It's getting to be that time again. Finally, the NHL is back in full force and getting close to the start of a brand new season. With it, is sure to come glamorous goals, spectacular saves, bone-crushing hits, and mind blowing moves.
Nearing the end of the off season, maybe I can shed some light on who will be successful, and who will not.
Let's start things off in the Eastern Conference....
The Atlantic Division:
Pittsburgh Penguins: I've gotten sick to death of everyone picking AO and Sid the Kid to be the face of the NHL. It's ludicrous to say that, it shouldn't be about one or two players, it should be about the game.
Anyway, the Penguins have a roster that makes my head hurt. Crosby, Malkin, Gonchar, Fleury, and J. Staal are the core of this team. With names like Whitney, Malone, and Dupuis to round them out, the Penguins are a serious contender.
However, thanks to some foot surgery, Ryan Whitney will be out for a large portion of the season - close to 3 months. But I think everyone knows all about this team by now.
Strengths: Flourishing young talent and the drive to repeat their post-season success.
Weaknesses: How will they fare without one of their best blue-liners?
My Prediction: Definite playoff contender.
New Jersey Devils: I think the real question for the Devils is: "How durable are we?" A lot of these players are in the later parts of their careers, which doesn't bode well for injury prevention.
Can Marty Brodeur put up yet another stellar season? I think it's possible, as long as he stays healthy - he can be very solid for the Devils.
Strengths: The benefit of having the best goalie ever and veteran forwards who keep calm during desperate situations.
Weaknesses: Susceptibility to injuries.
My Prediction: Maybe up for a decent season, if they avoid injuries.
New York Rangers: Ending last year with a sour note against the Penguins, the Rangers have made quite a few interesting moves.
The boys in blue are back and filled to the brim with both veteran and rookie talent. First the veterans: Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Michal Roszival, Paul Mara, and one of the newest Rangers, Markus Naslund.
Now for the rookies: Brandon Dubinsky had a great rookie season along with Nigel Dawes, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, and Dan Girardi. With the addition of phenoms Dan Fritsche and Nikolai Zherdev, the Rangers look better than ever.
All of that, and I haven't even mentioned Lundqvist, who is set to have yet another impressive season between the pipes in MSG.
Strengths: Fantastic amounts of developing talent and experience.
Weaknesses: What will they do without Jagr?
My Prediction: Great Season with definite post season hope.
Philadelphia Flyers: With a roster that had very solid seasons last year, each player of the Flyers has united to turn a so-so situation in Philly into a renowning success.
R.J. Umberger, Mike Knuble, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Joffrey Lupul, and returning phenom, Simon Gagne - the Flyers are a serious threat in the Eastern Conference.
Strengths: Riding on momentum of a fantastic comeback season that was had without their top player, Simon Gagne, who is sure to only add to their prosperity.
Weaknesses: Can Marty Biron repeat his surprisingly great season? Or can Niittymaki improve and show us his untapped potential? Or will they both flop?
My Prediction: If goaltending remains better than expected, yet another very good team.
New York Islanders: In my opinion, the Islanders aren't much of a hockey team this year. With respect to all Islanders fans, I just don't see it in them to do much more than end up, once again, at the bottom of their division and out of the playoffs.
Comrie is gone, and Weight is in. Not a bad trade off. But unless Bergenheim, Satan, and Guerin end up having amazing seasons, I don't see much more than a few sizzles coming out of this club.
No matter how good Rick DiPietro is, this simply isn't the Islander's year, and the next few will probably result in the same thing.
Strengths: DiPietro and a lot of heart.
Weaknesses: Veterans that are close to past their prime and very few younger players with little chance of making a big difference.
My Prediction: Bleak. Bleak. Bleak.
Coming up next, a controversial subject - The Northeast Division