Jason Arnott has signed a one year deal with the New York Rangers.
The 2012-13 schedule is out and hockey is not too far away. It’s 114 days until the puck is dropped at the UC, but who’s counting? Here are some big games for the ‘Hawks to be ready for.
October 30: Blackhawks vs. Coyotes. Raffi Torres won’t be back from his suspension, but the Blackhawks can still show that they are the better team.
November 5: Blackhawks vs. Penguins. As usual, this could be a Stanley Cup Final match-up. Plus, these games are usually close and fun.
November 15: Blackhawks @ Canucks. It’s the second game of the Circus Trip, and it will be crucial in setting the tone for the remainder of the six game swing away from the United Center.
November 27: Blackhawks vs. Kings. Chicago will be welcomed back to the United Center by the Stanley Cup Champion Kings as they look to squelch the Blackhawks.
December 4: Blackhawks @ Canadiens. This Original 6 match-up is always interesting.
December 18: Blackhawks @ Wild. If the Mayans were right, this will be the Blackhawks’ last game ever.
January 2: Blackhawks vs. Rangers. Another rare, but fun Original 6 match.
February 19: Blackhawks vs. Red Wings. This game marks the start of the postseason push and will be a must-win for the ‘Hawks to take the lead in the Central Division (if that format will remain the same next year).
March 24: Blackhawks @ Coyotes. This game is the last of a six game road trip that swings through Denver, Dallas, Columbus, LA, and Anaheim. The Blackhawks will look to end it on a positive note.
April 4: Blackhawks vs. Predators: This game has implications for playoff seeding as both of these teams are looking to win the Central.
April 13: Blackhawks @ Blues. The game to end the season will most probably decide the winner of the Central Division as both of these teams look to have the best seed possible going into the playoffs.
Overall, the schedule is solid. It looks like the Blackhawks will have their work cut out for them with the schedule, but they will most probably do well. Here’s to another season of Blackhawk hockey.
Brodeur: fast, nimble, hybrid between stand-up and butterfly. Handles the puck beautifully. Magical pads and glove. Number one in almost every goalie stat. He’s been there before: two times his name has been inscribed on the Cup. Works hard. Could be final year. Looks to go out with a bang.
Lundqvist: stellar, high expectations, very quick. Very rarely loses crease. The blocker and glove don’t fail much: 1.57 GAA. Has huge standards and expectations set for him. Has played like everyone knew he could so far this season. No signs of slowing down. If he doesn’t win it all this year, he will soon.
Advantage: Brodeur for Game 4, Lundqvist for the series.
These two teams are bitter playoffs rivals, as this will be the third time in four years that they square off. For Washington, this series is all about trying to prove to the league that they CAN win a Stanley Cup, while the Rangers, who are definitely the favorites, look to continue their march for their first Cup since ‘94.
Both teams have had tremendous goaltending. Lundqvist has sustained a .945 save percentage, while Braden Holtby has surprised the league with a marvelous .940 SV% and a goals allowed average of 2. Neither of these two goalies have had much success in the past, but one will have to be in this series. Because of the two teams’ high octane offenses, the goalie that bows under the pressure will be the one that loses the series. Look for a stellar performance by one of the two netminders.
The two offenses are also very closely matched. Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan have been good through the first round, as have Alex Semin and Alexander Ovechkin. The performances of these players will be essential, as one could easily imagine. If they can’t perform as well as they can, an exit similar to the Blackhawks-Coyotes series could occur.
Both of the defenses have good offensive defensemen while still having some of the stay-at-home variety. For the Caps, no single defensive pairing is overloaded with minutes, while the Rangers are reliant on Dan Girardi’s and Ryan McDonagh’s help on the blue line. This could be exploited by the Capitals, for they have enough good offensive lines to tire Girardi and McDonagh. This will be a critical area in the series; if Girardi and McDonagh play a smart shutdown game in their own zone, the Rangers will win the series.
My prediction: Capitals in 6. They’re hot, and they match up well against the Rangers. Washington has won the last two playoff series against New York, and there is no reason to expect a different result this time.