You Know It’s Coming…

There was a time, in the middle of the summer, when a wire story about a Maple Leaf prospect and a fake trade rumor were the only hockey stories you could read in a day.

Those days are over.

You can tell the NHL season is around the corner because there is now something to read in the “Hockey” sections of most major websites.

It’s no longer all about Dany Heatley, Jim Balsillie and the mismanagement of the Chicago Blackhawks.

No, now people are actually talking about what is going to happen on the ice.

It’s refreshing.

After the jump we’ll give you a few things to read.

“Crosby, Malkin and Staal are not only extremely skilled, but physically dominant. Paul Maurice pointed out that it will be very difficult to dethrone the Penguins without size and power down the middle. How many Eastern teams legitimately have that?

They are surrounded by players happy to accept their roles. Ray Shero adds any missing pieces at the deadline. And, Marc-Andre Fleury badly wants to make the Olympic Team.”

Sportsnet’s Mark Brophy takes a look at the Atlantic Division.

“Lose the Stanley Cup final. Win the Stanley Cup. So what’s next?

A repeat?

When you have two of the best young players in the NHL, it’s hard to quickly write off the notion, even though you’d have to think the odds are stacked against the Penguins. Both Pittsburgh and Detroit made it back to the final last season after meeting for the Cup the year before, but history indicates not many teams are able to pull it off. And the NHL hasn’t had a back-to-back champion since 1996-97 and 1997-98 when the Red Wings pulled it off.

Let’s sit back and see exactly how far Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can carry the team – especially in an Olympic year when both will be counted on to carry their respective country to a gold medal.”

The Hockey News ranks Hart Trophy favorites and the top three are no surprise.
Sam McCaig compares Geno to Buries It:

“Mario Lemieux isn’t going to come out of retirement again, but Malkin is a pretty good knock-off version of No. 66. The big, rangy center has a laser for a shot and he’s an offensive force. Malkin, the 2009 playoff MVP, led the NHL in assists and points in both the regular season and playoffs last year.”

Bing took to the ice today and he expects to play Friday.

Talbot skated for the first time since having surgery.

Paul Bissonnette, Ryan Bayda, Chris Conner, Nate Guenin and Deryk Engelland have been placed on waivers in hopes of sending them to WBS.

The Cup and the Lombardi Trophy will be on display.

Hold on. We’re almost there.

Go Pens.