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NHL Season Preview

St Louis BluesFor those of you who don’t know, the NHL has not started their regular season yet. I know, I know nobody is talking about that but believe it or not; the National Hockey League has been going through some trouble this year. The idiots in charge of the league have finally decided to pull their heads out of their asses and actually play the game they are being paid millions of dollars to put on. I could go into a long rant about who was the bigger idiot, but I will not do that here. (Actually I already did that in an article that I never posted. I offended so many people that I decided to just leave that article on my hard drive). The time and place for blame has passed. Let’s move forward. Let’s make the most of the game while we have it. It is only a matter of time before the NHL decides to shoot itself in the foot again and who knows if they will come back after that. This game only has so many lives.

Today I would like to discuss my projections for the top teams in the league. I would call them my “Power Rankings” but everyone does that. If there is one thing that I hate doing, it is doing the same thing everyone else does. So I will rename “Power Rankings,” instead you shall have Matt’s “League of Super Awesome Gentleman (who play hockey).

With a short season the teams with the greatest success will most likely be the teams that have the best goalie tandems. During a normal season a team will only play a few games on back to back nights. However, when they do play back to back games, they normally play their backup goalie in one of those games. This is to help keep the starter fresh all year long. Well, this year I believe that the backup goalie will be the most important position of the league. With all the back-to-back games and 3 games in 4 nights, the freshest goalies will have the most wins. Also, teams that are returning most of their stars from last year will have a leg up on the competition this year. They do not have to take time to learn a new system or get to know new players.

Let’s take a look at who I think will have good years this year, starting with number 10:

10. Buffalo Sabers – Ryan Miller is good, and he will keep them in games. Hopefully the talent in front of him will be able to score enough.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning – This team was looking good at the end of last year. Who wouldn’t like to work in Florida? This team is well rounded and skilled. We will see if that will be enough to carry them this year.
8. Vancouver Canucks – Some people would yell at me for putting this team so low in the rankings. You know what I say to that? “Screw you eh!” Their goalies are great and they have a lot of depth on their lines, however, I am not sure the Sedin twins will have enough to push them far into the playoffs this year.
7. Pittsburg Penguins – Sydney Crosby and Evegini Malkin. That’s all. When you have two of the best players in the world on your team, you are going to win a lot. Let’s see if their depth can win games for them, though.
6. San Jose Sharks – I cannot be rational when it comes to the Sharks. I am a fan. I am one of the greatest fans of this team. So obviously, they are going to win the cup this year. An unbiased writer would probably say that this team has a good mix of experience and youth. Their talent is not in questions but they are known to be streaky. Please, will someone teach them how to play on the penalty kill. The Sharks also have great depth in their lines.
5. Detroit Red Wings – They are the Red Wings, they are like they Yankee’s, they are always good. They have lost the face of the franchise with Lindstrom retiring, but the core remains strong.
4. Chicago Blackhawks – This is a young team with a lot of talent. They are only a few years removed from winning the cup and their core players have remained intact for a few years.
3. Los Angeles Kings – They are the reigning Stanley Cup champions and they will be good again this year. They are another team with a great goaltending combination. Bernier and Quick are backtogether again this year and they are a great team. If this was a “normal” year the Kings would have traded one of their goalies, but this year I think they will keep them both.
2. New York Rangers – The addition of Rick Nash will help this already talented team take the next steps. Plus, it will be good for the leagues popularity if New York is good. Some say, “Happy Wife, Happy Life.” Same goes for “Happy East Coast, Happy league.”
1. St Louis Blues – The combination of Elliot and Halak in goal is a great combination. They are also returning much of the same team. I think this team is poised for a great short year this year. (Hey, if the Expos can pull it off in a Strike shortened year, then the Blues fans have hope as well)

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