Backhand Shelf’s previews for the 2013-14 NHL season are going to work like a choose your own adventure novel, because fans only hear what they want to hear anyway, so we might as well embrace it.
You’ll get the flippant barstool prediction, the push-the-glasses-up-your-nose numbers take, the team is going to be good take, the team is going to be bad take, and then we’ll try to bring it back full circle at the bottom. Let’s get to it.
Added: Rob Scuderi
Subtracted: Jarome Iginla, Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke, Brenden Morrow
The Penguins are going to be good
It’s ridiculous that I even have to explain this to you. I should just cut a paste a picture of their roster. They have the World’s Best Hockey player Sidney Crosby, for one. Like, thee actual guy. Not someone “in the conversation,” the universally accepted “best in the world at this sport.” That guy. Last year he played in 36 of the 48 games and lost the scoring title by a few points. He was dominating the league when he left, and uh-oh, he’s healthy this year and had a healthy summer of training. Ohhh, and they also have a guy who’s arguably the second best player in the world in Evgeni Malkin. He’s only won a Calder, a Hart, a Lindsay, an Art Ross, a Conn Smythe and a Stanley Cup. Then they have some fill-in schulbs like James Neal, who has a 40 goal season on his resume, and scored 21 times in 40 games last season.
It’s an embarrassment of riches: Pascal Dupuis scored 20 times in a shortened season last year, and hit 25 the year before. Chris Kunitz might make Team Canada after scoring 22 in 48 games last season (and was coming off two prior 20+ goal seasons). Jussi Jokinen has scored 30 before. Brandon Sutter is a stalwart defensive center who’s scored 20+ in the past. It never ends, even coming from the back-end, where they have one of the best defenseman in the league in Kris Letang (over a point-per-game last year, 38 in 35), and other talents like Paul Martin. Then they’ve solidified the group with tough-to-play dudes like Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi, who play in front of Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury. You know, the guy people give a hard time to who finished with an above average save percentage last year? (.916 with a 2.39 goals-against). If they don’t win the Cup, it’s been a disappointing year. They’re stacked.
The Penguins are going to be bad