NHL Preview

The first flakes of snow begin to fall across northern parts of the US… brisk nights of October arrive… and I’ve seen my first “mullet” of the fall… all of these signs can mean only one thing… It’s Hockey season!

It was a surprisingly good season last year, which featured storied franchises achieving glory, young stars topping the stat charts, and new leaders emerging and taking the reigns of their teams.  After the intensely entertaining 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs and finals, can we expect more of the same this season? All signs point to YES!  Thus far, several teams have done battle abroad in Europe, and have played enjoyable but well matched games.  I believe that the gaps between the elite teams and the middle of the road teams is closing in the NHL.  Not only will more surprising teams make an impact this year, but more young stars will continue to come out of the woodwork.

In the Eastern Conference, I expect the top few teams to return to the playoffs, but some of the others may surprise you… here’s how I see things shaking down (in no particular order):

Penguins, Canadiens, Rangers, Capitals, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, Devils, Flyers

I think the top teams from last season will continue to play well, but teams like the Flyers and Caps should continue to improve and could make an impact at the top of the conference standings.  As for the new kids on the block, Toronto, and the old kids on the block, ‘Canes, it comes down to one simple thing: talent.  Both teams have it, Carolina has been there before and would have been a playoff team last year had it not been for significant injuries, and youthful Toronto squad seems to have moved past the Sundin speculations and could surprise a lot of teams.

Out West, things look to shake up a bit as well.  Many of the teams that made it last year should be back again, but I believe the up and coming teams will finally start to break through.

Red Wings, Stars, Ducks, Sharks, Flames, Blackhawks, Oilers, Avalanche

With the elite teams expected to return to the playoffs, a group of teams including Chicago, Edmonton, Columbus, and even Phoenix look like they can surprise a lot of people and use youth to improve franchises that have done poorly as of late. Don’t be surprised if  Boston and Tampa Bay makes their way into the top 8 in the East as well.  Overall, it’s shaping up to be another enthralling NHL season.

It’s still early, but if I had to make a Stanley Cup prediction I’d say the Flyers and Red Wings have a really good shot at making it a repeat of 1997, with Detroit making it a true repeat, by defending their Cup crown.

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3 Responses to NHL Preview

  1. freelanceallison says:

    I don’t know if you’ve ever come across this in your wide array of NHL knowledge, BUT…I hear the Bruins are just flat out cursed. Looks like everyone wants to curse the Boston teams, the curse revolves something around mistakes on the Stanley Cup? I dunno if you heard about that, but its interestign to say the least…can say it makes it hurt less to be a Bruins fan but maybe it eases the pain a bit…

  2. whitsport says:

    Haha, looks like the B’s are destined for another June on the golf course. Shame too, they were a fun team to watch this season, also the only team I didnt pick right to make it to the Eastern conference playoffs (7 out of 8 ain’t bad).

  3. How about the B’s winning all those awards?! I know that it’s not winning the Cup but the real black and gold seemed to take home a lot of hardware!!

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