(First of two articles)

Only one position can be predicted with certainty in this year's National Hockey League race, and that is last place, since it will obviously be occupied by Boston's own Bruins. The other five teams, however, should find themselves involved in a and for the four Stanley Cup Playoff berths.

Toronto and Chicago, it is agreed, will again be the contenders for the regular season title. Chicago led last year until the final two weeks of the season, when the Maple Leafs overtook them to win by one point. Toronto went on to win the Stanley Cup, while the Black Hawks lost in the first round of the Playoffs.

Flashy Black Hawk Line

The Black Hawk second line of Stan Mikita, Kenny Wharram, and Ab McDonald has led Chicago to its present NHL lead with nine goals in five games. Mikita now leads the league with six goals and four assists for a total of ten points. The first line, with Bobby Hull and Red Hay, should also score frequently. The defense, led by goalie Clenn Hall and captain Pierre Pilote, allowed fewer goals then any other team last season.

Toronto Well-Balanced

Toronto has a well-balanced attack, strengthened by star Frank Mahavolich, red Kelly and Dave Keon provide the Maple Leafs with a consistent scoring punch. Tim Horton, Carl Brewer, and last season's Rookie of the Year, Kent Douglas, form the tightest defense in the league. Johnny Bower, with assistance from Don Simmons, is nearly as capable as Chicago's Hall. However, Chicago's youth and superior checking ability should keep the Black Hawks ahead of Toronto for the entire season.

(Tomorrow: Montreal, Detroit, New York)