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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010-2011 Atlantic Division Preview

If you’re like me, you’ve got at least a couple family members, friends, co-workers or acquaintances who, for some psychotic reason or another, cheer for a hockey team that isn’t The New York Rangers. For most of us from the Northeast, this means constant contact with people who actually like the Flyers, Devils, Islanders and Penguins.

Inevitably, a new season brings with it a fresh sense of superiority and some pretty witty trash-talkin’ from these “friends” of ours. But as long as we Rangers fans prepare for the upcoming 82 games now, we should be ready for whatever Sean Avery-Vogue Fashion joke they throw at us! So without further a-do, here’s a 2010-2011 Atlantic Division Season Preview:

Pittsburg Penguins
The Goods: Sid the STD and Mongoloid Malkin are arguably the best two-star punch in the NHL. Add in a young core that includes Jordan Staal, Paul Martin (way to deal him in-division NJ) and Marc Andre Fleury, and you’ve got a strong team that can definitely push for a second cup in three years. Unless of course, all of them mysteriously disappear without a trace…

The Bads: Crosby’s facial hair isn’t the only pathetic aspect of this seriously skilled athlete. His diving antics at the Garden last year got him a beat down from Brandon Dubinski and a new MSG favorite chant: Crosby Sucks!

The Question Mark: With the Winter Classic and HBO 24/7, will super-extreme, red-alert-level over exposure to Sidney Crosby cause all of our heads to explode?

The Outlook: Despite losing Sergei Gonchar, the Penguins will continue to come into their prime. First year in a new stadium and the hype of the Winter Classic, the best we can hope for is that they “blow their load” too early and don’t make it far in the playoffs.

Philadelphia Flyers
The Goods: Coming off a really strong post season performance after barely scraping their way into the post season (I’m lookin’ at you Olli), the Flyers will look to establish some consistency during the upcoming regular season. This is code for they’ll try and keep a goalie healthy for longer than a month so they don’t have to bring back Ray Emery ever again.

The Bads: Chris Pronger spent his summer vacation crushing children’s dreams with his skate blade just to satisfy his thirst for pain. Put him on the ice with Dan Carcillo and even NYC’s toughest gang would be shitting themselves. These two will be out for blood after being denied a day with the Stanley Cup this summer. They had this whole human sacrifice ceremony thing planned and everything.

The Question Mark: Who the hell is their goalie? Seriously! I thought my friend Steve was messing with me when he said Brian Boucher.

Outlook: Expect the same from the Flyers this year. Ups and downs during the season may result in a playoff appearance, but given how it turned out last year, it may once again be us or them at the end of the day. No matter what, expect Philly fans to be Philly fans - annoying as hell.

New Jersey Devils
The Goods: You’ve heard the names: Broduer, Kovalchuk, Parise, Elias. What you haven’t heard is that they’re all HUGE fans of the Jonas Brothers and listen to their music before every game, dancing around the locker room mock-rocking with their hockey sticks.

The Bads: It’s going to be hard to mock the devils and their fans for playing lifeless, defensive hockey while Ilya Kovalchuk is sniping top shelf snap shots every three minutes. Then again, we can always openly laugh about how we easily outnumber their fans at Devils-Rangers games played in New Jersey.

The Question Mark: Will first year head coach John Maclean be able to acclimate to his new position after spending the last couple decades thwarting the evil master plans of super villains across the country?

The Outlook: The Devils will definitely be contending for the Atlantic Division title. Because most visiting teams are too worried about getting robbed and stabbed by the locals after the game, expect New Jersey to do pretty well at home.

New York Islanders
The Goods: The Islanders, relying on a core of talented young players like John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, are hoping to finally reap the rewards of their ingenious and groundbreaking Road Plan to Success Program entitled “Be Awful, Draft Talent, (Hopefully) Get Better”.

The Bads: The preseason injury to Mark Streit’s shoulder is a crushing blow for hopeful Isles fans, but not as crushing a blow as when they’re reminded that the organization paid Rick DiPietro $9 million over the last two seasons to play in a whopping total of 13 games.

The Question Mark: Will owner Charles Wang make good on his threats to move the team after demanding from the town of Hempstead a new arena and that everyone please stop laughing at his last name?

The Outlook: You know the outlook is bad when Kansas City actually seems like a reasonable place to relocate.

New York Rangers
The Goods: Marian Gaborik’s production last year was awesome to watch. Let’s hope that in his second season in the city, his teammates decide to stop watching him in awe and help out by scoring a goal or two themselves for God’s sake!

The Bads: The early season loss of Chris Drury will force the Rangers to wonder who will step up and fill in the voided roles of captain and fourth line center who does nothing and rarely scores.

The Question Mark: Will John Tortorella be the coach of the Rangers at the end of the season, or will he be forced to step down after violently assaulting Larry Brooks after a tough home loss sometime in March?

The Outlook: Stanley Cup, here we come!

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