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Top five story lines for the NHL season

By: Andrew McGill

The 2015-16 NHL season is underway and every team has high hopes for success. There will be ups and downs, unexpected surprises and disappointments. That is sports. But here are some headlines and some things to watch for throughout the NHL season:

Detroit looks to make it 25

red Wings

The Red Wings enter this season with a heavy burden of continuing one of the most impressive streaks in sports. Think about this for a second, the Red Wings haven’t missed the playoffs since 1990. 1990! Not counting the 2004 lockout, that’s 24 consecutive seasons they’ve qualified for the playoffs. The last few seasons have been near misses for them, managing to squeeze in by just a few points each year. Guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are still amazing players, but are also in their late 30’s. However, they have a lot of young guys that have cracked the roster in the last few years, like Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Brendan Smith and Danny Dekeyser. This year also marks the beginning of the Dylan Larkin era, last year’s 15th pick in the draft, who will surely be in the running for the Calder trophy.

So far the jury is still out on who is the number one goaltender for the team, but Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are both good options. With a solid defense and a dynamic offense, with a mix of talented youth and experienced veterans, Detroit is primed to take either the second or third spot in the Atlantic division and make the playoffs for the 25th straight season under new coach Jeff Blashill.

Calgary Flames: The real deal or a just a mirage?

Flames

Calgary shocked a lot of folks last year by sneaking into the playoffs with an exceptional run in the second half of last year. Many attributed their run to luck, rather than skill, and many believe that they can’t make the playoffs this year. They definitely didn’t get any worse on paper, adding Michael Frolik and Dougie Hamilton to their up-and-coming line up.

The one big question surrounding them is in the net. Between Jonas Hiller and Kari Ramo, they have no idea of who will get most of the minutes. Either way, whoever starts, will have a big task in front of them as the Flames were known for giving up a lot of shots last year.

The expectations still stand for this Flames team and it’s going to be a gut check for a younger team that’s trying to prove themselves.

Dallas’ goaltending situation

Dallas goalies

The Stars finished 29th in save percentage last year as a team and they did everything they could do to fix that situation. The only problem is that now they have two goalies, Kari Lehtonen and Antti Miemi, that have tied up a combined $10 million in salary, both of whom could start. They also hired a new goaltending coach in Jeff Reese.

It’s not a terrible situation to be in, having two starting goalies, but eventually one of them has to come out as the number one, then what happens? They could use one of them as a trade chip later in the season, which would probably be the best option.

The Bruins defense will be the reason for their demise

boston Bruins

The Bruins defense is abominable. Their top line is Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, who are 39 and 34, and both coming off injuries. Their next best option seems to be Torey Krug, who is loved in Boston, but is only 24 and not all that great yet. Then, for some reason they overpaid Adam McQuaid by almost $2 million this offseason, while simultaneously trading a promising young defenseman in Dougie Hamilton. It’s an absolute mess.

The Bruins are off to their worst start in 50 years and with this defense there is no quick fix. It’s depressing to say, but the Bruins might be entering a complete rebuild as it’s been rumored their shopping around for the value of some veterans.

Exciting Calder race

There seems to be a youth movement in the NHL this season. It seems like every night for the past week at least one rookie is getting that first NHL goal. Coming into the season all anyone was talking about was Jack Eichel versus Connor McDavid, but a few other rookies have the potential to sneak in and steal the Calder.

Through three games Dylan Larkin is absolutely tearing it up in Detroit with four points. Colorado’s first round pick Mikko Rantanen was able to stick with the team and could do some damage this year. The Coyotes also have an exciting rookie tandem of Anthony Duclair and Max Domi, both 2013 draft selections. Of course the focus will be on McDavid and Eichel, but don’t be surprised if someone gets hot and takes it from either of them.

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Andrew McGill

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