Holiday season is upon us, which means it's shopping time, so it's only right that we ponder the gifts that would be most appreciated by all 30 NHL teams.
Anaheim Ducks: A defined identity. When you're caught between aging and promising, identity is hard to come by. The Ducks need time to develop one, but in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, there is no time to spare...or waste.
Atlanta Thrashers. Now that they're playing solid, consistent and exciting team hockey for the first time in franchise history, they would surely like the locals to enjoy a bout of amnesia, forget most of the sorry seasons that preceded the 2010-11 campaign, and return to cheer on the current edition. The players deserve it and the fans deserve this team.
Boston Bruins: That special place where full roster health and salary cap space exist.
Buffalo Sabres: A clone for those scary nights when the real Ryan Miller is too injured, sore or tired to play. With Miller, the Sabres are a tough opponent. Without him, they are clearly vulnerable.
Calgary Flames: An extreme makeover. The core roster led by goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and captain Jarome Iginla is aging and the complementary pieces don't seem to fit, which I guess means they aren't complementary at all.
Carolina Hurricanes: A supporting cast that overachieves. The stars are in place, with goaltender Cam Ward and captain Eric Staal, and there are promising youngsters, too, in Jeff Skinner and Brendan Sutter. But the 'Canes need something more, some oomph, for the want of a better word.
Chicago Blackhawks: Now that half of their championship roster has been turned over, coach Joel Quenneville could use a copy of the manual How to Repeat With Compromised Depth and Chemistry.
Colorado Avalanche: Good health. The young, energetic roster that surprised a year ago needs it to enjoy the same kind of success. Matt Duchesne is heating up and in the near term will have to carry the load until injured players, such as Chris Stewart, return.
Columbus Blue Jackets: A tough stand at home. After a torrid start and 8-3 road record, the Jackets need to prove to themselves and their fans that they are legit.
Dallas Stars: Not that he is looking for it, but how about a holiday cheer for GM Joe Nieuwendyk and the job he has done in Big D?
Detroit Red Wings: They've been the NHL standard for over 15 years, so what do you get for the franchise that has everything?
Edmonton Oilers: Consistent goaltending that allows this young, exciting team to continue developing. If Nik Khabibulin can stay healthy, Taylor Hall and the rest of the cast will gain confidence through winning more games than expected, and that always reinforces what is possible as well as the good habits that are required to achieve it.
Florida Panthers: A special director's cut edition of the movie Groundhog Day.
Los Angeles Kings: A remote control to rewind their season to where it began. After meeting their offseason hype with an impressive start, the Kings suddenly forgot what they're about.
Minnesota Wild: A mirror. While struggling for the second successive season to rid themselves of their former identity as a trap-happy bore, maybe they simply need to see who they really are before they worry about what they think they want to become.
Montreal Canadiens: A simple card will do: Joyeux Noel, Carey Price!
Nashville Predators: How about just a little respect? They are always competitive no matter what their situation. Many talk about what Nashville isn't, but coach Barry Trotz and his guys are always singin' a lonesome, hopeful tune.
New Jersey Devils: GM Lou Lamoriello's old, dog-eared business model that led to so much success during the past two decades. The Devils got so far away from their core philosophies with this whole Ilya Kovalchuk fiasco that you'd think Joe Antonini slipped Lou his early '90s manifesto that submarined Kmart. Remember when Kmart was big? Exactly.
New York Islanders: A reason to believe. Any reason.
New York Rangers: Success on the Great White Way. The Blueshirts have been a bit of flop on Broadway where they're a John Tortorella expletive 6-8-1 on home ice. The Rangers are the Eastern Conference's version of the Blue Jackets. Well, except that they play under a microscope and not in the relative anonymity of Columbus.
Ottawa Senators: For GM Bryan Murray, a whole new shopping list might be in order. The guys already in place have remained cornerstones: captain Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza. Additions like goaltender Pascal Leclaire, Alex Kovalev and Sergei Gonchar? Lumps of coal in the Sens' stocking.
Philadelphia Flyers: In celebration of their surprise success in goal, a special edition director's cut version of the movie What About Bob?
Phoenix Coyotes: A committed new owner and a lease deal agreement with the city of Glendale. Add more winning hockey and this could just be a magical holiday season in the desert.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The finest championship banner material for decorating and accessorizing their brand new home sometime in mid-2011.
San Jose Sharks: Many more nights like Monday's 5-2 road win at Detroit. ( Highlights)
St. Louis Blues: Some of the playoff pixie dust that Jaroslav Halak employed to great effect last spring in Montreal.
Tampa Bay Lightning: A Ouija board for coach Guy Boucher to use when deciding who is playing goal. Mike Smith and Dan Ellis vacillate between outstanding and out of it. Deciding who goes on any given night has been an exercise that lies somewhere between method and mystical.
Toronto Maple Leafs: A healthy and happy Dion Phaneuf. Every team needs its captain in the lineup. Plus, he gives Leafs fans someone else to pick on.
Vancouver Canucks: Many more games like their 3-0 shutout win at Chicago, where -- finally -- goaltender Roberto Luongo bested his tormentors. (Click here for highlights.)
Washington Capitals: A remote control to fast-forward the regular season because anything they do now is inconsequential. They will be judged by solely by their playoff performance.
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