Welcome to a special edition of King’s Court where I will break down what to look forward to this upcoming NHL season. Last year we saw the Chicago Blackhawks hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in a lockout-shortened season. With a full season ahead, let’s take a look at what will happen. Court is now in session.
5 Key Questions
1. Can the Blackhawks repeat?
-Looking to become the first team since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings to repeat as champions
2. Can the Pittsburgh Penguins get back to the Stanley Cup finals?
-Loaded with talent, but haven’t been to the Cup finals since winning it in 2009
3. How will the realignment affect the league?
-NHL realigned to a 2 conference, 4 division set up
-16 teams in the Eastern Conference, 14 teams in the Western Conference
4. Which conference will be the toughest?
-The Western Conference has won 5 of the last 8 Stanley Cups
5. Can the New York Rangers take the next step?
-This team has a ton of guys who can play, but can they get it done in the playoffs?
Teams I have My Eye On
-This team has the firepower to repeat
-They have arguably the best front line in the NHL with Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane
-Corey Crawford is tough between the pipes
-Can this team overcome its playoff failures over the past two seasons?
-If Marc-Andre Fleury can take his regular season success into the playoffs, this team will be even more dangerous
-The offensive will be one of the league’s most dangerous with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading the way
St. Louis Blues
-This team has a ton of key, contributing core guys who can help lead them far in the playoffs
-The Blues can contend with the Blackhawks for the Central Division crown
-Signed two veteran players in center Derek Roy and left winger Brendon Morrow, which gives them a ton of depth
Detroit Red Wings
-A franchise that has made the playoffs for 22 consecutive years
-Will be a member of the Eastern Conference this upcoming season
-Additions of right winger Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss will be beneficial in terms of chasing a Stanley Cup
-Will have a full training camp as opposed to last year when the lockout ruined that
-Center Mike Ribeiro is reunited with former coach Dave Tippett
-Ribeiro, Shane Doan, and Mikkel Boedker will be the front line and help lead this team to the postseason
Players to Watch
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
–If healthy, he will be right in the thick of the MVP discussion
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
–The reigning, defending MVP will look to lead his Caps to a deep playoff run
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
–This could be the year he wins his first MVP award
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
–He puts up a lot of points and scores a lot of goals, which will put him in the MVP talks
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
–Quick is emerging as one of the league’s top goal tenders and will look to help the Kings win the Cup
Conference Finals Prediction
Detroit over Pittsburgh
Chicago over Los Angeles
Stanley Cup Prediction
Chicago over Detroit