The 2013-14 NHL season is set to start in about two weeks. Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks won a thrilling series against the Boston Bruins to capture the Stanley Cup. While the Blackhawks had a great season, not every team was so lucky. Which five teams are looking to bounce back in a big way this season?
1) Florida Panthers
Two years ago, the Florida Panthers were celebrating a division title and a playoff berth. It was their first playoff appearance since 1999. Last season, the Panthers looked like an expansion team. They had the fewest points in the league with 36 and only won 15 games. Goalie Jacob Markstrom needs to have a big year if Florida is going to have success. With the addition of Tim Thomas, he could find himself on the bench if he doesn’t play well.
2) Phoenix Coyotes
Phoenix finally has a home in Glendale for the long-term. They also have their franchise goalie signed for the long-term as well. Mike Smith signed a deal that will keep him in Phoenix for the next six seasons. With two major distractions gone, the Coyotes can look to get back to their winning ways. Although they missed the playoffs last year, they won their first playoff series in 15 years two seasons ago.
3) Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay had a difficult season in 2013. They were outstanding at putting the puck in the net as they scored 147 goals in 48 games. However, they struggled when it came to keeping the puck out of the net. Fortunately, it looks like Tampa Bay has solved its goalie situation with Ben Bishop from Ottawa. If he doesn’t pan out, look for Anders Lindback to win the starting job. It is most likely that the two will share the job during the beginning of the season.
4) New York Rangers
In 2012-2013, the Rangers were the top seed in the east. Last season, the Rangers barely squeaked into the playoffs as the number six seed. Although they advanced to the second round, they were summarily dismissed by the Bruins in five games. In the offseason, coach John Tortorella was fired. He was largely cited by the media as the reason why the Rangers underachieved. They bring back goalie Henrik Lundqvist for what could be his final season as a Ranger. He will be a free agent after the 2013-2014 season.
5) Anaheim Ducks
If it weren’t for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Ducks would have been the runaway number one seed in the west. Despite the presence of the Blackhawks, it was thought by experts that they would still make the Stanley Cup Finals. However, they were eliminated in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings. Fortunately for the Ducks, they bring back most of their roster this season. That should make it easier for Anaheim to repeat the success that they had during the last regular season.
Each season comes with its own set of drama and storylines. While last season may have been a disappointment for the teams on this list, there is always a chance to turn things around this season. The fans of all 30 teams are hoping that this is the year that their team finally wins the Stanley Cup. For these five teams in particular, there is a sense of urgency to prove that last season was a fluke.