What's this "Hockey" of which you speak?

So hockey’s back, and free agency is going strong. I saw another hockey thread celebrating the return, but I want answers! Answers to these questions and more.
How is this season going to turn out?
All the rule changes seem to benefit the offense and disadvantage the defense and goalies. Because of this, are we going to be seeing football sized scores this year?
And also because of these rules it seems like smaller is the way to go, but I watch Philly pick up three 6-5/230lb defensemen. All of them, (Derian Hatcher, Mike Rathje and Chris Therien) while a force in front of their own net, aren’t the swiftest down the ice. Since I expect to see a lot more breakaway goals than set plays (with possession in the offensive zone) that kind of player is less useful. But I’m not Ken Hitchcock, so what does he see, that I don’t?
And for goalies, last season’s top SV% was .933, are we going to see SV%s above .900?

I’m not sure if anyone here has the answers, but let’s see what comes? And if you have other questions about how this season will change, post 'em along.

Hell if I know. My best bets for teams that will do well are Ottawa and San Jose – two deep, young teams who have been improving steadily over the past several years. A lot of formerly good teams are question marks, including Colorado, Boston and New Jersey. There are a lot of former bottom-feeders who are going to be pushing for playoff spots, like Atlanta, Edmonton and Florida. And then there are the teams that we know are going to suck: Washington and Carolina come to mind.

Not football sized, that’s for sure. I expect scoring to increase, but I don’t think that the new rule changes are going to bring the revolution in hockey that a lot of people seem to expect. The international game is really not that different from the north american game. The key thing will be the obstruction crackdown. If the referees finally enforce the rules throughout the season and playoffs, we will see faster, more exciting hockey. If the refs put the whistles away in November, the other rule changes won’t make too much of a difference.

It’s Bobby Clark making personel decisions, not Hitchcock, which explains a lot. Hatcher can definitely be a liability against the rush, especially if he isn’t allowed to grab the nearest forward before they can blow by him. I honestly haven’t seen enough of Rathje to say, but Therien as I recall is adequately mobile. Size will still be important. The restrictions on goaltenders playing the puck will make dump-and-chase more viable, so players who can win battles along the boards are definitely still important.

Save percentages may well not drop too much, just because goalies will be facing more shots, but really, I have no idea. The better goalies will do fine. The less skilled ones like Conklin or Roloson are going to have trouble.

What do I see for the season? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I’m not sure how much the playoff picture will change. I expect Atlanta and Anaheim to be in and teams like St. Louis, the New York Islanders (Yashins team? Good luck with that), and maybe even Colorado to be out.

Philadelphia is no closer to a Stanley cup than they were last season. They got Forsberg but had to give up Roenick to do it. The rules change to make the game faster so Bobby Clark signs three big defensemen. Still clinging to the broad street bullies I guess. He still needs more puck moving defensemen and a goalie. IMHO, he should’ve signed Dandenault and Khabibulin.

Chicago actually landed the big fish in the free agent market (Khabibulin), but they still won’t be broadcasting home games. :confused:

Edmonton will make some noise. I like adding Pronger and Peca. They’ve been a fast team, but never particularly gritty.

All in all, I think the teams that will go the farthest are the teams that have done the least as far as signing and giving up players. San Jose is in good shape, as is Tampa Bay. Losing Khabibulin won’t hurt them too much. They are one of the fastest teams in the NHL and the new rules will really help them.

I like Detroit if they get Zetterberg and Datsyuk re-signed. They still have Shanahan, Lang, Schneider, and Lidstrom. Chelios will be good for Fischer, who has really come along in Europe. Yzerman, Draper, and Maltby are some of the best defensive forwards in the game. The only weakness they have is in net. Osgood ain’t the best (though his numbers compare well to Cujos) and Legace is a question mark. Their chief rivals St. Louis and Colorado have taken big steps back this year.

As far as the rule changes go, I think the one I like the most is the pad restrictions on goalies. Two of the “best” goalies in the last couple years, Luongo and Giguere, have chest pads and jerseys the size of…well, the size of New Jersey. It will be interesting to see how they do when they actually have to make a save instead of letting them hit the chest protector.