Welcome back to the Shelf’s recurring feature from its frequently-humbled editor, “Well, I was wrong.”

When your job is to watch sports, you’re supposed to know a little something about them. I like to think I do, so I gamble and make pre-season predictions and just generally run my mouth about them a little too often.

I know this news will rock you, but it’s true – I occasionally get stuff wrong.

Below is the latest list of predictions I’ve made that I’m already glaringly wrong on.

Well, I was wrong – Ottawa isn’t the worst team in the history of ever.

If you’d like to, you’re welcome to reference this post I wrote before the puck dropped on the NHL season where I explained that the only two teams with a 0.0% chance of making playoffs in the Eastern Conference were Carolina and Ottawa.

The way I saw it was that if you’re heading into the season with Craig Anderson as your starting goalie and you’re relying on basically Sergei Gonchar, Jason Spezza and the elderly Daniel Alfredsson to provide your offense, you’re screwed.

Oh yeah, Erik Karlsson. Oh yeah, Milan Mihalek. Oh yeah – I was wrong.

***

Well, I was wrong – the Rangers are really good.

Partly for my own entertainment as an Isles fan and partly because I believed it, I had the Rangers finishing the year in 12th, one spot behind the New York Islanders. And while I still believe the Isles can climb to 11th (depressing sentence), I’m pre-tty sure the NHL-leading New York Rangers aren’t dropping to 12th, which they’re currently 18 points up on.

Gaborik is still healthy. Dan Girardi is having an all-star season. Michael Del Zotto is having a great year. Ryan McDonagh is playing great. Everything has just fallen perfectly into place.

I’m still not sold they’re the best team in the East, but I will say this: I was sorely wrong about them.

***

Well, I was wrong – Tampa Bay isn’t even going to be a playoff threat.

While it took some nerve to list Tampa outside of playoffs in pre-season - I had them finishing 9th after making it to the Conference Final the season prior – even I didn’t see them being this bad. I at least thought they’d be in the mix. I mean, you look at a team like Carolina or Winnipeg and go “okay, I can see them struggling, they don’t even have a true top line.” But this team? This team has multiple studs.

I just don’t get how you can fall that far that quick. Dwayne Roloson has let them down so far this year, I just didn’t think they were relying on him that much last season.

***

Well, I was wrong – Brian Elliott might not suck after all.

It’s ridiculous to claim that any NHL player “sucks,” but in the blog world, you have a little more leeway. I don’t think I ever directly wrote that he “sucks,” but I certainly thought it. There’s a whole class of goaltenders who I have unfairly filed away under that tab. Well hello, Conklin, Varlamov, Neuvirth and friends…

But, turns out I was way off – Brian Elliott has played in 22 games this season. He’s 15-5 with a 1.68 goals-against-average and a .937 save percentage. He’s on a two-way NHL/AHL contract, yet going to the NHL All-Star game. He does not “suck.”

***

And sadly, I’m sure this won’t be the last time I write this post. I swear I could write a “Told You So” post too if it weren’t obnoxious, so don’t give up on me yet, friends. I’m not always this far off.

Comments (17)

  1. Care to make any other wrong predictions at mid-season? Sayyyyyyyyy…… you could predict that Erik Karlsson won’t win the Norris? #KarlssonForNorris

  2. The Rangers are playing smart hockey right now – they play to a system that’s taking heat of Lundqvist, which is going to pay off come April when he’s not as run down as usual. I don’t think they’re anywhere close to the Bruins overall (plus-minus may not be worth much, but when one team has six of the top eight, that’s pretty significant) and doubt they’d even be able to take Boston seven in a playoff series, but they’re the second-best team in the conference almost by default at this point.

    There’s a reeeeeeal big gap between those two and everyone else.

    • I know the Rangers have beat Philly all three times they’ve played, but I think they’re in the conversation. And, I think when Washington wakes up (as they appear to be) they’re going to be dangerous too. Pretty much a four-team conference until Crosby returns.

      • I think Philly has the significant problem of, if they finish second in the Atlantic and there aren’t any upsets (admittedly very much in play with yet another weak Southeast winner coming up), they have to go through Boston before even getting to the Rangers.

        As much as I like any team with this generations answer to Carl Sagan in net, I can’t see them pulling that off.

        And the Caps just aren’t good. Admittedly, this is biased since I just saw the Kings beat them badly and the Kings ALWAYS beat them, but they still look disjointed and Green isn’t playing well at all. And Vokoun apparently plays inversely well to the talent in front of him, which is amusing.

        • “Green isn’t playing well at all” I realize you mentioned you are biased, but if you hadn’t noticed, Mike Green has played 3 games since like mid November. So I don’t think you’ve watched the Caps too closely.

  3. TB wasn’t relying on Roloson that much last season, although that makes a great story. As horrible as goaltending has been this season, the Lightning’s puck possession is in the toilet, too. It was much, much, much better last year. That’s not even considering the power play that was so important last year. Solving the Roloson issue only gets the team halfway out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves.

  4. Were you wrong about the black business cards? I don’t think so, I thought they looked sharp.

    I was wrong in my pre-season predictions even though they are not listed anywhere to reference. I’ll just admit I was wrong and we can move on.

    I expected Ottawa to be the worst in their division, but not in the East, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself. They have played at least 2 more games than everyone from 5th to 11th. The race could get tighter.

    Justin, please do a team by team analysis of beerability. Thanks

  5. Bourney no worries on thinking Elliott sucked.. Every NHL GM thought the same thing. Even Doug Armstrong admitted (it’s been written, and radio’d) “Had I known Elliott would’ve been this good we would’ve signed him to a longer deal.”

    Truth is not one team guranteed he’d be a backup goalie on a one way contract. He even admitted that St Louis was the best fit for him to try and earn a job, as he had to beat out Ben Bishop.

    To this day, the only reason he broke camp with the Blues was because Army & Davis Payne wanted someone with experience to push Halak a little since he was “sluggish” in preseason..

    If Halak played lights out in the preseason, you might be talking about Elliott in the AHL All Star game… Crazy stuff…

    Now the better question is if you’re Doug Armstrong, do you listen to Brian Burke, and maybe think about trading Halak, or lose Elliott in the off season? Can the Blues resign him, if he continues this pace? Would he play in STL next year platooning with Halak? What’s a goalie like that worth, if his numbers continue and he plays 45 games?

  6. Brian Elliott is a curious case. In 2009-2010 he was forced into the starter’s role in Ottawa and played reasonably well. Fell off a cliff last season behind two terrible defenses. He faced 28.1 shots/60 minutes in 09-10; he faced 31.2 shots per 60 the next year in Ottawa and a ridiculous 35.1 per 60 in his 12-game Colorado stint. That kind of a workload tends to break down a guy’s form and leads to a lot of scoring.

    Lo and behold, St. Louis has permitted only 26.6 shots per 60 minutes to reach Elliott this season, and he looks better than ever. (They’ve only let 25.5 reach Halak, so take all of this with a grain of salt.) I think that overall there’s enough evidence to consider Elliott a reasonable backup who can start for stretches without jeopardizing the season… but a full-time front-line starter? Not as likely. Any goalie good enough to reach the NHL is capable of a hot 20 games.

    • Yeah, it’s only 20 games. But he may turn out to be the real deal. People were high on Cory Schneider last year, but some said it was too small of a sample size. Halfway into this year, he continues to impress. And most analysts say that he can, and should, be a starter in this league. Who’s to say that Brian Elliot can’t be the same?

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