Ladies and gentleman, it’s the early season in the NHL. I can tell, you can tell because teams are winning and losing in ways improbable. Does anyone, anywhere ever expect Martin Brodeur to give up five goals in a game? Much less to give up all five of them on a paltry twenty shots and get yanked in just his second game? Much less to start the season 0-1-1? Not me, probably not you either.  And if the best goalie of the last decade, and arguably all time is having such a bad night, that the man who is currently the best goalie on the planet would also give up five goals on a hardly better 27 shots? Much less that Ryan Miller would give three of those goals up to the New York Ranger’s rookie center David Stepan and not to thirty and forty goal scoring Frolov and Gaborik?

To take a look at the southeast predictions for the year, how many of you predicted that Evander Kane would out score Alex Ovechkin in a head to head duel and have more hits? I didn’t even predict that and I spent a lot of time hoping the Bruins would trade up to draft Kane two years ago.  Kane had two goals,  and was a plus 2 with five hits to Ovechkin’s lone assist, and three hits with an even plus minus.  That season opener may not be indicative, of the whole season, but the Caps getting just two goals? That happened in less than ten percent of their games last season.

Anyone who told me on October first that the season would open with peach fuzz brigade that makes up the bulk of the Oilers talent snuffing the Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekule Tig Junior Elvis Iginla and Jay Bouwmesster led Calgary Flames? A 4-0 shellacking with no of the home fires burning in this Battle of Alberta or the Calgary contingent? When looking for things unusual in the National Hockey League this early in the year, one need look no further than Ilya Kovalchuk’s annual fight against the oh-so-deserving Norris Candidate Mike Green.

Northeast

Buffalo Sabres:

This season comes down to three thrings, and two of them are Ryan Miller. One he must be healthy, and two he must be Ryan Miller, also known as the best goalie on the planet. The rest is pulling together consistent play. I doubt even a small percentage of fans realize they were tenth in goal scoring last season. No big changes, they did resign a few guys, and added Rob Niedermayer to help flesh out the penalty kill. Still weak down the middle, and not great on defense either.

Ottawa Senators:

This seasons edition is weaker than last years. With the departure of their best defenseman, and a giant question mark between the pipes Alfredsson and Spezza will have to work miracles at least once a week to get this team into the playoffs. While Gonchar will, when healthy, add to the teams offense the team was utterly average in both offense and defense last year and lost more talent off it’s blueline than offensive core.

Montreal Canadiens:

The boo birds are clearly year round residents of La Bella Province, they had their distinct calls aimed at Carey Price early in the preseason and will likely find cause to keep the noise level high, even when it’s undeserved. The splashiest move in Habland in the off season was the departure of playoff powerhouse Halak. To fill his void they brought in the well traveled Alex Auld. In the category of addition by subtraction the seditious Sergei Kostitsyn was sent packing for packing peanuts,

Toronto Maple Leafs

Despite having one legitimate first line forward, and a half dozen marginal second line forwards, Toronto will not be an easy two points if they have anything like cohesion this season. With the additions of Versteeg, Armstrong, they can’t be worse offensively or in energy. While it’s clear the leadership has a plan, how confident of it can we be when they pay Colton Orr a cool million a year, and let Komisarek rake in about twice what he’s worth? I don’t expect this team to either make the playoffs or land in the lottery.

Boston Bruins:

Despite all the off season hot air, Tim Thomas and Marc Savard are still members of the Boston Bruins. With Savard and Sturm starting the season on the LTIR, and Thomas recovering from off season injury, its clear the Bruins have some work to do. With the addition of fist rounder Tyler Seguin, and former first rounder Jordan Caron, not to mention one Nathan Horton its going to interesting here in the Hub to see if these three can give the team some of the bounce it had in the 08-09 season. The off season also saw the eviction of Denis Wideman from the Bruins roster this change alone is probably good for adding 10 points to the Bruin’s total of last season.

Northwest:

Vancouver

The Canucks may just be the best team in hockey. They upgraded their defense, already had a solid offense and if they can give Luongo less starts than he had last year, winning the division won’t be a question. The biggest question will be how much they win a pretty thin division by. The Flames and Avalanche should provide enough pressure to keep them honest, but the Canucks are the class of their division at the very least.

Minnesota:

The state of hockey is probably in for another year of a sad state of hockey. Mikko Kiouvu was their most important signing of the off season, and about the only one that will have an impact on the roster this year. They were twenty first and twenty second in goals against and for last year and with only the hopeful heath of “No Luck Chuck Kobasew” added to the offense and late season trade acquisition Cam Barker woven into the defense there’s not much to hope for aside from good drafting or a blockbuster trade or three.

Calgary:

What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. It would be one thing if Olli Jokinen had proved useful in his first stay, but that was hardly the case. The team lacks a legitimate first line center and without that they probably can’t expect to much improve on last seasons bare three twenty goal scorers. Who knows, maybe youngster Mikael Backlund will rise to that position and help Jarome Iginla hoist the cup before he retires.

Colorado:

Will the “Babylanche” grow up after their short and painful playoff run? Who knows! The team has been up and down as injuries and inconsistency robbed them of any momentum in the last three seasons. Maybe the Avalance are the plucky team that will duplicate the Chicago phenomenon. They have the talent and have a similar makeup with a better goalie, although a weaker defense. I think one of the things that made the Blackhawks run possible was the positive knowledge that they would not be together the next year no matter what happened thanks to intriguing cap management. The same pressure doesn’t exist for the Avs, but they are not a team to write off, especially not with the weakening of San Jose, Chicago and Detroit.

Edmonton:

Yee-ha they drafted well! Make no mistake about it, even if Hall, Eberle, and Paajarvi are the three names on the Calder Trophy finalist list, the Oilers aren’t going anywhere this year. Their defense is still not going to strike terror, or even tepid respect into the hearts of opposing forwards, and Khabibulin’s back and legal problems leave them with a backend that is wholly uninspiring. Almost certainly still a lottery team.

Coming up ranking the playoff locks, bubble teams, and lottery bound…