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Things to watch for this NHL season

Jairus Patterson | Interrobang | Sports | October 8th, 2007

The NHL is back and it couldn't have come sooner. I've waited since May to see the best game in the world back on ice. The past four months of signings have made the anticipation for last Wednesday worth the wait. My friends and I have spent numerous times talking about what we think is going to happen this season.

Here are some things I can't wait to watch this season:

The New York Rangers: Glen Sather went out and signed two of the best free agents available. The only question is will the top six forwards and the two best forward lines mesh together and be the dominating team that they appear to be on paper.

The Philadelphia Flyers: I'm not going to talk about the dirty hit Steve Downie did or how his suspension is the right length of time. (His own teammate said he deserved to be suspended.) I'm more curious to see if the new D-line will be fast enough for the new NHL. The offense should be there, will the D?

The Pittsburgh Penguins: Will this highflying team live up to the hype? They were amazing last year but no one will take them lightly this year. Don't be shocked if they drop down in the standings, but don't hold your breath.

The Ottawa Senators: Is this the final chance for this team to win the cup? Yes it is, too many UFA's at the end of the year. If they don't do it this year, then Ottawa will say goodbye to some big names. I see no Stanley Cup this year!!!!

The Anaheim Ducks: We will not see the real Duck's until January when Scott Niedermayer comes back. It will be a scary D with Schneider, Pronger, Beauchemin and Niedermayer. Also can Bertuzzi gain his old form?

The San Jose Sharks: When you have the second best player in the world how can you not like this team. Cheechoo will have a much better year. Look for 45 goals and Patrick Marleau will have a better season and a much better playoffs.

The Chicago Blackhawks: Go ahead and email me if you don't like this pick. I said don't be surprised to see the Pens not make the playoffs. Now don't be surprised if the Blackhawks make the playoffs. Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Havlat will have amazing seasons. Those two players will set the tone early for the team. Lang will score 30 goals and the kids named Toews and Kane will put on a show.

The Rookies: Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Toews, Peter Muller, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson and Bobby Ryan, Jonathan Bernier. So many great junior players, who will be great pro players? What I will tell you is, Nicklas Backstrom will put up more points then last years Calder winner Evgeni Malkin.

The Local Boys: Who am I talking about? The second best player in the world, Joe Thornton. Can he FINALLY take his team to the Stanley Cup. Will he score more then 30 goals? He has only done it twice in his 10 year career. Will he break the 100 assist mark? I think he can do 140 points this year. Corey Perry and Andy Mcdonald. Perry and Getzlaf had chemistry together in the playoffs and were put back together on the first line for the second game of the season. What happened? Two goals for Perry. Can he double his goal total to 34? I think so. Rick Nash - Is this amazing talented player finally ready to take his team to the next level? If he comes into the season in shape and plays with a chip on his shoulder he could be one of the top three power forwards in the league.

And Finally Pat Kane and Sam Gagner - The London Knights want them back. Everyone in the Forest City wants them back. The only way either of them will come back is if they can't play 15-plus solid minutes a game. Everyone thought Kane was more ready for the NHL compared to Gagner. After a dominating Super Series and a great training camp, Gagner looks like he has the better chance of sticking. I'm afraid Gagner will mentally and physically wear down like Malkin did last year. Can both of these players put up some serious points? Is Kane too small, is Gagner too young? I hope Kane makes the team so I look like a genius when the Hawks make the playoffs, however the race for the Calder trophy next year would be a two man race between the two of them if they both got sent down.
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