With a new year comes new hope and new promise. Yes, even in St. Louis and Philadelphia, where the once perennial playoff participants had stopped thinking about the post-season by mid-November.
Here’s what the 30 NHL teams are looking for as 2007 unfolds:
The Anaheim Ducks resolve toÂ…sign Nicklas Lidstrom, Rob Blake, Zdeno Chara and Sheldon Souray to round out their defense corps.
The Atlanta Thrashers resolve toÂ…keep zipping around rinks and playing hockey like it’s 1974.
The Boston Bruins resolve toÂ…replace shifty, dynamic and undersized Sergei Samsonov with shifty, dynamic and undersized Stanislav Chistov.
The Buffalo Sabres resolve toÂ…never lose again, except every game against Ottawa.
The Calgary Flames resolve toÂ…remind Miikka Kiprusoff that he’s Miikka Kiprusoff and not Jamie McLennan.
The Carolina Hurricanes resolve toÂ…sneak up on everyone and steamroll to the Stanley Cup. Again.
The Chicago Blackhawks resolve toÂ…do what Detroit did 25 years ago Â– return a winning tradition to a once-proud franchise.
The Colorado Avalanche resolve toÂ…preserve Joe Sakic’s youth by packing him in ice between games.
The Columbus Blue Jackets resolve toÂ…hire Ken Hitchcock five years ago.
The Dallas Stars resolve toÂ…fire Ken Hitchcock five years ago.
The Detroit Red Wings resolve toÂ…have the best 45-year-old defenseman and 41-year-old goaltender in the league.
The Edmonton Oilers resolve toÂ…scrap the plans for a bronze statue of Chris Pronger.
The Florida Panthers resolve toÂ…never, ever again trade away the best young goaltender in the league for a moody power forward.
The Los Angeles Kings resolve toÂ…bide their time.
The Minnesota Wild resolve toÂ…stop forcing Marian Â‘Groiny’ Gaborik to do the splits during pre-game stretching.
The Montreal Canadiens resolve toÂ…win one for the Gainey family.
The Nashville Predators resolve toÂ…do what Carolina did last season.
The New Jersey Devils resolve toÂ…thank Martin Brodeur for making 32 saves in yet another 2-1 win.
The New York Islanders resolve toÂ…run a smooth, insanity-free operation.
The New York Rangers resolve toÂ…go along and get along for a long, long time.
The Ottawa Senators resolve toÂ…remind Martin Gerber that Ray Emery is supposed to be the backup this season.
The Philadelphia Flyers resolve toÂ…improve upon their league-worst goals-against average.
The Phoenix Coyotes resolve toÂ…remember that if they can beat San Jose 8-0, they can beat anyone 8-0.
The Pittsburgh Penguins resolve toÂ…remain the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The St. Louis Blues resolve toÂ…bring back Bernie Federko, Tony McKegney and Greg Paslawski in the hopes of jump-starting their offense.
The San Jose Sharks resolve toÂ…continue rotating goalies all the way to the dizzying heights of the Stanley Cup final.
The Tampa Bay Lightning resolve toÂ…go with two forward lines and 12 defensemen.
The Toronto Maple Leafs resolve toÂ…play like Mats, not mats.
The Vancouver Canucks resolve toÂ…see if the Sedin parents produced any more twins.
The Washington Capitals resolve toÂ…sign every Russian player named Alex.