2010-11 Atlanta Thrashers NHL Predictions and Odds

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2010-11 Atlanta Thrashers NHL Predictions and Odds

2010-11 Atlanta Thrashers NHL Predictions and Odds

Finishing second in the division seems to be the only possible expectation for the Thrashers considering the dominance of the Washington Capitals within their division. The second-place finish was the best Atlanta has finished since 2006-07 when it won the division and reached the playoffs for the only time in the franchise’s 11-year existence.

The Thrashers will definitely be worth keeping an eye on this season, not because of high expectations, but because this season represents a radical change in direction for the franchise. Without a doubt, after pairing Ilya Kovalchuk and Marion Hossa together and not being able to win a single playoff game, a change of direction is sorely needed.

If the goal is to win the Stanley Cup the Thrashers did the best job they could in the offseason of imitating the reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks, bringing aboard six players who etched their name on Lord Stanley’s Cup this past June.

They also completely purged the front office and coaching staff. It did not take them long either: just three days after the 2009-10 campaign concluded, coach John Anderson and his staff were out. The only General Manager the Thrashers ever knew, Don Waddell, became President of Hockey Operations and Rick Dudley took over GM duties.

Former Boston Bruins assistant coach Craig Ramsay was hired as head coach and through the summer Ramsay built his staff with assistants from different staffs around the league.

Many of these were risky moves, but it was clear with the lack of progress and dearth of fan approval that departures from the status quo had to be made.

Atlanta finished with 83 points last season, 88 were needed to reach the playoffs. Completely blowing up the roster may not have seemed necessary, but Atlanta management must have felt that this team was more than five points away from being a postseason contender.

The Atlanta Thrashers schedule opens at home against division favorites Washington on Friday, Oct. 8. Atlanta then begins a four-game road trip that starts in Tampa Bay and winds up on the West Coast from Los Angeles to Anaheim and then San Jose. Eight of Atlanta’s first 12 games are on the road.

Offseason Moves
Like a seasoned Black Friday shopper, Atlanta must have waited in line overnight for the Blackhawks fire sale to begin. They brought on board the high-character and versatile Dustin Byfuglien, winger Ben Eager, forwards Akim Aliu and Andrew Ladd and defensemen Brent Sopel. Atlanta only had to shed prospects and draft picks in the purge of the Blackhawks.

Free agent losses included Colby Armstrong to Toronto and Johan Hedberg to New Jersey. Armstrong will be sorely missed and the loss of Hedberg would have also been felt more acutely had Atlanta not brought in veteran goalie Chris Mason from St. Louis. Mason will spell Ondrej Pavelec in net. Pavelec started 42 games last season and finished with a 3.29 GAA compared to Hedberg’s 2.62 in 47 games.

Former winger Maxim Afinogenov is off to Russia to play in the KHL after scoring 24 goals last season. His 61 total points were second on the team only to center Nik Antropov.

Atlanta Thrashers Predictions: Outlook
There was nothing but upgrades all the way from the GM to the assistant coaches for Atlanta, but those should not pay dividends for at least another season. On the ice there was nothing but downgrades. Nobody can match Ilya Kovalchuck’s ability and the scoring from Afinogenov will be sorely missed as will the intangibles a Colby Armstrong brings to the team or the goaltending ability of Hedberg.

The Atlanta Thrashers should be one of the hungriest teams in the league after never having won a playoff game, but now the roster is chock-full of players in danger of a Stanley Cup hangover. The first year of this new experiment has ‘doom’ written all over it.

Atlanta Thrashers NHL Odds
The Atlanta Thrashers have longshot odds to win the Southeast Division (+2000), but then again doesn’t everybody besides the Capitals? Atlanta’s odds to win the Eastern Conference are +4000, the only teams with worse odds are the Panthers and Islanders. If you are looking for a lottery-sized payout, Atlanta is +80,000 to win the Stanley Cup. Their ‘over/under’ for season point total is 82.5. NHL odds are courtesy of BetUS.

NHL Predictions for Atlanta Thrashers
A year after finishing with 83 points the Thrashers’ ‘over/under’ is 82.5 and that is without their two biggest offensive weapons and goalie issues. Atlanta will struggle to replace Kovalchuck, especially, and the whole Chicago Blackhawk reunion may backfire in a big way. Atlanta will come nowhere near 82.5 points.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.

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2010-11 Ottawa Senators NHL Predictions and Odds

2010-11 Ottawa Senators NHL Predictions and Odds

If you can’t beat ’em, sign away their top defenseman. That must have been Ottawa’s thinking this offseason after watching their second consecutive playoff run end in the first round to Pittsburgh. The Senators signed veteran and former Penguin Sergei Gonchar to a three-year deal.

The Senators finished 44-21-6 with 94 points to earn the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference last season. In the playoffs they ran into the Penguins, who swept them in 2008. This time they pushed Pittsburgh to Game 6 before falling in the deciding game in overtime.

Coach Cory Clouston is entering his second full season with the team. A potential headache looms for Clouston with his goalie situation. Brian Elliott won the job midway through last season, but he had a complete meltdown in the playoffs against the Pens as he allowed 14 goals before being yanked in Game 4.

Elliott took over for Pascal Leclaire during the regular season after inconsistent play and injuries forced Leclaire to the bench, but Leclaire stepped back in for Elliott in the playoffs. Add promising 19-year old Robin Lehner to the mix and nobody is quite sure who will be the man in the crease for the majority of the season for Ottawa.

On the other end of the lineup, the aging Ottawa forwards are certainly a mixed bag. Jason Spezza (23 goals), Daniel Alfredsson (20 goals) and Alexei Kovalev (18 goals) hardly looked themselves last season. Winger Milan Michalek regressed in his first year in Ottawa last season. After three consecutive 55-plus point seasons with San Jose, Michalek scored 22 goals and 34 points last season.

Mike Fisher is coming off a 25-goal career year last season and 24-year old Peter Regin appears ready to take off after a 13-goal, 16-assist campaign last season. The forwards are a mixed bag. However, if they can put together any semblance of consistency Ottawa could end up with one of the most dynamic offenses in the league.

But as good as the offense may be it will be hard to ignore the defense. Last season it allowed 238 goals (compared to the 225 goals Ottawa scored) and there is little reason to believe the 18th-ranked defense will improve from last season. Second-year player Erik Karlsson had a huge rookie season and he will need to continue his development playing among veteran defensemen Filip Kuba and Chris Phillips, with Phillips entering his 12th season with the Senators but his first in quite some time not being on the same line as Anton Volchenkov.

The Ottawa Senators schedule opens Friday Oct. 8 at home against Buffalo. The Senators then hit the road for five of their next six games including a rematch at Pittsburgh on Oct. 18.

Offseason Moves
Gonchar was the big signing, but it came just as Volchenkov departs to New Jersey. Other losses include Matt Cullen (Minnesota) Jeremy Yablonski (New York Islanders) and Jonathan Cheechoo (Dallas).

Ottawa Senators Predictions: Outlook
Ottawa will have a good chance against anybody they play and the defensive situation could have a way of figuring itself out, especially with the steady presence of Gonchar. A goalie needs to emerge early in the season as the go-to guy for Ottawa or it could be a rocky road in October and November. Ottawa is a serious contender to challenge favorite Buffalo for the Northeast Division.

Ottawa Senators Futures Odds
The Senators are listed at +1500 to win the Eastern Conference and +3000 to win the Stanley Cup. Their NHL odds to win the division are +450. After winning 44 games last season the ‘over/under’ for Ottawa wins this season is 42.5

NHL Predictions for Ottawa Senators
Ottawa certainly has the talent to challenge for a division title this season regardless of the defensive questions. At the price of +450, Ottawa has plenty of value to win the Northeast Division.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.


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