2010-11 Lazy Review: The 2009-10 defending champions succumbed to the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover. Actually, the 6 or 7 players that remained from that championship roster suffered from it, but you get my point.
2011-12 Gut Reaction: The Hawks reloaded some after a year in salary cap hell, adding quality depth up front in Andrew Brunette, regular depth up front in Jamal Mayers, and Fingerbangin' Daddy's Little Girl depth up front in Daniel Carcillo.
2011-12 Informed Reaction: A weakened Chicago squad pushed perennial playoff bitch Vancouver to a sphincter-tightening Round 1, 7th game overtime period before succumbing. The Hawks combine a superior mix of good coaching, veteran talent, and championship experience with the firm knowledge that they can make the defending conference champions shart in their breezers at will.
2011-12 Prediction: Patrick Kane realizes the ironic mullet/stripes combo is sooooooo 2010, and brings back the rat-tail for the playoffs.
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Jackets introduced a spiffy new alternate jersey, going with an innovative blend of navy blue and powder blue, along with a circular logo featuring a cannon. This marked the first time the NHL had seen a navy/powder blue jersey with a circular logo introduced in nearly three days.
2011-12 Gut Reaction: The Jeff Carter era in Columbus got off to a tremendous start, as the newly acquired star spent approximately two weeks convincing himself that no, this isn't part of some elaborate practical joke designed to make him cry his own tears.
2011-12 Informed Reaction: Columbus hopes the addition of Jeff Carter, in tandem with franchise winger Rick Nash, will give the team the coolest sounding crime-fighting duo name in the NHL. My guess: Carter is the badass, Nash is the sensitive one.
2011-12 Prediction: RJ Umberger will try to escape the five year contract extension he signed with the team this offseason, using the "I went to Ohio State, I never even learned to count to five" defense.
2010-11 Lazy Review: "Hockeytown"s finest once again demonstrated their commitment to sharing and fair play by graciously allowing themselves to be gutted by San Jose in the second round for the 2nd season in a row.
2011-12 Gut Reaction: The AmWings spent a tumultuous offseason saying goodbye to surefire Hall Of Famers Kris "Look At My Face" Draper and Chris Osgood, and replacing them with surefire Hall Of Famers Fabian Brunnstrom and Ty Conklin.
2011-12 Informed Reaction: Hall Of Fame GM Ken Holland and Hall Of Fame coach Mike Babcock will again lean heavily on aging robot Nick Lidstrom and Hall Of Fame late-round draft picks Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to carry a team loaded with Hall Of Fame underachievers like soft-hearted Jiri Hudler, future KHL allstar Valtteri Filppula, and horsefaced china doll Johan Franzen.
2011-12 Prediction: I will get at least 5 angry, semi-literate emails from Detroit fans who took their fingers out of their mouths long enough to bang out angry missives explaining why their team's sellout to Amway will help them build a new arena somewhere in Rochester Hills.
2010-11 Lazy Review: After spending the past five seasons as the NHL's darling "Little Engine That Could Not Escape The First Round Of The Playoffs", the Predators finally broke through the glass ceiling and won a round. The organization decided to celebrate by blinding the rest of the league with lemon-colored jerseys.
2011-12 Gut Reaction: Did you know that Shea Weber is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season? Did you know that? Because there are 29 other NHL GMs with napkins tied around their necks who know that.
2011-12 Informed Reaction: Preds GM David Poile has figured out the formula to remain competitive without having to overspend: draft nothing but defensemen, scour European leagues for mutant goaltenders with names that sound like sauna farts, and employ a head coach that looks like an adorable (if not gruff) nesting doll.
2011-12 Prediction: Nashville will shake up their struggling team with a mid-season trade, dealing defenseman Ryan Suter to the New York Islanders for a package of players who hate country music and just don't know it yet.
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Blues reminded the rest of the NHL that they still exist with a blockbuster trade, sending former first overall draft pick Erik Johnson to Colorado for a package including Chris Goddam Stewart and shifty puck-moving blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk.
2011-12 Gut Reaction: St Louis projects to be a frisky opponent on any given evening, provided their talented-but-scatterbrained young players like TJ Oshie are focused on playing the game, rather than shiny objects hanging from the rafters.
2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Note has the potential to be a playoff party crasher this season. The team has been patient with young studs like defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Oshie, and could see that patience rewarded once the organization hires a head coach to replace the pretty rock they've secretly placed behind the bench hoping nobody would notice.
2011-12 Prediction: The Blues and Avalanche will again find themselves talking major trade, this time with St. Louis sending their iconic arch to Denver for an 8.6 mile stretch of the Rocky Mountains.