2009 NHL Preview: San Jose Sharks

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the San Jose Sharks…

SUMMER SPLASH

* In the summer of discontent, where the fans and the media claimed big changes were needed to propel this regular-season wunderkind to the Finals, the San Jose Sharks changed very little. Some minor tweaks here, some chum there. But if there is anything the pre-season signing of Dany Heatley proves, it is the notion this club views the upcoming season as a chance for a good veteran squad, with opportunities of promotion for their prospects, to perform. And if they don’t, they will make a move or three during the course of the season to complete the team and solve their conundrum.

* And perhaps the biggest splashes of change in the Shark Tank will come during the season. Elite players will be viewed with a keen eye and we at OGA wouldn’t be surprised if more big trades were offered up during the course of the season depending on, well, the course of the season. Pre-pre-season moves have cleared up some salary cap space for future considerations. Sharks fans simply cannot endure another superior regular season followed by a sub-par playoff run.

* To set the stage for the internal changes of operation, the team has stripped Patrick Marleu of his Captaincy and taken the ‘A’ away from Joe Thornton. The idea is to see who earns these leadership roles through the course of camp and the pre-season. For Wednesday night’s game (09.23.09), the Sharks skated captain-less but with three ‘A’s – Marleau, Thornton, and Dan Boyle. Boyle is considered to be the fan-favorite as a fresh start for the Sharks’ Captaincy – and a deserving player/person.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

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2009 NHL Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the Pittsburgh Penguins…

SUMMER SPLASH

* Although much of the team on and off the ice remains intact, some impact-player personnel have changed. It will present some challenges for the Penguins but will also make camp and the pre-season an opportunity to reinforce the teams’ goal of defending the Cup while also adding some new flavor and tweaks to chemistry and line pairings.

* OUT – Major players skating elsewhere this season: Petr Sykora (RW), Hal Gill (D), Rob Scuderi (D), and backup goalie Mathieu Giron. The biggest loss for Pittsburgh is along the blue line but the organization feels it is deep on defense. Also departed are wingers Chris Minard, Jeff Taffe and much-anticipated but rarely-skated, Janne Pesonen. Miroslav Satan is still unsigned and probably won’t be playing for the Pens this season.

* IN – Jay McKee (D) was signed in to help sure up defense. Other defenders signed were Nate Guenin and Chris Lee. The right wing was also addressed by signing Chris Conner and Wade Brookbank. Mike Rupp (LW) was also added to the mix. To replace the backup goalie, they signed former Capital, Brent Johnson. Free agent Ryan Bayda, previously with the Hurricanes, is in camp with Pittsburgh. And don’t forget the Penguins signed Bill Guerin at the trade deadline last season and will now contribute to veteran leadership and offensive production for a full campaign with his new club.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

2009 NHL Preview: Phoenix Coyotes

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the Phoenix Coyotes…

SUMMER SPLASH

* Wow. What a summer it’s been for hockey in the desert. Or the potential vanishing of the same. If you have yet to hear/read about the current bankruptcy hearings in court for the Phoenix Coyotes, all you really need to know at this point is the Phoenix (Glendale) Coyotes are staying put. For now. For a brief history, there’s this: New arena built far from fan-base and team does not win enough games to convince locals to drive to Glendale. Guy from Canada wants to buy the team and park it near Toronto. NHL doesn’t want to move/close/admit defeat/whatever with the club in Phoenix and now, temporarily, owns the franchise. It’s a nasty affair and is still unsettled, but an emergency meeting for the parties involved has been called for by the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the case. For more on this recent development, see the Coyotes site here.

* Everything typed above could change with the stroke of a pen from a judge. Everything typed above could change if this team comes out of the gates strong this season, wins and the fans remember where they put their car keys. The area is a tough market for a ‘fourth’ sport and this may be a case of sports-saturation. But considering this part of the southwestern US houses what are lovingly referred to as ‘Snow Birds’, you would think some of these Canadian and Michigan ex-pats would get their butts in the seats and enjoy some hockey. I’m just saying…

* Bridging the gap between management maneuvers and player moves, is the coach. In short, Wayne Gretzky may or may not still be the coach of the Coyotes. With his ties in ownership of the team and part of the bankruptcy filing, Gretzky is low-profile these days (read:AWOL) and the Coyotes are working through camp and the pre-season without him. Assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson is acting as head coach while the true status of Gretzky is unknown. He is still listed as the coach but is not coaching and the local media and fans are thinking a fresh start (no Great Big Salary behind the bench) might be the right skate forward.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

2009 NHL Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the Philadelphia Flyers…

SUMMER SPLASH

* Salary cap issues in Philadelphia put management in the mode of tackling the business end of an appropriate budget while under the belief this team is built to win NOW. A pivotal player from last season, Mike Knuble, went to Washington as a result of operating procedures.

* The biggest news from the summer was the deal Philly made to acquire Chris Pronger from the Ducks. The cost was hefty, though as the Flyers dealt Joffrey Lupul and future defenseman, Luca Sbisa. They also had to give up their first round pick for the 2009 draft but feel Pronger may be the missing piece on the blue line to help take the team progress deeper into the playoffs (and past PA-rival Pittsburgh). But perhaps the Flyers felt plenty-stocked on current, producing first round picks to make the move. See below in the Frozen Pill’s Fantasy Dose for examples on why Philadelphia believes the current team is the one to win with.

* Another key addition over the summer was the signing of Colorado’s Ian Laperriere. The Bully-quotient just went up on Broad St. How this will affect one major area of on-ice concern from last season (the undisciplined play and time spent in the penalty box) remains to be seen. One would think, adversely. And so far, in the pre-season, the nasties have it.

* Goalie Swap! OUT are Marty Biron (NYI) and Antero Niittymaki (TBL). IN are (he’s back…), Ray Emery (NHL_exile) and Brian Boucher (SJS). The choices here are the results of a money-conscience team willing to take some chances…hoping the awesomeness assembled in front of the crease infects the play in the blue paint, too. More on this next in the Fantasy Dose, below.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

2009 NHL Preview: Ottawa Senators



We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. Here is the OGA preview for the Ottawa Senators…

Team Play: ISSUE – (Hopefully) A lack of distractions… Ahhhh! Refreshing to be over it, eh? It should go without saying the presence of Dany Heatley would have been a HUGE distraction on many levels for this team. We would like to begin this section of Ottawa’s SPR by saying he is no longer here, and short of tobloidists and ambulance chasers who want to know what that ‘thing’ was that caused so much bad blood nobody has really told us about, the Hockey world should move on. And that is precisely what we will do here in breaking down the team…

A combination of several sources indicates a possible No. 1 line of Alfredsson -Spezza-Michalek from left to right, and Foligno-Fisher-Kovalev on No. 2. The No. 1 trio was tested Friday, 18 September and produced a goal by Michalek from Spezza and Alexandre Picard for The Sens’ first pre-season, even-strength goal. Line No. 2 was clicking against Montreal Saturday night, 19 September with a combined 4 Gs and 6 As by game’s end. It must be noted if the No. 1 and 2 combos stick, a question arises as to where to fit Jonathan Cheechoo. The FoxSports web site’s depth charts indicate Cheechoo is the No.3 RW and Chris Neil comes in on the No. 4 line. It is not showing Shean Donovan who is down the depth charts at best and may be on the outs in a personal worst case scenario. As a bottom line, some wingers are going to have to try another side or be the best ones in their current slot in camp in order to stay on the roster with the big club.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

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