The season starts today with Boston emphatically celebrating the return of Lord Stanley. While all of the key players from last year’s squad return, the Bruins will have to fight hard to maintain their energy if they hope to repeat, following a short, party filled offense. The addition of defenseman Joe Corvo should help in this regard, especially on the powerplay (a glaring weakness on the team last year).
Montreal, a team that pushed the eventual champions to the brink of elimination in last year’s first playoff round, must improve their weak offense if they want any chance to advance further. The addition of winger Erik Cole should help, but the extent of his effectiveness still remains to be seen.
The Buffalo Sabres had proved by the end of last season that they can score goals in bunches, but still had a number of holes on defense. Following many expensive offseason moves, though, their blue line should be much better this year. Look for Buffalo to be among the most improved teams this season.
Rookie goaltender James Reimer was a revelation for Toronto last season, and should play a huge role in returning the team to respectability. This return will probably not be witnessed this year, however, as the team still lacks the offensive firepower to be competitive with the top teams in the division.
Still stuck in the midst of a major rebuilding project, Ottawa will likely contend for the worst record in the league this season. New coach Paul MacLean will attempt to expedite the growing process, but there is only so much that he can do with the Senators’ limited roster.