Now for my EAST predictions;
- I struggled mightily between them and Philly, but I have to go with them as they have been so sorely beaten in the playoffs these last 2 seasons that the hunger must be unbearable for them. If AO stays healthy, which is proving to be difficult for him with his borderline wreckless playing, then I see no problem for them finishing 1st overall in the East. The questions that remain for them are Goaltending and Defense. They can outscore any team though, so goaltending becomes less of an issue, until of course, they make it to the playoffs. Things need to change in their regular season to playoff thinking if they want to make it further. They threw a lot of shots at Halak in the playoffs last year, but they failed to get traffic in front of the net, which in turn, led to their early exit.
- This team is one of the most stacked teams in the East. They have offense coming from everywhere. The issue here is whether Carter, Briere and Gagne can stay healthy. Pronger will miss some time here, which could hurt them a bit to start the season, but I do believe that Timonen will be able to hold the fort until he comes back. Can Leighton do it again? That's another question, but he proved what he could do last year when it mattered most, and got them all the way to the Finals.
3. Boston Bruins
- This Bruins team has been promising for the past 3 seasons, but I think their stock has fallen a little bit due to inconsistency and lack of scoring. If Seguin and Horton can make an impression and provide the missing offense, they could very well finish 2nd place, but I still prefer Philly's defense to theirs. Savard's constant injuries don't help matters for them either, and the fact that Lucic has not fully achieved what has been expected of him isn't helping either.
- People might think I'm crazy for putting them down so low, but the fact of the matter is, I'm not a fan of their defense at all. The puck-moving defensemen is what's missing here, they made great acquisitions in Michalek and Martin, but I'm not sure they'll be able to or are even expected to fill the void left by Gonchar. Crosby and Malkin will most certainly notice his absence, and I'm not sure how long it will take them to get used to their D and their inability to move the puck up the ice effectively. They're lucky to have Letang and Goligoski though, that should help them somewhat. Wingers? I couldn't even name them for you...I'm not sure how it's going to work out for them. Time will tell of course, when you have a guy like Crosby and Malkin on your team, anything is possible. Still, I put them 4th.
- Biased? Maybe a little. But seriously, with the addition of Gonchar and Karlsson entering his 2nd season I can see some bright things in the future for the Sens. I believe they'll be a very tough, balanced team all year and will give any team a run for their money. If Kuba, Michalek, Spezza, Alfie, Fisher, Kovalev and Leclaire can stay healthy, especially when we get closer to the playoffs, I think we could be in for a very fun, heart-stopping season. I also expect them to fight for Number 1 in the Northeast all season. It will be quite the battle.
6. New Jersey
- Wow, this team seems to be a mess to me right now. So much drama surrounding them after the whole Kovalchuk debacle. Now, they've lost money and draft picks for their future. They have a good forward corps - or great even - in Parise, Langenbrunner, Kovalchuk, Rolston, Elias and Zajac. But the problem here lies in their puck-moving ability from the blueline. They have Andy Greene, that's it that's all, with his 37 points last season. They better hope he can do more than that, otherwise, having those snipers on the top line might not do much for them if they can't get the puck. Us Sens fans know how that feels. On top of that, they have Martin Brodeur between the pipes, awesome goalie of course, but 38 years old. He's getting up there and their still playing him 70+ games a season. They have not learned over the past 5 years that it's just not going to work anymore. He's so tired by the time they get to the playoffs, he starts to play like a mediocre goalie, which is not what they need. The additions of Tallinder and Volchenkov will help take some of the pressure off of him, but they need to make a decision and start playing their backup a little more to ensure Brodeur is ready for the post-season.
It gets much tougher from here...
- This is tough, I think there might be a chance that they don't make it at all this year, but I will put them into the 7th spot, because they have Miller...is that reason enough? It was last year, so why not...aside from him though, they don't have much. They have Derek Roy who's a solid consistent producer, Tim Connolly who's awesome when he's healthy, which is very rare lately. He can still manage a PPG though. Pominville, consistent and dependable. Vanek, had an offseason last year, will need to get back to form if they want to make it in. The big problem I see here for them this season is the lack of D. Myers, Rivet and Leopold are good in the puck moving department, but I'm not sure where their defense will come from. This team has gotten weaker from last season, IMO. There's only so much Miller can do for this team.
8. This is anyone's spot really, between the following; Atlanta, Tampa, Montreal and maybe the Rangers. Aside from them though...I don't see anyone else making a push for this spot except for maybe Carolina. They're one of those teams that can surprise at any moment. That being said...I guess I'll go with the young Atlanta team that have been chomping at the bit to make it to the playoffs and make an impact. So, Atlanta
it is for spot 8...I kinda have a hard time not putting Tampa in here, but I'm not sure they're quite there yet, even with the likes of Lecavalier, Stamkos and St. Louis. The new coach might give them that extra push needed, but I have yet to be convinced.
Now for the rest...
- I think they'll either just make it or just miss. Staal needs to get back on the right track and lead the charge. This could be the year he wakes from his slumber.
10. Tampa Bay
- that's the one I was missing...hehe. I'll write a reason later...gotta go soon.
11. Bah...this one's hard. Rangers? Yeah...I guess I'll go with the Rangers
...I guess. Lundqvist and Gaborik anyone? That's pretty much the only reason, their D sucks donkey...don't know how they'll get through that...they could finish as low as 13th really...
- I think the loss of their playoff hero will have an effect on them, I'm not convinced that Price has what it takes to shake it off when the going gets tough. He needs to mature some more this season and keep his cool, otherwise it could be a disaster. I truly believe this team overachieved last season and Halak and Cammalleri were the heroes for them in the post-season. I think it could be a miss year for them...but again, we'll see.