October 5, 2010

CCR #3: NHL Predictions By Charles @ Hoopograph

Let me preface my pics by saying that I am by no means a hockey expert, but I do know a good team when I see one. Team cohesion and chemistry are a huge part of the teams which are successful in the NHL and those that are not. An NBA team can be carried by one superstar and an MLB team's lineup can be lifted by a bat or two, but an NHL team needs the stars, the glue guys, a solid goalie and a superstar or two to win The Cup. The team dynamic of an NHL team is complex. In order for a team to win it all, they need to be hitting on all cylinders. Although there are a few teams which seem to have the talent on paper to make a run deep into the playoffs, it always seems that one of those talented teams inevitably falters. We'll get to my pics later in the post, but I first what to give a little insight on a team that I'm rooting for to exceed expectations this year.

I usually go to one or two early Buffalo Sabres games to decide if they'll be contenders or not. I can generally tell whether they perform well as a team, have the drive and necessary components on the roster to be a good team. The last few years have been disappointing to say the least. Management refuses to put money back into the team year after year by letting proven assets get away (Chris Drury, Brian Campbell, J.P. Dumont, etc.). Although this is frustrating to many fans, the front office does draft and develop talent exceptionally well within the organization. It seems the last couple of years have been geared toward following that plan of building the team back up through development. This maybe wishful thinking, and I have not yet done my yearly before mentioned assessment, but I like what the Sabres have to offer.

It's still yet to be seen if the Sabres will be able to score on a consistent bases, but this is a team that'll be carried by its net minder and all-world defensive star. Ryan Miller has really been playing under the radar until the Winter Olympics last year, and he should have another solid season this year. Tyler Myers will be starting his second full season in the NHL this Friday night. I believe he's the Sabres most talented player and usually exhibits that talent night in and night out. The Sabres have a good amount of pieces on the roster to compete and make the playoff this year. How far they go in the playoffs will depend on who else can step up and take a leadership role for the Sabres on the ice.

I'm more excited for the NHL season to get started than I have been for a long time. I think the NHL season is the hardest to predict out of all the four major sports do to the team chemistry issues I sited earlier in the post, but I like the Capitals and Canucks to meet for Lord Stanley's Cup. In the end, I think the Canucks will make Mr. Ovechkin wait another year to taste team success. Either way, I'll be watching the first few Buffalo Sabres games intently to decide for myself just what type of team they will be out there on the ice.

Enjoy the NHL season Sports Jambalaya writers and readers!

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