Today’s Daily Cup of Joe continues a series casting shade on the Carolina Hurricanes’ Metropolitan Division foes.
Same disclaimer as part 1:
First, let me be upfront in saying that I think the Metropolitan Division projects to again be the best in the NHL in 2019-20. So this first part of casting shade/doubt on the Canes divisional opponents is about seeking potential weaknesses in a generally good set of teams and to some degree just trying to find something fun to debate as we enter the dog days of the hockey summer.
Columbus Blue Jackets
More than any other team in the division, the Blue Jackets took steps backward this summer. The departure of regular Vezina candidate Sergei Bobrovsky, top scorer Artemi Panarin and rental Matt Duchene removes a significant amount of hockey talent from the lineup. With Gustav Nyquist as the team’s biggest off-season addition, the team downgraded. Losing Panarin takes away a catalyst for one line and a key power play contributor. The goaltending duo of Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins is far from proven in an NHL starting role. The blue line is still a strength. And John Tortorella has a knack for getting the most out of players. But the decrease in raw hockey talent seems too much to overcome.
New York Islanders
The Islanders were arguably the NHL’s biggest surprise early in the 2018-19 season. The team started fast and was at or near the top of the Metropolitan Division fairly deep into the season. Even with a modest decline late, the Isles impressively finished second in the division and then road that to an impressive and dominant win over the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. The Isles’ 2018-19 success is a decent launching pad into the 2019-20 season. If one believes the 2018-19 success was largely a result of Barry Trotz’s system and coaching, 2018-19 looks repeatable. But I also think that team simply overachieved. The goalie position is an interesting one. Despite a strong 2018-19 season, Robin Lehner was not re-signed, but the team did add another capable veteran in Semyon Varlamov. Though I do expect the Islanders to be difficult to play against, I think the team overachieved in 2018-19 and figures to take a step back in 2019-20.
What say you Canes fans?
1) What are your thoughts on the Columbus Blue Jackets? Can Tortorella leverage a strong blue line and find a way to make the rest work? Or are the Blue Jackets set to fall in 2019-20?
2) What about the New York Islanders? Do you see them as a team that overachieved in 2018-19, or did Trotz effect a change that is more permanent?