Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Welcome to another edition of Gregsky’s Eastern Conference Notebook. In the spirit of Halloween, I will take a look at the horror facing the bottom half of the conference and see if there is any hope left in the nightmare start to the season for some of these teams.

Nothing too horrific happening to the Isles to start the season, their horrors are yet to begin. Right now they are the hottest team in New York and have the fans (for now) leaving the paper bags at home. Strong special teams have kept the team from Long Island afloat. They have been more of a nightmare for opposing teams, as they have been tougher to beat than in the past. I don’t think they will sustain much longer though so fans will don the masks after Halloween passes.

Playing .500 hockey giving up 3.40 goals/game is spooky for Sabres fans. Not used to seeing their team struggle this much this early, the horror show of management mistakes over the summer have the fans a bit squeamish over the results. Playing for a full 60 minutes has been frightfully missing so far this season and they will be lucky to escape October without a worse record.

With the improvements this team made in the off-season they should be in a better spot in a weak division. The fear at the start of the season was defense, but that hasn’t been the problem. Injuries and lack of scoring has been the evil lurking around the team so far. Once this team gets rolling the early part of the season will just be a bad dream, but for now the nightmare of inconsistency looms large.

Maybe blood and gore is just what the Rangers needed to spark them into putting the puck in the net. Jagr giving up a few chicklets to the puck dentist seemed to get him going after a horrific month and they may want to start a ritual of bashing him in the mouth before every game. Really, the issue is not clicking on the power play. An area that was hyped to be deadly has in fact been dreadful.

Projected to be a much better team this season, the Panthers have struggled out of the gate. An upgrade in net was supposed to be a boost and while 3.09 goals against isn’t horrific the 2.36 goals/game makes it spooky. The real problem for the club is when they take their show on the road. Winning only 1 game out of 6 on the road is enough to make any fan scream.

Cue the Death March music now. The start to the season has been a classic horror show for the Thrashers. Leading the league in goals against the nightmare may not end for the team this year. They lost too much over the summer and didn’t do enough to replace the pieces that helped them make the post season last year. Their coach has already felt the axe and a total lack of scoring may spell trouble for their future as they are still trying to reach a deal with Hossa. The fans that do show up to witness this horror on ice may want to borrow the paper bags that Islanders fans haven’t had to use yet.

Maybe the moniker is fitting for Halloween, but no one is used to including this team as part of a creep show. Maybe it is due to only playing 1 game at home so far this year, but view just 1 game and you can see that this isn’t your father’s New Jersey Devils. Lack of defense has been the devil of the Devils and poor special teams play has them dwelling in the dungeon of the conference. Maybe the hiring of Sutter on Friday the 13th was an omen, but right now the Devils are bedeviled.

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