Ah, the smell of ice in autumn. Ah, the stain of red against that translucent surface. The swoosh of a stop, the ping of the puck off the goalpost, crunch of bodies flailing against the boards and the sound of the buzzer. Oh, I’ve missed you!
The National Hockey League will resume it’s regular season marathon in only a few days and that of course means, it’s time to make those ever import guesses based on self-bias and perceived clairvoyant knowledge. Um, I mean predictions of how good or bad, surprising or suicidal it’ll be this season… and, if the last few years proved anything about opinions, well, there will be blood on the ice from more than just the checking lines this year.
Without further delay… here’s how I’m thinking it’ll play out
WC – It should be the breakout year for the Caps in the league coming off another season of building. Big veteran losses and still a questionably talented (albeit fairly deep) “defense” and the goalie triangle all still feel ambiguous, but the powerhouse of Ovie, Green, Semin and Backstrom is pretty much unmatched in the league and if they have anything like the season last thing as a quartet with some of the other developing youth around them… it could change the guard in the east.
slapshot: If there’s ever going to be something bigger in Washington than the White House, it’s gonna Lord Stanley.
boarding: Too much babysitting the net will make for a very cranky goalie situation.
BB – It’s all about Tim Thomas. The rest of the team was a work ethic monolith – grinding through last season with more grit that style, but TT was the difference maker last year in a break out season. Perhaps he has another gem in the tank? Perhaps that’s enough for them to make up for the offense lost by Kessel’s departure? Maybe Tim’s got a scoring touch a la Brodeur that we just haven’t seen yet.
slapshot: the beast in the East roars back to the top again
boarding: the cartoon bear reappears and turn them into an episode of yogi bear…the bruins could roar unchallenged into mediocrity
PF – The Bullies got back to the basics in leaning waaaay back towards physicality bringing in Pronger. They now sport a good balance of youthful skill and brute force…and team that actually has potentially good chemistry… well, right up to the goalposts, that’s the question mark, which Ray Emery is between the pipes. they’ll be fun to watch either way.
slapshot: maybe the orange and black are the appropriate colors after all in the east
boarding: the whistle might get to be an annoying part of the game and the glass replaced more often
BS – feels like it should be the breakout year for the sabes, solid backstop in , finally a team with some stability and therefore chemistry and a lot of good marks to build on in a very young core. healthy they could really shake up the division with Miller able to carry many of the wins by himself
slapshot: it’s miller time… a lot of the time.
boarding: nothing like inexperience to grind a team into a buffalo burger
NJD – can they make the transition back to a defensive team and will that work against the dynamics of the east which range from power offenses to powerful checking, we’ll see. once again success rides and derails on the shoulders of a now aged marty