James Day Preview: Ottawa Vengaboys host the Colorado City Snow Hurricanes

Whaaat is the deal with my compete level of late!?

Whaaat is the deal with my compete level of late!?

First, let’s get HYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYPED: 

(seriously unlistenable after like 1 minute…and I LOVE terrible music)


Recap Re: Crap
Kind of a crazy terrible looking game against the city of  Florida. Thrilled to get the win but man that was a character building experience to sit through. Look, I know I’m coming in hotroversial here but I really think the arena crew down in Sunwater, Florida could stand to cut back to at least half the sand they are using in their slush/sand/ice mixture. The ice was pretty bad in Tampa too as evidenced by Steven Stojko losing the puck on his shootout attempt (salut les hateurs!).
I am very excited to watch the Senators play ON GOOD CANADIAN ICE (thumbs up) and complete more than four or five passes during the course of the game praise be to Jah, Lion of Judah for he makes all things possible *Takes huge hit of eucalyptus flavoured chemical mist from Vapegun™*

Phillips still in the game like Jack Lalanne (that’s an old guy, I know, it’s a terrific reference! Gracias quatro el reading!)
I’m just as concerned as the next “Joe Water Bottle Full of Silent Sam Vodka in My Desk Drawer at Work” about Chris Phillips getting over 25 minutes a night. Not only is it unsustainable but there should be I don’t know…SEVERAL guys who should be getting this assignment ahead of him but you know what? He’s looked great the past couple of games. He looks like the Phillips who just a handful of years ago you’d put out to neutralize players like Alex Ovechkin and could actually handle that assignment. Get well soon Marc Methot but pretty crazy that Phillips has been able to step in during this time of need. He will be in for quite a test against the speedy Avalanches but remember one thing my G…just pass it to Karlsson and if Karlsson’s not open, pass it to him anyway and Karlsson will figure it out…with his miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiindlegs. I’m just kidding around Phillips doesn’t need to be told that. He would never try to carry the puck for more than 3 feet. Seriously, have fun watching for this tonight. It’s a game within the game (within the game within the game).

T’aint Misbehavin’
I know I’m jinxing this but Chris Neil has ZERO penalty minutes in three games. I gotta take my hat off to the guy. If the Sens are going to improve this year, staying out of the box is going to be right up there with the need for otherworldly goaltending and I think the former greatly helps to allow for the latter. Ottawa’s goaltending wasn’t stellar last season and it certainly didn’t  do Craiger and Robbie (peep the super duper casual first name basis) any favors that they had one less person helping them out constantly and often (that’s right C&O).
Don’t get it twisted, I still think Neil has some serrrrious flaws with his game that are worsening with age but, hey, I can get into Chris Neil keeping his nose clean. My expectations DONE been managed considering he once racked up a team-helping 144 PIMs in just 48 games the year of the lockout. Whatever fuck. The point is last year Chris Neil had his highest penalty minute total since his rookie season which HEYYYYYYYYYYYY was over a decade ago. You cant teach singlehandedly putting your team on the PK for an average of almost 3 minutes per game, that’s why they give you a letter. This ain’t fahntasy hockey. PIMs don’t help. Penalties happen, they’re always going to happen but on a team with as delicate a structure for success as this one you gotta avoid them. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ white boy.

Wow, props to Christophers Phillips and Neil. Bizzarro season in full effect.

Craig Anderson gets the start in net. That’s right I’m saying it. I will no longer be a slave to the tyranny of Paul MacLean announcing the starting goaltender during the national anthem. I’m calling it. Babygirl has been the starter for years now and is coming off a shutout win. It’s gunna be Andy in goal tonight for the home opener and you know what– What’s that? The Coach announced that Anderson is the starter hours ago? Well looks like I was right. Hmph.

Craig will square off against Sam Varlamov who’s allowed 10 goals in 3 games to start the season so maybe Anderson will face him and Reto Berra. Reto Berra is definitely a player that we’ve both heard of. Also, the name Reto. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetooooooooo.

Light a Mupdate (3:41pm): Varlarlmalarlov is a James Time decision. He hurt his dumb groin being stupid (probably)

Anything else about the Avalanche? They are a perfect 0% on the power play.

OH NO Greening and Cowen are healthy scratches! What are we supposed to complain about?
Oh good, Mike Hoffman is scratched too. That was close. Resume complaining but complain amongst yourselves if you don’t like it because I think it’s the right move. With over 600 players currently on the roster we are going to see dozens of people sit night in and night out. I thought Condra looked great against the Panthers.. He looked more dangerous than Hoffman did in the previous two games. Don’t hate Hoffy’s game or anything but Condra was a presence in his shot and I’m glad to see him rewarded for a strong game.
Courteous Lazar draws in to the line up on hat trick I MEAN hat trick I mean….managed expecthattricks.

Should be an exciting game as neither team plays defence.  Enjoy!

Don’t forget to tag all of your tweets Sens related or otherwise #DANGERFLUTES Not part of DANGERFLUTENATION but want to joint the movement? Learn more here.

Road Trip Takeaways

Hey, lookit that: Ottawa returns from the road-trip with a respectable 2-1 record, and despite what the dour 13 minutes I spent with Sens fans on Twitter might imply, that’s a pleasant surprise and a positive thing.

I think it’s fair to say that people were expecting a win in Florida, a loss in Tampa, and for Nashville to be a toss-up. That Ottawa came out with a win in Tampa and a (close) loss in Nashville perhaps bodes well. Though you could say their horrid game in Florida cancels it out.

Yadda yadda it’s only three games and so on. Having said that, here are a few things that occurred to me over the course of those three games, and maybe some things to watch for in the home opener:

1) Same old same old

The summary, for those who like to digest hockey in Wikipedia-sized chunks, is that Ottawa was massively outshot and bailed out by brilliant goaltending. This seemed to be the source of Twitter’s achy tummy, and more than a few panicky blog posts, and I guess I can see why. It was the team’s downfall last year, and anyone hoping that MacLean would implement a strategic shift to suddenly turn a rag-tag team of misfits into a defensively responsible contender is probably right to be a little worried. After last night’s putrid game against Florida, MacLean said he was satisfied with their complete, all-team approach, which is confusing. (But I guess what is he gonna say?)

Ottawa had two good periods against Tampa and sort of stunk in the last game of a road trip in front of about 27 people. Let’s wait and see how they play at home on Thursday before we start to mark out trends on the white board.

2) The small story is different from the large story, and it’s not an old school v. analytics thing

Ottawa lost 3-2 to Nashville, but gave up one of those goals after a terrible call on Cowen and saw Chiasson nearly tying the game up with a shot off the post in the dying minutes. This game was closer than it seemed. Against Tampa, MacArthur had about three amazing chances in close, and they might have walked away with that game 4-2 instead of a SO win. The Florida game was a bit weird, what with playing in front of nobody and how every powerplay got cancelled out by another shortly after, but both teams had good looks.

My takeaway here is that even though the Sens are getting outshot, maybe the quality of their scoring chances is making up for it? Which is to say this isn’t a matter of discarding the analytics, but a matter of refining them. Someone better than I will surely put up a shot chart / heat map thing soon and we’ll know more.

3) This is still a lineup in flux

Which is totally to be expected with so many young players in the mix. Lazar, Hoffman and Cowen were scratched last night in favor of Condra, Greening and Wiercioch, and there didn’t seem to be much difference on the shot differential. But let’s give the boys some time to settle down before we blame the system. You usually have one player coming out, one in; switching around huge segments of the team early on means there’s lots of room for improvement. As MacLean said last year, it’s only after several games that “you are what you are.” We’re nowhere near that point yet.

4) The Cowen honeymoon is over

Thank god. It took dozens of catastrophic brain farts for Cowen to see the press box last year. This year it took two games. Last night’s TSN panel was actually talking about his trade value. That seems premature, but it’s good to see that he doesn’t have such a long leash anymore. How long before we see Freddy Claesson get a couple of games?

5) Clarke MacArthur is going to have a good season

Based on his goal against Florida and the sort of unbelievable number of chances he had against Tampa, his chemistry with Turris and Karlsson last season wasn’t a fluke. He goes to the net and they know where to find him. When he starts getting the bounces and his shooting percentage looks more like league average, he’s going to start putting up some serious points. He could have left this road trip with 3-4 goals.

6) Watching the TSN broadcasts is weird

I don’t know if this was Jamie Maclennan’s first time doing color, but he was all over the map when he wasn’t saying forehead-smackingly obvious stuff like how two mistakes is worse than one mistake. Also, it’s going t take some getting used to seeing Bruce Garrioch being interviewed during intermissions. But for the most part it was interesting seeing James Duthie, Aaron Ward and Bob MacKenzie try to conduct and interesting (and interested) panel discussion on an early season Panthers-Senators game that ended 1-0.

James Day Preview: Ottawa Karlssons vs. Trashville Predadirts

legwand

Please to be clicking on this before you start reading:

*waits less than patiently for 5 seconds of Toyota Venza ad to pass* 

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Let me be the first to formally say iBienvenidos a sus años del Carlosson! 

After one of the most exhilarating and optimistic off seasons in team herstory, we emerge from under a pile of melted plastic lawn furniture to cheer OUR Ottawa Senators and their actual playing of games! Now we’ll have some filler to enjoy betwixt arguing about the use or non-use of advanced stats, why we’re upset over Patrick Wiercioch’s lack of playing time or Marc Methot’s contract negotiations (Ed note: Hey dickhead, sign that goddamn contract, you’re being offered years of riding shotgun with one of the world’s best players who’ll probably help you get your next contract too…so, pretty please, STFU and go make millions of dollars already) and get down to some NHL Hockey: The Most SENSUAL Game On Earth’s Ice™. I really like the new slogan the league is going with.

Tonight we officially(?) enter a new era of the team. With Spezza having split, Karlsson at the kontrols, and a cornucopia of kidz on the roster, only one thing is certain going forward: That I remain committed to terrible and insufferable game previews.
COME AWAY WITH ME:

The Kids Are …on the team Alright.
I for one have been waiting for the torch to be passed to a new generation for quite some time now. I’d say since about the trade deadline in 2011 to be exact. It has been a less than smooth ride so far but here we are.
With greenhorns Courteous Lazar, Mark Stone, Alex Chiasson, Mika Zibanejad, Mike Hoffman, Cody Ceci and Mark Borowiecki making up about 40% of the starting lineup I am really getting what I wished for…and more (Borowiecki)
As exciting as new blood is, I am practicing the ancient art of managed expectations. Why? A few reasons:
– Despite making a serious bid for team captain, Lazar has never played an NHL game. There could be a few nerves under that steel.
– For all of our top 6 wishes and coke caviar dreams, Mark Stone will be playing only his 24th career regular season match tonight.
–  Mike Hoffman is a dynamic young player…who has 6 career NHL points btw.
WAIT WAIT COME BACK! I’M NOT TRYING TO BUM YOU OUT I’M TRYING TO LIGHT A FIRE UNDER YOU!
I actually love how the coach is handling this.
Lazar and Hoffman will start the game under the responsible and disciplined eye of Chris Neil on the fourth line. Meanwhile, Stone will play under the nurturing bosom (sorry, weird of me) of veterinarian center David Legwand (who I sincerely hope scores a goal tonight) and workhorse/clotheshorse Zachariah Smith.
Lazar and Hoffman get the chance to be a little creative while Neil creates penalties space and Stone gets to play shotmaker with a couple of hard working, rugged guys. If Smith and Legwand can crash and bang and get some pucks loose around the front of the net, hopefully Stone can do some of the precise garbage collecting that he’s made a name for himself with.

Gabbin About Tha Gawdz: Top Six Talk
The Platinum Angel express line of MacArthur – Turris – Ryan needs no introduction. Is anyone still adjusting to Clarke MacArthur being one of their favorite players? Me neither. Let’s move on.

The second line of Michalek – Zibanejad – Chiasson is the most intriguing to me. Zibanejad goes into this season with perhaps the most pressure on his Swedish shoulders of Persian-Finnish decent. Coach MacLean has spoken many times of the need to remove the adjective “young” when talking about certain players and he feels at just 120 games and 21 years of age that Zibanejad falls into that Boyz II Men crowd.
As a second line centre he’ll have to put up around 20 more points than he did last season to be considered a success. It’s a steep increase but if he gets the steady ice time that a 2nd line centre should and can play very consistently in that time, it’s possible. However if MacLean gets into his “Everyday I’m shufflin'” business, well, let’s try to keep in mind that he’s 21 and not be too mad at him. Patience. That’s what Legwands R 4.
Milan Michalek is a speedy, defensively sound top 6 winger who puts up around 20 goals or better per season. Lots of fans hate him because something-something injuries. I honestly can’t hate this guy. He’s not the flashiest player in the world but he’s certainly not a liability and has great potential if he can stay healthy. And before you pelt me for sticking up for him, let she/he/they/zhe who is without complaint that Ales Hemsky did not re-sign here cast the first rotten tomato.
Lastly, Alex Chiasson makes his debut to refreshingly little fanfare. I am not going to fan the hype flames either. I want to just let him rock and see what he can do. He is known for coming in…I forget how that goes, but he tends to start the season scoring goals which is exciting because we need those. Apparently Alex had a disappointing season last year by finishing with 33 points. That’s as many points as Zibanejad had to earn him a top 6 spot to start the season so…Either Dallas’ standards are high, the Sens are low or THIS.
I hope these guys can gel quickly because that is a fast, big line to have coming at you.

Cowen is on the first pairing. 
Lets pretend this isn’t happening! *takes 10 Zoloft* Ahhh. If there’s one player on the team who can possibly carry this guy it’s Erik Karlsson. God speed to BOTH OF YOU.

Phillips – Ceci…Over the hill old man balances out inexperienced rookie to make one awesome middle pairing defenseman? *freebases crack cocaine until further notice* 

Gryba – Borowiecki … Go out there, have fun, and don’t get suspended. Seriously, don’t get fucking suspended.

I have little to say about the defense tonight other than this will be a goddamn psychedelic rock ride. Good luck to each and every last one of us.

Greg Anderton gets the start in net, naturally. He currently sports a 1000 save percentage and 0.00 goals against average. Let’s hope he can maintain those numbers (past the first 10 shots of the game, which will likely come in the first 4 mins b/c see above). What else? His new mask is a different version of his old mask. Oh and his cat’s breath carries a hint of cat food smell.

Oh right about Nashville…lots of new faces here. Human jack-o-lantern Oli Jokinen, the NHL’s first half man – half Chihuahua Mike Ribeiro, Ottawa’s own Derek Roy, and the rest (James Neal, Anton Volchenkov). Damn these guys got up to some stuff in the off season. I’m basically hoping that they need a bit of time to adjust to each other and that our boys can take advantage of that. Olive Garden menu stalwart Pekka Rinne gets the start in net.

ENJOY THE GAME AND GO SENS GO!!!

GAME ON

In celebration of the hockey season kicking off tomorrow, we offer a breakdown of the Ottawa Senators theme song.

[EDIT: user does not allow embedded video, because why would you do that if you're a person uploading the Ottawa Senators theme song to Youtube? Never compromise your vision.]

0:01 – Let’s start with the obvious: if you’re going to use a horn for fanfare (as opposed to for improvisational jazz lines), then your clear choice is to use the keyboard’s “trumpet” setting instead of a real trumpet. Why? The trumpet is a subtle and nuanced instrument. Keyboard trumpets, much like pro sports, are neither subtle nor nuanced. Keyboard trumpets are unrelenting. Listening to the initial swell of faux-trumpets that kicks off this song is like French kissing a vacuum cleaner – it goes from a fun idea to intense very quickly. Also, people who can actually play the trumpet are expensive and do not enjoy playing your stupid fanfare.

0:06 – We come quickly to the absolute best part about the Ottawa Senators theme song, which is the bass playing. Can we all stand up for a second? Are you standing? Place your hand over your heart and just listen to that bass playing. That bass playing is tremendous. First of all: it’s clearly a real bass. Second, its tone is DIRTY. Not Fieldy from Korn dirty (which is to say, disgusting). But it’s got some attitude, some grit. This bass player has seen some shit. Here, he or she takes you for a walk. The bass is the backbone of this whole song, its soul. This bass line reaffirms our faith in the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the human spirit.

0:18 – Nice key change. Whoever wrote this has written some songs. This isn’t the CD Warehouse theme song. It also more than makes up for the fact that the drums are keyboard drums, which is sort of lazy. Unlike trumpet players, drummers are plentiful and cheap. You can literally find them playing upside-down plastic buckets in the Byward Market.

0:26 – Oh shit…it’s not just trumpet. There’s a whole brass section there with little percussive accents. They’re warm as a bubble bath. I take back the snarky “trumpet is expensive” thing – if this songwriter had real instruments throughout, it would have cost a half-billion dollars to achieve this vision. It’s difficult being ahead of your time.

0:39 – Okay, that was a nice little drum fill. Is it possible that’s a real drummer? If it isn’t, was that fill just played with two fingers on a keyboard? There’s only winning situations here.

0:40 – This is where things get saucy. The rhythm starts a back-and-forth sway and the drummer / keyboard drum setting (hereafter referred to as Roland) introduces some cheeky hi-hat. The horns start a background loop, the kind of thing a Motown backing band plays while the bandleader is introducing Sharon Jones or Charles Bradley.

Not only is this perfect for a song meant to be used as players come out on the ice – and thus establishes whoever wrote this song as someone who can not only play music but also understands music history – but is also known in the music business as “the best thing in the world.” It’s just fun to listen to. Music doesn’t get better than the introduction-sway.

0:45 – DANGER FLUTES

0:50 – This guitar solo is the most Ottawa thing ever. For those of you who haven’t grown up in Ottawa, let me set the scene: for the last three decades, only one radio station has been able to buy itself lunch in this city, and that’s the classic rock station. Everyone else goes in and out of business, re-brands, and picks up the scraps if they’re lucky. The classic rock station guy, on the other hand, wakes up, leans over, hits play on the same CD-R playlist of Zeppelin and AC/DC songs and goes back to sleep.

This one time I heard “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” on the radio and I remember thinking to myself, “Is there anyone in the city who actually needs to hear this song again?” and then I walked outside and could hear a band rehearsing and they were playing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” It was then that I knew I would never be mayor of Ottawa.

Anyway, the guitar lick here is searing, in the way that your dad BBQing on a hot day or a movie on VHS about jet fighters is searing.

1:00 – You know what? That last paragraph seemed a little dismissive, but the guitar playing leads us to a surprisingly dark place. Not only does it become rhythmically complex, but it breaks down the mood, takes us on an excursion, provides variation on a theme.

Let’s be clear: this is a pro-sports team’s theme song we’re talking about. It has no obligation to vary. They could have provided some hand-claps and it would have been fine. But they go the extra mile here. That it’s only for a few seconds only reinforces the notion: “I write one bar for the fans, and one bar for me,” the guitar player, possibly Joe Satriani, says to precisely no one.

1:15 – Danger flutes return, though they kind of stab randomly at the air before offering a little trill that takes us back to the refrain.

1:25 – This might be the best part of the whole damn song: the guitar and horns-by-Roland do a three second call-and-response during the rhythmic transition. The guitarist even lays on the whammy bar a bit, and the horns come right back, like a robot returning a high-five. Again, it’s only for a second. You might even miss it if someone wasn’t writing 1000 words about the Ottawa Senators theme song on a Wednesday morning.

1:28 – Here I’m conflicted. The sway returns, which we’ve established is the best thing in the world, and there’s something interesting happening with the percussion—a swishy sound effect which comes totally out of left-field [EDIT: Twitter notifies me these are skate sounds. There's also a puck hitting the goalpost in there, which introduces a found-sound element that would have made Pierre Schaeffer proud]—but all of this occurs under a crunchy, palm-muted guitar thing and men chanting “Go Sens Go” testosteronically. It’s a bit on the nose.

But that it took the song a minute-and-a-half to get here is a pleasant surprise. I feel like most sports team theme songs usually start with “Go [Team] Go.” I know it’s a low bar, but it’s one we’ve had no trouble clearing to this point. The guys only stick around for two chants worth of chant, which is roughly how long chants last at the Canadian Tire Center.

I’m going to give Roland and Co. a pass here…BARELY.

1:59 – Again, the team goes above and beyond, takes the epic refrain and re-frames it in the form of a rhythmic breakdown that is totally respectable.

2:05 – Timpani. I’ll say it again…

Timpani.

——-

When considering a rating for the Ottawa Senators theme song, one must also consider this horseshit:

Did you make it all the way through that? Excruciating. I feel like maybe, charitably, I can concede that I get what they were going for. And the opening few seconds makes you think the song is going to be as cerebral and experimental as the Wild logo. But all hope is dashed by one long string of cliches in what is essentially a beer commercial that goes on forever.

In conclusion: OTTAWA SENATORS THEME SONG OVERALL RATING A++

OTHER OPTION: did you know that the theme song for the original franchise drive was Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Small suggestion: we should use that?

Most overrated and underrated teams of the 2014-2015 season

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Go Winterhawks! Go Timbers!

Hockey season is almost here, which means that every homeless woodsman and indie music aficionado has had an opportunity to weigh in with predictions and analysis. By the by: I just got back from Oregon, and give Portland an NHL team already. The Winterhawks are awesome, and it would be worth it for the playoff beards alone.

Anyway, for the most part, predictions are pretty straightforward and non-contentious. After all, every season produces only a few truly elite and truly terrible teams. Most teams fall somewhere in the creamy middle – say, about a 10-15 point differential straddling the sensitive spot known as “the bubble,” which is located between one’s anus and genitals. Where one falls on this spectrum is largely determined by puck-luck (PDO), injuries, and the presence of STIs.

Still, there are always a few teams that seem to benefit from the assumption that adding in the offseason automatically makes you better. I find a fair share of analysts weight additions to the lineup far more than changes in tactics or what’s going on in the rest of the team’s division.

With that in mind, here are my three most overrated and most underrated teams in the NHL based on what I’ve seen in the preseason predictions. If I’m wrong about any of these, I’ll move back to Portland permanently and become a Trail Blazers fan.

OVERRATED

Tampa Bay

Perfect, because Steve Yzerman has got to be the most overrated GM in the league. He inherited one of the best players in the world in Stamkos and a stud defenseman in Hedman. The team went to the Conference Finals in his first year, but missed the playoffs twice in the next three seasons, with one of those a third-last overall finish. They made the playoffs once and were swept in the first round. And he accomplish that by spending money like no other. Perhaps only the Philadelphia Flyers have been as addicted to burning cash. No coincidence they picked up Lecavalier after Yzerman paid him millions to go away so he could throw millions at boy band synchronized back-up dancer Valterri Filpulla.

valtteri-filppula-9

Look, there’s a lot of talent on that roster, and I’m as excited as anyone to see what it can do. (And would be even more excited if they weren’t in Ottawa’s division.) But people are picking this team to be a Cup contender and win the East. That’s quite a jump. There are scenarios where the planets align and all that, but that’s true of almost any team.

As a fan of a team who used to get picked to be a Cup contender every year, let me throw some cold water on this whole thing. The team hasn’t been particularly good for the last couple of years, even with a lot of talent on the roster. They’ve lost St. Louis, Bishop may not be a starter (though it didn’t stop Yzerman from paying him $6MM a year starting next year), the young kids are still young, and the constant overhaul of the roster has got to have some residual effects on strategy and coherence. They’re probably good, but they might also be the perfect example of the way analysts pick favorites. They traded for other people’s salary dumps and handed out contracts like pez. Did this ever work for the Rangers? Why would it work for Tampa?

Dallas

Another sexy pick. When Lindy Ruff unleashed his fully armed and operational battle station on the power-play last week everyone lost their minds. Forget that it was a preseason game against the Panthers.

Dallas has all the tools to do well, and I’m rooting for Spezz. I like this island of misfit toys—players like Hemsky, Seguin and Spezza, too often maligned by the local media for their former teams, come together with a cassette tape of Appetite for Destruction and a fist full of pizza money. But c’mon, we can admit that Spezza, Hemsky and Lehtonen are going to be hurt for most of the season and that’s the ballgame for Dallas, right? It’s totally gonna happen.

New York Islanders

Not that people are setting the expectations for the Islanders especially high—most of what I’ve seen is something along the lines of “If everything goes right, they might push for a playoff spot.” But they had 79 points last year, good for fifth last in the league. In fact, the last time they didn’t have a top five pick, not counting the 2012-2013 lockout-shortened season when everything was wacky, was 2006-2007.

Read that again. That last time the Islanders didn’t have a top five pick, Peter Schaefer was still an Ottawa Senator.

The year Ottawa finished fifth last overall we were all traumatized, and that’s been life as an Islanders fan for almost a decade. Do we really expect the addition of Halak, Leddy, Boychuk, Grabovski and Kulemin to reverse that kind of tradition? I mean, they’re probably better than usual…but 15 points in the standings-better? C’mon.

UNDERRATED

Nashville

I feel like Nashville gets slotted in somewhere in the lower half of the mediocre teams every year because people don’t watch them that closely and there won’t be the kind of outcry you get when you predict Montreal is due for some mild regression. And they’re definitely in tough in the central—I’m not calling them to make the playoffs or anything. But they have one of the best net minders in the league, probably the best all-around defenseman, the best prospect, decent-to-good scorers and some intriguing prospects throughout the lineup. They’re not world-beaters or anything, but I think they can beat any team in the league on any given night, and expect them to take more than a few teams by surprise.

Colorado

They’re everyone’s pick to stink this year because of their unsustainable PDO, and some regression is probably in order. But regression from a 112 point season is regression from unbelievable to…still pretty damned good. They finished a full 12 points higher than possession darlings and consensus best-team Los Angeles. And they did it all in the toughest division in hockey.

It’s funny how Tampa having young players and good prospects and betting on progression results in everyone picking them to be sudden contenders, but Colorado having Duchene, Landeskog, O’Reilly, and friggin’ MacKinnon doesn’t result in same. Put it this way—given Dallas clinched last year’s final wild card spot with 91 points, Colorado has 21 points worth of wiggle room from their total last year to do the same. That’s insane. They’re a playoff team, and given the right match-ups can do some damage.

Phoenix

Sure, they lost Vrbata, who was the only one who scores goals for them. But Mike Smith spent much of the season hurt and they finished only two points out of a playoff spot. If Gagner turns out to be a legit second line center, Erat sets out to prove everyone wrong after his disastrous campaign in Washington, and everyone else chips in with the ugliest goals you’ve ever seen, it won’t be a surprise if that defense can get it done.

By the way, Arizona is spending almost $3MM more on salary this season than Ottawa.

HAVE A GOOD SEASON EVERYONE