The good old crystal ball looks a little worse for wear this season -- I think the kids used it for backyard bowling over the summer -- but the warranty ensures that it'll take a licking and keep on kicking out predictions. Besides, it was made in China, so you know the quality is unquestionable.
During the course of training camp, I spent countless hours with the mysterious orb, trying to divine secrets about the new season. Kinda gave me a headache, but if
So, what manner of secrets did the old ball reveal about your favorite team? Read on ...
Despite a hot and heavy romance with Lightning boss
All it takes is one look at this team's roster -- and that ludicrous new third jersey -- to recognize that this has the makings of a rather long season. Outside of
See above ... and below.
Coburn's breakout won't be made obvious by inflated point totals, although he should top last season's 36. Instead, he'll assert himself as Philly's top defenseman by making better decisions with the puck while reducing his mistakes that arise from overly aggressive play. He'll earn a spot in the All-Star Game, prompting GM
The Avs' Wolski benefited from strength and conditioning efforts over summer, adding 10 pounds of muscle that will make him more effective along the boards and out in front. His sweat and toil also earned him a spot as
After two seasons of teasing coaches and Bruins fans with his shootout prowess and occasional bursts of five-on-five creativity, Kessel enters his contract year with something to prove. Playing alongside
It was bad enough that the badly aging singer for Def Leppard placed the Stanley Cup upside down during Thursday night's live NHL Face-Off Rocks broadcast, but when the star of the ill-conceived event tried to cover up his faux pas by saying, "Nevermind. We're soccer boys. What do we know?" weren't we all disappointed that McCarty didn't pull the jacket up over Elliott's head and offer him the choice of one lump or two? If McCarty won't drop 'em over a clear violation of the code like that, it's no wonder he wasn't in uniform on opening night.
At least we can take solace in knowing it's all uphill from here for the league's marketing department. Unless, of course, they've booked another relevant act, like
This one will succeed despite going largely unnoticed, a sure sign that it's the right course of action. Too often last season, teams would ice the puck with a TV timeout coming up, knowing they'd get the artificial break to rest weary skaters. This rule removes that option and, at least theoretically, increases the chances of scoring on tired troops.
You kidding? Who wouldn't want to play for a team that puts the kibosh on bag skates, hard runs, stair climbs or any other off-ice activity that taxes the heart and body? If only
It's impossible not to recognize the depth of the Stars and the bold moves by the Sharks, but something tells me that the veteran Ducks, armed with full seasons from
It's obvious they're building something special in the Windy City, but maybe we all need to tap the brakes a bit. After all, this team is incredibly young (eight players with fewer than 100 games of NHL service). It's thin down the middle, and it has little in the way of forward depth. No arguing that the Hawks will be one of the most exciting teams to watch, but given the stiff competition in the West, it's a bit premature to start printing playoff tickets.
The one-year deal he signed this summer simply started the clock ticking on his tenure with the Panthers. He's said that his decision will be based on how well the team performs, so expect him to make his position known after the Christmas break. To the right team -- the Flyers, maybe? -- J-Bo will be worth a proven NHL player, a top-tier prospect and a first- rounder.
Sorry, Sudbury. With the Russians playing hardball on a rights transfer agreement, the first overall pick in this summer's CHL Import Draft is unlikely to pull on Wolves clothing this season. That could turn out to be a blessing for the Blue Jackets. Instead of sending the dynamic Filatov to juniors -- where he would be stuck all season -- the Jackets were able to assign him to Syracuse of the AHL. Given time to allow a hairline fracture in his leg to heal, and to build up the conditioning that the injury stole, he'll be ready to make a significant contribution to the Columbus offense before Christmas.
Horcoff hasn't been bad these past two seasons, but he hasn't lived up to his paper. A 73-point man during Edmonton's charmed 2005-06 season, he slumped to 50 and 51 points the past two years. This season's Oilers will offer a more balanced offensive attack, and with
Anyone who witnessed the frightening spectacle of Bergeron laying limp early last season, the victim of a
Some will write Burns off as a beneficiary of Minnesota's system, but he'll establish himself as one of the game's best two-way defenders this season. On the heels of his breakout 2007-08 campaign, Getzlaf will approach 100 points and challenge for the Art Ross. Boedker may be overshadowed by teammate
After scoring just two goals and six points in a 27-game rookie campaign, it's unlikely that the name of the Dartmouth-trained winger was called out in any fantasy leagues that didn't involve one of his immediate family members. Nice break for you. The 6-foot 2-inch Jones, now 210 pounds after a summer of hard conditioning with Colorado's strength coach, earned a spot alongside Sakic and Wolski on the Avs' top line. His size and aggressive style should gain you a few penalty minutes as well. He might even earn a chance to get rid of that training camp jersey number.
His 38 points led all rookie defensemen in scoring, and he deserved significant consideration from Calder voters. But Enstrom struggled mightily as the season wore down, broken by an oppressive workload that typically topped 24 minutes per night. This year's Thrashers are a bit deeper on the back end, but he'll still struggle to meet expectations on a team that's circling the drain.
It's not often that four players are selected in the same class, but with a quartet of undeniable first-year eligibles, this is about as safe a bet as
With just more than $3 million to fiddle with or burn, the Senators will have to move a few pieces to accommodate the recalcitrant Swede. But given how adroitly he'd address Ottawa's long-standing desire for secondary scoring, and how comfortable he is in Ontario, the Sens are the most logical landing place for the game's most outstanding free agent.