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Western Conference: Central Division

I have decide to do a short preview on the NHL season.  Sure this is a Buffalo Sabres blog but we'll try not to limit ourselves to just Sabres talk.  I will try to gove you ons stop shopping to find out about the NHL season.  This will be the first preview with more to come throughout the day.

Detroit Red Wings

2006-2007: 50-19-13 113 points...1st in division...1st in conference

Previews:
NHL.com: Red Wings Preview
TSN.ca: Red Wings Preview
Gorilla Crouch.com: Red Wings Preview

Outlook:  Christy from Winging it in Motown was kind enough to share her thoughts on the upcoming Red Wings season.

The Detroit Red Wings should once again top the Central Division with  
ease and be one of the top Western Conference teams this season  
(thanks in part to the current scheduling format emphasizing  
divisional games). Personally, I believe if it hadn't been for Andreas  
Lilja's bad puck possession in a key point during the Western  
Conference Finals and the loss of Mathieu Schneider to injury, the  
Wings would've been in the Stanley Cup Finals. The team has not  
drastically improved but it hasn't gotten worse either so I definitely  
believe the Wings have a legit shot at the Cup.

The Wings may have lost Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider to  
Anaheim, but a younger defenseman in Brian Rafalski should prove to be  
a worthy and healthier replacement. The team also "lost" Kyle Calder  
and Robert Lang, but both players were not asked to return and most  
Wings fans are happier for that. While the team didn't go out and sign  
a big name forward, they did bring back to Detroit gritty veteran  
forward Dallas Drake to play on the fourth line. For a very affordable  
price, Drake will make a nice addition to the team and help with the  
team's level of physical play.

With at least $5 million under the cap, the team may very well trade  
for a bigger name forward, but that's so far away it's not worthy of  
too much speculation right now.

Prediction:  1st division, 1st conference

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Chicago Blackhawks

2006-2007: 31-42-9 71 points...5th division...12th conference

Previews:
NHL.com Blackhawks preview
TSN.ca Blackhawks preview
The Third man in

Outlook:  The future is starting to look brighter in Chicago.  This is a very young team that is going to get better and better.  The team hopes that Nikolai Khababulin will return to his old form.

Prediction: 2nd division, 10th conference

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St. Louis Blues

2006-2007: 34-35-13 81 points...3rd division...10th conference

Previews:
NHL.com Blues preview
TSN.ca Blues preview

Outlook:  The Blues made a couple of off season moves looking to improve their team.  They acquired Paul Kariya as an unrestricted free agent and brought back Keith Tkachuk as well.  The Blues still don't have what it takes to be a playoff team.

Prediction: 3rd division, 11th conference

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Columbus Blue Jackets

2006-2007:  33-42-7 73 Points...4th division...11th conference

Previews:
NHL.com Jackets preview
TSN.ca Jackets preview
End of the Bench

Outlook:  Unfortunately I think it will be status quo for the Jackets.  As previous history tells us that is not good enough for Columbus.

Prediction: 4th division, 13th conference

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Nashville Predators

2006-2007: 51-23-8 110 points...2nd division...4th conference

Previews:
NHL.com Predator preview
TSN.ca Predator preview

Outlook: It's unfortunate to see a team fall so far so fast but that is what will happen in Nashville.  They lost numerous people in the off season including Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timmonen, Paul Kariya, and Thomas Vokoun without doing much to replace them.  The team also has a cloudy ownership situation hanging over the franchise and the players have no idea where they will call home next year.

prediction: 5th division, 14th conference