Fri, Jan 18, 2013 - Page 19 News List

NHL: Shortened Stanley Cup chase promises thrills

SPRINT, NOT MARATHON:The lockout-shortened hockey season, which finally begins tomorrow, means there will be only 48 games, rather than 82, in the race to the playoffs


The Vancouver Canucks, who finished with the NHL’s best record the last two regular seasons, should be among the best in the Western Conference again, led by high-scoring Swedish twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

With Vancouver’s Cory Schneider tipped to be the starting goalie, Roberto Luongo, who was in net for Canada’s gold medal victory at the 2010 Winter Olympics, is expected to be traded in a deal that would add depth to an already deep Canucks roster.

Several teams face steep learning curves as they bring in new coaches.

Adam Oates makes his NHL head coaching debut for the Washington Capitals, while Michel Therrien is back for his second stint behind the Montreal Canadiens bench.

The battle of Alberta will have a Swiss flavor this season, with Ralph Krueger, who coached both the Swiss national and league teams, promoted to top job with the Edmonton Oilers and Bob Hartley taking over the Calgary Flames after coaching the Zurich Lions last season.

For the first time in 23 years, the Detroit Red Wings will start a season without seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom anchoring the blueline, but Teemu Selanne, Czech Olympic gold medalist Jaromir Jagr and Swedish Olympic champion Daniel Alfredsson are all back for one more shot at glory.

Selanne, 42, the Anaheim Ducks’ leading scorer last season, returns for a 20th NHL season, while Jagr, 40, who sits eighth on the league’s all-time scoring list, joins the Dallas Stars after a season with the Philadelphia Flyers and Alfredsson, 40, returns to captain the Senators.

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