Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: nhl previews
Of all five Southeast Division clubs, the Washington Capitals of 2010-11 will look the most like themselves from a year ago, having added only a spattering of depth to the lineup that captured the President’s Trophy last season. Alas, as the reigning division champ and still the clear-cut class of the division, if it ain’t broke, well, you know… But a first-round playoff exit thanks to Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens left an awful taste in the mouths of Bruce Boudreau’s squad, meaning improvements are in order this year for sure. (Or else?)
Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: alex+ovechkin, alex+semin, braden+holtby, brendan+morrison, brian+fahey, brian+willsie, brooks+laich, bruce+boudreau, calder+cup, calder+trophy, d.j.+king, eric+belanger, eric+fehr, george+mcphee, hershey+bears, jaroslav+halak, jeff+schultz, joe+corvo, john+carlson, jose+theodore, karl+alzner, kyle+greentree, marcus+johansson, mathieu+perreault, michael+neuvirth, mike+green, mike+knuble, milan+jurcian, nhl+previews, nicklas+backstrom, scott+walker, semyon+varlamov, shaone+morrison, southeast+division, stefan+della+rovere, tomas+fleischmann
Before a single tweak to the roster, the Tampa Bay Lightning were already poised for improvement in 2010-11. With the tumultuous era of previous ownership already behind them when the sale of the team to Jeff Vinik was completed late last season, gone in an instant were any and all off-ice concerns and the circus went back to being an annual visitor to the St. Pete Times Forum rather than a permanent resident. With the appointment of Steve Yzerman as general manager, credibility returned to the franchise and new head coach Guy Boucher was widely regarded as the hottest commodity on the off-season coaching market.
Without a solitary player move, hockey life in Tampa was good again.
But far be it from Yzerman to rest on the comfort that fans surely feel by him simply not being one of those other guys. The addition of former Flyers forward Simon Gagne headlines a list of shrewd off-season maneuvers for the rookie GM and the revamped roster could very well translate to the sort of on-ice success that will make Lightning followers quickly forgot about three non-playoff seasons gone by.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
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The future is now in Carolina, where the old guard is out, an influx of youth is taking over and everyone is looking to put the injury-plagued woes that ruined things a season ago far, far behind them.
With the retirement of former captain Rod Brind’Amour symbolizing the changing of the guard in Raleigh, which started with Eric Staal succeeding Brind’Amour as team captain in January last season, the process of remolding the club is well underway. The 25-year-old Staal will have some veteran support in his first full year wearing the ‘C’ but Carolina’s heavy reliance on several key youngsters is a make-or-break formula for success this season. If the kids collectively respond to the challenge, the ‘Canes have enough going for them to cause trouble in the Southeast and surprise a lot of people. Some growing pains are sure to be felt, however, in such a transitional year for the franchise and immediate success probably takes a back seat to more long-term achievements.
Avoiding the injury bug has to be high on the list of priorities for a club that holds the unfortunate distinction of hitting the 300 man-games lost to injury milestone a year ago.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
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For the Atlanta Thrashers, a team with just one playoff appearance in ten National Hockey League seasons (and not a single post-season victory to their credit), the time for a fresh start was clearly at hand.
By first turning a negative into a positive in moving on from superstar sniper Ilya Kovalchuk late last season and then raiding the cabinet of the cap-crunched Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta begins their new era, under both a new general manager and head coach in Rick Dudley and Craig Ramsay, with a wealth of promising youth and several veterans with recent championship experience.
They may no longer boast an individual showstopper but that formula wasn’t producing a consistent winner in Blueland anyway (and that alone rarely does as much anywhere). The post-Kovalchuk Thrashers appear to be headed for greener pastures, though there will be that little issue of replacing his 45+ goals, of course.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
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