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2010-2011 Season Preview

Canucks seek some revenge vs. Blackhawks

Tuesday, 10.19.2010 / 11:29 PM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Compiled By - Staff

The last time the Vancouver Canucks saw the Chicago Blackhawks, the Hawks were celebrating after eliminating them in the second round of the playoffs last spring on the way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 49 years.

The teams get together for the first time since that night in May when they meet at the United Center at 8:30 p.m. in one of four NHL games on Wednesday night's schedule.

The Hawks have won their last three games, including Monday's 3-2 overtime victory against St. Louis.
The night's action starts with two games at 7 p.m. ET. The Atlanta Thrashers return from a successful swing through California to host the struggling Buffalo Sabres, who haven't played since a 4-3 loss at Chicago on Saturday.

Prediction: Red Wings-Capitals in Cup Final

Wednesday, 10.06.2010 / 6:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The Chicago Blackhawks are good enough to win the Stanley Cup again and it wouldn't be shocking if they did. The Philadelphia Flyers have enough talent, especially on the back end, to come out of the Eastern Conference again. Henrik Sedin can definitely win another Hart Trophy and Duncan Keith another Norris Trophy.

Will they?

It's doesn't look like it right now. What will happen?

Well ...

Will Capitals be the Best of the East?

Tuesday, 10.05.2010 / 6:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Sergei J. Feldman - Staff Writer

Before the Philadelphia Flyers went on a magic carpet ride to last year's Stanley Cup Final, they needed the last day of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth.

To do so, they needed to defeat the New York Rangers, which they did with a shootout victory. Had the Rangers won that game, the chance to play Cinderella in the chase for the Cup would've been theirs. Meanwhile, just eight points separated the eleventh and 12th-seeded Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning from the eighth and final spot, while the Washington Capitals ran away with the No.1-seed and Presidents' Trophy.

Those are just a handful of stories that highlight the competitive balance and small margin of victory in the Eastern Conference last year. And while every new season offers new memorable wrinkles, this year's battle for Conference supremacy figures to be equally, if not more so, grueling.

A look at who's on the hot seat in the East

Tuesday, 10.05.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

John Kreiser - Columnist

The days are shorter now, the temperatures are cooler and the ice is ready. Another NHL season is ready to begin -- and the pressure already is starting to build for some players who know they'll have to be big-time producers for their teams to improve or contend in the upcoming season.

Here's a look at a player from each of the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference who will be under pressure to perform as soon as the puck drops:

Chris Mason, Atlanta
-- Goaltending never has been a strength in Atlanta, so it's not a big stretch to say that Mason -- signed as a free agent after two solid seasons in St. Louis -- could be the best goalie in franchise history. With a new coaching staff, a defense that's hardly rock-solid and a mostly young group of forwards, the Thrashers are going to need a big season from Mason to have any chance at making the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history.

Who's on the hot seat in the West?

Tuesday, 10.05.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

John Kreiser - Columnist

Vacation time is over. With the new season almost ready to begin, here's a look at a player from each of the 15 teams in the Western Conference who will be under pressure to perform as soon as the puck drops:

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim -- The Ducks already were struggling when Getzlaf injured his ankle just before the Olympics. He wound up missing 16 games, a big reason he dropped from 91 points to 69 -- and Anaheim went from making the second round of the playoffs to an unwanted early vacation. Getzlaf is an NHL rarity -- a power center -- and the Ducks aren't the same team without him in top form.

Jarome Iginla, Calgary -- The face of the franchise for the past decade just turned 33 -- one year older than the number of goals he scored in 2009-10, when he had his lowest scoring season since 2000-01. Iginla has gone from 50 goals in 2007-08 to 35 in 2008-09 and 32 last season, and with no one else on the roster who had more than 27 goals, the Flames need their captain to find the scoring touch he had a few years ago or face another early summer.

Are the Blackhawks the best in the West?

Monday, 10.04.2010 / 6:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Sergei J. Feldman - Staff Writer

There are easier things to do than making the playoffs in the Western Conference. Last season, the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars all failed to qualify in the West. Had they played in the Eastern Conference, they would have.

Of the teams that did qualify, seven of the eight earned at least 100 points. The talent hasn't dropped off in the offseason, either and this season's battle for Best of the West should be as balanced and competitive as ever.

Here's a look at which teams will compete for supremacy and which might reverse their fortunes come the 2010-11 season:

Capitals confident kid goalies will excel

Monday, 10.04.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

George McPhee is a visionary. Not convinced? Then check out the goal crease of the Washington Capitals.

Seeing Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth there is precisely what the Capitals’ GM envisioned four years ago when he selected the goalies in the opening two rounds of the NHL Entry Draft.

Now there is a heated training-camp competition to determine which of the 22-year-old goalies deserves to start on opening night in Atlanta on Oct. 8. Really, though, this battle won't end at the conclusion of training camp. Barring injury, it's sure to continue right through the regular season and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Caps want regular season excellence, playoff success

Monday, 10.04.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Hunter - Staff Writer

As far as regular seasons go, the Washington Capitals hope this one turns out just like the past three.

For all the postseason disappointment the Capitals have suffered in recent memory, they've also been the class of the Southeast Division for three years running. That includes winning the Presidents' Trophy last season with a 54-15-13 record, the 121 points easily the most in franchise history.

Washington ended up being the only team in the Southeast to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, finishing a whopping 38 points in front of second-place Atlanta. While it's probable that gap will be closed this season, with a number of their competitors improving significantly over the summer, the Capitals remain, unquestionably, the team to beat.

Unfortunately for all their fans in the D.C. area and beyond, come the playoffs that's exactly what has happened.

Canucks enter season solid in all phases of the game

Monday, 10.04.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

Is this the year?

It's a question Vancouver Canucks fans have asked themselves on an annual basis since the franchise entered the National Hockey League in 1970. So far, the answer has been no. But in 2011, Vancouver may get the answer it wants to hear.

Sure, it was disappointing when the Canucks lost in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Chicago Blackhawks last May. Vancouver had high hopes after it racked up 103 points and won the Northwest Division.

Armstrong embraces challenge of building a winner

Sunday, 10.03.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Larry Wigge - Columnist

Doug Armstrong is the new general manager of the St. Louis Blues, but by no means is he going to rest on any laurels.

Armstrong, in fact, remembers vividly what then-Minnesota North Stars GM Bob Clarke told him when he gave Armstrong his first NHL job, back in 1990.

Clarke's message was simple and could be viewed as a challenge to Armstrong, even though he came to the position armed with a degree from Western Michigan and a Masters degree in business from Florida State in business.

"Your father's going to help you get this job ... but you're going to have to keep it on your own," Clarke told him.
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