1. * Washington - Ovie, Backstrom, healthy Semin, healthy Green, Mike Knuble ... even Poti can't pull them down.
2. * Boston - Even without Kessel they can score and Timmy T and Mount Zdeno make sure other teams don't.
3. * Philadelphia - Pronger's elbows help make up for Emery's woes.
4. Pittsburgh - No Scuderi hurts more than expected but Cindy, Gina and the Flower are still around.
5. Carolina - Staal bounces back and hits 100, while the Wizard Whitney continues his mightily unappreciated wizardry.
6. New Jersey - Mmmmmmaaaaaarrrrrtttttyyyyy. Mmmmmmaaaaaarrrrrtttttyyyyy.
7. Buffalo - Population of Pominville surges back to norm while Miller makes his case for Olympic starter.
8. Toronto - Strong defense gives the Monster some confidence and Kessel comes out strong ... in December.
9. NY Rangers - Tortorella's tough talk can only go so far with a flawed superstar and a overburdened goaltender.
10. Montreal - MexiCan't can't make up for
11. Tampa Bay - Healthy Mike Smith with an improved defense helps Vinny04 find his game again.
12. Atlanta - Offense will have more punch but no XLB and weak goaltending spells doom.
13. Florida - Loss of Bouwmeester and Anderson hurts. A lot.
14. Ottawa - No Heatley, injury-prone goaltending and Jarkko Ruutu aren't a recipe for success.
15. NY Islanders - Too many kids, too terrible a defense but I have a bad feeling that they will be damned good in the near future. And that's one helluva bad feeling.
* = Division Leader
1. * Detroit - They're the Red Wings, 'nuff said.
2. * San Jose - Regular season stars yet again.
3. * Calgary - Top three D can't be beat as Sutters star in home province.
4. Dallas - Healthy captain Morrow doesn't let Turco slide, proves that the Avery distraction was indeed the reason they sucked.
5. Vancouver - Improved defense helps Lou chase Stanley silver along with Olympic gold.
6. Chicago - Twenty-Cent leads charge in last season before cap woes kill dream.
7. Anaheim - No Pronger, no problem as Hiller is no Swiss cheese.
8. St. Louis - Prepare to get Oshied as JD's brats come up big again.
9. Columbus - Even Hitch can't stop Mason from pulling a Price.
10. Los Angeles - The kids are alright. Not good, not bad, alright.
11. Nashville - No Radulov, no goals. No Zanon, no blocked shots.
12. Phoenix - Off ice turmoil too much, even for Captain Canada Shane Doan.
13. Minnesota - Lemaire was there for a reason. Can't attack without any offense.
14. Edmonton - Two coaches not better than one, especially if twitchy Bulin Wall crumbles.
15. Colorado - Everything will be downhill after the Sakic ceremony.
* = Division Leader
I won't do individual awards but here are 10 other shots in the dark:
*The NHL will have more than three 100 point scorers. And Zach Parise will be one of them.
*Bobby Ryan will score 45 goals.
*Jeff Carter will not.
*The Olympics will cost the Detroit Red Wings the Stanley Cup.
*Mats Sundin will return to the NHL, and will play for the Rangers.
*Mmmmaaarrrtttyyy Brodeur will get injured again.
*Los Angeles will trade for a goaltender at the deadline, thinking they can run for the playoffs.
*Jacques Martin won't last the season in Montreal.
*Versus and Direct TV won't come to terms, screwing hockey fans yet again.
*I will finally make it to Philly for a game and will escape without a criminal record.
Now for some personal certainties: Aside from crossing Philly off my arena list, I am also going to get out to a few Olympic games in Vancouver - have tix to two Russia games, one Sweden, one Finland and trying to get one for a USA game as well. While I am out west I will catch my first junior game (Seattle vs. Vancouver) and may even get a NCAA DI game in this season to; I may not hit the Winter Classic this time around - no one worth rooting for - but will try to get to Fenway for BU/BC the next week. Fingers crossed.
Here on the blog I have no big plans for new types of content: no podcasts, radio or video shows. If you can think of something you want - aside from me to stop hating on Brashear - feel free to chime in. I hope to have a new masthead hopefully by the end of the weekend though. Peepin' Foes for the Pens and for the Sens will both be up by Friday afternoon.