Monday, April 7, 2008

FI Playoff Preview

Former Islander Watch presents the FI Playoff Preview, a look at the FI man power as we head into the first round of the Stanley Cups Playoffs which start this Wednesday April 9. We will briefly recap the season and potential value of each FI that might make roster time for the playoff bound squads.

Eastern Conference

* (1) Montreal Canadiens- Roman Hamrlik (D): Hamrlik had an okay season when all was said and done for the top-seeded Canadiens. Hamrlik had 26 points (5 goals, 21 assists) on 77 games and should be a mainstay on the blueline for the Canadiens, probably as an integral part of the powerplay unit. Bryan Smolinski (C): Coming off his weakest offensive full season, Smolinski is still a seasoned professional who brings postseason experience with him wherever he goes. Smoke had 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists) on 64 games.

* (2) Pittsburgh Penguins- Alain Nasreddine (D): The odds do not bode well that Nasreddine will be playing for the Pens this postseason. Nasreddine played in only 6 games for Pittsburgh this season to the tune of 0 points, 4 penalty minutes and a -4 rating.

* (3) Washington Capitals- Viktor Kozlov (C): Kozlov, building off a return to form from last season, had an even better year with the Caps this season. Having the chance to play much of the season on a line with Alexander Ovechkin, Kozlov recorded 54 points (16 goals, 38 assists) on 81 games. Tom Poti (D): Poti also had a strong showing with the Capitals. He notched 29 points (2 goals, 27 assists) on 71 games.

* (4) New Jersey Devils- Arron Asham (RW): Asham had a disappointing showing for the Devils completely disappearing in the second half of the season. Asham finished with 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) on 77 games. Kevin Weekes (G): The relatively unused Weekes played well for the Devils in his 9 appearances (5 starts). He managed a 2-2-1 record with an .894 save percentage and a 2.97 goals against average. As usual, this New Jersey backup will probably see NO time in net this postseason barring some disaster takes down Devils' powerhouse Martin Brodeur.

* (5) New York Rangers- Martin Straka (LW): Seemingly completely recovered from an injury that hampered him earlier in the season, Straka is a spark plug on offense for the Blueshirts. Straka had 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) on 65 games. Jason Strudwick (D): Strudwick may or may not find a spot on the Rangers' shallow blueline as they enter the first round. Strudwick had 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) on 52 games with 40 penalty minutes. Stephen Valiquette (G): Valiquette performed nobly in his first full season as a backup goaltender. Valiquette made 13 appearances, including 10 starts, compiling a 5-3-3 record with an excellent 2.19 goals against average, a healthy .916 save percentage and 2 shutouts. If Henrik Lundqvist gets injured, the untested Valiquette will be called on to perform on par with his showing this season.

* (6) Philadelphia Flyers - Jim Dowd (C): By no means an "impact player," Dowd still makes his impression felt at times. A role player and grinder, Dowd had 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) on 73 games. He is always a threat on the penalty kill.

* (7) Ottawa Senators- Randy Robitaille (C): The results were mixed from the recently scratched Robitaille but he could make a difference if he makes the postseason roster. Robby had 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) on 68 games with the Sens this season.

* (8) Boston Bruins - Zdeno Chara (D): No FI is bigger, literally or figuratively, for Boston than Chara who is coming off a career season with 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists) on 77 games. Petteri Nokelainen(C): If he gets playing time young center Nokelainen could make an impact. He made a strong showing in his first full season recording 10 points (7 goals, 3 assists) on 57 games.

Western Conference

* (1) Detroit Red Wings- Chris Osgood (G): Coming off an amazing season, Osgood should see some starting time this postseason, unlike his complete and ill-chosen absence from last year's playoffs. Osgood played in 43 games (40 starts) to a 27-9-4 record with a league-leading 2.09 goals against average (single season best), a .914 save percentage and 4 shutouts. Look for Osgood to be a force in net as the Red Wings rotate Hasek and him in starts.

* (2) San Jose Sharks- The Sharks can shove it with their complete lack of FIs!

* (3) Minnesota Wild- Mark Parrish (RW): Coming off a frustrating season all around, Parrish needs some kind of spark to be a major force for the Wild this postseason. Parrish had 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) on 66 games tying his prior single season low in points and setting a new low in goals on a season. Sean Hill (D): The disgraced defenseman joined the team following his suspension to start the season. Hill performed well, especially in the last 10 games. He scored 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) on 35 games and should be a force at the blueline for the Wild. Chris Simon (LW): It is doubtful that we will see the winger make an appearance or a major impact in the playoffs for Minnesota. Forces either personal, conspiratorial or both are working against Simon continuing his career beyond the 2007-08 campaign. A trade deadline pickup, Simon had 0 points on 10 games with the Wild.

* (4) Anaheim Ducks- Todd Bertuzzi (LW): Bertuzzi's first full season back was a pretty good one as he notched 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) on 68 games. Look for Bert to turn it up a notch in the playoffs, a realm in which he likes to shine. Mathieu Schneider (D): Schneider, who started the season like he was on fire, is always an excellent two-way playmaker. He finished the season with 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) on 65 games. Schneider should see some time on the powerplay for the Ducks in the playoffs. Marc-Andre Bergeron (D): A cannon for a shot, the defenseman has been under-utilized by the Ducks since be acquired in a trade and may or may not see playoff time. In 9 games with Anaheim Bergeron recorded 1 assist.

* (5) Dallas Stars- Dallas has decided to follow the San Jose anti-FI policy. Blah to Dallas!

* (6) Colorado Avalanche- Ryan Smyth (LW): If Smyth can stay un-injured for more than 5 minutes he could make a big impact for the Avs using his grinding, scrappy offensive play. Smyth had 37 points (14 goals, 23 assists) on 55 injury-shortened games. Wyatt Smith (C): Of all the FIs mentioned in this post Smith is the least likely to see any playoff time seeing as he has not played for Colorado since December 3! Smith had 3 assists on 25 games with the Avs this season.

* (7) Calgary Flames- Adrian Aucoin (D): Aucoin is coming off of a career-reviving season and will be a force for the Calgary blueline and powerplay. Aucoin had 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) on 76 games. Eric Godard (RW): Not famed for his offensive talent, Godard should be a big checking force for the Flames in this playoffs. Godard had 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) on 74 games along with 171 penalty minutes.

* (8) Nashville Predators - Nashville has decided to follow Dallas who has ascribed to San Jose's anti-FI policy. Have fun with Detroit boys!

As it stands, 13 of 16 teams have at least one FI dreaming of lifting Lord Stanley's Cup come early June. Right now there are about 21 players with real hopes of seeing their names carved into the greatest trophy in all of sport. We will be following the playoffs every step of the way and hope you stick with us here at Former Islander Watch.

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