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TEAM BY TEAM PREVIEW

NORRIS DIVISION

Detroit Red Wings

Last season: 43-25-12

Playoffs: Lost 4-0 to Chicago in Norris Division final.

Coach: Bryan Murray (third season).

Key players: C Steve Yzerman (45 goals, 58 assists), C Sergei Fedorov (32 goals, 54 assists), D Nicklas Lidstrom (11 goals, 49 assists, +/- of +36), D Vladimir Konstantinov (8 goals, 26 assists), +/- of +25), G Tim Cheveldae (38-23-9, 3.20 goals-against average).

Notes: Murray, who also is general manager, decided to coach one more season. He has yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs in 11 NHL seasons. Detroit features six players who scored 32 or more goals last season _ Yzerman, Fedorov, Paul Ysebaert (35), Jimmy Carson (34), Ray Sheppard (36) and Dino Ciccarelli (38), obtained from Washington in an off-season trade. But the Wings did most of their scoring even-handed. Detroit finished 13th in the league and last among the 16 playoff teams last season in power-play efficiency at 18.7 percent.

Prediction: First.

History: The Detroit Red Wings, who also were nicknamed the Cougars and Falcons, are one of the six original NHL teams of the modern era. Have won seven Stanley Cups, but none since 1955 when the league still had six teams.

Chicago Blackhawks

Last season: 36-29-15

Playoffs: Lost 4-0 to Pittsburgh in Stanley Cup final.

Coach: Darryl Sutter (1st season)

Key players: C Jeremy Roenick (53 goals, 50 assists), RW Steve Larmer (29 goals, 45 assists), D Chris Chelios (9 goals, 47 assists, +/- of +24), D Steve Smith (9 goals, 21 assists, +/- of +23), G Ed Belfour (21-18-10, 2.70 goals-against average).

Notes: Sutter takes over as coach from Mike Keenan, who became the Blackhawks' full-time general manager. While both stress defense, Sutter is more of a players coach than Iron Mike. Chicago finished second in the league last season in penalty-killing efficiency at 84.2 percent (76 goals allowed in 482 power plays). The Blackhawks went 13-20-7 on the road (.413 winning percentage). Chicago's first line of Roenick, Larmer and Michel Goulet (22 goals, 41 assists) scored 104 goals. Larmer has played in 800 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in league history. Blackhawks expect more offensive production from Brent Sutter, Dirk Graham and Brian Noonan.

Prediction: Second.

History: One of the original six NHL teams of the modern era. Have won three Stanley Cups in 66-year existence (1934, 1938 and 1961).

Minnesota North Stars

Last season: 32-42-6.

Playoffs: Lost Norris Division semifinal 4-3 to Detroit.

Coach: Bob Gainey (third season).

Key players: C Mike Modano (33 goals, 44 assists), RW Ulf Dahlen (36 goals, 30 assists), D Mark Tinordi (4 goals, 24 assists), G Jon Casey (19-23-5, 3.40 goals-against average).

Notes: The North Stars' fairy-tale run to the Stanley Cup final in the 1990-91 season is long forgotten after the team blew a 3-1 lead to Detroit in the first round of the playoffs last season. Minnesota's defense posted only 96 points last season _ New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch had 102 points. Tinordi recovered from serious nerve damage in his foot last season and has had a strong training camp. New addition Tommy Sjodin of Sweden should help on defense... Casey spent a brief stint in the minors last season but regained his form in the playoffs. The North Stars traded second-leading scorer Brian Bellows (30 goals, 45 assists) for Montreal's Russ Courtnall (7 goals, 14 assists in 27 games).

Prediction: Fifth.

History: Entered the NHL in the 1967 expansion. Minnesota has never won the Stanley Cup but twice reached the final (1981 and 1991).

St. Louis Blues

Last season: 36-33-11.

Playoffs: Lost Norris Division semifinal 4-2 to Chicago.

Coach: Bob Plager (first season).

Key players: RW Brett Hull (70 goals, 39 assists), RW Brendan Shanahan (33 goals, 36 assists), D Jeff Brown (20 goals, 39 assists), D Paul Cavallini (10 goals, 25 assists), G Curtis Joseph (27-20-10, 3.01 goals-against average).

Notes: The Blues are expecting more leadership from Hull and a breakthrough year from Shanahan, who's entering his fifth season at age 23. The Blues relied on Joseph (a .910 save percentage) to make up for the holes on their blue line. St. Louis gave up 2,702 shots last season, second only to the expansion San Jose Sharks' 2,900. Newcomers Vitali Prokhorov and Vitali Karamnov, both left wings from Moscow, should add offensive punch.

Prediction: Third.

History: Joined the NHL during the 1967 expansion. Blues have never won a Stanley Cup.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Last season: 30-43-7.

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Coach: Pat Burns (first season).

Key players: C Doug Gilmour (26 goals, 61 assists combined for Calgary and Toronto), RW Glenn Anderson (24 goals, 33 assists), LW Wendell Clark (19 goals, 21 assists in 43 games), D Dave Ellett (18 goals, 33 assists), G Grant Fuhr (25-33-5, 3.66 goals-against average).

Notes: The Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs three times in the last four seasons. They started last season at 10-25-5, but finished the second half strongly at 20-18-2. Toronto returns no 30-goal scorers. Only Anderson and Gilmour passed the 20-goal mark. New addition right wing Nikolai Borschevsky from Russia should help. Burns, who showed faith in young players when coaching in Montreal, will try to inspire play from young players Rob Pearson, Joe Sacco and Kent Manderville.

Prediction: Fourth.

History: One of the six original NHL teams of the modern era. Nickname changed from Arenas to St. Patricks to Maple Leafs. Have won 13 Stanley Cups, but none since expansion of 1967.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Expansion team.

Coach: Terry Crisp (first season).

Key players: LW Mikael Andersson (18 goals, 29 assists), C Brian Bradley (10 goals, 21 assists in 59 games), C Anatoli Semenov (22 goals, 20 assists in 59 games), LW John Tucker (38 goals, 53 assists in 36 games in Italian hockey league), D Joe Reekie (4 goals, 12 assists in 54 games), D Marc Bergevin (7 goals, 17 assists), G Wendell Young (7-6, 3.79 goals-against average).

Notes: After the expansion draft in June, the Lightning came out with an experienced and fairly talented defensive corps with Doug Crossman, Reekie, Rob Ramage, Shawn Chambers and Peter Taglianetti. Add steady Young in goal and Tampa Bay will make it tough for opponents to score. The big question mark on the team was where would the team get scoring; only Anatoli Semenov was a proven consistent goal-scorer at the NHL level. Lightning general manager Phil Esposito, through trades and free agency, filled that offensive void with the acquisitions of Andersson, Tucker, Ken Hodge, Chris Kontos and Stan Drulia. Roman Hamrlik, the No. 1 pick overall in June's entry draft, will help on defense if the Lightning can get him out of Czechoslovakia.

Prediction: Sixth.

History: Joins the league this season with Ottawa Senators.

SMYTHE DIVISION

Calgary Flames

Last season: 31-37-12

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Coach: Dave King (first season).

Key players: LW Gary Roberts (53 goals, 37 assists), C Theoren Fleury (33 goals, 40 assists), D Al MacInnis (20 goals, 77 seasons), D Gary Suter (12 goals, 43 assists), G Mike Vernon (24-30-9, 3.58 goals-against average).

Notes: Calgary went from winning the Stanley Cup in 1989 to a team that missed the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Finished with 74 points last season, second-fewest in team history and worst since relocating from Atlanta. Flames one of four teams to give up more than 300 goals. Finished 18th in league in penalty-killing efficiency (78.1 percent). King expected to bring more discipline to a team that was short-handed a league-leading 489 times last season. King, who led Canada's Olympic team for last nine years, also is expected to help inspire better play from the younger players.

Prediction: Second.

History: Flames joined the NHL in 1972 in Atlanta. Franchise relocated to Calgary in 1980. Won first Stanley Cup in 1989. The team was coached by Terry Crisp, now the Tampa Bay Lightning's coach.

Edmonton Oilers

Last season: 36-34-10

Playoffs: Lost Campbell Conference final 4-0 to Chicago.

Coach: Ted Green (second season).

Key players: RW Joe Murphy (35 goals, 47 assists), C Bernie Nichols (20 goals, 29 assists in 50 games), LW Esa Tikkanen (12 goals, 16 assists in 40 games), D Dave Manson (15 goals, 32 assists), G Bill Ranford (27-26-10, 3.58 goals-against average).

Notes: Traded leading-scorer Vincent Damphousse (38 goals, 51 assists) to Montreal. Specialty plays were dismal last season. Finished 14th on power-play efficiency (18.6 percent) and 21st in penalty-killing efficiency (78 percent). Additions of left wing Shayne Corson, center Vladimir Vujtek and center Brent Gilchrist will help. Also need Petr Klima to play up to potential.

Prediction: Fourth.

History: A former member of the World Hockey Association. Joined the NHL in 1979 in merger of the leagues. Won Stanley Cup five times in seven-year span from 1983-84 to 1989-90.

Los Angeles Kings

Last season: 35-31-14.

Playoffs: Lost first round 4-2 to Edmonton.

Coach: Barry Melrose (first season).

Key players: C Wayne Gretzky (31 goals, 90 assists), LW Luc Robitaille (44 goals, 63 assists), LW Tony Granato (39 goals, 29 assits), D Paul Coffey (11 goals, 58 assits in 64 games), G Kelly Hrudey (26-17-13, 3.37 goals-against average).

Notes: Gretzky's herniated disk will keep him sidelined indefinitely. Right wing Jari Kurri, a disappointment last season with 60 points, needs to step up. Signing of 23-year-old playmaking center Robert Lang adds youth to an aging roster. Melrose was lured from Detroit organization. The hands-on coach has won at every level, including the Calder Cup with Adirondack of the American Hockey League last season.

Prediction: Fifth.

History: Joined the NHL during the expansion of 1967. Never won a Stanley Cup.

San Jose Sharks

Last season: 17-58-5

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Coach: George Kingston (second season).

Key players: RW Pat Falloon (25 goals, 34 assists), RW David Bruce (22 goals, 16 assists in 60 games), D Doug Wilson (9 goals, 19 asists), G Jeff Hackett (11-27-1, 3.84 goals-against average).

Notes: The expansion team surprised many by winning 17 games last season, especially after the team started 1-15-0. Team finished 22nd in league in goals by forwards. Falloon's 25 led the team. Playmaker Ray Whitney, 20, may help boost offense. Hackett, named team's MVP, kept the Sharks in many games when badly outplayed. Acquired center Hubie McDonough and LW Petri Skriko. Fired general manager Jack Ferreira, a move questioned around the league.

Prediction: Sixth.

History: Joined league in 1991 as part of a deal worked out by George and Gordon Gund, who sold the Minnesota North Stars to purchase the expansion team.

Vancouver Canucks

Last season: 42-26-12

Playoffs: Lost Smythe final 4-2 to Edmonton.

Coach: Pat Quinn (third season).

Key players: RW Trevor Linden (31 goals, 44 assists), C Cliff Ronning (24 goals, 47 assists), LW Pavel Bure (34 goals, 26 assists in 65 games), D Jyrki Lumme (12 goals, 32 assists), D Gerald Diduck (6 goals, 21 assists), G Kirk McLean (38-17-9, 2.74 goals-against average).

Notes: After 17 consecutive losing seasons, the Cannucks established single-season team records for wins (42) and points (96). Won first division title since 1975. Quinn won Jack Adams Award. McLean was in the top five of all major goaltending stats (goals-against average, wins, save percentage and shutouts). C Igor Larionov (team's third-leading scorer) left to play in Switzerland. His departure hurts on the power play, where Cannucks were ninth last season at 19.4 percent.

Prediction: First.

History: Joined the NHl in 1970. Never won a Stanley Cup.

Winnipeg Jets

Last season: 33-32-15

Playoffs: Lost first round of playoffs 4-3 to Vancouver.

Coach: John Paddock (second season).

Key players: C Ed Olczyk (32 goals, 33 assists), D Phil Housley (23 goals, 63 assists), D Fredrik Olausson (20 goals, 42 assists), G Bo Essensa (21-17-6, 2.88 goals-against average).

Notes: Last season only San Jose finished with fewer even-strenghth goals. Jets 19th in league on offense. New centers Teemu Selanne, Alexei Zhamnov and Christian Ruuttu should help bolster team's goal-scoring. Jets have outstanding offensive defensemen, who also allowed 44 fewer goals last season. Third in penalty-killing efficiency at 84.1 percent). Essensa fifth in league in goals-against average.

Prediction: Third.

History: A former member of the World Hockey Association that joined the NHL in 1979 as part of the merger. Never won the Stanley Cup.

ADAMS DIVISION

Boston Bruins

Last season: 36-32-12

Playoffs: Lost Wales Conference final 4-0 to Pittsburgh.

Coach: Brian Sutter (first season).

Key players: C Adam Oates (20 goals, 79 assists), D Raymond Bourque (21 goals, 60 assists), C Vladimir Ruzicka (39 goals, 36 assists), RW Stephen Leach (31 goals, 29 assists), G Andy Moog (28-22-9, 3.23 goals-against average).

Notes: Bruins went to Europe to get some immediate help _ Russian wingers Grigori Panteleyev, Dimitri Kvartalnov and Sergei Zholtok, Czechoslovakian left wing Jozef Stumpel and Czechoslovakian center Jiri Dopita. Up-and-coming star Joe Juneau also beefs up offense. Fifty-goal scorer Cam Neeley, who played only nine games last season, is still ailing. Added Gord Roberts and David Shaw to add experience to defense.

Prediction: Third.

History: One of the NHL original six teams of the modern era. Won three Stanley Cups, the last in 1972 when Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Phil Esposito was the Bruins' high-scoring center.

Buffalo Sabres

Last season: 31-37-12

Playoffs: Lost first round 4-3 to Boston.

Coach: John Muckler (second season).

Key players: C Pat Lafontaine (46 goals, 47 assists), C Dale Hawerchuk (23 goals, 75 assists), LW Dave Andreychuck (41 goals, 50 assists), RW Alexander Mogilny (39 goals, 45 assists), D Doug Bodger (11 goals, 35 assists).

Notes: The Sabres' main concern is finding a steady No. 1 goaltender. Clint Malarchuk, Darren Puppa, Tom Draper and newly acquired Dominik Hasek are all contenders. Donald Audette (31 goals as a rookie last season) will be out until January with knee problems that cut his rookie season short. Buffalo had best power play in league last season at 22.5 percent. In offseason acquired left wing Yuri Kyhalev, left wing Victor Gordijuk, center Doug McDonald and defenseman Richard Smehlik.

Prediction: Second.

History: Joined the league in 1970 expansion. Never won a Stanley Cup.

Hartford Whalers

Last season: 26-41-13

Playoffs: Lost in first round 4-3 to Montreal.

Coach: Paul Holmgren (first season).

Key players: C John Cullen (26 goals, 51 assists), RW Pat Verbeek (22 goals, 35 assists), D Zarley Zalapski (20 goals, 37 assists), LW Murray Craven (27 goals, 33 assists).

Notes: With Quebec acquiring six players in exchange for Eric Lindros, the Whalers can't count on making the playoffs. Whalers won only 13 times at home, worst in NHL last season. Hartford's power play was worst at home, and penalty killing was second worst at home. Acquired goalie Sean Burke from New Jersey. Burke could return to old form in new setting. Also acquired defensemen Allen Pederson, Eric Weinrich and Jim Agnew. New general manager Brian Burke is trying to instill new image to team that was 20th in attendance.

Prediction: Fifth.

History: A former team of the World Hockey Association that joined the NHL in 1979 in the merger.

Montreal Canadiens

Last season: 41-28-11

Playoffs: Lost Adams final 4-0 to Boston.

Coach: Jacques Demers (first season).

Key players: LW Vincent Damphousse (38 goals, 51 assists), LW Kirk Muller (36 goals, 41 assists), LW Brian Bellows (30 goals, 45 assists), D Eric Desjardins (6 goals, 32 assists), G Patrick Roy (36-22-8, 2.36 goals-against average).

Notes: Trades in the offseason to get Damphousse and Bellows should spark more scoring. Roy remains among the NHL's elite goaltenders. He led the league in goals-against average and save percentage (.914) and was tied for league in shutouts with 5. Team needs someone to step up and be the leader in the locker room. Demers steps into one of the toughest coaching jobs in the NHL in hockey-crazed Montreal.

Prediction: First.

History: One of the six original teams of the NHL's modern era. The winningest franchise in NHL history with 22 Stanley Cup championships.

Ottawa Senators

Expansion team

Coach: Rick Bowness (first season).

Key players: LW Sylvain Turgeon (9 goals, 11 assists in 56 games), LW Lonnie Loach (37 goals, 49 assists for Adirondack of AHL), D Brad Marsh (3 goals, 4 assists), G Peter Sidorkiewicz (9-19-6, 3.34 goals-against average).

Notes: The Senators went with youth for the future, rather than veterans to win immediately. Team goal is to get more than 22 points, one more than the worst team in history, the 1974-75 Washington Capitals. Left wing Mike Peluso led the league in penalty minutes with 408. Laurie Boschman and Mark Lamb add experience to the forwards. But Senators have to find scoring. The forwards selected in expansion draft combined for 39 goals last season. Shaw is the Senators' quarterback on the blue line.

Prediction: Sixth.

History: Joins NHL in 1992 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Quebec Nordiques

Last season: 20-48-12

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Coach: Pierre Page (second season).

Key players: C Joe Sakic (29 goals, 65 assists), Mike Ricci (20 goals, 36 assists), RW Matts Sundin (33 goals, 43 assists), RW Owen Nolan (42 goals, 31 assists), G Ron Hextall (16-21-6, 3.40 goals-against average).

Notes: The Nordiques finished last in the Adams Division the last four years but are expected to make the playoffs with the infusion of talent from the Eric Lindros trade and the maturing of former first-round draft picks Sundin and Nolan. Left wing Valery Samensky is also a top young forward. Quebec allowed 318 goals last season, second only to San Jose's 359. Addition of Kerry Huffman and Steve Duchesne from deal with Philadelphia should help the Nordiques' defense. Hextall, also acquired in that deal, should provide steady goaltending.

Prediction: Fourth.

History: Former member of the World Hockey Association. Joined the NHL in 1979 in the merger. Never won a Stanley Cup.

PATRICK DIVISION

New Jersey Devils

Last season: 38-31-11

Playoffs: Lost in first round 4-3 to New York Rangers.

Coach: Herb Brooks (first season).

Key players: RW Claude Lemieux (41 goals, 27 assists), RW Stephane J.J. Richer (29 goals, 35 assits), D Scott Stevens (17 goals, 42 assists), RW John MacLean (missed all last season with knee injury), G Chris Terreri (22-22-10, 3.18 goals-against average).

Notes: The Devils' strong scoring attack from the right side gets even stronger with return of MacLean. But team will have trouble generating offense on the left side. They scored league-low 59 goals on the power play. Although Tom McVie led the Devils to their most wins in history with 38, he was replaced by the innovative Brooks.

Prediction: Fifth.

History: Joined the league in 1974 as the Kansas City Scouts, moved to Denver as the Colorado Rockies in 1976, became the New Jersey Devils in 1982. Never won a Stanley Cup.

New York Islanders

Last season: 34-35-11

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Coach: Al Arbour (fifth season).

Key players: C Pierre Turgeon (40 goals, 55 assists), C Ray Ferraro (40 goals, 40 assists), LW Derek King (40 goals, 38 assists), D Uwe Krupp (8 goals, 29 assists).

Notes: The Islanders traded scorers Pat LaFontaine and Brent Sutter on the same day to try to get more players to beef up their offense. The net result was the team scored 68 more goals and increased by 19 points in the standings. Defense is solid from top to bottom, although no real stars. Goalie Mark Fitzpatrick has suffered from a blood disorder for two years, but managed to play in 30 games with a 3.20 goals-against average. Islanders acquired defenseman Valdimir Malakhov, left wing Brian Mullen and right wing Zigmund Palffy.

Prediction: Fourth.

History: Joined NHL in 1972 expansion. Won four Stanley Cups in consecutive seasons (1979-80 through 1982-83).

New York Rangers

Last season: 50-25-5

Playoffs: Lost Patrick final 4-2 to Pittsburgh.

Coach: Roger Neilson (fourth season).

Key players: C Mark Messier (35 goals, 72 assists), RW Mike Gartner (40 goals, 41 assists), D Brian Leetch (22 goals, 80 assists), RW Tony Amonte (35 goals, 34 assists), G John Vanbiesbrouck (27-13-3, 2.85 goals-against average), G Mike Richter (23-12-2, 3.11 goals-against average).

Notes: Rangers won 50 games for the first time last season and had the best record in the NHL but fell short of their goal of winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 52 years. Team thought it won the Eric Lindros auction in June, but an arbitrator ruled otherwise. But not a bad team to be left intact. Rangers have strong goal-tending tandem in Vanbiesbrouck (tied for second in saves percentage at .910 and fourth in goals-against average) and Richter, 26. Led league in penalty-killing efficiency at 85 percent.

Prediction: First.

History: One of the six original teams in the NHL's modern era. Won three Stanley Cups, but none since 1940.

Philadelphia Flyers

Last season: 32-37-11

Playoffs: Did not qualify.

Coach: Bill Dineen (first season).

Key players: C Eric Lindros (highest-paid player ever in the NHL at $3.5-million per season), RW Mark Recchi (43 goals, 54 assists), C Rod Brind'Amour (33 goals, 44 assists), RW Kevin Dineen (30 goals, 32 assists), D Dimitri Yushkevich (from Moscow Dynamo).

Notes: The Flyers gave away six players, two first-round draft picks and $15-million for Lindros, the player called the "Next One." He's an all-around gifted and strong player, but only 19. Flyers had lowest point total in Patrick Division with 252. Only Brind'Amour scored 30 goals in a Flyers uniform. Defense was severely weakened with departures of Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne and Mark Howe. Goaltending also was weakened with loss of Ken Wregget to Pittsburgh and Ron Hextall to Quebec. Dominic Roussell, a 22-year-old rookie, is expected to be No. 1 in goal.

Prediction: Sixth.

History: Joined league in 1967 expansion. Won two Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. Tampa Bay Lightning coach Terry Crisp played on both of those teams.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Last season: 39-32-9

Playoffs: Stanley Cup Champions.

Coach: Replacement for Scotty Bowman yet to be named.

Key players: C Mario Lemieux (44 goals, 87 assists in 64 games), LW Kevin Stevens (54 goals, 69 assists), RW Joe Mullen (42 goals, 45 assists), RW Jaromir Jagr (32 goals, 37 assists), G Tom Barrasso (25-22-9, 3.53 goals-against average).

Notes: The Penguins led the league in scorng with 343 goals. Lemieux is the best player in the league and the only question is if his back will hold up. Only Quebec and San Jose had poorer defensive records. Penguins are getting old on the blueline.

Prediction: Second.

History: Joined league in 1967 expansion. Won first Stanley Cup in 1991 and repeated the feat in June.

Washington Capitals

Last season: 45-27-8

Playoffs: Lost in first round 4-3 to Pittsburgh.

Coach: Terry Murray (fourth season).

Key players: C Michal Pivonka (23 goals, 57 assists), C Dale Hunter (28 goals, 50 assists), D Calle Johansson (14 goals, 42 assist), D Kevin Hatcher (17 goals, 37 assists), G Don Beaupre (29-17-6, 3.20 goals-against average).

Notes: Bobby Carpenter is back. He had 25 goals and 23 assists in 60 games for Boston. Capitals also acquired right wing Kevin Miller (20 goals, 26 assists for Detroit). Capitals scored 330 goals last season, up from 258 the season before. But gone is Dino Ciccarelli (team's third-leading scorer with 38 goals and 38 assists). Washington has a strong team, but no stars.

Prediction: Third.

History: Joined league in 1974 expansion. Missed the playoffs its first eight seasons and has never won the Stanley Cup.

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