Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

in News by admin   •   27 Jun 2013   •   0 Comments
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With the 2012 NAIHL regular season in the books teams are now gearing up for the playoffs. Below is a look at the Eastern Conference matchups. 

#1 Devils vs. #8 Bruins The defending NAIHL champion Devils are back and hungry for more. They are looking to defend their title from a year ago starting against the Boston Bruins. 

Devils keys to success   The New Jersey Devils have been relentless all season. They can throw line after line at their opponents and not skip a beat. The Devils balanced attack led by Ryan Kesler and Jason Pominville will try to overwhelm the Bruins into submission. The one area where the Devils could be exposed is on special teams. You would expect a team like the Devils to be at or near the top of PP and PK percentage but that is not the case. The Devils enter post season play with the 21st ranked PP and 12th ranked PK. This could be an area the Bruins could exploit. 

Bruins keys to success The Boston Bruins enter the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Eastern conference and face an uphill climb if they are to topple the defending champs. The Bruins must rely on team play and hope that leading point producer Pascal Dupuis can keep his career year going in the playoffs. Outstanding rookie Gabriel Landeskog, who scored 30 goals in the regular season, has to be a key contributor as well if the Bruins expect to pull the upset here. Boston also has to take advantage of the lowly ranked PP of the Devils with their top ten ranked PK unit.   
Prediction: The Bruins will have to have everything go right if they expect to stun the Devils. That might be asking for a little too much. Devils in five.  
  #2 Senators vs. #7 Canadiens Both teams are back in the big dance after missing the playoffs last year. In the Sens case this is their first trip back after a couple years absence. 

Ottawa’s keys to success Just being happy to be back in the playoffs is not the end goal for these Senators. After the big off season deal that brought in Sidney Crosby, GM Parker must have his sights set on loftier goals than just going one round in the playoffs. If the Sens are to get past the first round they will have to hope that their big acquisition kicks it into high gear. Crosby’s regular season performance was less than stellar. His 47 points was good for 6th on team scoring tied with Alex Tanguay. Not good enough for arguably the best player in hockey today. Until Crosby gets it going Ottawa must rely on Antti Niemi, the strength of their team in the regular season. 

Canadiens keys to success Let the debate begin. Ovechkin vs. Crosby. The Canadiens much like the Sens must be disappointed with the production they got out of Ovechkin this season. While he was second on the team in scoring, his totals were not very Ovechkin like – 33G 32A. If the Habs tighten up their D, and if Ovechkin goes on one of his hot streaks they could be in the mix.   

Prediction: The Sens seemed to have the Canadiens number all season going 4-1. The Sens stingy D will be too much for the Habs attack. Sens in six.  
  #3 Maple Leafs vs #6 Panthers One team enters the playoffs as the NAIHL’s hottest team. The other team enters the playoffs losing eight out of its past eleven games.   

Maple Leafs keys to success As noted above the Maple Leafs enters this season’s playoffs as the NAIHL’s hottest team. They went 8-1 down the stretch and hope to ride that hot streak into the second round of the playoffs. In order for that to happen Toronto must continue to get production from their big guns up front – Bergeron, Sharp and Iginla have to keep producing. With that being said the Maple Leafs’ most important player this season might just be Johan Hedberg. The journeyman has put together a career year for the buds and if they advance it will be by riding his hot glove hand. 

Panthers keys to success While Toronto may have been one of the NAIHL’s hottest teams the Florida Panthers were on the other end of that spectrum entering the playoffs. They lost eight of their last eleven games. All is not lost as the Panthers still enter the playoffs with one of the best goalies in the league this year in Brian Elliott. Elliott this year has been nothing short of fantastic. He led the league in save % and shutouts, while coming in second in GAA. The Panthers also did something else that was a little uncommon, having a defenseman as their leading point getter. Ryan McDonagh led the team with 72 points. They have to hope Elliott keeps up his stellar play and their balanced attack stays on track. 

Prediction: While all signs point to the Maple Leafs being the better team the Panthers have enough to pull the upset here. Hot streaks like Toronto’s are hard to maintain and takes a lot out of a team. Only 4 points separated these teams in the regular season. Panthers in seven.   

#4 Capitals vs. #5 Sabres This marks the first playoff meeting between these two teams under their current GM’s administration. 

Capitals keys to success This is Washington’s first trip back to the playoffs in a couple of seasons. The Caps road back to the cup starts with all of their young talent. Starting with their franchise superstar Steven Stamkos, who led the way for Washington with 42G 44A. The Caps will need their top line of Stamkos/Kessel/Koivu to be on top of their game to keep up with the high flying Sabres. Carey Price will also have to stay on his toes to keep the goals scored to a minimum. Washington should look to capitalize on the fact that they were the least penalized team in the league this year, while Buffalo was the second most penalized and owned a bottom five penalty kill. 

Sabres Keys to success This is the make or break year for the Sabres. For years they have been an above average regular season team, but seem to flame out in the second round of the playoffs every year. This year the Sabres traded their trademark defense for a potent offensive attack. They led the league in goals scored highlighted by Brad Richards 42G 61A 103Pts. In order for the Sabres to counter the Caps young guns they need their high scoring ways to continue. The Sabres boasted eight 20 goal scorers this year and will need their somewhat suspect goaltending to tighten up. 

Prediction: While the Caps youth movement is in full swing, the Sabres veteran talent will be too much to handle. The Sabres also dominated the regular season series going 4-1. Sabres in six. Western Conference playoff matchups to follow. 

Submitted by Sabres
       

NAIHL is back!

in News by admin   •   30 May 2013   •   0 Comments
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Thanks to the work of Alain Desjardins and others, the NAIHL is back in business.
 
Simming has resumed, and GMs should send their lines to Alain at alaindesjardins©bell.net for now, although the traditional naihllines©gmail.com address is being transitioned to Alain and should be available shortly.
 
No plans for an accelerated schedule have been announced, but you will see it in this space if and when it happens.
       

Saving the NAIHL

in News by admin   •   21 Apr 2013   •   0 Comments
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An open letter to the NAIHL:

The NAIHL is in a crisis for the first time since it began in 1998. As the founder and former commissioner of this league, it has provided countless hours of enjoyment for people worldwide over the years. But this year, with the antics of the NHL and other interests in my life, I no longer have the time or interest to keep up with this. I haven't sent in lines since the start of the season, and really have hardly followed hockey at all.

Jouni is in a similar situation, with a young son and a new job that requires a lot of travel. He has not simulated in a month, and won't be running the sim going forward. Like me he just doesn't have the time, and perhaps to a lesser degree, the interest.

I would be happy to see the NAIHL stay afloat, but it will take someone from within the GM ranks to step forward and take over the simulation. That means forking out $45 for the simulator, and then getting the league files from Jouni. Once that is done, then I would work with whoever it is to set up accessing the site, getting files updated, etc.

If someone thinks they are up for this, e-mail me at jgchilds [at] gmail [dot] com and we can get started.

If no one steps forward to do this, I will be shutting down the NAIHL website. There is no deadline or timetable for this, but if it becomes clear that no one is going to fill the void to run the simulator, then it will be closed down.

Regardless of what happens, I want to thank all of you for your participation. I have made some good friends as a result of this league, and I know the same goes for many of you. 

All the best to everyone.

Jeff Childs 
       

Jets trade away youth to get younger

in News by admin   •   28 Jan 2013   •   0 Comments
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The Winnipeg Jets, fighting for a playoff entry, made a major deal today that will only set the team back in the short term.

Traded away was one of the top players on the team, the Jets' top centre, young star Jeff Skinner. Joining Skinner on his trip to the west coast Ducks is prospect Jake McCabe. McCabe is no small piece, recently the captain of the Gold Medal Winning US World Junior Team.

"It's hard to give up such great quality. Jeff's been a great player for us all season long, and it's very, very difficult to see such a player move on," said Jets GM Chris Pethybridge.


       

Canadiens acquire Drew Doughty from Rangers

in News by admin   •   15 Jan 2013   •   0 Comments
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Saturday morning the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers finalised a deal that sent all-star defensemen Drew Doughty to the Habs.

The 6 foot 210 pound London Ontario native has played in 22 games scoring 5 goals and 15 assists with a +2 rating on a Rangers team that sits just 3 points from the basement of the Eastern Conference.

"Anytime a player with the stature of Drew Doughty comes up in trade talks, you listen." said Canadiens gm Steve Call. "We have been looking for an all star defeneman , and have definately found what we have been looking for."


       
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