Dark Horses

Which teams of 03/04 have the best chance of being the Lightning, Wild, and Ducks of last year? With each conference having its top spots locked up as usual it will be up to the rest of teams to battle it out for those last couple spots to get into the playoffs.

Florida- I’m really high on this team. This team has great young tlaent at every position and if they don’t gel together this year they at least have a couple years down the road to come together and make the playoffs in the weakest division in hockey. With Roberto Loungo in net and young players such as Jokinin, Weiss, Hagman, and Bouwmesster this team just might make some noise next year.

Los Angeles- This may not be considered a dark horse or break out because this team was pretty good a year ago. They don’t have much depth when it comes to offense but if Allison can stay healthy and if Ziggy can get hot then this team has a good chance. They got a average defense led by Miller and their goaltending will be as wonky as its gets with Cechmanek in net but he should be good enough to get them into the post season this year.

Columbus- I was really impressed when they got Sydor. This guy could do so much for a team in desperate need of help from the backend. They will miss Whitney but Nash should score more this year and Marc Denis is extrememly underated.

Phoenix- They got one of the top 5 goalies in the league with Sean Burke and the whole team underacheived last year some i’m looking for a better year from the yotes. The may have lost a great asset in Numminen but I think they are strong enough to fight through it and give any team a run for its money just as long as Burke stays around.

Rangers- Not a darkhorse by any means. With all the talent on that team they have no right being in this article but I just threw them in because they have to make the playoffs some year and with the East being weak this year this may just be it.

28 Responses to Dark Horses

  1. Gforce says:

    We know that LA,Florida and New york are going to do well….But you forget about the Buffalo Sabers they done more this off season than anyone else,besides the Wings..

  2. ranger_fan says:

    I agree with the Rangers. How can they miss the playoffs this year? The only things they did were

    1-not signing Messier(+)

    2-signed de Vries(+)

    3- still working on Mironov and other FAs

  3. JohnFlan22 says:

    The True dark horse has got to be Atlanta ths year, just look, you didn’t even mention them. They were at least .500 after the got Hartley as coach even with that lack-luster D and there goaltending depth is now very solid. I expect big things from the thrash or at least big strides this year.

    I don’t agree with your assessment of phoenix, they did some dumbass moves at the deadline last year, they will regress, even with a healthy Burke they cannot compete in the west. Burke to the Avs by December.

    Columbus lost whitney, they will struggle to score goals and there defence is average at best, they may hang in there but will be mathematically eliminated by april.

    Florida will be better this year i agree.

    Rangers? I thought for sure they would have made itlast year but…. I think they will make it but way too many question marks. Lindros is afraid to play like he can due to his fear of reinjury. Bure will not play over 30 games if at all, thats waaaaay too many knee surgeries. Kovalev sux on the rangers, Rico Fata out scored him on pitt after the trade, what did carter due after he was dealt to them? Nothing! it’s a curse all good players go to the rangers to kill there careers. Even when they got it right and sighned depth guys like mike Keane those guys sucked too. Tikkanen was the only one that played good for them and look what they had to give up to get him the first time.

    LA will make the playoffs, I guran-damn-tee it.

  4. big_booty says:

    That’s an easy one.

    The same way they have the past six years.

  5. Canesfan says:

    I expect the ‘Canes to be back in the playoffs. They are in a weak division in the weaker conference. After that, it’s a crapshoot.

  6. kidhenry1 says:

    how do we know? None of them made the playoffs last year, so how do we know that the same things that went wrong a year ago won’t go wrong again?

  7. kidhenry1 says:

    lol–truer words have never been spoken

  8. ranger_fan says:

    The last six years could have been the coaching. Ron Low sucked, Trottier was a mistake, Muckler still thought he was coaching an 80s team…

  9. kidhenry1 says:

    I like the blue jackets to win a bit and set themselves up for the playoffs two years from now. The Panthers can be a darkhorse team. The Ranger$ will win the East of miss the playoffs–i can’t see any in between that would justify that payroll.

    Maybe the ‘canes will make it back. The southleast is as weak as ever

  10. Stuv_Dogg says:

    I don’t think I’d categorize the Kings as a darkhorse, I think a lot of people expect them to win.

  11. leafs2003champs says:

    I like what my Leafs are doing sure they only added marchment BUT they are keeping all their young kids for the future to me thats a good thing. as for my dark horse pick got to go with the tharshers in the east and the jackets in the west.

  12. matteo says:

    Mr Bean says that apparently any team with Roman Titsmonic is a dark horse as soon as they make the playoffs……….

    SCTP – She gave it to me last night ehhh.

  13. Slavik says:

    pjeonix didnt realy enderachieve last year, the had almost as many man game injuries as the kings…if they can stay healthy they got a chance.

  14. Rico1975 says:

    Buffalo has to be a team that must be taken seriously this year in the North East..it won’t be them and Montreal battling it out for last..

    Whoever said they’re happy with the moves the Leafs made which makes them “a darkhorse” is an idiot, the only moves the Leafs made so far are going to set them in a battle with the Bruins for last in the division.

    Teams that come out of nowhere this year, Atlanta, Buffalo and Calgary.

  15. lumberjack7 says:

    normally i would say chicago, but let’s face it, they managed to screw up again. I like niemenen and nichol to replace chirs simon, but they haven’t added anything else. wasn’t mike smith supposed to be adding defense in the off-season? well he didn’t other than drafting Brent Seabrook, and he’s probably 2 years away from the NHL. add to that they’re jerking around ruutu on this contract thing, and he could be the one player that makes a difference with that team.

  16. Doppelganger says:

    Atlanta will be the next lightning. Their division is so weak and with the new schedule they will be playing those crappy teams 6 times. The lightning lost Prospal, the Hurricanes gave away two promising defensemen for nothing, and the panthers young talent is nothing compared to Atlanta’s. It will be between Atlanta and Washington for the division.

  17. Enigma says:

    what has calgary done to make you think they’ll improve ?

  18. Enigma says:

    SAn Jose will be back in the playoffs……they wont be a dominent team like 2 years ago…..but they’ll slide in

  19. leafs2003champs says:

    I didnt say they were a darkhorse I said I liked what they were doing keeping th young kids my darkshorse picks were the thatshers and Jackets

  20. BosBrn77 says:

    How many coaches does it take before you realize it just MIGHT be all the head cases on the team. Muckler was always a good coach. Lowe does better with younger guys. And Trottier had both Shcoeinfield (sp?) and O’Reilly to help him. And even Sather could not have them playing well. What the Rangers need to do is trade a few of these so-called “all-stars” to bring in a few grinders and young kids who want to play… every game.

  21. BosBrn77 says:

    I know they have been said already… but Atlanta will make the playoffs. They are in a weak division and they have a great team to build with. Dafoe in net, Heatley, Stefan, Kovalchuk up front with Kozlov and McEachern. I think Hartley will get this team in the playoffs, and they will surprise a few clubs.

  22. absolutehockey96 says:

    thrashers should be in the playoffs this year no matter what division they are in, they have a good coach with experience past the regular season and a ring i believe, they have 2 of the strongest young offensive scoring threats and a could be good goaltenders with dafoe and which ever prospect makes the backup hopefully it will be this finnish prospect who should be at camp

  23. defenestrate says:

    The Utah Grizzlies….

  24. Rico71 says:


    Utah has more luck at making the playoffs than the Penguins.

    Even with the return of Mario. Watch out for the line of Fata-Lemieux-Buchberger…dangerous. *lol*

  25. cwthrash says:

    Actually, Nurminen finished off last year as the starting goalie. Even though him and Dafoe will battle in training camp for the starting role, it is essentially Nurminen’s to lose.

    Even if Kari Lehtonen absolutely shines in camp, he will be given some playing time in Chicago(AHL) to get used to playing games over here. No need to rush him when Atlanta already has two quality goaltenders. And I desperately hope your right about the playoffs.

  26. Rico1975 says:

    Hey sorry man, I misread it..I was thinking about Leafs fans on TSN.ca or something 🙂

    What has Calgary done in the offseason to improve next year? Getting Reinprecht and Warrener will make them a tougher team..I think this is gonna be a “Sutter team” which means they’ll possibly squeak their way into the playoffs..

    Or else fall flat on their face because Goaltending wins games and Turek well..is Turek

  27. Dynamo710 says:

    Not true…Sather had the team above 500 in his short tenure, with a really tough schedule in the last months

  28. Bluejacketjay says:

    I have to disagree just a bit about C-bus. The loss of Whitney to the free agency will hurt a bit as far as goals scored but thats not really where the jackets needed help. The BJ’s were 16th in goals scored during the year. Way ahead of teams such as Anaheim and Minn both of which were successful in the playoffs. What the Jackets had to do in the offseason was to fortify their D, which they did. The addition of Brathwaite in goal will give them a legitimate backup in net to give Denis a break. Sydor and the maturation of Klesla will help them tremendously on D. I think they look just fine on the blueline. On offense, the addition of Marchant also helps out on the defense side of things as well as pick up SOME of the scoring lost by Whitney. A healthy Knuten and a great second season by Nash very well might pick up the rest. If they sign Zherdev to play this year, that could also be a big boost.

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