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Thoughts on the upcoming season from twin #2

September 22, 2011

In the big scheme of things, I am technically the “younger” of the two twins. Will’s birthday is on February 5th, whereas I decided to show up fashionably late to life on the outside and didn’t make my appearance until February 14th. With that said, I, Stephanie Muraro, is twin #2.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can dive right into what I am here to talk about: the upcoming NHL season. I just got done watching the Maple Leafs win 4-2 over the Flyers (yes, you read that right, the Maple Leafs won, that wasn’t a typo), and I’m not going to lie. I got a little giddy. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer. Flip flops, Brewers baseball, and the fact I don’t have to spend 20 minutes each morning scraping 4 inches of ice off my car is great.  But the thought getting back into the Bradley Center and watching the Admirals play and the fact that I can turn on channels 751-760 every single night and watch NHL hockey through the second week of April is enough to get off the couch and do a few cartwheels.

In between setting up my draft line up for fantasy hockey (draft is this Friday people! Here’s to Hull & Oates taking first place in the Infamous Whiskey Delta!), I’ve been diligently reading my Hockey News, as well as keeping up on my favorite hockey websites. I thought I’d post a couple of my opinions on the things I’ve read about:

1. Sidney Crosby will play this season  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Sidney Crosby. I don’t want to get into the whole story about how I have loved the Penguins since I was a kid and that my prized possession is an unopened jar of Jaromir Jagr peanut butter that expired in the mid-nineties, but take my word for it that I adore the black and gold. Since Mario Lemieux was my favorite player growing up, I naturally became a Sid fan. My time on press row is about 60-40; 40% of the time I am covering the Admirals. The other 60% of the time I am defending Crosby from the row of Ovechkin fans behind me.

With that said, I think Crosby will play this season. However, I am pretty damn sure we won’t see him til after the all star break. And as much as it pains me to say this, I didn’t even put him on the list of players I want in the draft. When he comes back, he probably won’t look the same. Take former Admiral Kris Beech. He took a puck to the face and broke his jaw. He got it wired up and was out for a while, but when he returned to the ice, he played like he was horrified of getting hit by another puck. I have a feeling we’ll see a similar reaction from Crosby when he gets back into playing in games. And if he doesn’t, I’m sure coach Bylsma is going to. He’ll likely play less minutes this season, and I’m not real confident that he’s going to put up awesome numbers in the games he does play. He’ll be back, I just think it’s not going to be until next season that he’s clicking on all cylinders.

2. Ovechkin will have his best season yet  OUCH, that even hurt to say, moreso, because Will is the worlds biggest Caps fan. I read several places that Ovechkin has rocked it this offseason and is in the best shape of his hockey career. Ovechkin took the Caps early exit from the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs pretty hard, and I think he realized he had to step it up. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tallies 60 goals by the end of the regular season.

3. The Lightning will play in the Stanley Cup Finals  I know, it’s a little premature for a Cup prediction, but I am pretty confident in Tampa. Steve Yzerman and company have really put together something special with this team, and the fact that you’ve got Stammer, St. Louis and ol’ Vinny still with the team, a pretty solid defensive core in Hedman, Ohlund and Kubina. They’ve still got Roloson in net (yes, i know, he’s on the cusp of 42, but I’ve been a big fan since he was in Minnesota and I think another great season in him, if not more) and Guy Boucher behind the bench. I’m pumped to see how this team performs this season, because I think Stammer is going to go 60+ goals in the regular season alone…

4. Vancouver will not see success anywhere near what they saw last season  Last but certainly not least, I’ve got to say a couple words about the ‘Nucks. Since I’m already up to almost 800 words, I’ll keep this brief. Luongo will carry his failures from the finals into this season, I guarantee it. Ryan Kesler is an injury concern, as he just had hip surgery in early August. Christian Erhoff signed with Buffalo, so that’s a hit to the defensive core. The Sedin twins will probably bounce back from a dismal performance in the finals (well of course I can’t say anything back about them, as they are hockey twins just like Will and I!). I just don’t see 2012 as being their year, unless what goal they are shooting for is being over .500.

So that’s all for now. I could probably write another 1,000 words about this season to be quite honest with you, but those were some of my main thoughts about 2011-12. I should also mention that I think the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to be pretty decent this year, and that Pekka Rinne will win the Vezina.

Oh, and I also predict that I will beat Will in fantasy hockey again this year. Just sayin’

Stephanie

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