Monday, September 30, 2013

GTOG 2013 NHL Preview Part 3: Central Division Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios

By GTOG Staff (follow Finesse and Artistry on Twitter)

Part 1: Pens Over/Unders
Part 2: Pacific Division Best Case / Worst Case

Chicago Blackhawks 

Best Case: Corey Crawford is really that good, it's Stan Bowman (not Ray Shero) who is the boldest and craftiest GM of the salary cap era, and this is definitively the Toews/Kane (not Crosby/Malkin) decade. 3 Cups in 5 years.

You don't want this. We don't want this.
Worst Case: Crawford falters, 34-year-old Marian Hossa starts breaking down with like 18 more years  left on his contract, guys like Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad don't maintain their surprising level of play.

Prediction: We spend a lot of time pining for yet also dreading a dream Finals matchup between the Hawks and Pens.

The rest of the Central after the jump...


Colorado Avalanche

Best Case: A stable of talented young forwards overcomes one of the league's weaker D corps, and the Avs sneak into the playoffs in their first season under Coach Patrick Roy.

Worst Case: Roy turns heel on the young Avs, assaulting his own players on the bench during the second period of a game in Vancouver.

Prediction: A year away talent-wise, and a boom-or-bust coach.

Dallas Stars 

Best Case: New GM Jim Nill turns Dallas into Detroit South. Tyler Seguin is a star.

Worst Case: Seguin live tweets an early season cocaine and hooker binge. Jim Nill retweets him, adding, "Hahahaha!"

Prediction: This team should be fun to watch, but, given the Stars' top defense pairing is Sergei Gonchar and Alex Goligoski, they'll be even more fun to play against.

Minnesota Wild 

Best Case: This division is as weak as it looks on paper.

Worst Case: Big ticket players Zach Parise and Dany Heatley again underperform their contracts.

Prediction: Matt Cooke scores 18 goals, and the Wild grab a low playoff seed.

Nashville Predators 

Best Case: Newcomers Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones are among the Preds' top 5 players. Back in the playoffs with legitimate scoring line of Forsberg, Legwand and Stalberg.

Worst Case: Pekka Rinne isn't completely healthy. Neither is Barry Trotz's neck.


Prediction: They're just kinda there.

St. Louis Blues 

Best Case: Brendan Morrow gives the Blues 82 games of what he gave the Pens for 10 games.  Brian Elliott posts a sub 2.00 GAA for the first 30 games of the season and the Blues trade Jaroslav Halak to the Pens.

Worst Case: Loaded up front, but without any true game breaker, the Blues run into the Hawks or the Kings in the Western Conference playoffs and play a 7 game series where every game goes into overtime and they lose in triple OT in Game 7.

Prediction: The Blues run into the Hawks or the Kings in the Western Conference playoffs and play a 7 game series where every game goes into overtime and they lose in triple OT in Game 7.

Winnipeg Jets 

Best Case: They get 75% of the available points at home, and take advantage of a weak division plus a 7% better chance of making the playoffs out West to sniff around the second wild card spot.  Only 3 Penguins record hat tricks against Ondrej Pavelec in the two games they play against each other this season.

Worst Case: They're out of the playoff picture and find someone to take a trade deadline flyer on UFA-to-be Olli Jokinen.  Or is that best case?

No, Ray! Noooooooo!!!!
Prediction: Playoff spot comes down to shootout in the last game of the season.

Final prediction, with the bottom 4 teams probably separated by no more than 6 points:

1. St. Louis
2. Chicago
3. Minnesota
4. Winnipeg
5. Nashville
6. Dallas
7. Colorado


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