Mighty get mightier

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Ladies and gentlemen, sorry to disappoint those of you who can't help taking exception with my rankings, but I'm back for Year 4 and questions abound.

Will the Red Wings be the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since they turned the feat in 1997 and '98? Will this year's Winter Classic (at Wrigley Field) be another impressive showing? Will Alex Ovechkin score 70? The fun gets started Oct. 4 in Prague, Czech Republic, with the Jagr-less Rangers taking on Barry Melrose's rebuilt Lightning. Three hours later, the Senators battle El Sid (see below) and the Penguins. North America gets in on the action Oct. 9 with the Leafs and Wings squaring off at Joe Louis Arena.

As for my Cup prediction? I'm picking the Stars over the Canadiens in six games. And I'll stick to that all season. I swear. Let the quest for Lord Stanley begin.

A reminder: these Rankings are based mainly on quality of play (with an emphasis on recent games), overall record and my gut instinct.

Note: Want to send me a comment about the rankings? Scroll to the bottom of this page for my Mailbag.

NHL Power Rankings