The Flyers' crushing defense should ease the stress on goalie Ray Emery, fresh off a stint in the KHL. "They don't need spectacular goaltending. They need a solid goaltender," says Emery. "That's the pressure I put on myself—to be that."
Despite losing two of their six 25-goal scorers, Philly, fortified by the game's most ornery star, should be better than it was a year ago.
LAST SEASON 51-27-4 (3rd in East); lost in first round to Carolina
KEY ADDITIONS G Yann Danis, C Rob Niedermayer, Coach Jacques Lemaire
KEY LOSSES G Scott Clemmensen, RW Brian Gionta, C Bobby Holik, C John Madden, C Mike Rupp, G Kevin Weekes, Coach Brent Sutter
The Devils' new look has an old feel: The franchise welcomed back Jacques Lemaire behind its bench. The 64-year-old coach, who spent eight years in Minnesota, is best known for the defensive style—if trapping and clutching opponents can be considered stylish—that helped New Jersey win its first Stanley Cup, in 1995. But don't expect the Devils of the '90s to reemerge completely.
Lemaire's old Devils never had a scoring sensation like Zach Parise (above). The 25-year-old left wing, who broke out last season with 45 goals and 94 points, will again skate with Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner, each of whom had career years with more than 60 points. That production, along with 31 goals and 78 points from winger Patrik Elias, helped New Jersey score a respectable 238 goals.
"This team had a great season," Lemaire says, acknowledging that offense does, in fact, have a place in the game. "I want to keep what they did good and maybe correct the mistakes."