The 2009-2010 NHL season started last night, but our three local squads begin play tonight and tomorrow. How will the teams fare this season? Each team — the Devils, Rangers and Islanders — have very different expectations as the season starts.

The Devils have turned to a familiar face, Jacques Lemaire, to take over their head coaching duties. Lemaire is famous for his defensive-style of hockey, but with Zach Parise and Patrik Elias heading the offense, the Devils should score plenty of goals. Martin Brodeur is still between the pipes and New Jersey should compete with the Penguins and Flyers for the Atlantic Division crown.

The Rangers could be a very good team. They could also be a team that struggles to make the playoffs. It really comes down to Marian Gaborik and whether or not Glen Sather’s gamble on him pays off. If Gaborik is healthy, he gives the Rangers the scoring punch they lost when Jaromir Jagr went to Europe. If he isn’t, New York will struggle to score goals just like last season. And that’s the big question hanging over this team, who will put the puck in the net? Henrik Lundqist will keep them in games, but the Rangers need Gaborik, Higgins and others to score.

This could be the last season (or is it?) on Long Island for the Islanders and there will not be a lot to cheer about on the ice. New York brought in both Marty Biron and Dwayne Roloson to play goal since they can’t rely on Rick DiPietro’s health and they used the #1 pick to select John Tavares. The additions should help New York climb out of the NHL basement, but a playoff spot is a long shot at best.