By Stu Hackel
Every NHL season starts with expectations and conjures up predictions on where teams might finish. Longtime readers know we eschew such forecasts here at Red Light, taking cues from our patron saint Hector (Toe) Blake who famously said (seen in this video), “Predictions are for gypsies.” In fact, we were going to call this blog “Toe Blake’s Tavern,” but that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, instead, here’s one of our favorite preseason habits. Rather than exhaustively breaking down each team’s offense, defense, goaltending, special teams, coaching, intangibles and so forth (we’ll let Adrian Dater and Darren Eliot do that), let’s try to boil down each team’s success or failure to one or a few essential themes. Each club has them and the answers to these questions, theoretically at least, should go a long way to determining if teams plays up to their expectations and potential.
Anaheim – Can goalie Jonas Hiller, who missed a large chunk of last season with a mysterious case of vertigo, avoid a reoccurrence and bounce back to his excellent first-half form that had him close to Tim Thomas as the best goalie in the NHL?
Boston — Assuming Tim Thomas plays somewhere in the neighborhood of his remarkable performance last season, can the Bruins survive the short offseason? Can they continue to have the good fortune and good health every champion requires and beat back the diminished hunger that almost always accompanies winning it all? Can they become the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1998?