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Final Thoughts


Pioneer Division

The road to the cup will go through California again, the question is which California team?

1] California – after coming within 4 points of the Kings, the Seals should win it this season and reclaim their title – the question will be how many from the opening night roster will be there by then?

2] Los Angeles – expect a back-and-forth battle for first with the Seals but in the end the Kings will fall to 2nd in the division – the Kings will be cup contenders again and regardless who else is there, getting past the Seals or Kings will be a challenge

3] St. Louis – the team you saw at the end of the season are the real Blues – armed and reloaded, the Blues should push the California twins for first – expect the Blues to be in the playoffs and possibly finish as a higher seed

4] Colorado – the Rockies are a hard team to play against but in a division where the Seals, Kings, and Blues are deeper in talent - the Rockies will be hard pressed to get into the playoffs unless one of these three teams slip

5] Vancouver – too old and slow, the Canucks just did not do enough to keep up the changes some of the teams in their division made – the Canucks will miss the playoffs and be forced to alter course

6] Kansas City – they could possibly get past the Canucks depending on how much the Canucks slide – If Clarke joins the line-up, then there is just enough to get past the Canucks – otherwise another season out of the playoffs


Midwest Division

 A changing of the guard is coming at the top and the Penguins/Sabres could make some noise

1] Chicago – a lot depends on how many pucks go in the net but the time is now for the Blackhawks to make their move to first and make people believe that they are ready to be champions

2] Toronto – it was no fluke that the Maple Leafs made the playoffs with a balance attack – the Maple Leafs are not cup ready yet so do expect them to take a small step back when they reach the playoffs but, in another season, we will be talking about them as possible champions

3] Detroit – falling back to 3rd is exactly what a team that has won as many division titles as they have, yet only had one cup to show for, needs right now – the Red Wings have become too complacent and need to start fighting for that cup instead of waiting for it to come to them

4] Pittsburgh – the Penguins will get closer to the playoffs but are not there just yet – adding veterans help and it will make the club more competitive – the Penguins need to find more goals but if they can expect them to be a pest in the division

5] Cleveland – the Barons and Penguins could easily swap spots and may end up doing so – the Barons need to figure out why a team that made it to the final four two seasons ago are struggling to get back there – improvement in scoring and defense will help but it won’t be enough

6] Buffalo – this team is getting better and while it my not show it in the standings the 15-point improvement last season from the one before is a good indicator – the Sabres will/must turn the young guns loose and allow them to develop – they may not make the playoffs but they will be fun to watch

7] Minnesota – the North Stars have to figure out what they want to do – they will hit rock bottom and probably get a top pick which they use to turn the franchise around – resigning any of their youth or veterans is a must this season


American Division

The toughest division in the league just got tougher as teams will be spending their time beating each other; each day could see a new leader

1] Washington – the Capitals are ready to dethrone the Bruins – expect the Capitals to finally put it together with solid goaltending from Hall/Esposito and an offense that should finish near the top

2] Boston – do not let the slide to 2nd worry you – the Bruins finished with less than 100 points for the first time in three seasons – the club is still a cup contender regardless of where they finish, however, if the Bruins slide in points again this season, then you know the Bruins time may be up

3] Montreal – the Canadiens saw their club go from 53 to 79 points last season and it is reasonable to expect that they will be in the playoffs this season – the defense and goaltending will need to hold up and not break down though for that to happen

4] Atlanta – the Flames are a team in transition that should grab a wild card spot – at the same time, the Flames could go the other way with the veterans do not show up – should that happen by deadline day, expect the Flames to make changes

5] Ny. Islanders – the Islanders made major changes at center that will make them a tougher team to play against – while they are not playoff bound, if the Islanders can have another productive off-season, we will be having a different view of them next season

6] Ny. Rangers – the Rangers have lots of work to do – while this hard working group play well there just isn’t enough talent throughout the roster to sustain any kind of offense and will lose a few games most nights – selling off veterans for picks and starting the rebuild is the only course of action