Potential Playoff Horses and Hopefuls

This weeks column is on who’s been hauling the weight, and who needs to either get healthy or get helpful.

East:

1: Philadelphia Flyers

Horses: Sergei Bobrovsky, Claude Giroux, and Jeff Carter have done the heavy lifting and will need to keep the harness taut the rest of the way.

Hopefuls: Kris Versteeg has just eight points on a powerhouse that provides plenty of distraction for opposing defenses since coming over from the Leafs.

2: Washington Capitals

Horses: The goaltending trio of Michal Nuevirth, Semyon Varlemov and Braden Holtby have done well at everything but staying healthy.

Hopefuls: Captain Alexander Ovechkin needs to shake the malaise that has smothered his goal scoring this season and be a force this postseason.

3: Boston Bruins

Horses: The four horsemen version of the Bruins are Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic. With those four in the lineup the sky is the limit.

Hopefuls: Michael Ryder has pulled his disappearing act of late, and Johnny Boychuck seems to have snapped a season long goal scoring drought.

4: Pittsburgh Penguins

Horses: Since his return, Jordan Staal has been all you could ask and more, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang have been huge, but Marc-Andre Fleury’s career year can’t be overlooked.

Hopefuls: If you need me to tell you this, I just can’t help you. But here’s a hint: He wears No. 87.

5: Tampa Bay Lightning

Horses: Martin St. Louis is easily the team MVP for pure consistency, Vincent Lecavalier has had a very quiet injury shortened 20-goal season and looks more like the 100-point man than at any point since that season.

Hopefuls: Steven Stamkos needs to return to pre-AllStar form and begin lighting the lamp on a regular basis, and anyone who’s on the ice needs to make a better effort to strip their opponent, they rank 19th in takeaways as a team.

6: Montreal Canadiens

Horses: Carey Price is probably owed enough meals by the rest of the team for this season he shouldn’t have to open the wallet until he’s 64.

Hopefuls: Getting Max Pacioretty back would be a huge emotional boost, but having Scott Gomez come out of the witness protection program and return to the ice would be good too.

7: Buffalo Sabres

Horses: Brad Boyes has been key to this late season surge with 10 points in 16 games.

Hopefuls: The current incarnation of Brad Boyes could be huge in a post season push, a healthy Ryan Miller is an absolute requirement.

8: New York Rangers

Horses: Ryan Callahan, Henrik Lundqvist, Brandon Dubinsky are a pretty solid base for a team.

Hopefuls: Marian Gaborik needs to stay healthy, and Bryan McCabe, Brian Boyle, Sean Avery and Dan Girardi all need to play to their potential.

West:

1: Vancouver Canucks

Horses: The Sedins (Daniel and Henrik) are obvious, as are goaltender Roberto Loungo and forward Ryan Kesler.

Hopefuls: Its unlikely they get Alex Edler back on the blue-line, but fellow defenseman Dan Hamhuis could return come playoff time.

2: Detroit Red Wings

Horses: Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, have led the charge again in Motown.

Hopefuls: Mike Modano and Jimmy Howard need to get back to form and start contributing.

3: San Jose Sharks

Horses: Ryane Clowe and Logan Coture have been San Jose’s best, and most consistent forwards all year.

Hopefuls: Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley need to bounce back after a so-so regular season (to date).

4: Phoenix Coyotes

Horses: Ilya Bryzgalov, Shane Doan and Ray Whitney have been big, but Norris Trophy candidate Keith Yandle has been huge.

Hopefuls: Ed Jovanovski and Michal Hanzal back for the second season can’t hurt the Coyotes’ chances at all.

5: Los Angeles Kings

Horses: Dustin Brown leads the team in goals and needs to do even more of everything with the recent injuries. Jonathan Quick is the other remaining pillar.

Hopefuls: When Anze Kopitar went down due to an ankle injury, the load on Dustin Penner went up.

6: Anahiem Ducks

Horses: Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, Lubomir Visnovsky, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry have all been enormous in the Ducks’ bounce back season.

Hopefuls: Cam Fowler needs to learn to play in his own end and getting a healthy Jonas Hiller back between the pipes can’t be overlooked.

7: Nashville Predators

Horses: Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber have led the symphony in Music City.

Hopefuls: With a strong defense, the trio of Martin Erat, Patric Hornquist and Sergei Kostitsyn will need to man up in order for the Preds to advance to the second round this season.

8: Chicago Blackhawks

Horses: Since getting put in the traces Corey Crawford has worked wonders, Jonathan Toews has been, well, Jonathan Toews.

Hopefuls: The value of leading scorer Patrick Sharp to the lineup can’t be talked about enough, but Duncan Keith needs to find the pace he had last year and contribute a little more offensively.

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2 Responses to “Potential Playoff Horses and Hopefuls”

  1. Chuck Tay
    April 1, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    For the Flyers, you have to look at Andrej Meszaros as a horse. His hip-checks have been putting guys into the upper-mezzanine.

    For hopefuls, you got to say, Mike Richards, remember when you used to try? Yes, maybe get back to that.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bruins – Flyers Game 2 Storylines — Puck Sage: The spice & the spin - May 2, 2011

    [...] the first series my Twitter timeline was awash with criticism of his effort, and when I did the Horses and Hopefuls post for InsideHockey.com the comment on that post, from a Flyers fan says it [...]