Monday, January 22, 2007


State of the Union

Eastern Conference first: even though the playoff race is still fairly compressed, I'm going to guess that the eight teams above the line right now are the eight that will make the playoffs. I don't think Boston has anywhere to go but down; I don't think the Rangers are good enough; and Toronto has myriad problems, not the least of which is their goaltending. I'd give the Isles the best odds at breaking back into the Top 8, but only if something drastic happens to improve their special teams.

Fun fact: even if the Flyers play as well in their last 35 games as Buffalo has all season, they'll finish with 77 points, which might just squeak them into 14th place.

Western Conference: I'll happily count out Phoenix, C-Bus, Chicago, and L.A., but I'm not quite ready to throw dirt on the Blues yet. Their recent run (sweeping through California!) shows me something, but more than that, I don't think they were ever as bad as their early season record indicated. Their goaltending was injured and also sucked, but Manny Legace has historically been a goalie who saves his teams goals (relative to an average guy) rather than costing them, and he seems to have his mojo back (and is healthy). Their shoot% was also brutal six weeks ago, and has been reverting to the mean.

NSH/ANA/SJS/DET are clearly in. Dallas could have completely fallen apart recently, but has hung on; now they're going to start getting healthy again, and although their schedule looks pretty tough in the next month, a 4.5-game cushion on 9th should be more than enough. They're in. I'll also stun all our readers by predicting that the Flames will qualify.

You won't find me shrugging off the Canucks' recent success; however, they are 10-2 in OT/SO games (including a remarkable 7-0 in games settled in OT). If they keep playing as well as they have been lately, they won't need to keep up that pace, but going forward, they can expect to win about half their OT/SO games, with a corresponding effect on their record.

So there's 1 or 2 playoff spots available, there for the taking by the Oilers, Avs, Wild, or (longshot) Blues. My take, for what it's worth, is that Kevin Lowe would be crazy not to mortgage the future a bit to try and snag one. The case goes something like this:
  1. You never really know about your prospects: when and if they'll pan out (or which ones)
  2. Even if a prospect becomes a good player, your team might not be any good when he blossoms
  3. The Oil have forwards and a goalie that are playoff-tested and capable of beating a better team in a 7-game series
  4. Based on comments from the fwds and the coach (not to mention the fans), it would do their confidence (or perhaps, enthusiasm) a world of good to see the GM make a move for the present
Seriously, folks: the Oilers have been (roughly speaking) pretty crappy this year, with some injury problems and some bad play by rookie and veteran D alike who have been leaned on too much (among other things). And yet, they're only 4 points out of a playoff spot, they only have to vault the Avs (3 H2H games remaining) and the Wild (5 H2H games remaining).

"Overpaying" for someone like Brent Sopel or Aaron Miller -- right now -- just seems like a no-brainer. It might not help with the crisp breakout passes or the powerplay, but it would help with this:
I'll say one thing: if the Oilers ownership and management has decided to give up on the season, they can hardly blame me for doing the same.

The Oilers players are a bunch of highly-paid professionals, but they are also human, and it is impossible that this same thought is not infecting some of them to various degrees. Dumping a good prospect for a soon-to-be-UFA defenceman turns that all around.


Here's hoping the Bruins lose their next fifteen games.

maybe the Oil should trade Ryan Smyth right now, for prospects, then that 07 first rounder is going to get better and better.


Completely agree on the Oilers. Sadly..

I think we get to wait for that future.

Rumor at HF is that Staios is done for the year. If that's true.. the season really could be over, because we'd need 2 (if not 3..) defensemen, and that's far too tall of an order.

Rumor at HF is that Staios is done for the year.

No effing way.

Where's the booze?

Brent Sopel was the model of inconsistency during his years with the Canucks. When he was good, however, he was really freaking good and could easily fill a void on the Oiler blue line.

But do you really want another mullet on your team?

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