These previews are just short bursts of information because you don’t want fancy stats and numbers. You want quick talking points so you look less dumb in front of your friends. Fancy stats and numbers just makes you look like an asshole.
Chicago Blackhawks: The best team in hockey over the last six years. They’re always in the playoffs and they’re always a threat to make it to the Cup finals. Losing to the Blues in seven games last year either shows that the Blackhawks are on the downswing (doubtful) or they just beaten by a better team (likely). As long as they have Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Kane; Chicago will continue to be a consistently good team. They’ll never some rookies to step up offensively for them this year, but their defense is better than last year with the addition of Brian Campbell and Corey Crawford is steady in goal. We can also expect them to make a big trade deadline rental to sure things up heading into the playoffs.
Colorado Avalanche: My Avs have a lot of promising talent, but that talent needs to finally put things together. We’re going to find out whether or not it was Patrick Roy holding back the talent or if the talent just isn’t good enough. The preseason gives me hope, and I’m very excited for this year, but I’m also cautious in my optimism. Nathan MacKinnon will have to be a top-10 player, Matt Duchene will have to score 30, Gabriel Landeskog will need to step up and be more of a leader, Tyson Barrie must prove he was worth the contract, Erik Johnson must be better, and Semyon Varlamov has to return to Hart Trophy form. It’s a lot to ask, and in a tough division it won’t be easy, but the Avs should be a fun team to watch if nothing else.
Dallas Stars: Speaking of fun teams. The Dallas Stars were the most exciting team in hockey last year. Their run and gun style lent itself to plenty of fun and wins for Dallas. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin combine for one of the best 1-2 punches in the league, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp are still going strong, and they added Jiri Hudler. Offense won’t be a problem for Dallas. Their defense is still rather weak and I don’t like either Kari Lehtonen or Antii Niemi in goal. Those problems won’t show throughout the season, but they’ll once again be noticeable in the playoffs, unless Dallas makes a move to sure things up.
Minnesota Wild: One of the most boring and bland teams in the league. The Wild made Bruce Boudreau their new head coach in the offseason because when you’re a team struggling to get out of the first round year after year, you turn to Bruce Boudreau to get you over the hump. Zach Parise is good, but slowing down. The same goes for guys like Ryan Suter and Mikko Koivu. They added Eric Staal, which won’t help. They’ve got some solid talent at every position, and Boudreau has a great regular season track record, but there’s just nothing that excites anyone about the Wild.
Nashville Predators: I’m so afraid of Nashville. They finally have solid scoring up front with Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Ryan Johansen, and Colin Wilson. Having Roman Josi and P.K. Subban is pretty unfair and I’m not sure how the league allowed this to happen. Then you throw in Ryan Ellis and the Preds have a #1 defenseman on all three pairings. The big question is whether or not Pekka Rinne is declining. If he is, the Predators won’t be as good as many think they will be. But if he’s able to regain his elite form, the Preds are going to be a top five team in the league this year.
St. Louis Blues: The Capitals of the West. Well, they got to the conference finals last year. So, I guess they are better than the Capitals. The Blues are a well-rounded, well-coached team that will be great during the regular season, but none of that will matter if they falter in the playoffs again. They lost some veteran guys, including captain David Backes and kinda sorta #1 goaltender Brian Elliott, but they remain a strong and deep team. Moving towards youth could be a blessing for the Blues and they still have high end talent like Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen. Their defensive group is still among the best in the league and I think Jake Allen will thrive now that he’s finally been given the reigns as the #1 guy.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets could have a nice combination in Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine if Scheifele builds on his impressive performance at the end of last season and Laine is as good as everyone thinks he is. Then you throw in Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Bryan Little and you see a pretty impressive Jets offense. Their defense is solid, but Jacob Trouba’s trade request complicates things a bit. Then there is their goaltending, which is straight straight. Ondrej Pavelec isn’t good and Michael Hutchinson isn’t much better. If they roll with Connor Hellebuyck, then they have a chance. The Jets are a pesky team to play against, mainly thanks to #1 pain in the ass Dustin Byfuglien, but their goaltending will be their downfall.