As the Kings shocked the Ducks on opening day, I decided to type up some random thoughts for this season. These thoughts (along with others) can also be seen on http://talkinsports.proboards32.com
The "New NHL" will lose the "New" and finally just be the "NHL" again. And with this change back to the normal name, the goals scored per game will continue to drop as goalies continue to have a lower GAA.
No rookie class since the one that featured Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and Dion Phaneuf, has come close to creating the level of excitement those players brought. This is year, Erik and Jack Johnson are probably the two most talented players in it. The problem? They're defensemen. The other stars, Nicklas Backstrom, Johnathon Toews, Bobby Ryan, Patrick Kane, and Peter Mueller are all fowards who could shine, but lets face it, no one really knows who they are. The frontrunners of the group, Toews and Kane, play in Chicago. 'Nuff said.
Last year's top rookies, Evgeni Malkin, Anze Kopitar, and Paul Stastny will come out flying this season. It'll be almost impossible for Malkin to go through a slump given the situation he's in and Stastny is simply too smart to let opponents shut him down all season long. Anze Kopitar needs to have at least 80 points for the Kings to avoid last place obscurity in the West.
Joe Sakic and Chris Chelios will continue to impress. Sakic, who will be turning 38 and Chelios, who just recently turned 45, will have major impacts for their teams.
Goalies to establish themselves: Niklas Backstrom, Ray Emery, and Carey Price.
NHL TV ratings will continue to dip. The marketing team for the NHL is non-existent and while Versus and NBC have been doing decent jobs, the NHL needs to fine networks that are 100% committed to their product.
The Flyers, even with all of their offseason moves, will not make the Playoffs. They still play in one of the toughest divisions in the league and Daniel Briere is not worth the money he received.
Marion Gaborik, Scott Gomez, and Mats Sundin will all have monster years. Gaborik hasn't missed a pre-season game yet and Scott Gomez can finally play offense after leaving defense-crazy New Jersey. For Sundin, this could be his last chance at a Playoff run and no one was happier about the Jason Blake signing.
The New York Islanders: Welcome back to mediocrity.
Notable Teams Not Making the Playoffs: Dallas, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay.
Surprise in the West: St. Louis Blues
Suprise in the East: Florida Panthers
In other news...Peter Forsberg to not be wanted by 27 NHL teams.
Marty Turco and Joe Thornton will be labeled as players not able to bring a Stanley Cup to their teams. Turco needs to make a deep run in the Playoffs, and after Dallas stood still in the offseason, that probably won't happen. Joe Thornton has all of the pieces to make a run. Now he has to use them.
Pat Quinn will be hired by November 12th. Yeah, Remember him?
Ryan Smyth will have a career year in Colorado. The line of Sakic, Brunette and Smyth will be one of the NHL's best all season long as Smyth helps lead the Avs on a Playoff run.
Speaking of the Avs, Jose Theodore won't have a job come next season.
The Devils will make it to the Playoffs and thanks to a well rested Martin Brodeur, they'll make the semi-finals...at the very least.
The NHL NEEDS a record this year. Whether it be 50 goals in 50 games or most points in a single game, they need something to be talked about. Otherwise, bull riding will be the fourth major sport.
Game to Watch: Buffalo vs Pittsburgh - January 1st. The NHL will have its first outdoor game since the Heritage Classic, and this time, it will count. Sure, it'll be competing with College board. But come New Year's Day, I know what I'll be watching!