for the team!

    Since the very first article that I read on this website (about the Kessel trade), to my memory, you have consistently touted the qualities of the Toronto Maple Leafs in EVERY article, with the lone exception being that Balsillie article. Why don’t you just rename this website “David Johnson loves the Leafs, stats and reason be damned” or something to that effect?

  3.  

    Matt, maybe you didn’t read my article about why Leaf fans should be optimistic where I wrote that if last years backups won at a similar rate to Toskala the Leafs would have had 90 points. Can this years backups be that good? Easily. Can Toskala play better now that he is healthy? Sure. Is 95 points easily obtainable? You bet. The Leafs goaltending last year was so bad, especially the backup goaltending, it really isn’t very difficult for the Leafs to pick up 8-10 points in the standings regardless of what other imrpovements will be made to the team.

    As for Joey MacDonald, he showed last year that he can at least be an acceptable goalie. He has a .901 save percentage and compared to Toskala at .890 or the Leafs team save percentage of .885 and MacDonald would be a huge improvement. I don’t think we will see much of MacDonald but if needed for injury or whatever he won’t be a drag on the team like CuJo and Pogge were last year.

    As for Boston, they jumped from 94 points to 116 points, so why is it such a stretch to envision that they will drop to 98 points? Everyone talks about the Leafs lack of offense (which is a myth), but never mention that Boston has no one on their roster that scored more than 27 goals last year. In fact, Boston only has two players on their roster that have ever scored 30 or more goals in their careers. Ryder has 30 twice in Montreal, and Recchi hasn’t scored 30 since 1997-98. As for goaltending, is Thomas going to repeat with a .933 save percentage and is Tuukka Rask going to match .910 save percentage? If Thomas drops to .923 and Rask has a .900 save percentage, that is a significant difference that could easily cost them 10 points in the standings.

    I write a lot about the Leafs because yes, they are my favourite team, but also because there is a lot of nonsense and non-truths written about them and I always try to justify my opinions. But hey, only 1/15th of this article was about the Leafs and the previous two articles contained nothing Leaf oriented so I am not sure what your beef is about.

  4.  

    The last time I saw such recursive wishful thinking posing as analysis was during the dotcom era.

  5.  

    Wow Michael, you make such a strong counter argument to my argument.

    BTW guys, I am predicting 95 points for the Leafs. I am not the only one in the world predicting the Leafs will make the playoffs and historically that till take at least 92-94 points. TSN predicted them to come 9th and historically 9th would get 91-93 points. So you are claiming my predictions are outrageous because I am predicting one or two more wins than TSN? Talk about outrageous.

  6.  

    The counter to your argument is that you are extrapolating second stringers as wins. Those are ‘wishes were fishes’ assumption with no basis in fact. Furthermore, you go on and claim that rookies on the Senators lineup are a risk, when for the Leafs they are a benefit.

    So, which are they? Risk or benefit? If this is analysis, be consistent. Choose one, and do so all around. Otherwise it’s fanboy writing.

  7.  

    How many rookies are on the Leafs? Three, Stralberg, Rosehill and Gustavsson. Rosehill is a bit player that might be gone in a week or so when Mayers returns. If Stralberg doesn’t work out the Leafs have Kulemin (15g last year), Bozak, Tlusty and others waiting in the wings, not to mention Kessel returning in a month or so. The only rookie that I based any assumption of performance on was Gustavsson and as I have argued if he can perform at the level Toskala did last year, which is really setting the bar quite low, the Leafs should easily be a 90+ point team.

    As for the Senators, they currently have a rookie as a second line center and two rookies on defense, one being a career AHLer who didn’t even play defense last year and the other a small 19 year old. Plus, in all three cases there really isn’t much quality to back them up if they show they aren’t ready. If you are so blind not to be able to see that the Senators are depending on their rookies to play more significant roles than the Leaf rookies, then I don’t know what else to say.

  8.  

    These standings would make a lot more sense if you reversed the positions of Toronto and Carolina, in my opinion. Of course, you never do know what you’ll get from the Canes, and if Toronto is out of the playoffs come winter I fully expect Burke to do something desperate.

  9.  

    Oh dear.

    The Sens have Brian Lee who can be called up if neither Picard nor Carkner can play at the NHL level. Furthermore, the Sens can play Fisher at centre if things don’t work out with Regin (which I feel they will). I really think you’re underestimating this Senators team.

    I can’t say for certain that you’re over-estimating the Leafs chances, but your assessment is surely a little rosier than most. Who beyond Kessel, Ponikarovsky, Blake is going to score more than 20 goals? Stajan’s never done it (though he got 2 last night, maybe now’s the time). Stalberg might if he can hack it for the whole season (same goes for Peter Regin though :) Kulemin is a sophmore that didn’t make the team out of camp, might be a stretch to score 20+. Also, Kessel is starting on a new team, and coming off shoulder surgery.

  10.  

    As for the rest of your Eastern conference pics, 1-4 are pretty much consensus picks (up to re-ordering). 5-8 I would say are anyone’s guess, though I don’t think NJ will be this strong unless they get better than expected performances out of their defense and aging star forwards Elias / Rolston. I think also that the Islanders, Florida, Tampa and Atlanta don’t have enough to make it. Between 5-11 is anyone’s guess, waaaay to close to call.

  11.  

    Also, I for one think the TSN poll is worth as much as Milbury’s advice. The man has no good sense.

  12.  

    Let’s see, Hagman scored 22 in 65 games last year, 27 the year before. I’d say he can score 20 again. Grabovski scored 20 goals, and with a little improvement could score 25-30. I’d actually be surprised if those 5 guys didn’t score at least 20 each.

    Beyond those five, Stajan has been a consistent 15 goal scorer but with more ice time (which he will likely get) could reach 20. Stalberg and Kulemin have 20 goal potential (if not 30) as does Stempniak (had 27 one year) if given the opportunity. It would not surprise me if the Leafs ended the season with 6 or 7 20+ goal scorers.

    Oh, and Boston had six 20 goal scorers last year and their only 30+ goal scorer is now a Leaf. Ottawa had 3 last year, should have 4 this year with an outside chance of 5 or 6 if Fisher or Foligno have good seasons. It is tough to imagine any scenario where they have more than that. Oh, and don’t come here and say something like ‘But the Senators 20+ goal scorers will score more than the Leafs’ because only one player on your roster had more than 26 goals last year.

  13.  

    Power to you David. I admit I think the Leafs are overestimated in your ranking, but it is possible. The truth of the matter is from positions 6 through 12 in the Eastern Conference, the whole thing is a crap shoot. I truly believe the Leafs could go anywhere from 6-10 place. I think 8th or 9th is most likely, but that’s just me. As for the Sens, I’d rate them basically the same as the Leafs. Depends on Michalek, Cheechoo and Lecalire.

  14.  

    Boston is also getting back Sturm – who consistently scores over 20 goals, Bergeron is now finally healthy (in 05-06 he scored over 30, the year after that over 20), and you can pretty much pencil Lucic in for around 25 goals, given his development. Wheeler is looking like a future 35+ goal scorer – I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes close to 30 this year (the reason Kessel is gone, is because we needed to resign Wheeler and Lucic – youngsters who will made decent $, among others). You do realize that Boston was 2nd in the NHL in scoring last year, right? 1st in goals against? This team is incredibly balanced.

    You realize that Boston has 3 outstanding two way centermen who have the ability to make those around them better? Bergeron, our 3rd line center, is much better than Toronto’s #1, Stajan; believe it or not, he’s also younger than Stajan. I’m sure you must realize that Boston secured another quality puck moving D-man (morris), and that Hunwick showed a ton of promise last year? Ever heard of Dennis Wideman, who will soon be considered an elite puck moving d-man? 50 points last year, +32? Should I mention we also had the Norris trophy winner, the Vezina/Jennings trophy winner, and the Jack Adams trophy winner?

    Yet you think this Bruins team is 3 points better than Toronto? Have you been out back behind the shed huffing gas this morning?

  15.  

    The thing is, there are a lot of Boston players that had career years last year. Maybe Krejci, Wheeler, Wideman, etc. will repeat their performances last year, but I am not certain of that. It is actually very common for young players to take a step back after their first break through season. Is Wideman a 50+ point guy, or is he a 25-35 point guy like he was the previous 3 seasons. Is Krejci a 70+ point guy, or will he take a step backwards. Is Lucic really a lock to score 25+ goals considering he spent most of his time with Savard last season and only scored 17?

    I am not saying the Bruins don’t have a good team. They do. I am just saying that a lot of things went right for them last year and I am predicting that not so many things will go right this year and as a result they will drop to under 100 points. It’s a prediction. Come back in April and lets discuss again.

  16.  

    Uh, tonight after 1:

    Boston: 3 Carolina: 0
    Washington: 3 Toronto: 0

  17.  

    What bothers me David, is that you’re anticipating that the young, improving Bruins (most of whom have already taken that first big step you’re predicting for so many Toronto players) will fall off simply because sometimes the production of youngsters falls off. That’s way too general a statement, and it doesn’t specifically address any of the variables which tend to lead to a drop in production (namely injury, increased pressure, lineup/coaching changes, poor offseason work ethic, etc.).

    Simultaneously, you’re basically projecting that every Toronto Maple Leaf under the sun will have a career year. That’s what’s it’s going to take to get the Leafs to 95 points, and a 6 seed – career years from just about every player in that lineup. Especially your #1 goalie, whoever that turns out to be.

    When Boston made their big jump up to the 8th seed, they already had a couple of legitimate all stars (border line elite players at the time, in Savard & Chara), a nice balance of gritty vets and talented youth, and they received all star goaltending that season from Thomas. They also played a defensive system, which stressed personal accountability from the top of the lineup to the bottom; every man had to buy into Julien’s system, or they would sit (see Kessel, 1st round against Montreal). I don’t see a similar team oriented defensive structure in place in T.O.

    I also find your comment about Lucic to be somewhat ridiculous. He’s still playing with Savard, each and every game; why shouldn’t his scoring increase, when he’s just come off a season where he more than doubled his goal production, and increased his scoring by 15 points? He’s 21, and constantly improving – with almost every game (or did you fail to notice that he was invited to Team Canada’s Olympic Orientation Camp?). If you watched the Bruins with any frequency at all, you would understand how much Milan’s skating, puck handling, passing, and on ice awareness have improved over the past two years, and especially since his time in junior (where, by the way, he was MVP of the memorial cup, and later the captain of the Canadian junior team that beat the Russians in the 2007 super series). I absolutely cannot wait to watch him demolish Komisarek again, either.

    You’re on the right track about one thing; talk is cheap at this point in time, and April will tell the true story. Healthy debate/discussion is good stuff.

    Once again: I’m extremely confident that Boston won’t be 9 wins worse than last year (which is the points equivalent to what it would take for them to drop under 100 points), and that Toronto won’t be three points back of the Bruins when all is said and done.

  18.  

    I think you are mistaken Matt on both me predicting that every Boston player will take a step back and ever Leaf player will have a career year.

    First, the Boston players. I don’t think Tim Tomas will have as good of a season. He has a .933 save percentage last year. Nobody else has had a .930 save percentage post lockout and only a couple of goalies have had save percentages above .925. Tomas’s previous best was .921. As a result, I don’t think Tomas will be as good this year and I think that is a perfectly reasonable assumption. Furthermore, their backup has changed from Manny Fernandez to Tuukka Rask and while Rask is a pretty decent prospect, Fernandez had a pretty decent year last year too and I am not confident that rookie Rask can match that. So, I do see a measurable drop in goaltending even though it may still be pretty good. That alone could account for a 10+ point drop. They also lost their top scorer in Kessel and while you may think they can easily make up his 36 goals, I wouldn’t be so confident of that.

    Last year Boston won 16 one goal games and another 8 two goal games which included an empty net goal so essentially Boston won 24 one goal games including four games they won 1-0 and another they won 2-0 including an empty net goal. They also had 10 overtime losses so a total of 34 games in which they obtained 58 points can be considered close and with slightly worse goaltending or offense such that if goaltending or scoring drops off even a little the impact could be great.

    I also believe that the division as a whole might be a little better, specifically I think the Leafs and Sabres will be better. That will mean a tougher schedule for the Bruins which could mean a loss of a few points right there.

    As for Lucic, how do I know if he will continue to improve offensively, at at least at a significant enough pace to offset some of Kessel’s loss. In his rookie season he played mostly with Glen Metropolit on the third line. Last year he played mostly with Savard and Kessel on the first line. He went from 8g, 27pts to 17g, 42pts. So he improved 9 goals and 15 points while moving from the third line to the first line. How much of that improvement should we allocate to him improving and how much should we allocate to him playing with better players and getting more ice time? He isn’t going to be playing with better players this year so is it really reasonable to expect 25g, 55 points from him? No. Is it possible, sure, but unlikely.

    As for the Leafs, the only area where I am predicting significant improvement is goaltending. Who else have I predicted will have significantly improved seasons? I have mostly just predicted that the defense will be a little better, goaltending will be significantly better (but still no better than league average so I am not predicting star status or anything), and everyone else will perform more or less the same as last season.

  19.  

    I’m not sure why people are so hot and bothered about predictions. Predictions are always one man’s opinion. No two people will predict the same results of an 82 game season. And each predictor will probably have a rosier outlook for their favourite team. I understand David’s reason about why the leafs can get 95pts. Anything is possible.

    But I have to say, the Leafs are yet to impress. At this rate they aren’t going anywhere fast. I still don’t like Toskala. I really want to see a win against the Sens next game.

  20.  

    OK, the Leafs prediction does seem a little surreal.

    But I’ll give you this, they have a good a chance to make the playoffs as any of the other teams in the “bottom 9″, with the possible exception of a healthy Buffalo.

    And also this: the injuries have fallen your way so far. Both Montreal and Carolina have lost key players for a long time. In an average year, I would have expected both of those teams to make the playoffs.

    And finally, don’t count out the Islanders. Yes, I’m serious. They have the best goaltending tandem that $3.4 million can buy — and that doesn’t include DiPietro.

    We could get down to the last 10 games of the season and find the “bottom 9″ teams all in contention for the last 3 playoff spots. Such is the mediocrity in the East. :D

  21.  

    Oops — should have said the “bottom 9″ teams in contention for the last *2* playoff spots.

  22.  

    I’ll not count out the Islanders if they prove they can win on the regular, and away from home. Not convinced they can yet. Predictions at the beginning of the season are just a vehicle to write a story, nothing more. Predictions at the midpoint will be much more interesting and relevant to the season at hand. Let’s pick up again at game 41?

  23.  

    So, how is that prediction coming along? The Leafs have one point, are depending on their backup goalie, who is now on injured reserve.

  24.  

    Depending on their backup goalie is good because, as I have always stated, their starter is bad. If you have forgotten, one of the reasons I predicted an improvement in the Leafs is that their goaltending should be much better and it will once the Leafs decide for good to give up on Toskala (and he will be on a very short leash this year).

    As for my other predictions, how is Boston doing?

  25.  

    I thought your predictions were for ALL of the teams in the Eastern Conference. What’s with the inflammatory comment about the Bruins? I’m pretty sure Michael’s not even a Boston fan. Why are you insinuating that 3 games into this season your predictions about the Bruins have somehow been legitimized? Truly Pathetic. Not only is this antagonistic, but as Michael previously mentioned, you have a tendency to write biased, fanboy drivel – pure and simple.

    Given that Krejci hadn’t played so much as a single preseason game after hip surgery, the 1st and 4th line are adjusting to some changes (Sturm is still getting comfortable after knee surgery and is playing on a new line, Begin is playing on a new team), Morris is new, Hunwick was playing his first official game since his emergency splenectomy, Ference had preseason surgery on a hernia… well, to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting them to beat the Caps. I was hopeful, but cognizant that Washington would be a very difficult opponent to open the season against, given the circumstances.

    Boston has some adjustments to make, but they’ll be alright; at least their losses come at the hands of quality opposition. Quite frankly, I knew that tonight’s game would be extremely difficult as well, after Anaheim blew a 3-0 lead in the third period to Minny the other night – before losing in OT. The Ducks are a quality team, and going 0-3 would have been very unexpected. Boston played very well in the first period, and without some extremely good goaltending by Hiller in the 1st, and a couple of weak penalty calls early in the second (resulting in a 5 on 3 – Selanne scored twice on the ensuing PPs to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead), this game probably would have turned out to be a very differently.

    There are positives that the Bruins can take from these first few games, even if they’re not apparent to a delusional, biased, Maple Leaf fanboy. Sturm has already scored twice, despite not looking great (How will they replace Kessel’s production you asked?), Steve Begin had a very good first 2 games, and so did Bergy.

    Anyway, keep on losing Toronto; every loss improves Boston’s draft position…

    Bob, I don’t think the Islanders are going to make the playoffs this year, my friend. They are improving though, and it’s nice that their fans finally have a reason to get excited again… Tavares is sick, and Roloson can certainly steal some games (He’s definitely an upgrade from that inconsistent back up tender they had last year… where is he playing again?).

  26.  

    Hey, I am not the one who came here after three games and dissed my Leafs prediction. My comment about Boston was partly to indicate how ridiculous evaluating the Leaf prediction after three game was.

    The truth is, there should be no conclusions drawn from the first 3 or 4 games, or even the first 10 or 15 games. After 20 or 30 games we should get an indication of how the season will unfold but even then a lot can change. A couple years ago Ottawa was being talked about as possible the best team ever only to squeak into the playoffs and get bounced in the first round in 4 games. For that matter, Phoenix was in 5th spot in the western conference at the all-star break only to finish with one of the worst records in the NHL. The only thing that 3 games tells us is that the Leafs, nor Boston, will finish with perfect 82-0-0 records.

  27.  

    So…
    When will you let me come here and diss your leafs prediction? Its looking like your evaluation of talent is not so good eh?

  28.  

    Whenever you like, but 5 games does not make a season. Every team in the NHL will go through 5 game slumps (didn’t the Red Wings lose something like 8 in a row last year?), it just looks really bad when it happens at the start of the season. But the positive is that Leaf management has to be awfully close to benching Toskala at least semi-permanently.

  29.  

    Aren’t we forgetting Brian Burke? He made the Canucks (the year Bertuzzi blew a fuse and Vanc lost to Calgary in 7, who went on to the finals with Tampa) and also Anaheim. Maybe it’s a little early for TO to be a contender, but Burke’s teams have a tendency to surprise. I like Burke’s moves and I take his judgement over any of yours. Sorry.

  30.  

    WOW
    Worst start for the Leafs in 90 years.
    The Senators look like they’ll make the playoffs.
    So
    Eat Crow?

  31.  

    Talk to me at the half way point. Remember, not that long ago the Senators started 15-2 and squeaked into the playoffs. Teams have looked much better far later into the season and still missed the playoffs.

  32.  

    Sorry but that’s a big no for the leafs- they won’t make playoffs. And the devils always find a way to be a better-than-anticipated team and probably will be in top 3 in the east

  33.  

    Well, 20 games into the season and it seems that your predictions are bogus, or maybe just that you are a good Toronto fan who is oblivious to reality:

    http://futurismic.com/2009/03/02/why-pundits-always-get-it-wrong/

  34.  

    At the half way point the Leafs might have eight to ten wins.

    Oh, and the Senators are in first place in the Northeast Division.

    1 Pittsburgh 24 16 8 0 32 74 68 7-4-0 9-4-0 5-5-0 Won 2
    2 Washington 24 13 5 6 32 85 73 7-2-3 6-3-3 5-3-2 Lost 2
    3 Ottawa 21 12 6 3 27 66 62 9-3-3 3-3-0 6-3-1 Won 4
    4 New Jersey 21 14 6 1 29 58 48 5-4-0 9-2-1 7-2-1 Lost 1
    5 Buffalo 20 12 6 2 26 54 50 7-3-2 5-3-0 4-5-1 Lost 1
    6 Boston 23 11 8 4 26 57 58 6-5-2 5-3-2 5-2-3 Won 3
    7 Philadelphia 21 12 8 1 25 73 59 8-3-1 4-5-0 6-4-0 Lost 3
    8 Tampa Bay 21 9 5 7 25 56 63 5-0-4 4-5-3 5-2-3 Won 1

    9 NY Rangers 23 12 10 1 25 72 65 7-5-0 5-5-1 4-6-0 Won 1
    10 NY Islanders 24 9 8 7 25 67 74 5-2-2 4-6-5 4-4-2 Won 1
    11 Atlanta 20 10 7 3 23 71 61 4-5-2 6-2-1 5-3-2 Lost 1
    12 Florida 22 10 9 3 23 62 71 3-5-2 7-4-1 6-2-2 Lost 1
    13 Montreal 23 11 11 1 23 57 66 6-5-1 5-6-0 5-4-1 Lost 1
    14 Toronto 22 4 11 7 15 57 82 2-6-3 2-5-4 3-4-3 Lost 1
    15 Carolina 23 5 13 5 15 53 83 5-5-2 0-8-3 3-5-2 Lost 1

  35.  

    “a good Toronto fan who is oblivious to reality”

    Uh huh.

  36.  

    […] everyone had written off the Leafs. Before the season I made a bold prediction that the Leafs would make the playoffs and a number of people called me out on that prediction calling me biased. When the Leafs started […]

  37.  

    […] points in 52 games thanks to a dismal 17-25-10 record. Now I know that many of you are loving that my prediction of the Leafs making the playoffs is going so wrong as now I have to eat crow and admit my bias, but let me point out two things many […]

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