Better Late Than Never

The frantic 48-game schedule, who's back from where (and in what kind of shape) and which milestones are approaching: Everything you need to know for 2013—starting with the team that will hoist the Cup
January 21, 2013

WESTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL DIVISION

*RED WINGS (2)

*BLACKHAWKS (4)

*BLUES (7)

*PREDATORS (8)

BLUE JACKETS (15)

NORTHWEST DIVISION

*CANUCKS (1)

*WILD (5)

AVALANCHE (10)

FLAMES (11)

OILERS (12)

PACIFIC DIVISION

*KINGS (3)

*SHARKS (6)

COYOTES (9)

STARS (13)

DUCKS (14)

WESTERN FINALS

CanucksoverBlackhawks

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ATLANTIC DIVISION

*PENGUINS (1)

*RANGERS (4)

*FLYERS (5)

*DEVILS (7)

ISLANDERS (13)

NORTHEAST DIVISION

*BRUINS (2)

*SABRES (6)

SENATORS (10)

MAPLE LEAFS (11)

CANADIENS (12)

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

*CAPITALS (3)

*LIGHTNING (8)

PANTHERS (9)

HURRICANES (14)

JETS (15)

EASTERN FINALS

PenguinsoverRangers

STANLEY CUP FINALs

PenguinsoverCanucks

*Denotes playoff team

Stuff We'll Miss

The mediators and make-whole proposals were no fun, but the lockout did have its lighthearted episodes. A few moments and memes that we will remember fondly from hockey's nuclear winter:

THE NHL PODIUM On Dec. 5, after reporters spent hours waiting for a press conference after yet another fruitless negotiating session, someone created a vehicle for much-needed comic relief: the @NHLPodium Twitter handle, which within hours had nearly 15,000 followers. Sample tweet: "Media asking for interviews. I explained I'm an inanimate object incapable of sentient thought. They say no problem, we're used to [Sidney] Crosby."

"CALL THE UNION" The song and video were Yahoo! Sports blogger Harrison Mooney's tongue-in-cheek YouTube plea for CBA negotiations to resume, sung to the tune of Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend." The clip was fun, but no one will miss the sight of Mooney dancing in a Canucks sweater and spandex.

KRYS BARCH RUMINATES BY THE FIRE On a late-September evening, Devils tough guy Barch tweeted a 26-part missive that was at turns introspective and poetic: "As my pen warms from the fire, Neil Young and a fall Canadian night, I wonder how this work stoppage effects [sic] the owners?"

PATRICK KANE'S EUROPEAN VACATION The hard-partying Blackhawks winger was all business while playing 20 games in the Swiss hockey league for EHC Biel (13 goals, 10 assists)—maybe because he was living with his mother, Donna, in a three-bedroom apartment near the rink.

Thanks For The Extra Rest, Commissioner

The late start to the season was a blessing in disguise for a handful of injured players who wouldn't have been ready to start the season in October.

JONATHAN QUICK

Kings G

Herniated disc in back: Ready

MARIAN GABORIK

Rangers RW

Torn labrum in shoulder: Ready

DEREK ROY

Stars C

Shoulder surgery: Ready

MARIAN HOSSA

Blackhawks RW

Concussion: Ready

Fresh Legs For A Postseason Run

Another group grateful for the shortened season: over-40 players. Expect fresher legs from these aging All-Stars if they make the playoffs in the spring.

TEEMU SELANNE

Ducks RW42

RAY WHITNEY

Stars LW40

JAROMIR JAGR

Stars RW40

NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN

Oilers G40

MARTIN BRODEUR

Devils G40

DANIEL ALFREDSSON

Senators RW40

Shaking Off The Rust

AFTER MISSING most of last season recovering from a concussion, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was forced to sit out again. He flirted with playing overseas but never did. The superstar center is finally at full health, but he has played just 28 games, including playoffs, since Jan. 5, 2011. He's not alone, though. Of last year's top 55 scorers, 31 opted to stay home during the lockout, including the Lightning's Steven Stamkos, the Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel, the Rangers' Brad Richards and twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Canucks.

I'd Rather Be Rusty

For some players the decision to stay in game shape during the lockout didn't work out so well.

CLAUDE GIROUX

Flyers C

He says he's O.K., but a neck injury limited him to nine games in the German league this fall.

ADAM HENRIQUE

Devils C

The playoff hero's surgically repaired left thumb—hurt in November playing in the AHL—will keep him out until at least early next month.

BLAKE GEOFFRION

Canadiens C

He's out indefinitely after fracturing his skull in a November AHL game.

New Goalies

Where in the world is Roberto Luongo? Through Monday, the Canucks' former No. 1 was still in Vancouver, but trade rumors are swirling. He won't be the only netminder with a new gig in 2013.

BRADEN HOLTBY

Capitals

After a breakout postseason during which he won seven games, he is Washington's new No. 1.

TUUKKA RASK

Bruins

He takes over from the enigmatic Tim Thomas (who chose to sit out the season), but the former backup has the luxury of having started before.

ANDERS LINDBACK

Lightning

Tampa Bay traded for the former Predators backup to replace retiring Dwayne Roloson.

New Faces In New Places

ZACH PARISEWild LW

A five-time 30-goal scorer, he brings a captain's poise to Minnesota.

RYAN SUTER

Wild D

The two-way defensive whiz is no longer lost in the shadow of former teammate Shea Weber.

RICK NASH

Rangers LW

The sniper emerges from obscurity in Columbus to become a Broadway star.

MATT CARLE

Lightning D

Signed away from Philly, he shores up a porous Tampa Bay blue line.

ALEXANDER SEMIN

Hurricanes RW

He can prove he's more than just Alex Ovechkin's sidekick.

JORDAN STAAL

Hurricanes C

He was the league's best No. 3 center in Pittsburgh; now he gets a bigger role.

Milestones

Some of hockey's biggest names are close to hitting big numbers:

85 shots faced to be first to 30,000

Martin Brodeur

Devils G

12 assists to reach 1,000

Jaromir Jagr

Stars RW

13 goals to reach 400

Patrick Marleau

Sharks LW

2 power-play goals to reach 250

Teemu Selanne

Ducks RW

2 games played to reach 1,000

Vincent Lecavalier

Lightning C

9 games played to reach 1,000

Milan Hejduk

Avalanche RW

Top Rookies

JUSTIN SCHULTZ

Oilers D, 22

A dynamic offensive defenseman who can already skate and pass as well as most players in the league today.

MIKAEL GRANLUND

Wild C, 20

He's not that big (5'10", 180 pounds), but he's hockey strong. He has played in major international events for his native Finland, so the NHL will not intimidate him.

VLADIMIR TARASENKO

Blues RW, 21

The gifted winger dominated in the KHL (31 points in 31 games for St. Petersburg SKA this fall) and should be a top 6 forward for the very deep Blues.

CHRIS KREIDER

Rangers C, 21

He has a major league shot—and with Rick Nash drawing defenders, the speedy Kreider should have more room to work, especially off the rush.

SVEN BAERTSCHI

Flames LW, 20

Calgary is starving for offense, and the skilled Swiss forward should deliver. He is nifty in tight areas and dominated junior hockey last year with 94 points in 47 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

New Coaches, Tough Jobs

BOB HARTLEY

Flames

He inherits a bad team, and Calgary made only marginal roster upgrades with forward Jiri Hudler and defenseman Dennis Wideman.

RALPH KRUEGER

Oilers

On the upside, Edmonton's former associate coach has a slew of young talent on hand.

ADAM OATES

Capitals

An offensive wizard as a player, he hopes to ignite Alex Ovechkin and a slumbering power play.

MICHEL THERRIEN

Canadiens

Montreal's impatient fans won't make his job easy.

From Lockout To Buyouts

To help teams transition to a tighter salary cap next season, each club is allowed two compliance buyouts to get bloated salaries off their books before the 2014--15 season. Montreal G.M. Marc Bergevin promptly sent center Scott Gomez(above) home with the intention of buying out the remaining $7.36 million on his contract this summer. Here are other targets for amnesty buyouts:

RICK DIPIETRO

Islanders G

Signed through 2020--21

MIKE KOMISAREK

Maple Leafs D

Signed through 2013--14

WADE REDDEN

Rangers D

Signed through 2013--14

ILYA BRYZGALOV

Flyers G

Signed through 2019--20

DANY HEATLEY

Wild LW

Signed through 2013--14

Free Agency 2013

This summer's unrestricted free-agent class could be one of the deepest in memory. Some teams will be able to re-sign their stars before July 1, but if even half these names make it to the open market, there will be an interesting spending spree this off-season.

JAROME IGINLA

Flames RW

Salary cap at $7 million

ALEXANDER SEMIN

Hurricanes RW

Salary cap at $7 million

RYAN GETZLAF

Ducks C

Salary cap at $5.33 million

COREY PERRY

Ducks RW

Salary cap at $5.33 million

PATRIK ELIAS

Devils C

Salary cap at $6 million

SERGEI GONCHAR

Senators D

Salary cap at $5.5 million

BRENDEN MORROW

Stars LW

Salary cap at $4.1 million

ALEX EDLER

Canucks D

Salary cap at $3.25 million

The Jets' Travel

[The following text appears within a map. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual map.]

Without interconference dates, no team in the East will suffer more than Winnipeg, which faces arduous trips simply to play against its rivals in the Southeast Division.

Teams That Could Have Used A Training Camp

The overhauled roster now includes rugged forward Jordan Staal, acquired from the Penguins to play with his brother Eric, and former Capitals sniper Alex Semin.

Columbus added goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Nick Foligno, then traded away star winger Rick Nash to the Rangers for forwards Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky.

G.M. Joe Nieuwendyk picked up skilled forward Derek Roy from Buffalo and defenseman Aaron Rome from Vancouver, but also signed 40-year-olds Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr. They need time to jell.

This Could Be The Year

SEVERAL TEAMS that have never won the Stanley Cup have a chance to end the drought. The Canucks still have a core of players who won two Presidents' Trophies. The perennially underachieving Sharks still have one of the NHL's most talented rosters. The Capitals bring a rested Alex Ovechkin into the season. The Blues can build on last season's 22-point improvement. Hey, if the Kings could get off the schneid last June, anything is possible.

Games To Look Forward To

PENGUINS VS. FLYERS

Jan. 19

An opening day rematch between the two clubs that combined for 56 goals and 314 penalty minutes in six games in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

RED WINGS VS. BLACKHAWKS

Jan. 27

The first of four skirmishes between two teams that will be vying for Western supremacy.

BRUINS VS. CANADIENS

Feb. 6

The bad blood still simmers after Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty two years ago.

East Vs. West

BECAUSE OF the condensed schedule, the NHL has scrapped interconference play for this season—bad news for teams that got fat last year off opponents on the other side of the country. Here's a look at the teams who padded their record the most against their rival conference in 2011--12:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Penguins13-2-3

Bruins11-6-1

Sabres11-6-1

Flyers11-5-2

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Blues14-2-2

Avalanche13-4-1

Blackhawks12-3-3

Sharks12-5-1

Award Predictions

HART TROPHY

Steven Stamkos Lightning C

ART ROSS TROPHY

Evgeni Malkin Penguins C

NORRIS TROPHY

Drew Doughty Kings D

VEZINA TROPHY

Henrik Lundqvist Rangers G

CALDER TROPHY

Justin Schultz Oilers D

JACK ADAMS AWARD

Dan Bylsma Penguins

PHOTOJOE SARGENT/NHLI/GETTY IMAGESEVGENI MALKIN PENGUINS C PHOTOTWITTER.COM (TWITTER BIRD) PHOTOBRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES (PODIUM) PHOTONICK WASS/AP (STAMKOS) PHOTOLOUIS LOPEZ/CAL SPORT MEDIA (QUICK) PHOTOJEANINE LEECH/ICON SMI (BRODEUR)THE DEVIL HIS DUE Brodeur (30) is already the NHL's alltime regular-season leader in wins, shutouts and games played. PHOTOBRACE HEMMELGARN/US PRESSWIRE (PARISE AND SUTER) PHOTOSCOTT LEVY/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (KREIDER) PHOTODALE MACMILLAN/GETTY IMAGES (KRUEGER) PHOTOPHIL ELLSWORTH/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (GOMEZ) PHOTOTODD KOROL/REUTERS (IGINLA) THREE PHOTOS MAP

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)