The season is finally underway, Canadians and Canadians living among Americans, and it is time to talk some hockey. I will bestow myself with the honor of breaking down all of the highs and lows of this week's action.
Is there a resurgence going on in Vancouver? I say yes.
The Vancouver Canucks have been oft-criticized for lacking offence and did not help matters by allowing Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, and the greatest Canuck of all time, Trevor Linden, leave in the summer. But the additions of Kyle Wellwood, Steve Bernier, and Pavol Demitra have brought some ammunition to back up their stalwart goalie—and captain—Roberto Luongo.
After dominating the preseason, the Canucks opened up the season at home with an emotional tribute to Luc Bourdon, who was supposed to be one of many young players moving up to the big club this season but died in a fatal motorcycle accident. After the pre-game festivities, the Canucks shocked the Calgary Flames 6-1 and looked like the Canucks of old; scoring, hitting, and backing up their teammates.
They wrapped up the week with a Saturday night treat with Calgary on the back end of a home-and-home and pulled off a comeback from two down with an overtime goal from guess who: offseason acquisition Demitra.
Is this just a random occurrence or are the Canucks back to the good old days? I say they are, as the young talent and the now-healthy defence corps should bring the team back to the playoffs.
Leafs fans, invent a time machine or blind yourselves, this season will be painful to watch.
As a Canadian, I am obligated to attempt to mention every Canadian team in my NHL blogs, so here goes my warning to what is left of Leafs Nation after Saturday Night's embarrassing home opener.
Don't watch the TV until the NHL draft, because you will be going through Prozac more than Pacman Jones' agent. The Leafs have totally committed to losing and it is pointless to pay attention to them unless you are keeping tabs of their chances in this year's NHL Draft Lottery.
Who are this year's contenders?
I did not see the use of a season preview, as they are done by almost every hockey blogger on this site, so I will give you my top five favorites to win Lord Stanley's Cup:
The same team as last year, and the addition of Marian Hossa will guarantee that the Wings will be in at least the Western Conference Finals.
Yes, I think that there is a huge possibility of a rematch in the Stanley Cup Finals. The only downside for the Pens is the effect the departures of Hossa and Ryan Malone will have on them. Nonetheless, I expect them to be back in the thick of the playoffs.
3. San Jose
I only say this because I need at least two teams from the West in my top five and the Sharks look like the team that will receive the honor of bowing out to Motown come playoff time. Watch out for the new coach and Joe Thornton's notoriously poor play in the playoffs.
The city of brotherly love is looking like the Broad Street Bullies of old and will once again pummel teams all the way to the closing rounds of the playoffs.
Don't expect the Canadiens to wrap up their 100th season with another notch to their impressive collection of rings. They won't sneak up on teams like they did last year and will experience a slight fall in the standings, and once again will be out-hustled by Philly or Boston.
Who are this year's sleepers?
Here are three sleepers who could make a run for the cup:
As mentioned earlier it looks like happy days are back in Vancouver. If Roberto Luongo can get back to form, look for great things from the Canucks.
The secret is in the rookies, as the Coyotes and their young guns could be bringing Wayne Gretzky to his first postseason as a coach.
Ahh, just kidding. I had you going for a second, didn't I?
Well those are my predictions and analysis, check in next week for another edition of Chase Ruttig's NHL Week in Review.