A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Monday, March 17, 2008

revisiting the "hot seats"

Way back in August, The Score posted a list of players who they thought would be in the "hot seat" for their team. A few days later, I followed with a two part series for the Eastern conference:(Part one) and (Part two).

"Hot seat" wasn't really they right name, since it wasn't as if any of these players' jobs were on the line. It was more like "this will be the guy whose play will determine the fate of the team".

Now that six and a half months have passed and the season is nigh over, I think it's time to check in and see how my picks went. I'll work my way alphabetically through the conference.

I apologise about the length.

ATLANTA. Both The Score and I chose Ilya Kovalchuk. I said "If he drops off (in points production) again, the Thrash will have no hope of qualifying for the playoffs."
Kovalchuk has registered 81 (49/32) points thus far, and is back to form after a poor showing last season, but the Thrashers are still no hope for the playoffs.

BOSTON. The Score picked Manny Fernandez. I scoffed at that and picked Phil Kessel. I said "The Teddy Bears have been all about Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron, but that's going to have to change"
Fernandez only played in four games, going 2-2-0 with a GAA of 3.93 and a save % of .832. Those are terrible numbers, even if it was just four games. He blew out his knee in November and will be out for the season.
Kessel has put up 33 (16/17) points, and hasn't answered the call.
The Bruins are currently in seventh place in the east, hoping to hold off the efforts by Buffalo and Florida to grab playoff spots.

BUFFALO. The Score selected the tandem of Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek. I picked Maxim Afinogenov. I said "If Afinogenov can crank it up a couple of notches, they'll be great."
Roy is having the best season of his young career. He's got 66 (29/37) points.
Vanek is having a good season, registering 53 (28/25) points so far. Last year, he led the league with a +47. Something happened this season, and he is a -4.
Afinogenov has had a dreadful season. He's missed some games due to injury, but he's only put up 25 (9/16) points.
The Sabres are trying to claw their way into the playoffs.

CAROLINA. The Score picked Cam Ward. I went with Matt Cullen. I claimed that the Canes wouldn't have any excuses now that Cullen was brought back in. I said "Cullen will have to put up 50 points or more...".
Ward has had a good season in his second year as the starter. He is 33-22-4 with 4 shutouts, a GAA of 2.81 and a save % of .901. Those are all career bests for him.
Cullen has missed a handful of games with various injuries, but me statement was eerily prophetic. He has 49 points (13/36), and could miss the remaining eight games with post-concussion symptoms.
Carolina currently has the #3 seed in the east by virtue of sitting atop the Southeast division.

FLORIDA. The Score put Tomas Vokoun in their hot seat while I put Nathan Horton in mine. I said "He's one of a few (from the 2003 draft class) who hasn't had at least one explosive season."
Vokoun is 29-26-7 with 4 shutouts, a GAA of 2.74 and a save % of .917. Those are all pretty good numbers.
Nathan Horton has had a season pretty much just like all the others. He has 56 (23/33) points. The Panthers are working hard and playing well, but they will most likely miss out on the playoffs.

MONTREAL. The Score picked on Alex Kovalev, while I said Michael Ryder. I said "There's probably more in the tank. He needs to find it".

Kovalev has had a pretty remarkable season. He has 74 (31/43) points, and is on pace to finish with his second best points total of his career.
Michael Ryder didn't find whatever else was in the tank. He has 27 (13/14) points.
Les Canadiens are tops in the Northeast, and will get the #2 seed in the playoffs.

NEW JERSEY. The Score picked Dainius Zubrus, while I picked Zach Parise.
Zubris has had an unimpressive 33 (11/22) points so far, while Parise is leading the Devils with 61 (30/31) points, including 7 game winners. He is a +22.

The Devils have a very narrow one point lead over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic, and they'll make the playoffs for sure, but it's hard to predict if they'll win their division.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS. The Score thought that Billy Guerin was the "hot seat" guy, but "for giggles" I picked Jeff Tambellini.
Guerin has had a bad season by his standards. He has just 40 (22/18) points.
Tambellini hasn't secured a permanent spot on the big club. He's been up and down to Bridgeport a lot, and he has just three (1/2) points with the Isles. Sadly, he's one of just a couple of guys from that 2003 class who haven't "made it" yet.
I predicted that the Islanders would stink, and they do, but not nearly as bad as I thought they would. They won't be making the playoffs.

NEW YORK RANGERS. The Score put Chris Drury in the hot seat. I put fellow newcomer Scott Gomez in the seat.

The ridiculously overpaid Drury has 48 points (22/26) this season after putting up 69 last season and 67 the season before.
Gomez has 67 (16/51) points this season after scoring 60 last year.
The Rangers are presently in the #6 spot.

OTTAWA. The Score put Wade Redden in the hot seat. I put Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Ray Emery in the seat.
Redden his 37 points (6/31).
Alfredsson has 80 (37/43) points, while Spezza is having the best season of his career. He has 83 (30/53) points and is a +23.
Ray Emery is 12-12-4 with a GAA of 3.05 and a save % of .893. He lost the starting job to Martin Gerber back in late February.

PHILADELPHIA. The Score picked on Martin Biron, while I chose Danny Briere. I said that he got "... a hefty raise, and I don't think he deserves it".

Biron has a 25-19-8 record, 3 shutouts, a GAA of 2.70 and a save % of .916. Good numbers from him.
Briere has 62 (26/36) points, which is right on par with most of his NHL seasons. His 95 point campaign last season was apparently a fluke.
The Flyers are currently in the last playoff spot.

PITTSBURGH. The Score picked old man Gary Roberts, while I picked the tandem of Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin. "(Malkin's challenge) is to prove that his eye-popping 85 (33/52) points wasn't a fluke"
Roberts broke his leg in January after posting just 15 (3/12) points. He won't be back.
Jordan Staal's sophomore campaign has been unimpressive. He has just 25 (10/15) points. Malkin's second season, however, has been nothing short of spectacular. He has 97 (41/56) points. The Penguins are only one point out of first place in the East.

TAMPA BAY. The Score foolishly put Marc Denis in the hot seat. I put Vincent Lecavalier.
Denis had a dreadful season. He played in just 10 games, going 1-5-0 before being assigned to the AHL. His 4.05 GAA and .859 save % are the stuff of nightmares.
Lecavalier has 85 (37/48) points. He won't quite match his 108 from last season, but he's had a very good year on a very bad team. They have a pretty fair chance to finish dead last in the entire NHL.

TORONTO. The Score Put Vesa Toskala in the hot seat. I ridiculed that call, claiming that Toskala wouldn't even be the #2 goalie. I put Kyle Wellwood in the hotseat, saying that he "has shown that he can produce huge numbers at every level, and it's time to do it at the NHL level."
Toskala has had a great season. He's 29-22-6 with 3 shutouts, a 2.63 GAA and a save % of .906.
Wellwood still can't produce at the NHL level. He has 16 (6/10) points.
The Leafs have put together an amazing late run, but they won't qualify for the playoffs.

Finally, WASHINGTON. The Score went the easy route and put Alexander Ovechkin in the seat. I went with the high-priced free agent Michael Nylander. "It's up to him to bolster that one-man-show."
Ovechkin, as we all know by now, has 99 (57/42) points. No surprise there.
Nylander only played in 40 games before having shoulder problems. In those games, he put up 36 (11/26) points.

The Caps are working hard to have a chance at the last playoff spot. They're also just five points out of the Southeast lead.

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