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NHL Ready to Go and Here’s Who I Like

Zdeno Chara

I like Chara and the Bruins to make a strong run at the Cup.

Hockey in the United States will forever be portrayed as the red-headed step-child of professional sports. Personally, I don’t feel that way because I have always enjoyed the game and quite frankly it will always be one of the toughest sports to play and play well but sadly many Americans have other interests. I certainly don’t blame them after yet another long work-stoppage, but now it’s time to lace up the skates and get the team dentist on speed dial. Hockey is back this week and in a shortened season, these are the teams I like to advance to the playoffs.

Favorites I Like for the Cup

New York Rangers 15/2 – Rick Nash comes over from Columbus where he played in nearly 700 games yet won ZERO playoff games. While he instantly makes them the team to beat, is he playoff ready? Being a performer in the playoffs is one thing but in New York it’s a whole other deal. He should help improve a power play that ranked 23rd.

Pittsburgh Penguins 17/2 – The short season should help Sidney Crosby but Coach Dan Bylsma needs to be careful in overplaying his superstar who has played in just 63 games the last two years. I like the edition of goalie Tomas Vokoun who will provide depth behind Marc-Andre Fleury and can spot-start as well as anyone. Jordan Staal is gone but they got an aggressive center and a couple of prospects in a trade with the Hurricanes.

Boston Bruins 12/1 – Last year, the defending champs were bounced in an epic seven-game series in the first round to Washington. What I like about Boston is their mix of youth and experience. Zdeno Chara is a top-notch defenseman who can provide offense as well and Tyler Seguin was killing the Swiss League before the lockout ended. The question is at goalie. Can Tuuka Rask carry them back to the finals?

Jonathan Quick

If Quick is sharp despite summer back surgery, the Kings have another shot.

LA Kings 12/1 – The defending champs aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this year. They dropped just four games en route to their first Stanley Cup as an 8th-seed last year. Basically, the team is back and should be ready to go with one potentially key exception. Star goalie Jonathan Quick had back surgery this summer and although he is ready to medically, will he be in top form especially in a shortened season?

Vancouver Canucks 10/1 – Two years in a row this team has roared to the President’s Cup only to lose once in the finals and then last year in the very first round to the eventual champion Kings. Led by the Sedin brothers, Vancouver has been in the top five in offense the last three seasons and should be right there again. They’ll need to get past a few mental issues in order to finally win the cup however and some teams have been able to while others have not.

Teams That Could Make a Run

Minnesota Wild 18/1 - Last year they finished 12th in the Western Conference but this is a new year and a new team for sure. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise cost the Wild about $200 million dollars but they should be worth every penny. Goal-tending will be the issue.

Detroit Red Wings 20/1 – Yes they lost Niklas Lidstrom, but in a shortened season like this one, I like teams loaded with veterans and this one has them in guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetteberg. If they get hot at the right time and goalie Jimmy Howard has another solid season, a run through the playoffs is possible.

San Jose Sharks 22/1 – For several years there, the Sharks were destined to get to the finals but always fell short. Now, with less expectations, they must just have a shot if Joe Thornton and company can get it going in a hurry. Goalie Antti Niemi needs to regain the form that won a cup in Chicago. If that happens, look out.





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