Isles can't compete in Atlantic, say's who?

New York Islander Fan Central | 8/19/2009 10:54:00 AM |

I know I did an entry like this a year ago.......

Someone has to explain to me how Pittsburgh is better with it's chemistry altered on the backline with the changes they made plus Crosby expected to post incredible numbers over eighty two games with Guerin and Chris Kunitz?

Malkin I expect will have another incredible season (Staal needs to step it up big time) with mediocre talents like Fedotenko while not resigning Sykora or Satan to date and I'm well aware Malkin may be the Pens best player and can carry that team for long stretches and will see time on a line with Crosby.

It's possible with everyone a year older and in some cases better with help from their younger players in the system, but having written that signing Mike Rupp, Jay McKee and Brent Johnson do not exactly impress me and Gill will never be better than he was for Pittsburgh and there is the loss of Scuderi who was this teams second best defender in the playoffs.

On paper in August this team seems weaker than the one that was in tenth at the trade deadline last year but Crosby, Malkin and Staal a year older compensate for that to a degree and make everyone better around them.

Can Bill Guerin play eighty two games at a level he played down the stretch for Pittsburgh? I'm skeptical because he had a lot of no-show games here and the honeymoon will be ending for Dan Bylsma.

Michel Terrien could not have been completely wrong last year but I Sergei Gonchar will not be out half the season either this time to open the year.

M.A Fleury is a goaltender selected first over who has now been to two straight finals, winning a game seven on the road. What happens if he does take the next step in his progression?
Flyers in goal right now hardly scare me with Ray Emery an explosion waiting to happen, Paul Holmgren really dumped Martin Biron and Antero Nittymaki for Brian Boucher?

Chris Pronger is a great player but this is his first time in the East (since Hartford) with some significant mileage and they paid a ton to get him. He had some great support in Anaheim he will not have with the Flyers despite how good Timonen and Coburn are but the rest of that group is not impressive with choices between Randy Jones, Matt Carle, Ryan Parent or Ole-Kristian Tollefsen who they signed.

Flyers have still have not replaced Knuble and Asham-Ian Laperriere are not going to score but they have a deep offensive club when healthy which is not a given. How long before Daniel Briere breaks down?

I see the same club that looks unbeatable for stretches or helpless for others with John Stevens seemingly always on the hot seat during a losing streak. Why the Flyers never make a big push for a franchise goaltender I will never understand.
Devils losing Gionta, Rupp and Madden with Holik's retirement and only resigning Shanahan plus adding Yann Danis hardly look vastly improved but you never under estimate the Devils system or their management.

I'm not intimidated by a defense led by Johnny Oduya, Paul Martin, Andy Greene, Mike Mottau but going from Sutter back to Lamoriello is asking a great deal even for New Jersey because that's a big philosophy change.

The Devils also landed former Islander Rob Davison to shoot at Toskala and Cory Murphy from Florida.

Will Brian Rolston be happy to see his former coach from Minnesota? The numbers say yes.

Absolutely expect Parise, Zajac to be a year better and for Lamoriello to have prospects ready to step in and produce, that's what New Jersey does and why they are always a top level regular season team.

Elias is coming off his best season in years and remains durable.

For those counting the Devils out, you simply have not learned this organization has always been about more than one or two players, last season proved that better than any other.
Are the Rangers better? On paper it seems everyone they brought in is coming off a down season no matter how it's packaged as improvement. It could work but there are a few trends that do standout.

This could be a much more injury prone group changing systems.

Derek Morris and Paul Mara gone for Matt Gilroy on a team that will change it's trap defense under the latest coach that scored only nine more goals than the Isles a year ago? That's going to force Henrik Lundqvist to face thirty shots and not allow for his four goal on fourteen shot stretches and the kind of nightly pressure he failed to handle against Washington.

Tick, tick, tick goes Avery, Brashear and Tortorlla, who will explode first in that room?

I like their late round prospects in Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubuinsky better than their early picks but with a forty point total the later is not a rising star until he produces as such.

Marian Gaborik in the rougher Eastern Conference might work but he's going to pay a physical price here he did not pay in Minnesota. At some point he will be given a prime veteran center to take the burden off him.

This could work but again the players brought in all come off injured or seasons where they regressed, some will improve, others will not.
Bottom line:
All these teams could be a great deal better or worse but in August at this time there is nothing that stands out and says anyone will absolutely will be better.

Someone by default will be better.

Next up I'm going to do an entry on the Isles recent record against Atlantic Division teams and why they should be able to compete with them.

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