Skinny: The Pens have relied on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to make them go. But Crosby is out with a concussion, and Malkin, while playing, is still recovering from knee surgery. Without them, the Pens will look to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for help.
New York Rangers
Coach: John Tortorella, 5th season with the Rangers.
Last season: 44-33-5, 93 points.
Playoffs: Lost to the Capitals in the conference quarterfinals.
Skinny: Center Brad Richards, added as a free agent, will be expected do for the young Rangers what Sidney Crosby does for the Penguins, and right winger Marian Gaborik will be expected to help. If they fail, general manager Glen Sather could be on the hot seat.
New Jersey Devils
Coach: Peter DeBoer, 1st season with the Devils.
Last season: 38-39-5, 81 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: The question here is whether 39-year-old goalie Martin Broduer and left winger Ilya Kovalchuk can bring the Devils back to their glory days. They missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1996.
New York Islanders
Coach: Jack Capuano, 2d season with the Islanders.
Last season: 30-39-13, 73 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Although the Islanders have not made the playoffs since 2007 and are one of the youngest teams in the NHL, left winger Matt Moulson, center John Tavares, and right winger Michael Grabner should provide some needed scoring.
Coach: Claude Julien, 5th season with the Bruins.
Last season: 46-25-11, 103 points.
Playoffs: Beat the Canadiens in the conference quarterfinals, the Flyers in the semifinals, the Lightning in the finals, and the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup.
Skinny: For long stretches last season, goalie Tim Thomas carried the defending Cup champs. Since few changes were made in the offseason, he may have to do it again. Defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Patrice Bergeron are back to help.
Coach: Jacques Martin, 3d season with the Canadiens.
Last season: 44-30-8, 96 points.
Playoffs: Lost to the Bruins in the conference quarterfinals.
Skinny: The demanding Montreal fan base is getting itchy for another Cup, and a solid season from goalie Carey Price will be needed to pay the bill. The addition of physical right winger Erik Cole should spark the offense.
Coach: Lindy Ruff, 14th season with the Sabres.
Last season: 43-29-10, 96 points.
Playoffs: Lost to the Flyers in the conference quarterfinals.
Skinny: Goalie Ryan Miller and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff give the Sabres a sound defense. But can they score enough to win? Former Flyers center Ville Leino should help.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Coach: Ron Wilson, 4th season with the Maple Leafs.
Last season: 37-34-11, 85 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Like their friends in Montreal, Toronto fans have not tasted success for a while and are not happy. The Leafs seek to make the postseason for the first time since 2004. The success of goalie James Reimer will likely be a key.
Coach: Paul MacLean, 1st season with the Senators.
Last season: 32-40-10, 74 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Center Jason Spezza was the top scorer last season with 21 goals and 57 points, and that will not cut it. The Sens need more firepower, but Craig Anderson may make a difference in goal.
Coach: Bruce Boudreau, 5th season with the Capitals.
Last season: 48-23-11, 107 points.
Playoffs: Beat the Rangers in the conference quarterfinals and lost to the Lightning in the semifinals.
Skinny: The addition of goalie Tomas Vokoun to an offense led by Alex Ovechkin could finally propel the underachieving Caps deep into the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Coach: Guy Boucher, 2d season with the Lightning.
Last season: 46-25-11, 103 points.
Playoffs: Beat the Penguins in the conference quarterfinals, the Capitals in the semifinals, and lost to the Bruins in the finals.
Skinny: High-scoring center Steven Stamkos, at 21, and star goalie Dwayne Roloson, at 42, bookend a team of overachievers out to prove it can improve on last season's success.
Coach: Paul Maurice, 13th season with the Hurricanes.
Last season: 40-31-11, 91 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Center Jeff Skinner scored 31 goals and was the rookie of the year, and goalie Cam Ward is solid. The trick is whether the veterans can pull their share of the load.
Coach: Claude Noel, 1st season with the Jets.
Last season: 34-36-12, 80 points as the Atlanta Thrashers; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Winnipeg rejoins the league after losing the old Jets in 1996, and things are likely to be rough to start for the former Thrashers. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec will need to step up and provide some stability.
Coach: Kevin Dineen, 1st season with the Panthers.
Last season: 30-40-12, 72 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Former Flyer Kevin Dineen, son of former NHL coach Bill Dineen, gets his chance with this veteran team. But how many of the vets - especially goaltender Jose Theodore - have any gas left?
WESTERN CONFERENCE Central Division
Detroit Red Wings
Coach: Mike Babcock, 7th season with the Red Wings.
Last season: 47-25-10, 104 points.
Playoffs: Beat the Coyotes in the conference quarterfinals and lost to the Sharks in the semifinals.
Skinny: Goalie Jimmy Howard takes over for the retired Chris Osgood and should benefit from the Red Wings' experience. Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and left wingers Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are rock solid.
Coach: Barry Trotz, 13th season with the Predators.
Last season: 44-27-11, 99 points.
Playoffs: Beat the Ducks in the conference quarterfinals and lost to the Canucks in the semifinals.
Skinny: Defenseman Shea Weber played well with 48 points last season, but the Predators need to get past the second round to keep Trotz out of hot water. Goalie Pekka Rinne and defenseman Ryan Suter are the stars.
Coach: Joel Quenneville, 4th season with the Blackhawks.
Last season: 44-29-9, 97 points.
Playoffs: Lost to the Canucks in the conference quarterfinals.
Skinny: Star forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp likely will carry the team, but they need to come up bigger in the postseason. Corey Crawford is a talented second-year goalie.
St. Louis Blues
Coach: Davis Payne, 3d season with the Blues.
Last season: 38-33-11, 87 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: The Blues went young after making the playoffs just once in six years, and David Backes takes over as team captain. He'll have his work cut out for him as inconsistency defines this team, especially goalie Jaroslav Halak.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Coach: Scott Arniel, 2d season with the Blue Jackets.
Last season: 34-35-13, 81 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Former Flyers center Jeff Carter joins right winger Rick Nash to give the Blue Jackets one of the league's best one-two scoring punches. Goalie Steve Mason needs to match their energy and execution.
Coach: Alain Vigneault, 6th season with the Canucks.
Last season: 54-19-9, 117 points.
Playoffs: Beat the Blackhawks in the conference quarterfinals, the Predators in the semifinals, the Sharks in the finals, and lost to the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Skinny: The team's chances of going back to the Finals lie mainly with star goalie Roberto Luongo. The Canucks, with the NHL's best record last season, also feature a stellar top line of center Henrik Sedin and wingers Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows.
Coach: Brent Sutter, 3d season with the Flames.
Last season: 41-29-12, 94 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Like the Canucks, the goalie is a key, and Miikka Kiprusoff is one of the best. Team captain Jarome Iginla, if he stays healthy, should provide the kick on offense.
Coach: Mike Yeo, 1st season with the Wild.
Last season: 39-35-8, 86 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley should give the Wild plenty of points from the right wing. But will they get much help? Goalie Niklas Backstrom anchors an unproven defense.
Coach: Joe Sacco, 3d season with the Avalanche.
Last season: 30-44-8, 68 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: The Avs are young this season, with center Matt Duchene and goalie Semyon Varlamov the most promising prospects.
Coach: Tom Renney, 2d season with the Oilers.
Last season: 25-45-12, 62 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: Another young team in the act of rebuilding, the Oilers will need the veteran experience of left winger Ryan Smyth. Former No.1 pick Taylor Hall, a left winger, and current top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a center, need to provide some goals.
San Jose Sharks
Coach: Todd McLellan, 4th season with the Sharks.
Last season: 48-25-9, 105 points.
Playoffs: Beat the Kings in the conference quarterfinals, the Red Wings in the semifinals, and lost to the Canucks in the finals.
Skinny: The defense is one of the NHL's strongest with Brent Burns and Dan Boyle, and the Sharks could reach the conference finals for a third straight season. Goalie Antti Niemi is solid.
Coach: Randy Carlyle, 7th season with the Ducks.
Last season: 47-30-5, 99 points.
Playoffs: Lost to the Predators in the conference quarterfinals.
Skinny: Right winger Corey Perry scored 50 goals and was named the NHL's most valuable player, but the key may be the play of goalie Jonas Hiller.
Coach: Dave Tippett, 3d season with the Coyotes.
Last season: 43-26-13, 99 points.
Playoffs: Lost to the Red Wings in the conference quarterfinals.
Skinny: Goalie Mike Smith will be expected to replace Ilya Bryzgalov, and defenseman Keith Yandle will look to keep the crease clear. Former Flyers center Daymond Langkow was signed for his experience.
Los Angeles Kings
Coach: Terry Murray, 4th season with the Kings.
Last season: 46-30-6, 98 points.
Playoffs: Lost to the Sharks in the conference quarterfinals. Skinny: Former Flyers Mike Richards and Simone Gagne give the Kings some proven scoring punch, and young defenseman Drew Doughty added 11 goals and was a Norris Trophy finalist. Goalies Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier will battle for playing time.
Coach: Glen Gulutzan, 1st season with the Stars.
Last season: 42-29-11, 95 points; missed the playoffs.
Skinny: The Stars have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons, and things don't look much better this season with free agent Brad Richards gone to the Rangers. Right winger Michael Ryder won the Cup with Boston last season and may bring a winning attitude. Goalie Kari Lehtonen needs to stay healthy.
- Inquirer staff