Stanley Cup Finalists
The short vacation from late June to the middle of September will barely heal the bumps and bruises that players on both the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks sustained in last season’s Stanley Cup run. I believe the B’s will have a more difficult path to recovery with the many injuries that piled up as the postseason wore on. Most notably, Patrice Bergeron suffered a torn rib cartilage during the Stanley Cup Finals and has been concussed on more than one occasion. Zdeno Chara looked older by the game as his minutes mounted. The recently signed Jarome Iginla is 36-years of age and played right through to the Eastern Conference Finals while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s got plenty of mileage on his body but the Bruins are banking on him to have a bit more tread on those premium tires.
The Blackhawks will be challenged by the short respite as well but they appear to be in better stead for the 2013-2014 campaign. They are led by a young coterie of superstars and should be able to respond from the opening bell. However, don’t be surprised if their start out of the gate is a bit sluggish after the additional 23 games they played to capture the Cup.
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Ready to Rock
Naturally the teams that played the least amount of games are those who didn’t get their ticket punched into the postseason. While fans of those teams were no doubt disappointed there may be a silver lining for some. Let’s take a look at a few of the teams that may actually be ready to rock and roll once the puck hits the ice for real in October.
- Philadelphia Flyers – The Flyers looked like they were shaking off a midseason swoon before they reeled of six of seven victories. Unfortunately they caught fire too late as time ran out on their chances for a playoff berth but they appear to be poised for a jump start to this coming regular season and with an extra 34 games at their disposal those slumps may not be quite so devastating.
- New Jersey Devils – The Devils plummeted from their lofty perch at the end of the 2011-2012 season when they spiraled out of the playoffs in 2013. Could the franchise have fallen so drastically or was the short season related to their on ice woes? We will see but one thing we do know is that the Martin Brodeur era is coming to a rapid close as the trade for Corey Schneider signaled that New Jersey is ready to move on to a new chapter.
- Phoenix Coyotes –The Coyotes are another team who had a dazzling season in ’11-’12 but were caught napping when the strike officially came to a close. Phoenix never got their motor racing and the Ides of March took their toll as the Coyotes dropped all but one game during that month and were relegated to also-ran status when the final month of the season came calling
- Anaheim Ducks – The only team on this last that actually did make the playoffs last season but were unceremoniously bounced by the 7th seeded Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Finals. Anaheim will have the bitter taste of defeat still in their mouths when the season arrives on time this year and will no doubt be ready to atone for their lethargy and early exit in May. This could be helpful in our early NHL picks.