Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WHAT IF....?

I don’t know if it is just the coffee taking over this morning or if there is any real method to my ramblings, but I woke up thinking about what surprises we may see this season and the more coffee I poured down my gullet the more my mind was flooded with scenarios. Instead of trying to put my thoughts in a list or some sort of coherent order, I figured it would be best to just let them fly in a “What if…” format to just put the idea out there and let you decide the answers. It may be a bumpy ride, but here it goes.

The Rangers spent a ton of money over the summer to boost their roster with big name free agent forwards to form a solid top two lines in the hope that they will go farther in the postseason.
What if…. Failing to worry about their blueline becomes their biggest problem?
What if…. The chemistry between all of their top forwards is flat or induces a power struggle for ice time and leadership?
What if…. The arbitration fiasco with Avery becomes a cancer in the locker room?

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis recently said he expects his team to make the playoffs this season citing reasons including being tired of the rebuilding process and wanting results.
What if…. The Caps fail to provide results? What other option is there other than rebuilding? Going back to spending a ton of cash on washed up vets with big contracts?
What if…. The Caps do make the playoffs with the new cast of supporting players? Will they finally be able to sell tickets?
What if…. They put together a line of Kozlov, Ovechkin and Semin. Will they call it “The Russian Front”?

The Flames hired controversial coach Mike Keenan who has a knack for rubbing his players the wrong way and has more than once drove top talent out of town.
What if…. The Flames fail to re-sign Miikka Kiprusoff and continue with the plan of overusing him and Keenan presses the thumbscrews on him to perform better?
What if…. The combination of Keenan and Sutter becomes a power struggle for control of the team and the direction of the future?
What if…. The players just don’t respond to Keenan’s “old school” tactics?

The Sabres took a huge hit this summer losing their leadership and having to shell out big bucks to keep Vanek.
What if…. The now super rich Vanek has a sub-par season in term of production?
What if…. No one steps up to become a leader and they spend the season searching for an identity?
What if…. They miss the playoffs altogether? Can management fire themselves?

The Bruins have been knocked the last couple of seasons for the lack of solid goaltending and a defensive deficiency in their performance.
What if…. Claude Julian is the answer they have been looking for?
What if…. Claude Julian is just another added to a long list of coaching failures?
What if…. Coaching hasn’t been the problem all along?
What if…. They finally found a goaltending tandem that works?
What if…. They suddenly realize they have too many centers and not enough on the wings?
What if…. They actually improve defensively but can’t find scoring?
What if…. They dwell in the cellar for the next couple of years and win the Tavares lottery?

The Ducks seem poised to be able to be right in the mix again come playoff time this season. Minus a couple of heavyweights, for now, they still look formidable on paper.
What if…. They experience the same kind of “hangover” the Hurricanes brought into last season?
What if…. Some of their key players that helped win them the cup didn’t have enough time to heal?
What if…. They simply pick up where they left off? Can they really repeat?

The Maple Leafs have been going down the same path for some time now with little results, never really rebuilding or boosting the roster enough to make a difference.
What if…. The ownership grows tired of the status quo and calls for the heads in the front office to roll?
What if…. They are out of the playoff picture come trade deadline time? Will they unload Sundin for picks and prospects and try to re-sign him the following season ala Kieth Tkachuk?
What if…. The additions of Blake and Toskala ends up being just what they needed to put them into the postseason, will J.F.jr. still get the axe?

It will be difficult for the Senators to keep the current roster intact after this season facing having to re-sign their top players who will command big money contracts.
What if…. They lose Spezza, Heatley and Redden next summer?
What if…. They don’t recover from the sting of losing to the Ducks and are out of contention by the deadline? Will they move Alfie to free up cap space to resign Spezza and Heatley?
What if…. Ray Emery was a one hit wonder?

The Lightning have been riding the same trail since their cup win, sinking most of their payroll in three players and have not seen the same results since.
What if…. The “big three” fail to produce results once again? Will they finally realize the need for a balanced roster? Will they move Vinnie?
What if…. They find themselves at the bottom of the division? Will they move Vinnie?
What if…. They finally realize that they have raided the farm too much over the last couple of seasons to fill the roster and there is nothing left to pick from? Will they move Vinnie?
What if…. They move Vinnie?

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