With the 2008 pre-season almost drawing to a close, it's the time of year when every fan is filled with hope and optimism about their teams chances to look competitive or maybe do well or even take home the cup. Leaf fans get to predict that they will have a defense this year; Islander fans get to hope they have someone who scores at least 50 points; Shark fans get to believe they will see the 3rd round at some point and the rest of the league hopes they'll beat the Red Wings.
Thanks to NHL.com, stat-junkies can now comb endlessly over some pre-season stats. Granted, the pre-season means nothing in terms of points, but it does offer a few interesting trends and surprises.
1. Not much has changed on the top end:
-Montreal, Washington, Philli, Pittsburgh, NJ, Detroit, Anaheim and Calgary are all leading the pack during pre-season. We know that, like Ottawa last year, teams can go on a downward spiral and crumble, but the 'good' teams are looking like they are supposed to: good.
2. Not much has changed on the bottom end:
-Toronto, Islanders, Atlanta and Nashville are bottoming out quickly. Nashville remained competitive last year, but was expected to be where they are in the pre-season, right now.
-Chicago was expected to have a renaissance and this is confirming it. They are 5-1-1, though have both 26 GF and 26 GA. Vancouver is blowing everyone's expectations out of the water. 6-0-0 with 24 GF and 13 GA. Unlike last year they've remained injury free as well. Tampa's Xtreme makeover seems to be paying dividends. They're 3-1.
-The Rangers, San Jose and Dallas are slow out of the gate. Let's hope it's only pre-season chemistry. Phoenix and Edmonton were supposed to take it to a new level this year, but we're not seeing that level yet.
-St. Louis will have a year full of fire-power: Boyes, McDonald and Stempniak are lighting it up. A. Kostitsyn in Montreal and Sharp & Kane in Chicago are showing no signs of a slump. Boyd and Moss in Calgary are coming up in Calgary and Voracek is a promising rookie in Columbus. Rookie McElhinney is looking very promising in goal for the Flames.
-Stasny, Selanne, Nash, Sedin and Zetterberg had 2 point-per-game averages.
-Top 4 in S% and GA: Brodeur, Osgood, Luongo and Carolina-surprise Leighton.
May your fantasy picks be beautiful, your teams prospects shiny and let the games begin!