Given that this hasn’t exactly been the happiest of NHL offseasons, I feel a bit conflicted about being excited for the forthcoming 2011-12 season. With every that has happened since June, doesn’t it seem like a lifetime ago that the Bruins proudly hoisted their first Stanley Cup since the 1970s?
But let’s face it: I like to focus on the positive, such as the groundswell of support from Vancouver residents after the Stanley Cup riots, the return of the JETS, the sometimes hilarious trips with the Cup made by the Bruins, and the conversations that have opened up about mental illness (please, if you haven’t already, read Michael Landsberg’s touching column about his friend Wade Belak.)
Time to accentuate the positive with our NHL Preview. We begin today with the Northeast Division.
In 2010-11… finished the season with 74 points and were as crummy as I predicted they’d be.
This season… one word: rebuilding. With aging veterans such as Daniel Alfredsson and last year’s disappointing acquisition Sergei Gonchar, there are few positive expectations coming out of Ottawa. But Movember could be fun if the team adopts their new coach’s current look.
Hottie to Watch: I do have a thing for bald, blue eyed guys – ask Mr. Bee. Goaltender Craig Anderson was a late addition to the roster last year and will be the key to keeping the Sens out of the Eastern Conference basement.
Toronto Maple Leafs
In 2010-11… 10th in the East. Bloody 10th.
This season… Burkie actually made some offseason moves that made Bee a very happy Lady, acquiring the likes of Matthew Lombardi and John-Michael Liles, bringing Tim Connolly over from Buffalo and re-uping with Bee faves Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak and Darryl Boyce among others. Last season gave me hope for the future. Surely this is the season we squeak into the playoffs. SURELY.
Hottie to Watch: the adorable James Reimer, who backstopped his way into the hearts and minds – but mostly hearts – of Leafs Nation last season as a call-up from the Marlies. I don’t even care that he looks like he’s 14.
In 2010-11… squeaked into the postseason, but lost to the Flyers in seven.
This season… Sabres fans had plenty of reason to be excited last season thanks to the enthusiasm of owner Terry Pegula. This year the defensive core is bolstered with the arrivals of Christian Ehrhoff and former Flame Robyn Regehr. Buffalo may be the team nobody in the East wants to face.
Hottie to Watch: Let’s take a break from the goaltenders and introduce you to Nathan Gerbe. A bit young for me, but this blog isn’t just about me, is it.
In 2010-11… fell in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs to the Bruins. I told you Thomas ruled over Price.
This season… the Habs didn’t exactly make any moves that blew us away, even with Monday’s signing of free agent defenseman Chris Campoli, which keeps me from predicting that they’ll take the division. The goaltending remains fairly strong with Price, but can he stay strong playing under the watchful and critical eyes of the Montreal faithful?
Hottie to Watch: You know we love us some Cammalleri.
In 2010-11… see below.
This season… it’s not easy to repeat, but the Bruins did well to retain most of the keys to their Stanley Cup win over the Canucks. Joe Corvo should be a nice acquisition to replace Tomas Kaberle and the pundits are excited about Tyler Seguin’s potential. This team is going to be fun to watch for a while yet.
Hottie to Watch… you had to ask? Really?