Tag Archives: 2010/11

2010-11 Montreal Canadiens NHL Predictions and Odds

The Montreal Canadiens improbable playoff run last season raises a few questions. How did Montreal manage to win two Game 7s on the road, one against top-seed Washington and another against defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh? Where had that Montreal team been all regular season when it struggled just to get into the postseason? And then how did that same Montreal team get blown away by No. 7 seed Philadelphia in five games?

And, of course, the question most pertinent to this season, why is the hero of those playoffs, Jaroslav Halak, now suiting up for the St. Louis Blues?

The answer to the latter question is Carey Price. The 23-year old netminder signed a two-year contract extension in early September this year. Montreal is putting their faith in the netminder for the second season in a row. Price was the No. 1 goalie last season, but as the season wore on Halak began to handle more and more games before completely taking over in February and in the playoffs where Price only saw one game of action.

More so than any other team in the NHL, the situation in net could define this Montreal season. Behind Price will be veteran Alex Auld, who presents an ideal situation. The 29-year-old is a veteran and capable backup, but his job is to spell Price at times, not to have Price constantly looking over his shoulder. Auld has played 20-plus games in a season four times with four different teams, and the plan is for him to see around 20 starts this season.

The pressure will be on prospect Lars Eller to produce on either the second or third line. The pressure to produce comes from the fact that Eller was one of the pieces St. Louis sent to Montreal in exchange for Halak.

Tomas Pelkanec returned to his 2007-08 form last season when he scored 25 goals and added 45 assists. While Pelkanec was producing, center Scott Gomez was regressing. His 12 goals were the fewest since his third season in New Jersey. His 59 points were the fourth lowest of his 10-year career.

The Montreal Canadiens schedule opens at Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 7 and then they return to Pittsburgh, where they closed down Mellon Arena for good back in May. Montreal has one of the longest road swings in the NHL with a seven-game trip in late December that winds from Colorado to the East Coast and to Florida. Montreal gets its rematch against Philadelphia when it plays the Flyers twice in a four-game span in late November.

Offseason Moves
Losing Halak and gaining Auld is by no means a wash for Montreal. but when considering what Auld will be asked to do this move has the potential of helping the goalie situation. Eller and left winger Ian Schulz represent the return for Halak, and both have received high marks in training camp so far. Forwards Sergei Kostitsyn (Nashville) and Gregory Stewart (Edmonton ) and defenseman Shawn Belle (Edmonton) were the major notable departures from Montreal in the offseason.

Montreal Canadiens Predictions: Outlook
Montreal has the makeup of a playoff team, but to improve on its No. 8 seed from last season it will have to improve on an offense that averaged 2.6 goals per game last season (25th in the league). The Habs hope they have the postseason-like efforts of Mike Cammalleri, who scored 13 goals in 21 games compared to the regular season when he scored only 26 goals all season. The Halak trade could end up being addition by subtraction in the goalie situation and expect Montreal to resemble the team we all remember for their unprecedented playoff run last season and not the one who barely snuck into the playoffs.

Montreal Canadiens Futures Odds
Montreal’s NHL betting odds to return to the Eastern Conference finals are +700. To win the Northeast Division Montreal is listed at +400. Their odds to win the Eastern Conference are +1400 and their odds to win the Stanley Cup, +2500. The Habs ‘over/under’ for total season wins is 40.5. Odds are courtesy of BetUS.

NHL Predictions for Montreal Canadiens
Their playoff run was not a fluke last season. Montreal has the personnel in place to make another run. They won 39 games last season and an improvement should be expected, so take ‘over’ 40.5 wins.

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.

2010-11 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Predictions and Odds

I’m starting my NHL Central Division previews at the bottom, as the Columbus Blue Jackets finished the 2009-10 season with 35 wins and just 79 points, 11 behind fourth-place St. Louis. It was the first time the team had finished in the Central cellar since 2003 and the campaign was considered a huge disappointment after Columbus reached the playoffs the season before. That cost Coach Ken Hitchcock his job last winter, as a result Scott Arniel is the new coach.

There was certainly more than one reason for Columbus’ slide, but goalie Steve Mason took a huge step back after being a Vezina finalist in his 2008-09 rookie year when he led the NHL with 10 shutouts. Last season Mason’s save percentage of .901 was 37th out of 44 qualified goaltenders, while his goals against average of 3.08 was 38th. The Jackets dropped from ninth in the NHL in goals allowed (223) in 2008-09 to 24th (249) last season. Earlier this week, the Jackets locked up the 22-year-old with a two-year extension, keeping the goalie under contract for the next three years. The deal is for $ 5.8 million total. He reportedly lost 15 pounds this offseason and is in the best shape of his young career.

The Jackets still don’t have enough offense around superstar Rick Nash, who also took a step back in overall production last season with 33 goals and 34 assists. Everyone keeps waiting for him to turn into a 50-goal scorer. Thanks to solid seasonsfrom Antoine Vermette, Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger and Jakub Voracek, the Jackets had five 50-point scorers for the first time in franchise history. Yet the Blue Jackets sunk to 20th in the league in scoring last season, netting just 214 goals. Supposedly the Jackets will have a much more offensive system this year under Arniel.

Columbus Blue Jackets’ Offseason Moves
In all honesty, the team really didn’t make any big splashes in either direction (Ethan Moreau?) in offseason additions other than an entirely new coaching staff. Arniel, the fifth coach in franchise history, joins the Jackets after spending four seasons as coach of the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate. Veteran goalie Mathieu Garon was brought in to back up Mason. But the key move could be the return of 2008 first-round pick Nikita Filatov. After floundering early last year, he was allowed to play with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. In 26 KHL regular season games, Filatov had nine goals and 13 assists.

Columbus Blue Jackets Predictions: Outlook
Is this the surprise team of two seasons ago or the bottom-feeder of last year? A lot of that could depend on the new offensive system and Filatov and Derick Brassard stepping up. The latter had an impressive rookie season two years ago but then scored only nine goals in a tough third season. The hope is that he can end up next to Nash on the No. 1 line, which was the plan last season. But the Jackets really have the bad misfortune to be stuck in arguably the best division in hockey with powerhouses Chicago and Detroit, up-and-coming St. Louis and always-overachieving Nashville. Last place looks likely again. The Columbus Blue Jackets schedule starts out tough as they open the season at home against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Columbus Blue Jackets Futures Odds
The NHL lines to win the Central Division or ‘over/under’ win odds weren’t active at press time for Columbus. Its odds to win the Western Conference are +5000, which are tied with Edmonton and Minnesota for the longest. The Jackets’ odds to win the Stanley Cup are +10000. Needless to say, it would not be wise to take a longshot on this team.

NHL Predictions for Columbus Blue Jackets
Hopefully this will at least be a more exciting team now that it won’t be under the complete defensive strategy favored by Hitchcock. And maybe Nash can carry the team to 85 points or the like. Columbus needs an infusion of something because fan support is waning, with season-ticket sales down more than 25 percent from last year.

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.

2010-11 Buffalo Sabres NHL Predictions and Odds

Last season Buffalo got away from its all-offense, all-the-time mentality and found themselves back in the playoffs. Leaning on their defense while scoring the fewest goals since the 2004 NHL lockout, the Sabres returned to the playoffs after a two-year absence.

The 207 goals Buffalo allowed were the fewest since 2001-02 thanks to Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller. The United States Olympic hero had a career year, winning 41 games and posting a 2.22 GAA, both career highs to go along with his silver medal.

The other leader of the Buffalo defense, Tyler Myers, picked up some hardware of his own. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie last season. Unfortunately for Miller, Myers, and the rest of the Buffalo defense, keeping a D that ranked fourth last season in the league intact was not a priority of the front office this offseason.

Lindy Ruff, the longest tenured coach in the NHL, returns for his 13th season. Ruff has led the Sabres to the playoffs only three times in the last eight seasons, and if Buffalo fails to get into the postseason or even out of the first round again the angst in Buffalo will grow even larger.

The Sabres finished 45-27-10 last season with 100 points to win the Northeast Division and earn the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs they were dealt a tough blow when leading scorer Thomas Vanek was lost in the first round series against Boston.

The Buffalo Sabres schedule keeps them at home for four consecutive games after opening the season at Ottawa on Friday Oct. 8. A critical stretch for Buffalo comes in December when it meets Boston three times in three weeks.

Offseason Moves
The thinking of GM Darcy Regier must have been that the defensive success from last season had everything to do with Miller and Myers. Regier let defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman leave via free agency. Those two losses will have the greatest impact on the Sabres, but defenseman Jordan Leopold was brought in after a short stint with the Penguins and Shaone Morrisonn was signed after six years in Washington to help fill defensive holes. Center Rob Niedermayer (New Jersey) and winger Tim Conboy (Carolina) were two other low-risk free agent signings Regier oversaw this offseason.

Buffalo Sabres Predictions: Outlook
The heart and soul of last season’s team took a hit in the offseason when Tallinder and Lydman left, but this will still be a squad that makes its living by preventing goals, not by outscoring the opponent. Even though they are defending division champs, the Northeast division is Boston’s to lose. The Bruins proved that in a first round series win over Buffalo last season. Buffalo appears to have taken a step back from last season and this team will be forced to lean heavily on its goalie.

Buffalo Sabres Futures Odds
The reigning Northeast Division champions are not expected to repeat. Buffalo’s NHL betting odds are +450 to win the division, behind Boston (-150) and even Montreal and Ottawa (+400). The Sabres’ odds to win the Eastern Conference are +1800 and their odds to win the Stanley Cup are +3000. Their season win total ‘over/under’ is 43.5. Odds are courtesy of BetUS.

NHL Predictions for Buffalo Sabres
A lot will be asked of Miller and a lot will be asked of Myers, who is only a second year player. The defense will certainly regress and another 45-win season does not look to be in the books. Expect Buffalo to get close to 40 wins but stay ‘under’ the total of 43.5.

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.

2010-11 New York Islanders NHL Predictions and Odds

There are two ways to look at the New York Islanders current situation. There is the positive of an 18-point increase from the 2008-09 season to last year, but a third straight Atlantic Division last-place finish also lets you know just how far the Islanders have to go.

Under GM Garth Snow the Islanders have been moving in the right direction over the course of the past few years. Even with the positive steps that have been taken the Islanders still have a long road to travel and tangible postseason results are still off in the distance.

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, John Tavares, is the unquestioned future of this team. He scored 24 goals last season including 11 power-play goals, best on the team. He finished with 54 points and another major step forward in his career should be expected this season. Matt Moulson scored a quiet 30 goals last season to lead the team and winger Kyle Okposo is another young talent with a lot of potential.

The offense was not exactly great last season (21st in the NHL), but it was far from the Islanders biggest problem. Allowing 3.15 goals per game last season, New York finished a dismal 28th in defense in the league.

The goalie situation is also an area of concern. Rick DiPietro is as fragile as they come in the NHL. The Islanders still want him as the goalie of the future, but until he proves he can last an entire season, or at least half a season, New York will lean on 40-year old veteran Dwayne Roloson. He played in 50 games last season, considerably more than the Islanders wanted to. However, they had no choice.

Scott Gordon is in the final year of his three-year contract and he may not see the next calendar year if this Islanders season starts the way so many before it have.

The New York Islanders schedule is tough enough considering 24 of their games are against Atlantic Division rivals: New Jersey, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In addition to that the Islanders play 12 of their first 17 games on the road, an unbelievably tough stretch for a team who went 11-23-7 on the road last season.

Offseason Moves
The key moves this offseason were aimed at bolstering the third worst defense in the NHL. The Islanders signed Mark Eaton, formerly of Pittsburgh, and dealt a draft pick for James Wisniewski, a four-year veteran fresh off a career year (30 points in 69 games) with Anaheim. They will join veteran holdover Mark Streit as leaders of a defense that at the very least will be an upgrade from last season.

The Islanders parted ways with backup goalie Martin Biron (New York Rangers), which could come back and bite the team if Roloson or DiPietro are forced to miss extended time. There is no other goalie on the roster with NHL experience. Former Lightning enforcer and highlight of most hockey fighting compilations, Zenon Konopka, is another noteworthy addition to the Islanders. He led the NHL with 265 penalty minutes last season.

New York Islanders Predictions: Outlook
Another 30-goal season seems to be a lot to ask from Moulson, but Tavares and Okposo are capable of taking that next step in their development. The defense will improve, but the goalie situation has the potential to deteriorate and derail this season.

New York Islanders Futures Odds
The Islanders NHL betting odds for season wins total ‘over/under’ is the lowest in the NHL at 32.5. They are long shots to win the Atlantic Division (+2500), the Eastern Conference (+5000) and obviously the Stanley Cup (+10,000).

NHL Predictions for New York Islanders
Give credit to the Islanders for having a plan and sticking to it. If Snow and Gordon are given time the Islanders could make another step in the right direction this season, but a drastic improvement off of their 13th-place Eastern Conference finish last season should not be expected. If New York is blessed with healthy goalies they should be able to surpass 32.5 wins.

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.

2010-11 Minnesota Wild NHL Predictions and Odds

If the NHL were a color wheel, the Minnesota Wild would be grey. They aren’t offensive or brash. They aren’t anything really. You just hardly notice that they are around. They are kind of like the Minnesota Timberwolves—it must be something in the water in Minneapolis.

The Wild went through a transition last year—or at least that was the original plan. After Jacques Lemaire had led the team throughout their history to play a system in which defense was all that mattered and offense was an afterthought, new Coach Todd Richards was supposed to turn the team into a far more effective offensive threat.

It didn’t really turn out that way. They dropped from No. 2 to No. 21 in the defensive rankings in the league, and yet had only the 22nd best offense. It’s no wonder that they weren’t very good. Needless to say, Richards has some work to do this year.

One interesting development with this team is their renewed focus on conditioning in the offseason. Lemaire is an old school guy, so he didn’t place a lot of importance on offseason workouts. When Richards tried to turn up the speed on offense last year, he found a team that wasn’t up for the challenge. Players were worked with much more in the offseason, and have been held much more accountable for their physical preparedness in the fall. The impact of that, if it was done well, should show up on the ice.

Minnesota Wild Offseason Moves
The Wild cut some fat from the roster, including ancient forward Owen Nolan and useless tough guy Derek Boogaard. They replaced those guys with a couple of veterans in Matt Cullen and John Madden. They added a younger player in Eric Nystrom, who showed some promise with Calgary. Cullen and Madden are both centers who will help the team both up the middle and in the dressing room.

Minnesota Wild Predictions: Outlook
I don’t think that this is a playoff team, but they could be in the mix. To do that, though, they will need a lot of things to go right for them. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who missed all but one game last year with concussion issues, will have to prove himself healthy and productive.

Martin Havlat will have to prove that the big contract he got last year wasn’t a total waste of money. Mikko Koivu needs to take another big step forward. The team needs to learn how to be at least somewhat competent on the road—last year they were hopeless.

Minnesota Wild NHL Odds
Minnesota is 80/1 to win the Stanley Cup. Only the Islanders and the Blue Jackets are longer shots. They get scarcely more respect in the conference, where they are 50/1, or in their division, where they are 20/1. The season point total is set at 85.5.

Minnesota Wild NHL Predictions
The Wild could be in the playoff mix, and a second-place finish in the division and an eighth-place in the conference (and the playoff berth that goes with it) aren’t out of the question, but I sure wouldn’t bet on it. I don’t think that Richards is a great coach, and he doesn’t have a whole lot to work with here. If everyone played at their best this still isn’t a very good team.

As a hockey handicapper my best guess is that they will finish third in the division ahead of Calgary and Edmonton, but behind Colorado and in a different universe than the Canucks. That would put them 10th or so in the conference.

The season points total is pretty tight, but I would lean slightly to the “over.” They had 84 points last year and are healthier and fitter to start the season. I don’t look for a big move forward, but the neighborhood of 88 points would be achievable.

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.

Philadelphia Flyers 2010-11 NHL Predictions

The Flyers 2009-10 regular season came down to a shootout in the final game of the season. The Flyers won that shootout, earned a No. 7 seed and proceeded to shock the world and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

After that improbable run Philadelphia will certainly not be sneaking up on anybody this season. The Flyers remain one of the more physical teams in the league, but in last year’s postseason their skill players showed that this team has that added offensive dimension to make an extended postseason run.

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter both surpassed 30 goals and 60 points last season. There is a ton of depth behind them with Daniel Briere (26 goals and 27 assists last season) and youngsters Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Chris Pronger has meshed right in with the Philadelphia defensive rotation.

Anybody who just watched Philadelphia in the playoffs might think that the goaltending situation is a strength of the team, but entering the season it appears to be the biggest question mark. Waiver-wire acquisition and former third-fiddle goaltender Michael Leighton emerged as one of the more valuable commodities in the playoffs. After Ray Emery and Brian Boucher were sidelined with injuries, Leighton took the reins. He certainly had his moments, but he was far from consistent. Despite catching lighting in a bottle and carrying Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup Finals, his career record in the NHL remains 34-40-10. The defense will need to do its best to cover up for Leighton’s shortcomings.

The Flyers hit the road to open the season as they have the unenviable task of helping the Penguins christen their new arena on Thursday, Oct. 7. The Flyers and Penguins will actually meet three times in October. After a road trip to St. Louis for Game 2, the Philadelphia Flyers schedule eases up with a five-game homestand.

Offseason Moves
Arron Asham is suiting up for division rival Pittsburgh while former Penguin, veteran winger Bill Guerin has a decent shot of earning a roster spot in Flyers’ training camp. Simon Gagne is off to Tampa Bay and goon Riley Cote is retired and replaced by enforcer Jody Shelley. The Flyers are the latest team to take a chance on journeyman forward Nikolai Zherdev, it is a low-risk gamble on the fourth-overall draft pick in the 2003 draft, but there is a high reward to be had.

Philadelphia Flyers Predictions: Outlook
They were two games away from the Stanley Cup, but they were also one shootout loss away from missing the postseason. That needs to be remembered when setting honest expectations from this group. Philadelphia has weapons and the bodies to play the physical brand of hockey Philadelphia fans have become accustomed to. There is plenty of potential amongst the second and third liners, but for the most part it is unproven.

Philadelphia Flyers Futures Odds
A year after winning the Eastern Conference, the Flyers’ hockey odds of repeating are +700. Their odds to win the Stanley Cup are +1200. Within the division they have the third best odds (+350) to win the Atlantic. Their season win total ‘over/under’ is 42.5. Odds are courtesy of BetUS.

NHL Predictions for Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers have the talent and experience to separate themselves from the Rangers and Islanders in the Atlantic Division, but likely will not be able to hang with the Penguins and Devils for an 82-game season. Do not be surprised if Philadelphia’s playoff future is still in jeopardy as the season winds down. Philadelphia ‘under’ 42.5 wins looks to be one of the strongest NHL future plays right now.

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.

New York Rangers 2010-11 NHL Predictions

NHL
by toff63

Their postseason fate came down to a shootout with Philadelphia in the final game of the regular season. The Rangers were on the wrong end of the result and sent into the offseason to wonder ‘what if’ while the Flyers came out on the right side of things, reached the playoffs and eventually the Stanley Cup Finals.

Management realizes how close the Rangers were to reaching the postseason for the fifth consecutive season. Their careful wading into the offseason free agent waters was evidence that management likes the makeup of this team.

Training camp got off to a rocky start. Captain Chris Drury has been ruled out for the preseason and at least the first week of the season after his left hand got in the way of a hard shot during a scrimmage. The 34-year old winger had been one of the most consistent players in the Rangers lineup.

Entering his second full year with the Rangers, Coach John Tortorella recently received a vote of confidence from management after just missing the playoffs last season.

The New York Rangers schedule is a friendly one, sending them on only one road trip longer than three games. New York opens the regular season at Buffalo and then visits the Islanders before hosting Toronto in their home opener.

Offseason Moves
The Rangers brought in backup Martin Biron to Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist who played a career-high 73 games last season. That was a New York Rangers single season record, but not a record the team wanted to break. Biron finally gives the Rangers a legitimate second option behind Lundqvist. Winger Derek Boogaard comes over from Minnesota to replace the departed Jody Shelley (Philadelphia) in the role of enforcer.

New York’s most significant move was bringing in winger Alexander Frolov from Los Angeles. He scored 19 goals and added 32 assists last season and could be in store for a huge season if he ends up playing on the same line with Marian Gaborik.

Another offseason move of sorts was the Rangers coming to terms with 2008 second-round draft pick Derek Stepan back in July. There is a chance Stepan could make the NHL roster and be paired with Gaborik and Frolov on the top line.

The Rangers made one of their most important offseason moves when they came to terms with No. 1 defenseman Marc Staal on a five-year deal, thus preventing a potential holdout and headache.

New York Rangers NHL Season Predictions: Outlook
The Rangers realized how close they were to the playoffs last season and they avoided an offseason shakeup. Their biggest moves included bringing in a backup goalkeeper and coming to terms with a top draft pick and a top defenseman. While the Rangers were tweaking minor things, Atlantic Division rivals New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were involved in an arms race. Competing in the Atlantic Division will be an uphill climb for the Rangers.

New York Rangers Futures Odds
Rangers are a longshot to win the Atlantic Division. Consider this: their NHL odds to win the division (+2000) are the same as their odds to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. Their odds to win the Eastern Conference are +4000 and +5000 to win the Stanley Cup. After winning 38 games last season, the Rangers season win total ‘over/under’ is 40.5.

NHL Predictions for New York Rangers
The Rangers will have a hard time breaking into the top three of the Atlantic Division. They are not a legitimate division title contender, but the playoffs are certainly a possibility. They won 38 games last season and they will be lucky to reach that mark again. Expect the Rangers to stay ‘under’ 40.5 wins.

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.

Blackhawks fans prepare man caves for October 7 opener of the 2010-11 NHL season

 

CHiCAGO, GURNEE, NAPERVILLE, TINLEY PARK, IL …

 

For Blackhawks fans, getting ready for the upcoming season means preparing their “man caves” for several months of equally intense NHL hockey viewing.

 

In your dad’s day, the “man cave” was the workshop in the garage. Today, it’s typically a finished room in the basement where the man of the house might work out, have an office, and, of course, watch sports—especially the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. DirectBuy, the leading home improvement and furnishings club with direct insider prices, has some pointers for making the man cave guest-friendly for the upcoming NHL season and beyond.

 

“While being able to get away from the rest of the house and watch sporting events like hockey in peace may have been the genesis of the man cave, what might not have been taken into consideration initially was the desire to someday invite others to watch the game with you,” said Jeremy Vest, owner of DirectBuy of DuPage County. “Let’s face it, if you’re setting up a space fit for entertaining guests that’s something most men may want some assistance with.”

 

So what items might today’s man cave need to complete the perfect hockey-watching party?:

 

Kegerator, a man-cave essential for a beer-drinking crowd

Wide Screen TV with HD; surround sound speakers also recommended

Sectional sofa to accommodate multiple visitors; reclining chair with cup holders for the host.

Full-size, built-in bar area or free-standing, mobile bar station

Tile or wood flooring that’s particularly resilient to potential spillage

Pool table, air hockey, or foosball for halftime recreation

Mini-kitchen with microwave to reheat buffalo wings.

Home gym equipment—e.g. treadmill, elliptical—to work off the excess calories consumed during man cave weekend hockey marathons.

 

DirectBuyoffers nearly everything you need to create the perfect man cave no matter what your favorite sport might be at prices direct from manufacturers or their authorized suppliers. If you know what you want but don’t know how to pull it all together, DirectBuy also employs product specialists and professional designers well versed in the art of designing the perfect recreational space, while keeping you on budget.

 

For more information on a DirectBuy Club membership, you can visit directbuycares.com.

 

About DirectBuy Club

Since 1971, DirectBuy has helped hundreds of thousands of families enjoy a better quality of life, enabling them to buy directly from more than 700 manufacturers or their authorized suppliers. Buying direct makes members’ hard-earned money go much further, while having the selection and choice not available at any retail store. Access to confidential prices, local suppliers, and unparalleled selection helps make members’ dream projects a reality. The DirectBuy Clubs serving the greater Chicago area are part of more than 150 locations throughout North America.

 

Consumers interested in becoming members may obtain a Visitor’s Pass to attend an Open House by visiting http://www.directbuy.com. 

 

Locations of the DirectBuy clubs serving the greater Chicago area are: DirectBuy of Chicago North, 6325 North Avondale Ste. 110, Chicago, IL; DirectBuy of DuPage County, 1864 High Grove Lane Ste. 124, Naperville, IL; DirectBuy of Northern Illinois, 3900 Washington Street, Gurnee, IL; and DirectBuy of Tinley Park, 18400 S. 76th Avenue Ste. B, Tinley Park, IL.

 

To learn more about the superior value and benefits of a DirectBuy membership, visit www.directbuycares.com.

 

Draft Strategy and 15 Top Fantasy Hockey Forwards For 2010-11 NHL

Much consideration need to be put into goalies and defense men in order to make a solid fantasy hockey draft. Forwards require much simpler proposition. Firstly, you need to understand your point system. Ranking your players can be very different once knowing this. For example, if goals and assists are counted equally (join a new league), then you might need to consider to value guys like Joe Thornton and Henrik Sedin. If goals are favored over assists, these playmakers can be knocked down the list a little. Penalty minutes are important too. There’s a chance you might miss the blending goals, assists and a buttload of PIMs that Steve Downie brought to fantasy teams last year if you only care about points.

 

As with other goalies and defensemen, it’s wise to group your players in tiers. It helps when you’re trying to decide which position to pick. If there’s a tier 1 forward available, but the best goalie out there is down in tier 4, you’ll get more value taking the forward. This is an art that must be mastered through mock drafts.

 

Leagues can also vary dramatically in their approach to classifying forwards. Some lump all forwards together, others separate centers from wingers, while others go as far as left wing / right wing distinction. If this is your league, you’ve got even more work to do. I’ll be following up soon with an article that focuses more on league-specific draft strategies for the major sites out there (CBS, Yahoo, etc.).

 

For now, let’s dive in to the top 15 fantasy forwards for 2010. Note: For the purposes of this article, I’m grouping all forwards together and assuming a fantasy scoring system which heavily favors goals (so no hate mail from Henrik lovers out there, please).

 

TIER 1

1. Sidney Crosby

By claiming his first Rocket Richard Trophy last season, Crosby completed the one element to his fantasy stats that were somewhat lacking (at least compared to the other elite players). There’s not a weakness in his game, and he’s entering his prime years. For my money, he’s the safest bet as your #1 forward.

 

2. Alex Ovechkin

If you’re wandering Crosby vs Ovechkin, the simple answer is, who would you rather cheer for? Either way, you’ll get your points. One factor to keep in mind is Ovechkin’s antics. How many games will he miss due to suspension and/or injuries from his reckless style of play. Either way, you’ll keep plenty of points.

 

3. Steven Stamkos

Stamkos proved in his sophomore season that he’s ready to be mentioned with the big boys, after splitting the Richard Trophy with Crosby and topping out at 95 points. He will challenge for the goal scoring lead and total points this season.


4. Evgeni Malkin

Injuries kept Malkin out of the scoring race last season, but he’ll be right back in the mix this season. Don’t discount him for this year, as some may be tempted to do. 100 points are in the cards for Geno.

 

TIER 2

5. Niklas Backstrom

Is there a limit to how good this kid can get? In his first three seasons, he’s gone from 69 to 88 to 101 points, and hasn’t missed a game yet in his career. He’s even cracked the 30 goal plateau, so we’re looking at a complete package in terms of fantasy stats. You could make a case for him in the top 3.

 

6. Ilya Kovalchuk

If you need goals, Kovalchuk is absolute money. He’s topped 40 goals for the past 6 seasons and shows no signs of stopping now. Assuming his contract situation gets resolved, he should be high on your list again this season. Look for another run at 50 goals this season.

 

7. Dany Heatley

Heatley is about as consistent as they come in terms of top scorers in the league. 40 goals and 40 assists are a given for the winger. If he and Thornton can establish some better chemistry this season, he could potentially get himself back into the 50 goal club.

 

8. Alexander Semin

In terms of per talent, there are few players in the world on the same level as Semin. The problem is the extras. Between injuries, off-ice decisions, and occasional spells where he can’t hit the net for games on end, he can be a risky pick, particularly in the first or second round. Then again, when he’s on, he’s worth the pain. They may not be able to keep him in D.C. forever with the other salaries on the books, so enjoy the production while it lasts.

 

9. Zach Parise

Parise reached elite status in 2008-09 when he capped out at 45 goals and 94 points. He slipped a bit last season, down to 82 points. The good news is that the dip in numbers may cause other GMs to undervalue him. In 5 seasons, he’s sat out a total of 3 games. Despite Kovalchuk’s presence, he’s the go-to guy in New Jersey and should challenge for the scoring title this season.

 

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10. Patrick Kane

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Kane has become a solid fantasy forward who may soon join the elite. He recorded 88 points in his third NHL season and kept up the pace throughout the playoffs. The Hawks still have plenty of offensive talent in town and Kane should lead the team in all categories. Look for him to land in the 90 point territory in 2010-11.

 

11. Daniel Sedin

Despite losing out to twin brother for the scoring title last season, Daniel is my choice for best fantasy Sedin. Had it not been for his early season injury, which kept him out of 19 games, he would crushed Henrik’s goal totals and may have won the Art Ross himself. Look for him to make a run at 100 points this time around.

 

12. Marian Gaborik

It’s going to take more than one season of 76 games played before I’m willing to risk a first round pick on Gaborik’s health. If you took a chance on him last year, it obviously paid off, as he returned to 42 goals. If he’s still on the board in the 3rd round, go for it. Otherwise, place your bets on a safer number.

 

13. Henrik Sedin

Full credit goes to Henrik for winning the scoring title, particularly while going a stretch without brother Daniel. The bottom line, however, is that it will be a monumental task to repeat such a performance. There are just too many other stars out there at his level. In terms of total fantasy value, he loses some big points due to his goal/assist ratio. If you’re picking a forward in the first round, he better be topping 30 goals, which Henrik has never done. He may get back to 100 points, but when 80 of those are assists, you’re not getting your money’s worth. Someone is bound to pick him higher than he deserves. Don’t be that guy.

 

14. Joe Thornton

With Joe, what you see is what you get. 20+ goals and a buttload of assists. If he could ever make up his mind to shoot the puck, he’d be a top 5 player every season. As it stands, he’s still a good center to have on your roster. Consider this: in the past 7 seasons, he was beneath a point-a-game just once. He’s also annually among the leaders in +/-. Can’t really go wrong here.

 

15. Anze Kopitar

Kopitar stormed the castle last October, running out to a early lead in the scoring race. However, after injuries to his linemates, he came back down to earth. He still finished with respectable career-highs of 34 goals and 81 points. There’s no denying his talent, and as a team, the Kings are clearly on the rise. Expect him to repeat in the 80 point range next season.

 

To see the rest of my top 120 forward rankings, visit: http://www.landsharkhockey.com/LS/tools/DraftRankings.aspx. You can also customize your own list there.

2010-11 Philadelphia 76ers NBA Predictions and Odds

The Sixers start the season with a new GM, Rod Thorn, who is perhaps best known for bringing Michael Jordan to the Chicago Bulls. Thorn hired Doug Collins as head coach and now the Sixers are poised to make some noise in the Atlantic Division, but for that to happen, Philly needs to work on the basics like perimeter shooting and defense.

Last season, rather than making the playoffs and scoring a lot of points in former coach Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense, the Sixers’ were exposed as undisciplined, unmotivated, and played without energy and passion. Conversely, Doug Collins will play the mentor role, developing and inspiring the Sixers’ young players. 

Collins is the polar opposite of Jordan and he’ll game plan to his players’ strengths rather than having them fit into a pre-planned scheme like Jordan did. However, Collins will have a hard time finding wins if he doesn’t improve the team dramatically with their interior defensive game. It’s unlikely but if he can shore up the defense this year then the Sixers might have a glimmer of hope to backdoor into the playoffs.

The Philadelphia 76ers schedule has the Sixers hitting the road for two games at Indiana and Washington. The good news for Philly is they will play six out their last eight games at home, with the last four consecutive games at home to close out the season.

Philadelphia 76ers Offseason Moves
The Sixers left no stone unturned when making moves this offseason. General Manager Ed Stefanski got demoted and Rod Thorn was named as Team President. Jordan was fired and replaced with Doug Collins.

As for the players, Philadelphia dealt Samuel Dalembert to Sacramento in exchange for Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes. Long-time Sixer Willie Green and fourth-year forward Jason Smith were traded to Charlotte for veteran forward Darius Songalia, and 2010 first round pick Craig Brackins from Iowa State.

Philadelphia might have had the steal of the draft by picking up Jrue Holiday 17th overall and he looks like he’ll start in front of the NBA’s overall second pick in the preseason, Evan Turner, a Naismith award winner. Finally, the Sixers have been having a hard time trying to dump Elton Brand, but there is little interest due to his lead ballon of a contract. Therefore, he is still on the team.
 
Philadelphia 76ers Preview: Outlook
Last year the Sixers were ranked 24th in defensive efficiency rating, but that should improve this year with top-five defender Andre Iguodala getting support from rookie small forward Holiday. Turner will help bolster the defense as well, but Philly did little to address their interior defense. Philadelphia will excel on perimeter defense, but that will only make opponents go to strong to the inside.

The Sixers also have an excellent transition game, as they have a very athletic group of players. However, the problems for Philly include a lackluster half-court offense, awful defensive rebounding, and porous interior defense. The Sixers won’t contend for a title this year, or even the playoffs. However, if Philly concentrates on developing their young core players they should be back in the postseason in two years.
 
Philadelphia 76ers NBA Odds
The Philadelphia 76ers odds to win the Atlantic Division are +5000 and the odds double if you want to back the Sixers to win the NBA Championship at +10000. The oddsmakers set the Philadelphia 76ers ‘over/under’ at 33.5 total wins; a seven-game, or 24 percent increase in total wins over last year. The Philadelphia 76ers won 27 games in 2009-10 and finished fourth in the Atlantic Division. NBA odds are courtesy of BetUS.

NBA Picks for Philadelphia 76ers
Last season the Sixers were ranked in bottom third in most statistical categories from three-point shooting to defensive rebounding. Jordan’s Princeton offense was a bust and the Sixers suffered through a disastrous season. Will a new proven GM and a new head coach translate into seven more wins for the Sixers? Certainly the Sixers should win more games than last year, but I think 34 games is too much of a leap so I am advising playing the ‘under’ 33.5 total wins for the 2010-11 NBA season.

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