I notice these differences right off the bat:
HCDB's non-stop grinding system hasn't worn the team down yet. Half season should be perfect.
The team isn't thinking Crosby is back and he will do everything.
They are HEALTHY.
Sutter >> Staal in all of the ways I care about for a 3rd line center. (faceoffs, physicality, defense, hustle)
Tyler Kennedy ain't playin. He looks like he jacked up some stats 5-10 points in the off season. (using EA sports skill barometer)