Thursday, October 7, 2010

Playoffs!?! Don't Talk About Playoffs!?!?

The Puck Daddy blog over at Yahoo has published their staff predictions for the Eastern Conference. Not surprisingly, none of them picked the Thrashers to make the playoffs. Predictions for how Atlanta would fare within the Southeast Division bounced back and forth between third and forth place finishing behind unanimous first place Washington, and some combination of Carolina and/or Tampa.

While I am optimistic about Craig Ramsay, our goaltending, and our blueline, I don't think this Thrashers squad has enough firepower to get higher than 10th place in the East. I look at our team and see a lot of similarities to other mediocre teams such as the Rangers, Leafs, and Predators.

Has hockey had a paradigm shift in recent years? Does the old wisdom of building from the goal outward still work? Look at successful teams from last year.

Washington- great forwards, thin defense, weak and streaky goaltending (killed them in the playoffs).

Philly- great forwards, pretty good defense, chaos in net.

Chicago- great forwards, great defense, adequate but not great in net.

Montreal- pretty good forwards, decent defense, shaky goaltending that got hot in the playoffs.

Vancouver- great forwards, decent defense, hit or miss great or mediocre goaltending depending on Luongo's mood.

In the cap era, you need to have balance. A superstar goalie eating up a big chunk of your cap space will take away from either the defense in front of him, leading to more shots on goal, or from the forward corps meaning that your team doesn't put up enough points even though your goalie is keeping you in the game. Likewise, spending too much of your cap up front means that you'll be in barn burners every night with your bargain basement defense and goalie behind you letting in goal after goal.

So far Atlanta is set up nicely with a solid D and average to above average goaltending (depending on Pavelec's development). That has left enough cap space to ice some goal scorers, but Dudley hasn't found them yet.

As such, this team will lose a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games, and will likely be in the 10-12th place range along with their peers in Toronto, Ottawa, and New York.


j_barty_party said...

Good post sir, but I hardly think Nashville is mediocre. They may struggle with offense from time to time, but their top 4 on the blueline is as good as any. Weber & Suter may be the best tandem in hockey. NSH may very well contend for the division title this year.

Other than that, please pass me the ketchup so I can make a sandwich with this here bread.

Jay said...

I think teams are going to dread playing Atlanta. The Thrashers are going to hit the crap out of people. They can just as easily WIN games 1-0 and 2-1. I really do have a good feeling about this team. I imagine they will start slow, with so many new players, a new coaching staff, and a tough road trip out of the gate. But I can see them being like a snowball rolling down a hill as the season goes on. I predict BIG years from Kane, Bogosian, and Little. Would not even surprise me if this team had ten 15-25 goal scorers and no one over 30. Very balanced throughout.

j_barty_party said...

I like your positive thinking Jay! I just hope we don't end up like a "snowball rollin' down hill headed for hell!"

Razor Catch Prey said...

Jay- that is my hope, just not my expectation. Craig Ramsay's vision appears to be a balanced attack in which everyone on the team scores 5 or so more goals than they would in another system.