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Sportsnet NHL analyst and host of Hockey Central Jeff Marek tells us how things might play out – if there are games to play

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburg is a very good team even without Sidney Crosby, but a healthy Sid the Kid – who scored eight goals and 37 points in just 22 regu- lar games last season – makes them the class of the league, says Marek. “They have bona fide all-stars at every position.” With Crosby sidelined for much of the season, Evgeni Malkin erupted for 50 goals and a league- leading 109 points to win the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP. That was complemented by a breakout season from winger James Neal, who finished fourth in goals with 40 – including a league-leading 18 on the power play – and seventh in points with 81. The Penguins have to hope that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury can recover from a brutal post-season, in which he went just 2–4 with a wretched .834 save percentage.

 

Vancouver Canucks
Stanley Cup finalists in 2011, the Canucks are loaded with high-end talent, led by the dynamic Sedin twins Henrik (14 g, a league-leading 67 as- sists, 81 pts) and Daniel (30 g, 67 pts). Add to this the heft of Alexandre Burrows and Ryan Kesler and you’re talking one tough team.
In net, it appears to be the end of the Roberto Luongo era in Vancouver. He’s now trade bait, with Cory Schneider the presumptive No. 1. “He’s a guy who many think is the next great goaltender in the NHL,” says Marek.

 

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