The 2013 NHL season is no longer an 82 game marathon, but instead is a 48 game dash to the finish line.
Will teams that had multiple players skating in Europe fair better? Will veteran squads win because they will have fresh legs all season long? Only the next few months will tell.
Here are my Eastern Conference power rankings.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – A healthyEvgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will lead Pittsburgh deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. The addition of veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun gives Coach Dan Bylsma a solid option if Marc-Andre Fleury falters.
For one night, normalcy was restored in the hockey world.
As the "Fire Bettman" and "We want hockey" chants rained down to the Art Dorrington Ice Rink on Saturday evening at the Boardwalk Hall, people got a sense that this lockout just has to end.
For one night, Flyers, Rangers, Devils and even a few Penguins and Islanders fans were united with a select handful of other fans in Atlantic City's historic Boardwalk Hall. They were there for Operation Hat Trick, a charity game featuring 90% of the Atlantic Division's current and former star players, all still active in the NHL.
In all, 10,792 fans showed up, selling out the venue. It was the first sellout for a hockey event in Atlantic City since 1933.
The recent news of Lubomir Visnovsky filing a grievance with the NHLPA has Islander fans hanging their heads in despair. He has filed a grievance in an attempt to uncover a “No Trade Clause” that wasn’t honored at the time of the trade. It’s hard to decide if the actual news was the most painful or the fact that the Rangers netted Rick Nash for a bag of sweet tarts and a draft pick in a similar time frame. (Photo Credit, clydeorama/Flickr)
For playing under the same city name, the Rangers and Islanders could not be more different at the moment. Consistently, the Rangers keep improving on an already well stocked roster. They are able to speed up the process of rebuilding with their young players by pairing them with proven and perennial All Stars. It is a formula that leaves the Islanders in the dust.
In terms of young, raw talent the Islanders have the edge. However, an unproven stock- pile of draft picks does not win many games. The Rangers are able to introduce young players into the fold while adding great players in their prime.
It is like the Islanders rebuild plan but on steroids.
2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Eastern Conference FinalNew York Rangers ( 1 ) vs. New Jersey Devils ( 6 ) It's always fun when rivals meet in the playoffs. Penguins vs. Flyers. Habs vs. Bruins. Canucks vs. Blackhawks. Bad blood makes for good hockey, and more importantly, good television. Even better when it's late in the playoffs, like this year's Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils. The best word to describe the feelings between these two teams is probably "bad blood", but then again that word pretty much sums up any match-up in the Atlantic Division. There's a lot at play here. Location. Histo...
The Montreal Canadiens step down from the podium and the camera turns to the General Manager of the New York Islanders, Garth Snow. Accompanied by his top scouts and assistants, and most likely Kevin Connolly who formerly was on Entourage, Snow remains seated. With Pierre McGuire ready to analyze Snow's draft choice at fourth overall, the Isles GM leaves the podium vacant for the Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman.
"We have a trade to announce, " are the words that would echo throughout a startled building.
"The Islanders have chosen to trade the fourth overall pick in this year's draft..."
Not a lot of people expected the Ottawa Senators to be one of only two Canadian teams that managed to make the playoffs this season. In fact, in the "normal" NHL universe, the Canadiens and Sens would probably be in each others positions. The Sens started the season with people assuming they were at the beginning of a rebuild, with GM Bryan Murray half-blowing things up the prior off-season. But then something happened. The Sens top players started playing like... well... top players. Alfredsson was on his game as rumors of retirement grew bigger and bigger. Jason Spezza became a dominant center once again. And the...
This week, much to the sadness and/or delight of many Canadiens' fans, is the last of 2011-12. Last week, the Habs surrendered all three of their games, two in the shootout and one in regulation time against the Rangers.