by Patrick Hoffman on 09/15/10 at 01:24 PM ET
PH: We know the season has yet to begin but name the eight teams from each conference that will make the playoffs.
SW: Well, in no particular order and off the top of my head:
East: Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Montreal, Boston, New Jersey
West: Detroit, Colorado, St. Louis, Nashville, Vancouver, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose
PH: Which team do you think will be the biggest surprise this season? Why?
SW: I don’t know if you want to call it a surprise, but I think that Tampa could be a team to look at. You see what they’ve improved on; it looks like they could be a solid team and may turn some heads. Sure, the moves they made will help them become that, but I don’t think there’s many teams out there that will jump out more than Tampa. The biggest question will be goaltending and if the tandem of Mike Smith and Dan Ellis can be a solid duo.
PH: Which team do you think will be the biggest disappointment this season? Why?
SW: While their story was a great one, the pressure is going to be on Phoenix now considering people know they won’t be an easy two points. We’ll see how well Ilya Bryzgalov deals with the attention and if they are able to get by with their lack of scoring punch they had last season. Especially when they lose a guy like Zbynek Michalek on defense, can they fill that void and be as effective in their all-around game.
PH: Which players will have the greatest impact on their team this season? Why?
SW: The young trio in Edmonton will definitely make an impact for them. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi (Svensson) can only lift up the Oilers and make them a team to watch out for. It probably won’t get them to the playoffs this season, but I think they will be the cornerstones in order to get the Oilers back on the right track again. They can only go up from here, right??
PH: Who do you think will be the Canucks’ next captain? Why?
SW: It’s down between Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, but I think Sedin will get the nod just because of the fact he’s been there longer. Granted, the more vocal of the two will be Kesler more than likely; Sedin is someone who will be able to lead by example and probably command the respect by professionalism or whatnot.
PH: Who do you think will be the next Habs’ captain? Why?
SW: Andrei Markov should be the next captain, and probably will be. He plays in a lot of situations and really has been the unofficial captain. It seems like a formality, but it goes back to the loyalty thing and him having the most tenure. It’d almost be a smack in the face if they gave one of their new acquisitions the “C” over Markov.
PH: Any other thoughts on the upcoming season?
SW: It should be interesting to say the least. The Cup champs have dismantled a lot of their key cogs in order to get the Cup and may feel a bit of hangover. There’s been a decent amount of goaltending changes, which should make for new-look creases for many teams; which could prove to be something to focus on throughout the season. For the most part, a lot of the teams are the same and how they are able to adapt and change their mistakes from the prior season will be a decent storyline to follow, for sure.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.