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Old 11-03-2002, 04:34 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Early contenders and pretenders

From: https://www.sports-central.org/sport...cle152_2.shtml
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Contender: Pittsburgh

One player spells the initial success the Penguins have had so far this season and it's none other than Super Mario himself, seemingly almost resurrected from the dead into his old early-'90s shape where he dominated the NHL and led the Pens to two Stanleys. Lemieux leads the NHL with 17 assists and has single-handedly lifted the skill of each of the players on his line. But sadly, he's no superman (as super as he is) and even if he is, age is his kryptonite and consequently, 70 games is wishful thinking for him.

Even with Martin Straka back, the team will find it's success to be dependent upon two things: 1) the longevity of Lemieux and; 2) the continuing maturity of G Johan Hedberg. Despite the team's insanely-high 44 goals scored so far this season, which is tops in the NHL, the team has also let in 33 goals, a bit high. The quicker Hedberg matures, the less Super Mario has to be and the greater chance he will be playing past the first week in April.

Pretender: Tampa Bay

The one strength the Lightning knew they had last season isn't required to put up CuJo-like poundings this season with the Tampa offense stepping up, scoring 4.2 goals a game and the defense slicing 6 shots less a game (to 25) from last season. G Nikolai Khabibulin has adjusted well to seeing less shots and more goals for his team and this will pay off in the longterm where he'll become more rested and alert for each game.

Although they have goaltending down pat, their offense and defense is dominated by a posse of young talent led by none other than veteran Dave Andreychuk. This team should sneak into the playoffs thanks to an easy division, but the lack of veteran leadership will prevent them from surprising anyone in the playoffs.

Pretender: Minnesota

What? Minnesota Wild leading a division? In the NHL? Believe it ... at least for this week. Led by Marian Gaborik's week from heaven, Manny Fernandez's incredibly low GAA, and a bunch of guys excited to play, the Wild have driven themselves up the standings. But, really, can this last? Although the team has limited the opposition to 26 goals in 12 games, the defense lacks solid, proven players. That will ultimately kill a team in the longrun.

As for Fernandez and his chances on becoming the next Jose Theodore? Although he's still sharing his job with journeyman Dwayne Roloson and he's coming off a dismal season, he's impressed in the past, although time has usually caught up with him. Goaltenders are people and they do mature (like Theodore showed last season), so we will see how the Manny Fernandez story turns out.

Contender: Los Angeles

One of those teams that always had a few good players, but never the chemistry to mesh itself into a winner, this season could be a change for the Kings. The leadership of C Jason Allison and the maturity of a few rising players such as C Eric Belanger and F Mikko Eloranta were the missing links from last season. But sitting atop of the Pacific in first place, they find themselves now without Allison until January, thanks to a torn ligament near his right patella.

Although the goaltending has held up these first 11 games, the scoring will surely drop and inconsistent play will resume its normal way from last season. If the Kings find themselves in the hunt in January, Allison, a quick impact player, will surely provide the extra boost to push them into the playoffs. This team doesn't strike me as any different from last year's -- they're merely just waiting for San Jose and Dallas to wake up.
Feel free to agree or disagree and add your teams.
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Old 11-03-2002, 07:23 PM   #2
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As long as Lemieux stay's healthy and the Pens can get into the playoffs they could suprise alot of us. The job is going to be get this team into the playoff's because Mario wouldn't have to play back-to-back. Hedberg has to continue to stop the pucks the way he has so far.

Tampa Bay, Don't get your hopes up. This will die for them once they get beaten by a really good team badly (ie. Detroit, Colorado etc.) They don't have enough depth to play this well and make it into the playoffs let alone win some rounds. Same goes with the Wild, They will not continue to lead the west and grabbing a playoff spot in the west is out of the question for them. The Kings will grab a playoff spot, how far they get is up to Potvin and how far he can carry them. They have good depth up front (Deadmarsh, Allision, Palfy etc.)
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Old 11-04-2002, 12:23 AM   #3
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One mistake in my article...i meant to put Tampa Bay as a contender. This is wut writing an article at 4 am does to you. ill let you guys kno if there were any more retarded mistakes.

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Old 11-04-2002, 12:31 AM   #4
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Also...feel free to extend this thread to teams that are slacking or not playing up to par right now like Detroit, Colorado, San Jose, Toronto, among others and if they are still contenders. Let's hear the input!
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Old 11-04-2002, 01:20 AM   #5
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Of course. the only TRUE cup contender is Colorado

But I still think SJS will rebound... Pittsburgh will fall most likely.. TB will probably give a run for a playoff spot... Wild will fall... Toronto will get into the playoffs at least. The teams we expect will mostly likely emerge to the top 2 or 3 or 4, at least in the final standings.
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Old 11-04-2002, 02:45 AM   #6
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Colorado is alot weaker now without Drury.

Red Wings have depth all over. Back-to-back.
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Old 11-04-2002, 02:06 PM   #7
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It is pretty much safe to say Detroit's lackluster performance will only dissipate with time. This team has everything a championship hockey club needs - depth, goaltending, scoring, and defense. Brendan Shanahan, usually an early season points leader has less than a point a game so far this season. Perhaps the team is struggling right now to mesh itself chemically without team leader Steve Yzerman, but slumps will be overcome. And also, if this is Detroit's version of a slump, watch out world, who knows how dominant this team will be when they decide to come together.
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Old 11-05-2002, 06:48 PM   #8
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Detroit will be the team to beat. Like I said Colorado lost a HUGE offencive part in the team by trading Drury away for Morris. Patrick Roy is back to earth after we bombed him in last year's game seven. Forsberg health is a concern, Super Joe Sakic is amazing, and they have a good defence. The REAL Stanley Cup final will be between Detroit and Colorado.
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Old 11-06-2002, 10:38 PM   #9
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Here's a team not playing up to par: the NY Rangers

Holik and Kasparitis have done nothing, Richter's GAA is really high, the penalties are still hurting, and certain people (Lindros, Bure) should learn how to play defense. At least Tom Poti is a bright spot.

They should learn, money doesn't buy championships. In fact, they should also spread that news to the Mets, Jets, and Knicks.
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Old 11-07-2002, 01:59 AM   #10
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All I gotta say is ....

GO FLAMES GO



With the Oilers sucking this year we might even make the playoffs.
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Old 11-07-2002, 07:53 PM   #11
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Maybe, but the Oilers aren't playoff material either so that's not much to base your talent on

....how about Lemieux leading the scoring race?? Think he'll keep it up? If he does, the Pens will probalby sneak into the playoffs but I doubt he will.
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Old 11-08-2002, 11:00 PM   #12
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He's pretty old isn't he? Heh

I still think the Pens will contend as long as other people step up after Lemieux's production comes back down to earth.
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Old 11-09-2002, 09:55 AM   #13
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Ya... um, like 40! But hockey is more about using your head sometimes... well, I guess it depnds on who you are because one enforcer once put it, "I don't think -- it hurts the team."

But if your Lemieux or anyone that age playing hockey, your head IS your most important weapon.
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Old 11-11-2002, 02:25 PM   #14
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Lemieux has just been great. He can keep it up if his body will let him. As for the Pens I think they can slide in the playoff picture but they need consistent goaltending from Johan Hedberg. Lemieux is leaving a longer legacy as to being the greatest of all time.
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Old 11-11-2002, 04:56 PM   #15
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Be patient with the Rangers. Their team is newly built and team chemistry takes a while to mesh properly. Holik and Kasparitas will def have to step up the defensiveness of their games because Richter's days are numbered as he is WELL past his prime. But i have confidence in HOlik and Darius, theyre both cluth players. But on a negative note, their defense has let in a league high 55 goals thus far. NOT GOOD! the Rangers will not start to win until their big men learn to keep the puck out of their defensive zone. If i were Glen Sather, id consider talking to Byron Dafoe and seeing wut hes been up to lately because itll still be a while before Blackburn is ready to lead a team with high expectations...
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