Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Magicpie Power Rankings

Time for my first edition of the power rankings. Because I'm a lazy, lazy man this first batch of power rankings will also double as my season predictions. I'll do a separate set of power rankings for the A.L and N.L....I mean Western and Eastern conferences because they barely play each other anyway so there's no point trying to rank Western and Eastern teams against each other. For all we know the west might have 8 of the league's 10 best teams or something. Anyway, first the Western rankings:

1. San Jose. By default. Every team that finished ahead of them in points last season has taken a step back, they're the only ones that haven't. Should be a fun year for them.

2. Detroit. I only have them this high because I still think they'll win their division, and will have more points than whoever comes out on top in the Northwest. Other than that I'm predicting a major step back for them this year. Once the inevitable Hasek injury strikes all bets are off. I'm not even that sure they'll be able to hold off St. Louis and win the division, but I'm not quite at point where I'm willing to predict that.

3. Vancouver. They won the division last year and remain innocent untill proven guilty, but I'm not that confident about this pick. Arguments in their favor: the first few months of last season, when they were playing .500 hockey, were a feeling out period, and the real Canucks team we're gonna see this season is the one that had the best record in the league after Christmas. Markus Naslund is in a contract year. They haven't lost anyone significant and have added a few pieces, so if you go by the whole "if a team stays together they play slightly better each season because of some crazy synergy" theory then they should be better. Arguments against them: everyone in their division improved (even Minnesota improves by having a healthy Gaborik). They were lucky in OT/the shootout last season (17-7, best record in the league), and might not be able to keep that up this time around. Last season was one of those feel-good seasons where everyone buys into the team concept and plays hard every night, and you don't get two of those in a row very often. It could go either way but I'm leaving them here for now.

4. Colorado. They were one of the best teams in the league to finish last season and they've made some significant improvements. Goaltending's still a problem but I don't think they plan on winning many games 2-1 this year.

5. L.A. Kings. For the record I've been saying this long before they beat the Ducks in the season opener(besides, as I write this Anaheim's leading the second game 1-0). They're my favourite sleeper team this season. They have one of the best defenses in the league, and one of the best groups of young forwards in the league (at least 4 guys on that team could average one point per game this season). Best of all they didn't make any major "let's save our season with this one move" type signing/trade last season, instead choosing to bring in a few medium names to fill holes as neccesary. I love it when teams do that. Mark my words, they'll be up there this year.

6. Minnesota. This might actually be a bit low for them but I'm not confortable putting 3 NW teams in a row on top of these standings. Last year was kind of an off-year for them, and they didn't make a single major move this off-season because they know they have a solid team. They should be much better playing one complete year without major injuries. Maybe the most underrated good team in the league.

7. Anaheim. That's right, behind the Kings. Never, ever underestimate the power of a Stanley Cup hangover.

8. St. Louis. Finished the season up strong last season, and made lots of improvements. I'd be surprised if they didn't make the playoffs.

9. Nashville. Up until writing this I actually thought they still had enough to make the playoffs. Then I changed my mind. So there. I really can't think up a scenario where they manage to sneak in, aside from one where St. Louis and L.A. aren't as good as I thought they would be...but that would be crazy. Their crappy division saves them from going any lower.

10. Calgary. One really good team had to get left out of the playoffs in this preview and they were the odd man out. This is mostly because what they did this summer is more of a sidegrade than anything, and Mike Keenan is not the coach you bring in to turn your team into a winner, he's the coach you bring in to punish them for slacking off last season (which they did). Also, I couldn't have 4 Northwest teams making the playoffs, as cool as that would be if it happerned.

11. Dallas. This has all the makings of turning into a rebuilding year for them. After however many first round exits in a row, they probably know that they don't have enough to go far with their current team. Look for them to make some major shake-ups at the first sign of trouble this year.

12. Columbus. They were actually a fairly good team on paper last year, and a full year with Hitchcock will likely improve things (just don't pick anyone except their goalie for your fantasy team). The only problem is that the teams in front of them are pretty good too.

13. Chicago. Maybe next year.

14. Edmonton. The sad thing is that they actually improved (at least on paper) this off-season. Being in the most competitive division in hockey doesn't help.

15. Pheonix. The only teams that I'm truly confident will not make the playoffs this year are Edmonton and Pheonix...and I'm not so sure about Edmonton.

And now for my Eastern power rankings:

1. Pitsburgh.
2. Ottawa.
3-15. Everyone else, in no particular order.

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