A few thoughts on the poll
In case you missed it, I put up a poll on Friday night looking to answer the time-honoured question of 'Who's the worst team in the Eastern Conference?'
Close to 700 votes later, I'm not sure we're any closer to answering it.
I'm going to leave the poll going until the start of the regular season, so at the risk of influencing future votes, here are a few thoughts:
- The Islanders certainly could be the worst team this season. A first line with Bill Guerin and Mike Comrie shouldn't inspire confidence in anyone. But, then again, a lot of people picked the Isles to be bottom feeders last season and they made the playoffs, and losing Alex Yashin isn't quite the heartbreaker it seems. Sure, there's a sideshow in the front office, but there's also a lot of on-ice character here with guys like Mike Sillinger and Brendan Witt, and Rick DiPietro is looking like a bargain now, nevermind 10 years from now. I don't think this is a playoff team this season, but Ted Nolan doesn't coach last-place teams.
- Likewise, the Maple Leafs aren't finishing last this season. As someone pointed out in the comments on that thread, Toronto narrowly missed the postseason last year with Andrew Raycroft in goal for 70-plus games.
- The Panthers, to me, might be the NHL's most-improved team this season. They were incredibly strong down the stretch last year, and with Tomas Vokoun in net and their youngsters finally coming of age, I'd put a playoff appearance somewhere in the 50/50 range. (And Jay Bouwmeester could win the Norris Trophy in the next few years.) It's been a long, long time since we've seen Florida in the postseason (1999-00), but Jacques Martin knows what he's doing down there.
If any of the bubble teams loses a starting netminder, watch out. I know that's what Brian Burke is hoping for.