By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
The Popsicle Brothers present NHL ’09-10
OAKLAND & PHILADELPHIA (BASN) — This could be the best year ever for the National Hockey League, now if only the American public could see it! The pre-season is winding down, and man it’s been a short and interesting off season with trades.
Starting with the most recent trades we see that the Boston Bruins traded Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs and received draft choices for the 2010-11 season.
The Ottawa Senators traded Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks for Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michael. This greatly improves San Jose’s scoring power. The Sharks will miss their young feisty pacesetter Cheechoo’s heart, which cannot be taught.
The first of 10 questions that will be answered this season are:
1) Can the Pittsburgh Penguins repeat as Stanley Cup Champions? Are Sid the Kid Crosby and Gary’s favorite Penguin, Evgeni Malkin ( da, Evgeni – we love you even though we know your ass was not supposed to play in that Stanley Cup Final Game #3!) ready to defend the Cup? The three time Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins are now the target this season.
2) Will the best player in the league be able to compete for the Stanley Cup? The Washington Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin has to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins to achieve this goal. Goalie Jose Theodore must stay strong in net in order for the Capitals to move on to the Eastern Conference championship this year.
3) Can the New Jersey Devils stand tall in the East again? Will The ROCK (Prudential Center) see its first Stanley Cup Final? Will Martin Brodeur play another 50 plus games this season? Brodeur will break many records this season, for instance most games played, most minutes played, most victories, most 30 win seasons, most regular season shutouts (needs 3 to surpass Terry Sawchuk), and most playoff shutouts.
What scares other teams is that Brodeur may have three more years of playing time left and that means more New Jersey Devil victories.
A complete unknown, Goal Brotha Gerald Coleman (formerly with Tampa Bay), will be the new backup in the nets. Patrick Elias and Zach Parise will lead the Devil offense while the Jersey defense will be headed by Goal Brothas Johnny Oduya (Devils paid to keep him), Bryce Salvador and Marc Fraser, along with Colin White. Many New Jersey Devil fans will remember that Game Five meltdown against the Carolina Hurricanes.
It will also stick in many players mind all season.
4) Will the tough Philadelphia Flyers, a.k.a. the New Broad Street Bullies reclaim their fame this year? Brian Boucher was last year’s starter, but Goal Brotha Ray Emery (back after an All-Star year in Russia’s Super League) should be in the nets.
Smokin’ Joe Frazier meets with boxing historian Emery during pre-season training, and Mike can’t wait for the Flyers to play Ottawa! Veteran Chris Pronger should make other teams fear playing at Wachovia Center, bringing his special brand of Nasty to the Orange, Black and White.
5) Will the New York Rangers advance beyond the second round of playoffs? Can they come out of the Shadows of cross state rivals Flyers and Devils and stop being the Atlantic Division’s ugly step sister?
John Tortorella is now head coach. The Broadway Blue Shirts will play defense. Thanks to the splendid Henrik Lundqvist in goal, Madison Square Garden may again hear the cries that serenaded the walls for so many years: “DEFENSE, DEFENSE.”
How long will Sean Avery be wearing Ranger Blue? Eleven year veteran Chris Drury should captain this team into the playoffs. Still believe the Rangers missed Brother Nigel Dawes last spring.
6) Can Calgary finally get to the Finals with Goal Brotha Number One, team Captain Jarome Iginla? With the addition of Brother Dawes and the improving Rene Bourque this should be a very interesting team to watch on offense, along with Mr. Rock ‘Em /Sock ‘Em, Dion Phaneuf and a healthy Robyn Regehr on defense.
Although Theoren Fleury’s comeback fell short, #14 will retire as a Flame; and that’s as it should be.
7) Can the Montreal Canadiens overcome last year’s crushing playoff defeat by the Boston Bruins? Carey Price will take over in nets. There are many new faces north of the boarder. Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri, and Brian Gionta are the new Canadiens this season. Once again they will be fighting the Boston Bruins for the Northeast Division crown.
8) Will the Boston Bruins march into the second round again? Tim Thomas has to maintain control in the nets this year. He must repeat last year’s feat of 36 wins and a .933 save percentage. Boston will miss Phil Kessel this year, leaving Marco Sturm to pick up the slack.
9) Will the Chicago Blackhawks live without the ‘Bulin Wall in goal? Nikolai Khabibulin moves on to the Edmonton Oilers. Last year’s budding star, goalie Cristobal Huet has to step up in net along with new Hawks Marian Hossa and John Madden. Chicago improved through trades, first round draft pick Patrick Kane and Brother Dustin Byfuglien. With Gary’s favorite Blackhawk, Jonathan Towes (love to see him skate) and defenseman Mike Eastwood, the Hawks are back – crank up that organ! The Hawks should be in the Western Conference finals in June.
10) How many more consecutive years will the Detroit Red Wings go to the playoffs? The 11-time Stanley Cup Champions just seem to reload every year, but this might be the year the Western Division will lock the door. There are so many teams in the West that have improved, but these old men just keep coming year after year. With Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk (Mike calls Pavel “Duck Soup” because the game seems so easy for him!), Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom this might be the year of transition for the Red Wings with 14 rookies on their squad.
NEXT:Questions 11 through 20 and predictions.