Five teams desperate for fast start
Updated: January 9, 2013, 1:04 PM ETBy Scott Burnside | ESPN.com
No team says, OK, let's just stagger around for 20 games and get it going after that, especially when likely facing a 48- or 50-game slate. But here are five teams for which a quick start is imperative for a number of reasons:Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry -- forwards who are integral, naturally, to the Ducks' rejoining the playoff discussion.Kevin Dineen and a smorgasbord of new talent acquired by general manager Dale Tallon, and the Cats rode a hot start to a shocking (for some) Southeast Division title and their first playoff appearance since 2000. If the Panthers got a little more goaltending, they would have defeated New Jersey in the first round, a closely fought series that went the full seven games. The Southeast looks to be a tough place to hang out this season, with Carolina and Tampa both showing signs of being playoff-ready, and of course perennial division leader Washington looking to avenge last season's fall from grace. A fast start is crucial to the Panthers in the standings and to reinforce to a long-slumbering fan base that they are for real.Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz, Nail Yakupov) morphs into something approaching a playoff contender? The young Oilers got a good taste of AHL hockey while the lockout was sorting itself out, and players like Jordan Eberle, Hall and Schultz thrived there, piling up points at an impressive rate, so they shouldn't have as much trouble getting their sea legs under them. And with upbeat rookie coach Ralph Krueger, a fast start could see the Oilers join the postseason fray for the first time since 2006.Joe Nieuwendyk is slowly building the team he wants, jettisoning Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott in the offseason, while acquiring Derek Roy and signing free agents Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr to join top talent Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson. New owner Tom Gaglardi is determined to rebuild a relationship with fans, and the best way to do that is to put some W's up on the board as early as possible.
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