2017-18 Bench Life Sports NHL Previews

After over a month of cranking out hockey analysis and searching for compelling storylines on some really vanilla hockey teams (here’s looking at you Detroit), we have finally wrapped up our NHL team previews. Here is a quick Cliff Notes version of all of our our rankings and analysis, each with links to the full articles. Take a shot anytime Burgess names a specific goalie by name as their team’s “strength” and anytime Ballantyne or I mention the Leafs and you might only make it to the fifth preview. With the hockey season well under way some of our takes haven’t aged well. That being said I honestly believe that we did nail some of them. Enjoy!

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The Nathan Peterman Experiment Went Worse Than Anybody Could Have Imagined

After taking a look at the NFC playoff picture last week, it’s time to take a look at what’s been going on in the AFC.

One of the biggest stories coming out of Week 11 has been the quarterback controversy in Buffalo. After Tyrod Taylor completed 50% of his passes for 56 yards along with an interception in their Week 10 blowout loss against the Saints, Bills coach Sean McDermott decided to make the switch to rookie Nathan Peterman. Kind of a weird move when you’re in the middle of a playoff race. In the second half of that game against the Saints, Peterman stepped in and threw for 79 yards and a touchdown, giving the Bills apparently all they evidence they needed to make the switch heading into their game against the Chargers. It was a strange decision for McDermott to change his mind from saying Taylor is still their starter on Monday, to announcing Peterman as the starter just a day later. But it didn’t take long for everyone to realize that it was a mistake to make this switch.

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The NFC Playoff Race is Just Heating Up

It’s been a while, but we’re back and we’re looking at the last two weeks of NFL action. Also, I’m sorry to Texans fans because I might have jinxed their season with my last article, so it looks like the “Burgess Curse” might be a thing now.

For a while it looked like the Eagles were going to fly away (get it?) in the NFC, but over the last couple weeks we’ve seen that this race might be more competitive than we thought. While Philly has been getting a lot of the attention at 8-1, the Rams, Vikings and Saints are all 7-2, and Cam Newton has the Panthers looking set for another playoff run come January. But after two convincing wins, the Saints are the team grabbing some attention as we near the final stretch of the regular season.

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2017-18 Bench Life NHL Previews: 1. Pittsburgh Penguins

Part 31 of 31 (!) in our NHL previews where Ballantyne, Burgess and I rank each NHL team 1 through 31 and give you an outlook on their season. Each of our previews will be given to you in order of where we collectively power ranked that team.

Check out our other previews:

#31. Colorado Avalanche , #30. Vegas Golden Knights, #29. Vancouver Canucks, #28. Detroit Red Wings, #27. New Jersey Devils, #26. Arizona Coyotes, #25. Buffalo Sabres#24. Winnipeg Jets#23. New York Islanders, #22. Florida Panthers, #21. Los Angeles Kings, #20. Carolina Hurricanes, #19. Philadelphia Flyers#18. New York Rangers, #17. Calgary Flames, #16. Boston Bruins#15. Ottawa Senators#14. San Jose Sharks#13. Toronto Maple Leafs#12. St. Louis Blues#11. Montreal Canadiens#10. Edmonton Oilers#9. Columbus Blue Jackets#8. Anaheim Ducks#7. Dallas Stars, #6. Chicago Blackhawks, #5. Minnesota Wild, #4. Tampa Bay Lightning, #3. Washington Capitals, #2. Nashville Predators

2016-17 Recap

Record:  50-21-11 (111 points) 2nd in Metropolitan Division (2nd Overall)
GPG:
3.39 (1st)
GAPG: 2.79 (17th)
PP%:
23.1% (3rd)
PK%: 
79.8% (20th)
Corsi For %: 49.8% (15th)

Another year and another Cup for Crosby and co. The team stormed to an impressive 50-21-11 record which was good for second in the Eastern Conference and were able to capture their second Stanley Cup in two seasons. The Penguins were anchored by a veteran core of Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Fleury, Kessel, Hornqvist, Bonino and Hagelin. The  team received huge contributions from rookies Jake Guentzel and Matt Murray. Former Edmonton Oilers outcast Justin Schultz had a huge breakout 51 point performance and looks like he could be another lethal weapon for the now and future on Pittsburgh’s backend. Everything worked out pretty alright for these Penguins.

 

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2017-18 Bench Life NHL Previews: 2. Nashville Predators

Part 30 of 31 in our NHL previews where Waind, Burgess and I rank each NHL team 1 through 31 and give you an outlook on their season. Each of our previews will be given to you in order of where we collectively power ranked that team.

Check out our other previews:

#31. Colorado Avalanche , #30. Vegas Golden Knights, #29. Vancouver Canucks, #28. Detroit Red Wings, #27. New Jersey Devils, #26. Arizona Coyotes, #25. Buffalo Sabres#24. Winnipeg Jets#23. New York Islanders, #22. Florida Panthers, #21. Los Angeles Kings, #20. Carolina Hurricanes, #19. Philadelphia Flyers#18. New York Rangers, #17. Calgary Flames, #16. Boston Bruins#15. Ottawa Senators#14. San Jose Sharks#13. Toronto Maple Leafs#12. St. Louis Blues#11. Montreal Canadiens#10. Edmonton Oilers#9. Columbus Blue Jackets#8. Anaheim Ducks#7. Dallas Stars, #6. Chicago Blackhawks#5. Minnesota Wild, #4. Tampa Bay Lightning, #3. Washington Capitals

2016-17 Recap

Record: 41-29-12 (94 points) 4th in Central Division (17th Overall)
GFPG: 2.93 (11th)
GAPG: 2.73 (15th)
PP%: 18.92 (16th)
PK%: 80.91 (15th)
Corsi for %: 51.1% (8th)

The 2016-17 regular season was quite underwhelming for the Predators. Injuries and slumps from key players saw them barely squeak into the playoffs as the second wild card team in the Western Conference. But they quickly flipped the script in the postseason and looked like an entirely new team in the process. After sweeping through the experienced Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, Nashville steamrolled their way to the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup Final appearance after a couple of 6 game series victories over the Blues and Ducks. Losing to the defending Cup champion Penguins was certainly a disappointment, but it was a playoff run that opened the eyes of the hockey world to the city of Nashville and its hockey-rabid fans. The Predators were a Cinderella team last season, and the excitement and expectation is sure to be high heading into 2017-18.

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2017-18 Bench Life NHL Previews: #3. Washington Capitals

Part 29 of 31 in our NHL previews where Ballantyne, Waind and I rank each NHL team 1 through 31 and give you an outlook on their season. Starting from the worst, we’ll be giving you the reasons why we ranked each team where we did.

Check out the other parts to this series:

#31. Colorado Avalanche , #30. Vegas Golden Knights, #29. Vancouver Canucks, #28. Detroit Red Wings, #27. New Jersey Devils, #26. Arizona Coyotes, #25. Buffalo Sabres#24. Winnipeg Jets#23. New York Islanders, #22. Florida Panthers, #21. Los Angeles Kings, #20. Carolina Hurricanes, #19. Philadelphia Flyers, #18. New York Rangers, #17. Calgary Flames, #16. Boston Bruins, #15. Ottawa Senators, #14. San Jose Sharks, #13. Toronto Maple Leafs, #12. St. Louis Blues, #11. Montreal Canadiens, #10. Edmonton Oilers, #9. Columbus Blue Jackets, #8. Anaheim Ducks, #7. Dallas Stars, #6. Chicago Blackhawks, #5. Minnesota Wild, #4. Tampa Bay Lightning

2016-17 Recap

Record: 55-19-8 (118 points) 1st in Metropolitan Division (1st in NHL)
GPG: 3.18 (3rd)
GAPG: 2.16 (1st)
PP%: 23.1% (4th)
PK%: 83.8% (7th)
Corsi For %: 51.4 (6th)

Last season brought a familiar outcome for the Washington Capitals: another second round playoff exit. Despite a Vezina calibre performance from Braden Holtby and the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline, the Capitals season ended the same way it seems to end every other year. A regular season good enough to earn the Presidents’ Trophy, followed by a second round exit. It seems like the Capitals have been one of the most dominant teams over the last decade, but really have nothing to show for it. With Alex Ovechkin now on the wrong side of 30, the window of opportunity for him to bring a Stanley Cup to Washington may be starting to close.  Read more

Remembering Roy “Doc” Halladay

Wow this is a tough one. Just a complete gut punch. Here we had an athlete, role model and–to many–a hero. Without any warning at all Halladay is just gone. He is tragically leaving behind a young family at the way-too young age of 40. It just doesn’t make sense.

Some say that your formative years as a sports fan is around age 10. When I was just starting to become a baseball fan, I happened to be stuck with the hapless Toronto Blue Jays of the early 2000’s. I watched many years of bad baseball, while a seemingly endless supply of forgettable players suited up for the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite the Jays being an after-thought in the tough American League East, I still loved the team. This was do in no small part to Roy Halladay. Read more

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