Now that the NHL is moving from meeting rooms back to the ice, we can finally give our 2013 season preview. The Devils, Flyers and Rangers all enjoyed successful 2011-2012 campaigns with the Devils going all the way to the Stanley Cup finals(it seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?). Moving forward towards the new season that should start on Jan 19th, we will give our predictions for our 3 local teams.
For the Flyers, it all comes down to, you guessed it…GOALTENDING, Flyer fans have been saying this ever since the days of Ron Hextall. The Flyers have one of the game’s best players in Claude Giroux. Along with Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and role players like Wayne Simmons and Sean Couturier, the Flyers have a very impressive roster and in my mind, one of the best coaches in the NHL. They should not have any problem scoring goals and they will win their share of games. Again, it all comes down to IIya Bryzgalov and if he is able to raise his game. The Flyers rolled over their Pennsylvania rivals from Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs but were drastically outplayed by the Devils and the ageless Marty Brodeur. Our prediction is the Flyers should exceed the 100 point mark and if they get good goaltending, will be a force in the playoffs.
The NY Rangers enjoyed their best regular season since 1994 and added power forward Rick Nash to their already deep line-up. The Rangers have the league’s best goalie in Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers have a good mix of youth and veteran leadership. The Rangers bug-a-boo last season was scoring goals…specifially scoring on the power play. Rick Nash as well as a healthy Marion Gaborik should help the Rangers solve their lack of goal scoring. The Rangers had the best record in the Eastern Conference and were just 2 wins shy of going to the finals. The addition of Nash along with the continued improvement of Chris Kreider and Ryan Mcdonaugh should catapult the Rangers to the elite level of the NHL and we see no reason why the Rangers can’t take that next step in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The NJ Devils enter the 2013 season as the defending Eastern Conference champions. Out of our 3 teams, the Devils are the team least likely to repeat last year’s success. Team captian Zach Parise bolted the organization that drafted him to sign with the Minnesota Wild. The legend, Martin Brodeur is back for another season but he will be turning 41 in early May and one must ask how much more the NHL’s all-time winningist goaltender has to give. The Devils still have good players like Ilya Kovalchuk, ol’ reliable Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique but it will be difficult for the Devils to make the playoffs and defend their crown.
The NHL season is expected to be 48 games. It is expected to start within the next couple of weeks. Those of us who love hockey and root for these 3 teams are pumped up and the anticipation of spring success for one of these teams is quite possible. Last year, the Rangers swept the season series from the Flyers. How great would it be if these 2 squared off for the right to play for the cup next June? Whether you root for the Flyers, Rangers or Devils…you don’t agree on much…but we call ALL agree that we’re happy hockey’s back and as they say in the trade…DROP THE PUCK!!