I think the first two tiers are very safe bets to make it, but I could honestly see any team from tiers 3 and 4 getting into the playoffs. 13 teams fighting for five spots seems about right, but I definitely think NJ is among the best of tiers 3 and 4.
Not a big soccer guy but the World Cup has been very fun to watch. Last night's game was a heartbreaker. They were literally ~30 seconds away from advancing. I don't know if Michael Bradley is supposed to be one of the team's better players but he's easily been one of its worst so far.
I don't have much expectations versus Germany, so let's go Portugal (without much goal scoring!).
He is and he's been terrible so far. Their other star Dempsey has been amazing, though
Just to make sure this is established - cursed implies it was out of their hands. Team USA totally dug their own grave with poor roster decisions and awful execution. They deserve this result unfortunately
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Outside of JVR, Kessel, Quick and McDonagh, no one showed up
The head scratching choices of Brown, Callahan and Orpik proved to be what they were...head scratching. Funny that Bobby Ryan, a guy who is automatic for 30 goals a year, is left off because he "doesn't know how to spell intense". Good thing Callahan's and Brown's GRIT and EFFORT really put them over the edge.
Don't even get me started on the no shows like Parise, Kane, Pavelski, etc
I want to preface this post by saying I love his system and don't want him fired, but his choice of personnel is downright awful
Mark Fayne, who is probably our 2nd best dman has been sat in favor of guys like Harrold, Volchenkov and Salvador. I wouldn't be surprised to see him bolt after this year.
Career journeyman Stephen Gionta is getting ice time over Jacob Josefson and Rusty Olesz, two players who produced in the AHL and in Olesz's case, in the NHL. Gionta was an average minor leaguer who gets 11 minutes a night including PK time.
I remember Florida fans saying Deboer wasn't the best at dealing with young players and I can see why. Josefson played extremely well in the preseason and was asked to play different roles. He outplayed Gionta handily, yet cant sniff the ice on a back end of 2 games in 2 nights. Larsson, who was pretty terrible against Pitt and NYI, played a solid game last night while #10 and #28 got abused. The kid gets benched for breathing the wrong way while vets stay in the lineup despite egregious mistakes.
Im not sure whether Lou, Stevens and Barr have any say but its clear Deboer needs to wake up, or else this season can get out of hand pretty quickly
2) The undisputed offensive leader of a team from 00-08, then top 2 or 3 for the remaining of his time on a team with Parise and Kovalchuk
3) Sterling defensive play
4) Successful international career including captaining the Czechs in the Olympics
5) Some impressive accolades including All-rookie team, 3x allstar, 2 time Cup champion, 1st team allstar (2001)
6) Impressive post season numbers
7) Top 5 in points (1), Top 10 (3), Top 20 (4)
Some factors against him-
1) Played in a small(ish) market his whole career
2) Wasn't dominant sans 00-01 and 05-06 when he came back
3) Not the flashiest player who will consistently wow you with a sick shot or a deke......just plays a very quiet game
4) Never really THE key cog for NJ. Whether it was Brodeur, Stevens, Niedermayer, Parise or Kovalchuk, Elias wasn't usually regarded as the best player on the Devils
I suppose to an outsider who doesn't consistently watch Elias, he doesn't jump out at you. But when you watch him night in and night out, it's obvious that he's a special player who plays all situations and does the little things to help this club win.