This NHL season has really came up on me. Today we talk about the teams who will barely make the playoffs, just miss, and who could rise from the ashes. This is the NHL Outsiders and Sleepers, and we start in the state I currently reside in.
I am not going to give my prediction here, for these teams. Next column will have all predictions
The Wild finished 7th last season in the Western Conference. They totally made a name of themselves in the postseason, knocking out Colorado on a game-winning goal in OT. They then lost in the same way they beat the Avalanche. A game-winning goal in OT by Chicago ended their season.
This year, the Wild have a lot of optimism, but there is some concern. The Wild have so many young guys on their team. Guys who didn’t play much last year. Guys who I’ve never heard of. Minnesota has the young and proven talent already, featuring Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter. Nino got a new deal in the off season for 3 years/$8 million., and he’s shown he’S worth it. Parise, isn’t totally young, but is for sure in his prime. It’s amazing how respected he is here. He’s a hometown kid though, so I understand it, but I’ve never seen so many jerseys of one player, especially in hockey.
I root for the Wild. Their young and talented, and hey, I get them on TV every night, so what the heck. They should be a lot of fun this year. However, the young kids have to step up, big time. If they can’t, it could be a narrow miss of the playoffs for the Wild.
Later this week, the prediction column will have some striking similarities to last year. I don’t expect much to be different this year. Seeding changes will be evident, but I think it’s pretty clear who’s good and who’s bad in the West.
The Stars barely snuck in last year. They had a great offense, and will this year too. That is no problem at all. The problem resides on defense. They have a lot of people who are going to fill in on defense, guys I’ve never heard. Their young though, and that’s okay. Their not going to be great, but aren’t going to be bad. Again, the Stars can make the Playoffs. They have to play defense. That’s the bottom line. In a competitive West, they can hang around, giving what they have currently. This is a team that should make a move this year. That would solidify them.
Tampa Bay Lighting
Notice how this is the only Eastern Conference in this section? Yea, well, the East has it’s good, and it’s bad. The Lightning are the only in-between team in Conference. I don’t really know what to think about them. They made the Martin St. Louis-Ryan Callahan trade, which in my opinion was huge mistake on Tampa Bay’s side. They still finished 3rd in the East. I’ll be honest. I don’t think they’re that good. They can’t win face-offs. That’s my main issue. I feel the face-off is totally underrated in the sport of hockey. It’s a huge part of the offense. That, however, isn’t what the Lighting need to worry about. They can score, big time. They’ve never had a problem with it. They won’t miss the Playoffs, but I don’t think they’re going to be as good as last year.
I put the Capitals in my Outlook column as one of the top six teams in the East. I like them a lot. I put them here also, because I believe they could be better than that. I said they would rumble up the East. With Boston slipping this year, they could sneak up there. They are just to talented not to be good. Unlike other teams this year, Washington has expirence and leadership. That’s key, especially if they want to make the Playoffs.
Detroit Red Wings
This is a team I felt would finish close to where they were last year. They’ve grown on me, however. Like other teams, they have a bunch of young guys that need to step up. If that happens, watch out. Like Tampa Bay, they can score. They scored a ton last year, and can easily use that in their favor. The problem is, well, it’s not their fault, but injuries kill them, every year. Someone key gets hurt every season, and ends in disappointment. Bottom line, if they stay healthy, they have a better shot at the Playoffs.
Prediction column coming tomorrow..