Apr 012007
 

With the Rangers and Carolina winning tonight here is how the playoff race in the east looks right now and their games remaining.

6. NY Rangers (91) – atNYI, vsPTL, atPIT
7. Tampa Bay (90) – vsCAR, vsFLA, atATL
8. Montreal (88) – vsBOS, atNYR, atTOR
9. Toronto (87) – vsPHI, atNYI, vsMTL
10. Carolina (86) – atTB, vsATL, vsFLA
11. NY Islanders (84) – vsNYR, vsTOR, atPHI, atNJ

With so many teams still in the race and so games being played against each other and with the crazy 3 point games there are far too many scenarios to figure out how each of these teams can make or miss the playoffs but here are some of what each team needs to do to make the playoffs or what can happen for them to miss.

To get in the playoffs:

Rangers: One more win and they are in.
Tampa: 1-0-1 guarantees a playoff spot. 1-2-0 gets them a spot so long as Montreal doesn’t go 2-0-1 and Toronto goes 3-0-0.
Montreal: 2-0-1 and they are in.
Toronto: 3-0-0 and they are in so long as they defeat Montreal in regulation.
Carolina: Need to go 3-0-0 and get some help. Specifically, no more than 2 of the following can occur:
-Rangers get a win
-Tampa gets a win
-Montreal gets 2 wins
-Leafs go 3-0-0
Islanders: Need to go 4-0-0 and get some help. Specifically, no more than 2 of the following can occur:
-Rangers get a win
-Tampa gets a win
-Montreal gets 4 points
-Toronto goes 2-0-1 with the OTL in the game against the Islanders.

Teams will be out if:

Islanders: Lose any 2 games.
Carolina: Lose any 2 games or lose a single game with Montreal winning a game or Toronto winning 2 games or the Islanders going 3-0-1.
Toronto: Go winless or just win a single game with Montreal getting a single point.
Montreal: Go 0-3-0.
Tampa: Go 0-3-0 and 2 of the following occur:
-Montreal gets 3 points
-Toronto gets 4 points
-Carolina gets 5 points
-NY Islanders go 3-0-1
Rangers: Need to lose all 3 games and three of the following to occur:
-Tampa gets a point
-Montreal gets 3 points
-Toronto goes 2-0-1
-Carolina goes 3-0-0
-Islanders go 3-0-1

Jul 182006
 

I thought for a bit that maybe, just maybe, the Islanders had finally decided to act like a professional franchise and get rid of Mike “I’ve never made a good trade” Milbury (sort of) and replace him with a qualified general manage as well as hire a qualified coach. But today we find out that that was just a joke and the franchise is yet again a poorly run franchise destined to live in the world of mediocrity (I’m being generous). For whatever reason the qualified GM, Neil Smith, has left the franchise whether it was his decision, the teams decision or some kind of mutual decision. And the new GM? Last years backup goalie. Yup. Last years backup goalie is the new General Manager. I really don’t know what else to say. I’m stunned. I’ve got nothing against Garth Snow. I am sure he is a smart guy, but can he really run a team just removed sitting on the end of the bench as backup goalie? It just stuns me that a successful businessman such as Charles Wang continues to make such foolish decisions.

Mar 092006
 

Two minor trades have been announced so far. Montreal adds some toughness and defense depth by acquiring Todd Simpson from Chicago for a 6th round pick. The New Jersey Devils have acquried their second defensemen in 2 days by picking up Brad Lukowich from the Islanders for a 3rd round pick. I really like what the Devils are doing by adding Klee and Lukowich. I thought last year the Devils tried too hard trying to replace Niedermayers offense by adding Malakhov and McGillis but now they are getting back to more typical New Jersey players by adding more defensively responsible players. And Lukowich is a defensive defenseman and a good one. I am sure Tampa is missing his stability on the blue line this year. Because of these trades I am slowly moving the Devils up the Cup contender list.

Mar 082006
 

A couple more trades have occurred over the last couple hours:

1. Luke Richardson to Toronto for 5th round pick and conditional 4th round pick

2. Sharks get Nieminen from Rangers for a 3rd round pick.

3. Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel to L.A. Kings for Denis Grebeshkov and Jeff Tambellini and conditional 3rd round pick

4. Montreal trades Jose Theodore to Colorado for David Aebischer

At this point in his career Luke Richardson isn’t much more than a 5th/6th or depth defenseman but what this deal might be is a precursor to another in which Klee, Berg or Khavanov get moved with Klee being the most likely.

Nieminen is a role player and a 3rd line type of guy. He’s nothing special but every team needs guys like this for depth and penalty killing. This might be a precursor to the trading of Alyn MacAuley who is rumoured to be on the block because he is the Sharks only soon to be UFA. MacAuley provides more offense than Nieminen but plays a similar 2-way, penalty killing role.

The Islanders picked up a couple of pretty good prospects in Grebeshkov and Tambellini but it cost them two pretty good players off of their roster and that is going to hurt and chance they had of getting back in the playoff race. Parrish is a goal scorer with 24 goals and 41 points so far this year and will add some much needed offense to the Kings lineup which was too dependent on Demitra who was severely missed when injured. Parrish is unrestricted free agent at seasons end. Brent Sopel is a solid defenseman as well and will certainly help the Kings especially on the power play with his good shot. Sopel is signed through next season so it gives the Kings some stability on defense going forward. This trade should help the Kings maintain a playoff position but I am still not sold on their goaltending. But you never know, maybe this too is a precursor to another deal. There were rumours of the Kings going after Luongo. Maybe this deal allows them to include a Sopel, Tim Gleason or Joe Corvo in a package for Luongo.

I don’t like the Theodore trade from a Colorado point of view, especially for this season. Theodore just hasn’t been very good this year and is currently injured. He also has a pretty hefty contract taking away some salary cap flexibility for several more years. That said, if Theodore can return to form of a few years ago this could work out well. They have had some luck with former Montreal goalies in the past so who knows. Maybe the change of scenery will do Theodore good. As for Montreal Theodore had worn out his welcome and as good as Huet has been he just isn’t going to cut it. Aebischer has suffered some inconsistancy issues but he is still relatively young with this being only his second season in the NHL as a starter. Most importantly for Montreal is they rid themselves of a hefty contract on a guy who had become a bit of a side show and a distraction for the team.

Sep 152005
 

(Also posted at The Devils Advocate)

What they lost: Experience and leadership. Mike Peca, Adrian Aucoin, Dave Scatchard, and Marius Czerkawski are all gone. Peca was their captain last season, and before him it was Kenny Jonsson who will play in Sweden this year. Peca has also won the Selke trophy twice in his career as the best defensive forward… making him a player who is not easily replaced.

What they gained: Stepping into the Nassau Coliseum this year are Miroslav Satan, Alexei Zhitnik, Mike York, Brad Lukowich, and Joel Bouchard. Satan is a skilled forward who can be relied upon to score consistently. Zhitnik is a good defensive acquisition in the “new NHL,” with puck-moving and skating as valuable skills on the blueline. I’ve also always been a big Mike York fan. The Rangers were stupid to let him go, and it would be poetic justice if he thrives on Long Island.

Staying at home: The players remaining on the Island are somewhat mysteries. Alexei Yashin is still among the highest paid players in the NHL, but his performance on the ice hardly ever merits it. He needs to step up this year, just as he has needed to for the past several years. Rick DiPietro could finally live up to his potential this season… I expect him to be a bright spot for the Isles this year. Janne Niinimaa is still there and Mark Parrish just re-signed. But perhaps the best thing the Islanders have going for them is 2nd year forward Trent Hunter. He was a finalist for the Calder last season and led the team in goals and points. If the Isles want to succeed this season, a lot falls on the shoulders of this promising young man.

Bottom line: This year could be the start of something good for the Islanders. They won’t be a playoff team, but they also won’t be as bad as they were when they had the Gorton’s Fisherman as their logo. On paper, they’re just as good as they were last season. Their young talent will make or break this team. I think Hunter and DiPietro will be very good this year, but the lack of veteran intangibles and leadership on this team will leave them in fourth place in the division.

 Posted by at 9:09 am