Toronto Maple Leafs: The Season Ahead

Today the Leafs placed Mark Bell on waivers and also announced that rookie defenseman Luke Schenn will start the season with the Leafs and will be reevaluated around the end of October to determine whether they want to keep him around for the full season or send him back to Junior. The decision is likely to be a tough one made tougher by the fact that the Leafs are deep on defense. Mark Bell came to the Leafs as a part of the Vesa Toskala trade and did relatively little in his time with the Leafs last season and seemingly

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Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins are living proof that patience pays off. Bite the lip, play through 82 games knowing that you won’t get a sniff of the playoffs, and hope that your drafting holds up. It was just four years ago when the Penguins won the draft lottery and unsurprisingly took Sidney Crosby with their first pick. Just a year later they took another highly-touted player in Evgeni Malkin. Neither still able to grow much facial hair, the young duo have already managed to reach the finals, and although the result was not what they had in mind, it’s a sign of

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A Coach to Ignite Us

Over the summer months I lambasted the Lightning for owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie‘s handling of the team, and the hiring of Barry Melrose, amongst other things. On the Lightning’s official website, Melrose was advertised as the “Coach to Ignite Us.” Okay, I’ll bite, a coach who hasn’t been in the league in a decade could provide a new voice, direction, and more importantly, a breath of fresh air. However, after two straight losses against the Rangers to open the season, Melrose didn’t hold anything back: “I hope our guys were embarrassed by that second period.” Sound a little

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Phoenix Coyotes

The Desert Dogs of old were a complete joke. A complete country club team that didn’t hold any high regards in proper team building or hiring the right personnel. Now that there’s a new management in place, the Coyotes have made strides and have really become one of the West’s dark horses. Bringing in Olli Jokinen was huge. The big centre, despite apparent locker room problems, brings an extra dynamic to the Coyotes’ gritty offense, and for the first time in a long time Shane Doan has a legitimate centre to play with. That’s not to saw that Peter Mueller,

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Thoughts…

– Mike Smith proved that he can handle the load. And it also proved that the Lightning need more time to gel together, after their choppy game. Speaking of turnovers, Andrej Meszaros played one of his more subpar games. I still question whether or not he deserves the ‘A’. The Lightning couldn’t get anything going, and none of the lines other than the top line showed any real chemistry. If it wasn’t for Smith the game could’ve been a blowout had the Rangers not been so rusty. – The Rangers’ top line looks good, but the second line, other than

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Philadelphia Flyers

“Back With A Vengeance.” That’s what the Flyers’ official website promised and the Flyers certainly delivered. One year after finish in the league cellar the Flyers came back with a vengeance, advancing to the third round. The team made a complete turnaround from their god-awful season, and the Flyers are going to prove this season that it was no fluke. The Flyers are big, mean, and talented. But their biggest strength? Balance. The Flyers boasted 7 20+ goal scorers last year, which lead the league. They had 3 players with at least 70 points, and 3 more with at least

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Ottawa Senators

No other team in the NHL teeters as much as the Sens on being a Cup contender or just merely a playoff contender. The Sens are talented, but asides from their top players the rest of the roster looks rather average, and once again, because they failed to add some much needed scoring depth, will have to rely on their Big Three. With new coach Craig Hartsburg behind the bench, the Sens will be looking to establish an identity after a monumental collapse last season with John Paddock and the Ray Emery debacle. The Sens are one year removed from

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Captains

Much ado has been made about the Canucks making Roberto Luongo their captain. The move was very surprising, considering goalies are not allowed to wear the traditional ‘C’ on their jersey and there hasn’t been a goalie captain since Bill Durnan in the 1940s. One of the reasons it became illegal was because of the inefficiency of being both a captain and a goalie. Captains are designated by their respective teams to provide an on-ice voice for the team with the refs, and because the game is so fluid and the refs are constantly moving, it made it very difficult

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New York Rangers

The first season of the new CBA saw the once high-spending Rangers build their team from within, and for once the new Rangers squad, under the meticulous Tom Renney, were bringing them back to respectability. Little did everyone know that this strategy would be shortlived, as the Rangers splurged on the market the following year, signing Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to multi-million, multi-year deals that saw both players take up a total of $14.5m combined. It remains to be seen if the Rangers’ two centres can build on their disappointing Blueshirt debut, and if the Rangers’ big spending this

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New York Islanders

It’s hard to find good things to say about the Islanders. Their squad, especially the blueline, was decimated by injuries, but still managed to finish 13th in the conference. One thing you could always count on the Isles to do was work hard, a trademark of former coach Ted Nolan. After disagreeing with management about the direction of the team, Nolan was let go and replaced by Scott Gordon, who led the Providence Bruins to a 55-win season last year, only to be ousted in the second round. The Isles so-called offense is lead by Mike Comrie, whose 47 points

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