Matt: As the 2015-16 season unfolds we will surely have lots and lots of topics to discuss in Snipe City. This is a given! Both Brock & Matt look forward to providing you (the reader) with compelling columns each week, and cant wait to engage in discussions with everyone. We have already had a few interesting happenings in the opening week of the season, and it promises to just get better.
Brock: Spending a good portion of my life rooting for the Flyers, I found myself in hog heaven when I made it to the Wells Fargo Center in Philly for the Flyers VS Stanley Cup defending champions , Chicago Blackhawks game. Seeing that many people in the orange and black was just pure awesomeness. Meeting my fave Flyer , Dave “The Hammer” Shultz in the bar for a couple birthday splashers was amazing as well! The NHL live atmosphere is incredible and if you have never witnessed a live game , I highly recommend it. Huge win for the boys and I was lucky to witness the retiring ceremony of Kimmo Timonen that night as well!
What was I doing out in Philadelphia you ask? Well it’s a long dreaded story but I’ll give you the short version…. At the start of this touring cycle our great buddy Will Ramsey loaned us his Fleetwood Bounder for our touring rig, well after a few colossal breakdowns over the years we have come to realize that touring in RV’s , albeit much more roomy and comfortable, the rigs just aren’t meant to be run as hard as we have to travel on tour. So I was flying out to philly to retrieve this stranded and now repaired (allegedly) vehicle. Took a $138 dollar uber from Philly to Downingtown to get it and then drove a few hours south only to have the Tranny blow up on me again. So here I am a week later out in California ( Did a track on the new All Hail The Yeti’s album) waiting to get the call that the damn thing is ready again for me to attempt to drive her all the way back to her owners place in Austin , TX, all the while needing to be home by the 26th to begin rehearsals for our Halloween gigs in Anchorage. Alright enough of that hellish story let’s get into the season, Matt and I’s Eastern Conference previews and predictions etc.Let’s Drop the mother Effin Puck!!!!
To get the ball rollin’ on the 2015-16 Snipe City season, we figured we would give a preview of each and every team in the NHL, along with a bit of personal commentary and perhaps a prediction or two!!! For this week we have selected the Eastern Conference to profile team-by-team, with the Western Conference coming next week. Feel free to rip us apart…or maybe even agree with our opinion on each team. We can take it so no need to be shy people!
Here we go!!
BOSTON BRUINS: Matt: Yeesh, might be a long year for the B’s. Quite a bit of player turnover in the off season (Lucic & Hamilton for starters), and lacking a bit on the offensive side of the PUCK. It seems fair to say that the Bruins have a decent set of top 6 forwards, but the defense is thin behind Chara and Krug. In goal, Rask is fine…but he better be ready to see many pucks whizzing his way this season. Prediction: No playoffs for you….sorry guys.
Brock: The Bruins made a few questionable moves this offseason and so far it’s really been a factor, goaltender Tuukka Rask should have a bounce back year, and some of their health concerns should be gone. They should be able to slip into a wild card spot to beat out the Islanders or Blue Jackets, or even pass up Detroit for the final division spot.
BUFFALO SABRES: Matt- OK, lets get one thing straight about the Sabres. This is going to be a very scary team in a few seasons..if not sooner. Jack Eichel is already proving to be worth all the hype and certainly worthy of being the 2nd overall pick last June. This team is loaded with top end (albeit young) talent at both forward and defense, once they can settle in on a goaltender, look out. Keep an eye on this team for sure as it will be entertaining to watch them grow…plus they easily have one of the best play-by-play guys (Rick Jeanneret) that makes watching Sabres games a must. Prediction: Vast improvement over the past few years…but no playoffs yet.
Brock: The Sabres added Robin Lehner in net this offseason, which will assist them in jumping up from the basement of the league. Jack Eichel is also on board, and Sam Reinhart will likely play the full year in the NHL. They also added Evander Kane last season, The Sabres will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future, but not quite yet.
CAROLINA HURRICANES: Brock: The Hurricanes made some solid moves this offseason, such as acquiring Eddie Lack from Vancouver. Ron Francis’ biggest concern moving into this season will have to be on what to do with Eric Staal and Cam Ward. Young talent on the roster that could prove deadly in the years to come.
Matt: Hmmm this is a tough one. The Canes seem to have embraced the idea that they need to get better from within…finally. The team that never seems to have drafted very well looks like they are starting to get the hang of it! Noah Hanifin and Justin Faulk should be pillars on the blue-line for a loooong time and they recently signed goaltender Eddie Lack to an agreement, so they are solid if they choose to deal Cam Ward. The real issue for the Canes is a lack of top-level talent at forward which clearly needs to be addressed before they can begin to think about becoming a contender. Prediction: Until this team adds offensive firepower…no playoffs.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Brock: The Blue Jackets showed the league what they are capable of at the end of last season with a fully healthy roster and should continue on that pace, barring any setbacks, their defense core isn’t the strongest, they’ll have Ryan Murray returning healthy which is a huge addition. Alaskan sniper Brandon Dubinsky will turn in another solid year and former Flyer stud Scott Hartnell will prove to be a stingy team to have to play against night after night.
Matt: Hockey forecasters are predicting big things for the Jackets this season, which includes a trip to the playoffs. When you look at the roster it does actually make sense to think this way. First, on offense they have a pretty good group of forwards….getting Brandon Saad from Chicago is only going to help, and Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen are all top-tier guys. They are also solid in goal for the immediate future with “Bob” manning the net. I think the only issue with Columbus is they may be a bit thin on defense. Prediction: Right on the edge…could go either way on making the playoffs.
DETROIT RED WINGS: Brock: Although they lost veteran bench boss Mike Babcock to Toronto, the Red Wings are still in great shape. The health of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen is always a major factor into how the season plays out for Detroit. They have two great tenders in Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek.
Matt: Now this is a team with CRAZY depth at pretty much every position. At forward take your pick between Zetterburg, Tatar, Abdelkader, Pulkkinen, Nyquist, Helm, etc, etc, etc….oh yes did I mention 19 year old Dylan Larkin? Check him out! Anyway, back to what I was saying…this team is loaded at forward. The back-end components of defense and goaltenders are also both stocked really nicely. Plus adding the right-handed shooting d-man in Mike Green is going to prove to be a great move. Prediction: Yes…playoffs for the 1,000th straight year.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: Matt-:Totally dig this team…except for the Jimmy Hayes trade, but they did get Reilly Smith in return so it could work out. The Cats have a LOT of high-end talent at forward (Barkov, Bjugstad, Pirri, Trocheck, etc) as well as on the blue-line (Ekblad, Kulikov, Gudbranson, etc) plus Roberto Luongo in goal. Not too shabby. Its just a bonus that Jaromir Jagr is threatening to re-grow his famed mullet this season….and doing other hilarious Jagr things as well! Prediction: PLAYOFFS for the Panthers!
MONTREAL CANADIENS: Matt: This is basically the same team as last season for the Habs. While they did add a couple of pieces (Petry, Semin, Smith-Pelly) to the roster, the fact is they didn’t need to make any heavy adjustments because they are pretty stacked. Pretty sure the entire city of Montreal is expecting nothing short of the Cup this season. PK Subban is making a TON of loot so he better deliver! Seriously this team is great and I expect great things. Prediction: Easily make the playoffs….may challenge for the Cup.
Brock: The Canadiens aren’t the most dominant team, but they have Carey Price. Price took a good chunk of the NHL’s awards this past season, and he’ll look to truly establish himself as the best goalie in the league this season. Being my cousin curts favorite team I’d say they look pretty damn good this far so and I always put good vibes out for the legends that are the Montreal Canadiens!
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Matt: Zzzzzzzz….sorry let me wake-up real quick here! OK, so New Jersey isn’t the most exciting team in the NHL, on this we can all agree…right? I think part of the reason is that they have a bit of the “Carolina Hurricane Syndrome”….meaning very little high-end offensive talent. While the Devils are certainly stacked on defense, and Cory Schneider is awesome in goal, the struggle to put the PUCK in the net will be an on-going issue for this team. This is another team that needs to start drafting way better high-end offensive players and letting them develop through the system. Prediction: Not this year guys.
Brock: The Devils really have nothing going for them this year, beside Cory Schneider which is why they’re not listed as last in the division. It’ll be a long road of rebuilding for them but it’ll be worth it.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Matt: I like this team…a lot. I’m a little concerned about the injury to Halak (starting goalie) to start the season, but as long as he is back in a reasonable amount of games it should be OK. This team has everything it needs to be successful…and to go beyond a single-round in the playoffs. The repercussions still emit from the way the Isle literally stole both Leddy and Boychuk last year, as they now have one of the top defensive groups in the NHL. Hockey in Brooklyn could be very fun come playoff time!! Prediction: Easily make the playoffs…could be a dark-horse for the Cup.
Brock: The Islanders stayed quiet this offseason but will rely on progression from Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee to help them continue to get better as they have the past couple seasons. Thomas Greiss will have to play a big role because as proof last year, Jaroslav Halak plays a lil suspect when he plays too many consecutive games.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Matt: Lets cut to the chase…this team should be a Cup contender no matter what. From top to bottom The Rags are loaded, so unless they have some incredibly bad luck with injuries or simply forget how to play hockey, they will be one of the last teams standing. By the way, who is Oscar Lindberg? He already has 4 goals in 3 games! J.T. Miller will play a bigger role this season for sure, as will Kevin Hayes. The loss of Carl Hagelin will be felt but if any team can overcome that, its the Rangers. Prediction: Could be a big party in NYC this spring.
Brock: The Rangers lost significant pieces to their core this offseason, including Martin St. Louis, that being said , they are still one of the deadliest in the east. Henrik Lundqvist will look ahead to playing a full season, which he was unable to do last year after suffering a neck injury and J.T. Miller is a solid two way player that adds to the depth of the Blue Shirts as well. Cup contenders for sure!
OTTAWA SENATORS: Brock: The Senators didn’t make any. Oh moves this offseason either, although they did acquire another first round pick for goaltender Robin Lehner. If Craig Anderson considers to have injury issues, the Senators better hope Andrew Hammond will be able to continue his remarkable play, which is unlikely. It should be an interesting season in Ottawa.
Matt: This team is poised to have a really good season. Building off of the success they tasted last year, I expect this team to make another significant move toward winning the Cup. At forward the Sens are absolutely loaded. Led by Mark Stone and Kyle Turris, the top 9 forwards can all score, while the 4th line adds some grit. If Bobby Ryan can have a bounce-back season, this team is scary upfront. Of course one cant discuss the Sens without mentioning Erik Karlsson…who is easily one of the top defensemen in the NHL. Prediction: Playoffs for sure…from there, we shall see.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Brock: The Flyers will be a cusp team this year, I’ll be honest and not give a homered version of my beloved Flyers, there’s much work to do, but they do have promise after last years complete meltdown and eventual missing of the playoffs. Both Voracek and Giroux are locked up long term, and they have one of the best defensive prospect pools in the league. So if Steve Mason and back up Michal Neuvirth can provide the leagues top save percentages then I’ll say they can make the playoffs. Gonna need it from all 4 lines and everyone buying into new coach Dave Hakstol’s collegiate game experience. That’s a scary thought!
Matt: Hmmmm this team is a tough one to gauge. On one hand they do have some great players…while on the other hand they still have not addressed the GLARING need they’ve had for years and years, which is goaltending. Can the Flyers please draft some goalies and develop them?? Please? OK, Ill stop harping on the goaltending. With Giroux and Voracek leading the way, at least the offense will be fun to watch. Prediction: Right on the fence for making the playoffs….Sorry Brock!!!
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Brock: The Penguins have one of the most talented offenses in the league, headlined by Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, The turning point for them will be their inexperienced defense, Kris Letang and Olli Maatta need to stay healthy which has plagued these two guys in their respective careers. Marc Andre Fleury will have to be standing on his head this year because there will be a lot of high scoring affairs in Pittsburgh and I personally will laugh myself to sleep about that;).
Matt: OK, OK so the Pens are off to a terrible start….that wont last. With Crosby, Malkin & Kessel upfront, the Pens have 3 legit all-stars at forward. Add to that some other crafty additions like Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen and you can see that the Pens should not trouble producing offense. On defense is where this team may struggle, particularly if they have injury issues like last season. I’m kinda on the fence as far as Fleury goes between the pipes. Prediction: Playoffs for sure….we shall see from there.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Matt: Wow. Not much to say here! Great team with great players up and down the roster. This team was just a hair short of winning the Cup last spring, and I fully expect them to do the same thing this season. Super solid forward group, fantastic depth on defense and good goaltending too…what more do you need? They are also in the process of re-signing Stamkos to a long-term deal, which could be interesting. Prediction: Could be back to the Cup Finals for sure.
Brock: The Lighting made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last year and they’ll look it build on that success and win it all this year. The ‘Triplets Line’ of Kucherov, Johnson, and Palat will make another appearance and add onto their chemistry, all while being situated behind Steven Stamkos. Watching them Play a couple so far and they look pretty top notch.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Matt: Sooooo the Leafs certainly have the front-office and coaching talent in place now…too bad they cant dress Shanny. This is going to be a long rebuilding process in Toronto due to years and years of really poor drafting, thus resulting in the cupboards being pretty bare as of now. Scanning the Leafs roster there is not a lot to get fired-up about, but I will say that adding Grabner, Matthias, Boyes, Parenteau & Spaling will at least give them some competent NHL level forwards that will make them competitive. Prediction: Gonna be awhile here till we see the playoffs again.
Brock: The Leafs are commencing their rebuild, evident in their trade of Phil Kessel. Toronto is in a good position to flip players on one year deals like PA Parenteau and Shawn Matthias at the deadline for prospects or picks. Toronto is expected to be at the bottom of the league for the whole year.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Matt: Here we have a team that really needs to take the next step and do some damage in the playoffs. I like the offensive additions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams as both should add some punch to the Caps. The defense is totally solid even with the loss of Mike Green. Perhaps the added leadership of a guy like Williams, who is a proven playoff performer will help get these guys over the wall. Prediction: Playoffs for sure…that’s all I got.
Brock: The Capitals made some big splashes this offseason, such as acquiring TJ Oshie and signing Justin Williams. The Capitals will hope to make big strides this year behind Braden Holtby and look to live up to the expectations this club should be able to with their talent.
OK….that covers the Eastern Conference. Next week: The big bad Western Conference.
Please check out our awesome PUCK HCKY x 36 Crazyfists collaboration at www.puckhcky.com now! We have lots more great designs and merch coming soon, so keep an eye out. We will also have some of the gear available on the next run of tour dates as the boys in 36CF continue to support the AWESOME Time and Trauma record available on Spinefarm Records. Now available on VINYL too !!!!
Upcoming 36 Crazyfists Tour Dates:
12/2- Seattle, WA
12/3- Portland, OR
12/4- San Fran, CA
12/5- San Diego, CA
12/6- Fullerton, CA
12/8- Tijuana, Mexico
12/9- Tucson, AZ
12/10- Mesa, AZ
12/11- Las Vegas, NV
12/12- Reno, NV
Snipe City is a weekly hockey column by 36 Crazyfists vocalist Brock Lindow and PUCKHCKY founder Matt Marini.