Hockey Correspondent, White Cover Magazine
*These are my previews for every NHL division and my predictions of what lies ahead for all five teams of all six divvies in this shortened, 48-game regular season. I intend to keep each team’s summary to two sentences or less. Not because I’m succinct or concise, but because I’m tired and lazy and I don’t want to write very much.
Winnipeg Jets: A whole lot of excitement better turn into a whole lot of better-than-average real fast.
Washington Capitals: Although Florida stole the show from them last year, the Capitals still went farther than any Southwest Division team and pushed the No. 1 Rangers to seven games in the second round. Even without Alex Semin, the Capitals will have a lot more to say in 2013.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Another team that needs a reminder of how good they can be, the Lightning have the tools in Stamkos, St. Louis, and a rapidly improving defensive corps.
Carolina Hurricanes: Dear God. Why do lockouts treat the Hurricanes so well? Last time, they won the Cup. This time… well, it seems less crazy than it did in 2005.
Florida Panthers: The Cats took Moneyball and brought it to the ice last year. If they can get their hands on a guy named Luongo and then somehow find the gear they hit in the Fall of 2011, the Panthers may be on their way to another surprising playoff appearance.
1. Carolina Hurricanes
2. Washington Capitals
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Florida Panthers
5. Winnipeg Jets
The Hurricanes appear to be rejuvenated, as does their captain Eric Staal. He’ll go head-to-head with Alex Ovechkin in one corner of the race for the Hart Trophy.