NHL 2013 Season Preview: Teams That Are Underrated for the Coming Season

Adam Rickert@adam_rickertAnalyst IIJanuary 10, 2013

NHL 2013 Season Preview: Teams That Are Underrated for the Coming Season

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    Every year, there are a few teams that seem to overachieve based on how people rank them before the season starts. Some teams just never get as much credit as they deserve for reasons that nobody really knows. Nevertheless, the shortened 2013 NHL season will definitely have a good amount of surprises, and some teams could make many writers and fans eat their words.

    Here are some of the teams that are underrated going into the start of the 2013 season.

Calgary Flames

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    Calgary nearly missed the playoffs last season, but everyone is acting like they were cellar-dwellers and will be again in 2013.

    Not so fast.

    The Flames have a few things, stats-wise, going for them. First of all, they were terrific against the rest of the Northwest Division last year, posting a 15-6-3 record. Also, they have proven to be a great home team in the past several years. They need to improve in road games, but fans at the Saddledome are accustomed to seeing more wins than expected.

    Looking at additions, Calgary also had a decent offseason. It added veteran defenseman Dennis Wideman, experienced winger Jiri Hudler, and two youngsters with a lot of potential in Roman Cervenka and Sven Baertschi. Also, former Stanley Cup coach Bob Hartley is the new man behind the bench.

    The Flames may put some big wins together and become a surprise team in 2013.

Florida Panthers

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    Florida ended its historically long playoff drought last year by winning the Southeast Division and earning the third seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

    Even when the playoffs started, many were counting the young and inexperienced Panthers out against the New Jersey Devils; however, the Panthers took the eventual Eastern Conference Champions to double-overtime in Game Seven: something that nobody else in the Eastern Conference would come close to doing.

    Florida is returning much of the same team to the ice in 2013, and youngsters like Jonathan Huberdeau will be looking to make a big impact. The team also has some decent playoff experience by having several members of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

    Florida will be a decent team again this season, and it could definitely challenge for not only a second-consecutive playoff berth, but another Southeast Division title as well. 

Nashville Predators

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    Nashville always seems to be underrated, as their roster is not overly threatening offensively. The Predators also had a detrimental offseason, losing star defenseman Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild in free agency and failing to pick up a replacement.

    Do not underestimate the Predators; we have seen this story before. Nashville lost almost its entire core of players in the summer of 2007, but they still managed to return to the playoffs in 2008 and give the Detroit Red Wings a run for their money on their way to the Stanley Cup.

    Barry Trotz is a genius of a coach, Pekka Rinne is easily one of the top three goalies in the league, and Shea Weber is still the man on defense. Nashville could be a dark horse to make the playoffs once again.

Philadelphia Flyers

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    The Flyers have gotten a lot of hate from hockey fans lately, due to their issues at defense and goalie that allowed New Jersey to make quick work of them in the playoffs last year.

    Despite Philadelphia's early exit, they made some strides towards improvement this offseason by trading for Luke Schenn. They gave away forward James van Riemsdyk in the deal, but the Flyers already had a surplus of offense and a shortage of defense. The trade evened things out a little bit more.

    Also, we all know that Ilya Bryzgalov isn't the greatest goalie in the league, but give him a break; he really isn't one of the worst, either.

    The Flyers and their high-powered offense should see another solid season this year, and they will look to improve on their second round elimination next year.

Phoenix Coyotes

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    What's the deal with everyone predicting Phoenix's demise this season?

    Ray Whitney and Taylor Pyatt are gone, but the front office made up for it by adding Steve Sullivan, David Moss, Nick Johnson, and Zbynek Michalek. Also, Mikkel Boedker and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are primed for a breakout, and goaltender Mike Smith showed us all just how good he can be in last year's playoffs.

    The ownership situation looks like it is going to be solved, Dave Tippett is one of the league's best coaches, and captain Shane Doan is back in the desert. What reasoning is there to count them out?

Washington Capitals

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    Washington struggled in the regular season for a big part of 2011-12, but it showed the world that they could return to its old form in the playoffs, beating the defending champs and nearly knocking off the top-seeded Rangers.

    At the helm of the surprising playoff run was young goalie Braden Holtby. If he can play like he did last spring, he may be the Caps' answer in net.

    Alex Ovechkin may return to his old form under new head coach Adam Oates, and Mike Ribeiro should be a decent replacement to Alexander Semin.

    Washington should be considered the favorite to win the Southeast Division again, but the Capitals will have their work cut out for them with improved teams in Tampa Bay and Carolina.