|NHL Projected Goals For By Team|
By Darryl Dobbs
In an analysis of all the teams and how they fared offensively last season, the changes they have made this summer, as well as the predictions made in the DobberHockey Pool Guide 2007-08, I have put together a team-by-team projection of their goals for in the coming season. As you can probably imagine, the Penguins wind up on top of the scoring heap, the Chicago Blackhawks are most improved team (offensively) and the Buffalo Sabres will take the biggest goal-scoring freefall.
With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still years away from their prime, it’s scary to see what this team will do in the coming years. A return to the 400-goal days for a team? Perhaps, but for this season expect a 40- or 50-goal jump. Not only will the two wunderkinds pad last season’s numbers by 15 to 25 points each (or more), but the addition of Petr Sykora will inject some much-needed scoring from off the wing. Ryan Whitney will become a 70-point rearguard (or close to it) this year, while Jordan Staal will also take the next step in his development.
For Chicago, not only does the team welcome Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane into the fold, but Martin Havlat should be good for 65 or 70 games. He’s a Band-Aid Boy, but last year was even worse than usual for the talented winger. Sergei Samsonov is also a better fit in the windy city than he was in Montreal, so a 25-goal bounce-back season is in cards.
The Buffalo Sabres are expected to plummet according to a lot of experts. I’m not buying that. I think the Sabres will slip – but not too much. Offensively, however, is another story. You can’t take 95 points (Daniel Briere) out of the lineup and not slip in the goal-scoring department. The team will still win – just by fewer blowouts. They will still be a top-five offensive team, thanks to the added responsibility for Thomas Vanek, Maxim Afinogenov, and Derek Roy. Drew Stafford and Ales Kotalik will see second-line minutes now, as well.
Other teams that will slide in the coming campaign – Nashville, Anaheim, the Islanders and the Habs. The Preds’ Alexander Radulov and Shea Weber will pick up a ton of slack, but with Paul Kariya, Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell all gone, while Steve Sullivan is on the shelf until Christmas after undergoing a second back surgery, there is just too much to replace. The Ducks will probably be even with last season if Teemu Selanne decides to play another year, while the Habs will not be the NHL’s No.1 power play any longer – not with Sheldon Souray gone to Edmonton.
Besides Pittsburgh and Chicago, the Caps and the Kings will also see a boost in their goals for (quite obviously). Both teams injected a significant amount of skill into their lineup this summer, so how can they not? The Caps are no longer and “all Alexander team”, as Semin and Ovechkin will now have help from Michal Nylander, Nicklas Backstrom, Viktor Kozlov and Tom Poti. The Kings, meanwhile, have added an entire second line with Slovaks Ladislav Nagy, Michal Handzus alongside Kyle Calder.
Goals in general will go up 2.3%. This is simply because of the “Crosby and Malkin” factor. Teams will not be able to shut them down, which should force things to open up slightly. In the coming years, this will be even more apparent, but for this season look for the increase to be a slight one.
Below is the breakdown of team-by-team projected goals for:
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