Well hockey fans, the lockout is over and starting Sat. Jan 19th we will have a shortened season that will go by faster than an Al MacInnis slap shot. Soon we will be hearing Chelsea Dagger blaring from the United Center speakers! Questions abound in this shortened season, as teams will have to quickly gel in hopes of making the playoffs. Will the defending Stanley Cup champs, the LA Kings, be able to defend their crown? Or, will they be dethroned by the Chicago Blackhawks and budding young superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews?
The Vancouver Canucks remain a Stanley Cup hopeful thanks to the combined talents of Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and the always-dangerous Sedin twins. With Cory Schneider now guarding the net, Hawks fans won’t have a chance to chide Roberto Luongo anymore but what happens if he joins them via a midseason trade? Several teams have fresh talent, including Zach Parise and Ryan Suter who joined forces in Minnesota while Rick Nash jetted to the Big Apple play for the New York Rangers.
Hockeytown’s own, the Detroit Red Wings, are hoping for a successful season as well, especially with new captain Henrik Zetterberg leading the charge. No team may have benefited more from the lockout than the Pittsburgh Penguins where injured players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, arguably the best duo in all of hockey, are now healthy and well rested. The Eastern Conference will be tough as always as no team stands head and shoulders above the other. The Philadelphia Flyers are always a force as long as Claude Giroux is around but they’ll have to shore up some goaltending issues, which is a major reason they haven’t made it to the finals in the past three years. Expect Boston to play tough as well but as goaltender Tuukka Rask takes over for the departed Tim Thomas, one thing is for sure–this season will be unpredictable and exciting!
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