Sunday, October 12, 2008

STN: NHL redemption stories for 2008-09

By Rick Morris

With as a part of our Friends of FDH Club, we have the opportunity to add a tremendous element to The Lounge due to our syndication agreement.

FDH content consumers are no doubt aware that I co-host the hockey program THE GOON SQUAD on STN on Wednesdays from 9-10 PM EDT along with STN hockey analyst Kyle O’Rourke. Kyle writes a sensational hockey column for STN that is hosted in his own forum at the STN flagship affiliate site

We will henceforth be syndicating Kyle’s columns here at The Lounge and we will be directing you to the home of his columns on STC at every opportunity so that you can check out all of his coverage dating back to November 2007. Here is his most recent column.


By Kyle O’Rourke


Some call it a chance for redemption, others are simply looking for continued greatness, while there are always those few teams who have no hope at all. Yes, the 2008-09 NHL season has come and not a moment too soon. With all the hype from the off-season including the free agents, all of the trades and of course the ever important NHL Entry Draft, the fans could simply not wait. The defending Stanley Cup Champs will open their season at home facing off against the less than average Toronto Maple Leafs. While the season has already opened for the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators and the Eastern Conference Champs, Pittsburgh Penguins, in Sweden and Czech Republic. Overall the pre-season had no major surprises, proving that many young teams are on the move to the top of the standings. As many of you are aware, the teams in each conference are often predicted by columnists and sports analysts alike and not to disappoint, I too will be predicting the top eight teams in each conference.

As this season starts, I will get the most painful moments out of the way as quickly as possible. Though I hate to admit it as a die hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan, who will always have hope in the great organization, the future is looking very grim. However, it is only the short term future that is in trouble, as the have nearly $10 million space in their salary cap for next year, and are still in the process of rebuilding with new coach Ron Wilson, along with numerous additions to their team including Curtis Joseph, Jeff Finger, Niklas Hagman and Mike Van Ryn, just to name a few. This season is not looking very good for them but they luckily have a strong goaltender in Vesa Toskala and Cujo is sure to steal a few games as the back up goalie. Along with the Leafs, the Buffalo Sabers, Florida Panthers and the Atlanta Thrashers are likely going to be among the teams in the lower half of the Eastern Conference at the end of this season. As for the Western Conference, things are likely to be a little closer this year. With the Chicago Blackhawks expected to have a major turnaround year, the top spot in the Central division is no longer going to be a gimme to the Detroit Red Wings. Although it is expected that they will win the division, this may be the last year for a while they are on top. Also, Columbus and Los Angeles are both expected to finish low in the standings; even with the outstanding skills of Rick Nash, Columbus is not likely to do well.

As for the off-season, many teams made moves that are likely to make them Stanley Cup contenders for this NHL season. The most impressive move as thought by many people, is the Chicago Blackhawks acquiring Brian Campbell as a free agent to a 8 year 56 million dollar deal that will really help the Hawks blueline. Also, Cristobal Huet was picked up and is likely to be their starting goalie over Khabibulin who had a career low last year. Marian Hossa signed with the Detroit Red Wings hoping to be with the team if they are able pull off a repeat as the Stanley Cup Champs. The Phoenix Coyotes made a big move in acquiring Olli Jokinen in order to help them make the playoffs this year as they just got beat out last year. The New York Rangers also made some large moves in acquiring veteran defenseman Wade Redden. Also, Marcus Naslund is now in the bright lights of Broadway as he too decided to join the team with Chris Drury as the new Captain now that Jaromir Jagr has moved on. The Dallas Stars now have the professional pest Sean Avery in hopes to add a little more grit to their game and the Colorado Avalanche now have two former Leafs by the name of Andrew Raycroft and Darcy Tucker. Lastly, the Tampa Bay Lightning made some major off-season moves, including drafting super star Steven Stamkos first overall. Also, the Lightning was able to get Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts on the team and now have a new coach, who is not new to the league at all, Barry Melrose. The team is sure to do better this year compared to their last place overall finish last season, especially with goalie Mike Smith, who proved he was capable at the end of last season.

As for the season openers overseas, the Ottawa Senators managed to take 3 points out of the two game series after winning and losing in overtime. While the New York Rangers won both games by a score of 2-1 and started off the season 2-0 while Tampa Bay starts off 0-2. The defending Stanley Cup Champs will hoist the banner into their rafters before their season opener against the Leafs this coming Thursday. It is likely that they too will start off their season with a winning record against the dismal Leafs. But do they have a chance at repeating as Cup Champs? Not if the Montreal Canadiens have anything to say about it. Coming off a confidence building season, the Canadiens and goalie Carey Price are looking to go a little deeper into the playoffs this season. But here, the moment I'm sure you are all waiting for, is my set of top 8 predictions for each conference.

Eastern Conference.

1.Montreal Canadiens

2.Washington Capitals

3.New York Rangers

4.Pittsburgh Penguins

5.Philadelphia Flyers

6.Boston Bruins

7.Ottawa Senators

8.Tampa Bay Lightning

Western Conference

1.Detroit Red Wings

2.Calgary Flames

3.Dallas Stars

4.Chicago Blackhawks

5.San Jose Sharks

6.Edmonton Oilers

7.Anaheim Ducks

8.Phoenix Coyotes

So there you have it, my predictions. Some may be far-fetched, but feel free to judge for yourself, and seeing as how I did not put the points beside the teams, I would just like to clarify this. I am picking Montreal first overall in the league with Detroit following closely behind. Be sure to tune into your favorite teams for their season opener or home opener and tune into THE GOON SQUAD Wednesday nights at 9 PM EDT with Rick Morris and myself. So lace ‘em up tight and make sure you have a dental plan, because it’s going to get rough.

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