Seasons Greetings (Hockey Season That Is)
September 22, 2009 by Big Tony
Well it has been a long time coming for but finally the NHL season is upon us and as such so is the return of the NHL section of sportsroids.com. I am just as excited as anyone for the season to rev up again so let’s get right to it.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are back to defend their title and with the exception of the loss of Rob Scuderi the team is about the same now as they were on the day they won the cup. Despite that, repeating is going to be a daunting task because not only are they the defending champs but in order to repeat they will have to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for a third year in a row. At the same time they still have two of the best players in the world on their team so it will be interesting to see how the story develops in Pittsburgh.
As for the rest of the league there are a lot of intriguing stories to keep an eye on including some old faces in new places (for example Dany Heatley to San Jose, Marian Hossa to Chicago) as well as the return of a few from their disappearing acts (Ray Emery in Philadelphia, Theo Fleury in Calgary). There are also plenty of questions to be asked about both up and coming teams as well as those who have been on the cusp but have not quite made that next big step:
In the East, can Washington play just enough defense this year to get them into the Conference Finals and possibly make their first finals appearance in the Ovechkin Era? Will Philadelphia finally get the consistent play in net they have lacked the last two years that will likely get them over the hump? Does the Southeast Division continue to be a two horse race or can Tampa Bay finally put their talent together well enough to become serious playoff contenders? And what is actually going on in Montreal and Ottawa, have they finally got their respective acts together?
Out west, will Chicago seize this opportunity to dethrone the Detroit Red Wings in the Central Division? Is Dany Heatley the answer to San Jose finally translating their regular season triumphs into post-season glory? Are the L.A. Kings poised to translate their young talent into a playoff appearance? Is Calgary ready to kick their first round exit habit of the last few years? What is the deal with the Coyotes, are they moving or what?
Of course along with all of the aforementioned questions there are to two major events on the horizon this year in both the Winter Classic (January 1 at Fenway Park) and the Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver this February. There is so much to talk about and look forward to this season. Over the next few days I will go through a preview of each conference, give you not only who will win each but what other stories to watch out for like what teams will overachieve and those that will disappoint.
So much to do and talk about, it’s great to be talking puck again. We here at sportsroids.com are very excited to start year two of hockey blogging, it’s great to have you with us!