Changing leaves. Seeing our breath at night. Fleece. Not seeing Kev’s mom in revealing sundresses anymore.
Yep, it’s fall.
Yep, it’s NFL time. But it’s also NHL time. And that means NHL preview time.
We could tell you the Ducks and Sens will probably meet in the final again. We could tell you Alex Ovechkin has a legit shot at 60 goals this year with someone other than a loaf of bread finally centering him, and that Simon Gagne could jump all the way to 50 playing with Daniel Briere. We could tell you the Leafs and Avs will return to the playoffs while the Isles and – gasp! – the Preds may fall out of the picture.
But you know what? You can read that anywhere. Hell, your dad can tell you that between bites of mom’s potatoes and sips of J.D. Spirit of Jake Plummer thinks outside the box and gives original takes on sports. Or we get someone else to do it for us.
Only one man can provide the special NHL insight you can’t find anywhere else.
His name is Garth Snow.
He’s a double agent. A backup goaltender who magically became general manager of the New York Islanders. Pretty easy to track down, too. He placed a classified ad for a “co-GM assistant hockey manager” position in The Toronto Star. Yes, he lives in New York.
Behold, our phone conversation from last week:
SNOW: …a….HA! Phone call! Phone caller….who…who’s calling me! NO ONE calls me. Fuck….Charles? Wangy, that you….you mother f – No wait….FBI! No. No, I didn’t do it. Please. I’ll tell you everything –
SOJP: Um, Mr. Snow?
SOJP: This is not the FBI. This is Spirit of Jake Plummer calling.
SNOW: Spirit? No way. I don’t like Ouija boards.
SOJP: No…we’re a sports website.
SNOW: Sports! I….go…go sports! Go Islanders! I…I’m Garth Snow! Do you know who I am?
SOJP: Um, yes. That’s why we called you. And said “Mr. Snow.”
SNOW: Right. He…ha. I’m kidding you! Garth Snow is a kidder. A kidder!
SOJP: …cool. So anyway, we’re doing an NHL preview, and
SNOW: Islanders. Cup. Mike Comrie plus Lindsay Lohan equals SCORING TITLE.
SOJP: Hillary Duff, you mean, yeah. So we were thinking you could give us your predictions for the NHL season.
SNOW: Me? Predictions? I…I don’t know what to say. Wait – will there be hot dogs?
SOJP: Yes. Lots of hot dogs. Just for you.
SNOW: Deal. No-brainer.
SOJP: Are you sure you’re not too busy? With, you know, the league about to start?
SNOW: The league? Oh.. I….ha….it’ll be fine. We’ll be fine. Ha…HA! Um, yeah. I have to go…but…I’ll send you my predictions next week.
Interestingly enough, we were sent an e-mail six minutes later entitled “Garth Snow’s predictions.” It was blank, with no file attached. Four minutes after that, we received another e-mail. It contained the predictions below. Enjoy.
Abra…cadabra! The amazing Garth Snow here. Howdy folks. You may be wondering why I kicked off my NHL preview with “abra cadabra.” Well, it’s simple. My dad was into magic his whole life. Even tried to escape from handcuffs one time. So when I say abracadabra, it’s like my dad is here, watching me. And…where was I going with this?
So hockey is cool. The kids like it. The ratings are low in the States, but that’s deceiving. They’re only PER TELEVISION rates. When eight kids are so excited about hockey that they crowd around one TV set, the ratings are gonna be low when they’re actually sky-high.
I’m a hockey guy. You know it. Being a puckstopper means I’ve seen it all over the years. Got me a sweet managing gig too. One word: 2007 playoffs. Not bad, eh? Anyway, I have the inside track on the NHL. Forget Don Cherry or the writers.
So, kids…let’s get ready to rumble! It’s gonna be ill, right? Krazy kool! Fuck yeah!
Henrik Zetterberg is from the Cheque Republic. So is Peter Forsberg. HELLO! Clearly Forsberg is coming to Detroit. They’re winning this division in a walk. Nashville’s not gonna try because they want the first pick next year when they move. So look for the Blues to move up along with those other teams that start with the letter C.
Snow thinks: Detroit wins it in a walk
SOJP thinks: Detroit wins it in a walk, but with no help from Peter Forsberg. The Blues will be better than people think, too.
“Oh, Canada…we are on guard for you…”
Yep, this division screams Canada. It’s pretty fun. Calgary is tough and Colorado has young guys (I didn’t have time to look it up, but they’re good I think). But it’s the year of the Oil. Sheldon Souray can hammer a puck! Look for him to become the first Oiler defender since Paul Coffey to score 40 goals. The highlight tapes are going to be SILLY!
Snow thinks: Sheldon Souray will power the Oilers to a division title.
SOJP thinks: Sheldon Souray will anchor the Oil’s blueline…and weigh it down with his defensive lapses as the Oil sinks to the basement. Calgary will edge Vancouver in what may be the toughest division in hockey.
If you’re a sports mind, in the know like me, you know about something we like to call a “Stanley Cup hangover.” Yep, you guessed it: Anaheim is going down like a boat that has a hole in it and sinks down! Look what happened to Carolina? And Edmonton? No team can handle the fatigue after a playoff run. The era of the dynasty is extinct like the dinosaurs and the snapping turtle, my friends. Joe Thornton will score lots of points and lead San Jose to top of the division, but watch out for my sleeper team, Phoenix. Anyone coached by Gretzky will learn how to score just like Gretzky.
Snow thinks: San Jose will hold off Phoenix for the division crown
SOJP thinks: Anaheim will have no hangover and repeat last year’s dominance.
Ah, now we’re on my turf. Let’s go, cowboy. First off, let’s discuss Bill Guerin’s resume: 30-plus goals three times, two NHL fastest-skater titles, and four seasons at plus-14. Of course I made him captain. Anyways, if you saw that shootout at the end of last season, you probably know my Isles are goin’ to the top. Next question.
Oh, and don’t get me started on Sidney Crosby. Clearly he’s playing way over his head. Primed for a fall if you ask me.
Snow thinks: the Islanders win the Atlantic
SOJP thinks: the Penguins win the Atlantic thanks to their growing maturity and explosive offense, holding off the Rangers.
So the Austin Powers guy is making a movie about the Toronto Maple Leafs. And The Red Sox won the World Series when that movie Fever Pitch came out (one of my top 10 faves). So methinks we have a Toronto Cup in the cards soon. My Isles will beat them this year in the conference final, but watch out in ’09. The Sens should be pretty good with Alexei Yashin back in town. Buffalo? Forget it, man. Last place. They lost the two best players in the NHL.
Snow thinks: Leaf Nation will go crazy as the Leafs make a deep playoff run.
SOJP thinks: Leaf Nation will go crazy as the Leafs battle for eighth. The Sens and Leafs could meet in round one.
All those hurricanes and storms down south are making things pretty, pretty cold. It’s global warming. With the cold weather, people like hockey more down there. That’s why Tampa and Carolina have Cups. The further south, the better, so the Panthers will take the division. Not to hype too much, but Alexander Ovechkin could – COULD – make a run at Gretzky’s goals record. Don’t want to say too much, but you read it here first.
Snow thinks: sub-zero Florida temperatures will propel the Panthers to success.
SOJP thinks: Carolina will climb back atop the trashiest, most NASCAR-obsessed division in hockey.
Well, there you have it, folks. NHL preview, Snow-man style. It’s been real. Islander season tickets are still available. So let’s p-a-r-t-y on the island.
* "Yes." This "really was" Garth Snow. He better not "sue us."