10 NHL story lines for the 2013-14 season
Can the Blackhawks repeat?
It hasn't been done in almost two decades, but on the surface, the Blackhawks appear ready to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Chicago did not lose any significant players in the off-season. They are young and no longer must deal with Detroit in the Western Conference.
2. Last rides for three legends
Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne and Martin Brodeur are considered three of the greatest players of all time. Jagr and Selanne have said that the 2013-14 will likely be their last. Brodeur has also hinted that this likely will be his final campaign. Selanne will play once more with Anaheim in Pittsburgh, while Brodeur and Jagr will open the season with New Jersey at Consol Energy Center on Oct. 3.
3. Olympics + Russians = Pressure
Russian forwards Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin are two of the world's greatest players. They'll also be dealing with the pressure of the Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia. Anything other than a gold medal won't go over well in their homeland. How will they deal with the pressure in February? And how will that pressure affect Malkin and Ovechkin during the season?
4. The new rivalry
Ottawa and Detroit now find themselves in the same division. A matchup made even better with Daniel Alfredsson -- Ottawa's former captain -- signing with Detroit this summer.
5. Same faces, new places
Two coaching hires will be under heavy scrutiny this season. John Tortorella, a tough-guy coach, now calls the shots for a Vancouver team that is rarely confused with being tough. Alain Vignaualt, who once coached Vancouver, now runs the Rangers. He will attempt to squeeze more offense from a New York squad that has specialized in defense in recent seasons.
6. Canadian drought
No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. Who has the best chance this season? Ottawa will be under the most pressure to contend because of its off-season moves,. Montreal and Toronto are improving and could be a force in the playoffs.
7. Goalies on the hot seat
Goalies always feel the pressure to succeed. And then there are Marc-Andre Fleury, Cam Ward and Roberto Luongo. Fleury's recent troubles have been well documented.
Luongo needs to be better in the postseason and Ward needs to stay healthy and lead a Carolina team that remains in transition.
8. New rules
The NHL is clearly pushing the possibility of hybrid icing. Players have mixed feelings about it, but most defensemen are in favor of it because of the protection it offers. Goalies have again had their equipment minimized, largely because scoring has dropped in the NHL in every year but one during the past decade. Subtle changes were also made to the back of nets, making it easier for high-impact passes to be made behind the net.
9. Iggy heads to Boston
Jarome Iginla one of the most liked and respected players in the league wasn't resigned by the Penguins this summer. He instead signed with the Bruins who he spurned last spring. Iginlia has enjoyed a strong preseason with the Boston providing them with another rugged forward who can score.
10. Time for the young guns?
Young teams like Edmonton, Columbus and the New York Islanders are clearly on the rise. The Islanders finally broke through to the playoffs last season, giving the Penguins all they could handle in the first round. A young, talented Columbus team in the Metropolitan Division could also emrge as a playoff team. Edmonton, despite all of its glitzy, young talent, hasn't come close to a playoff berth. This might be the year for the Oilers.
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