I'm back and this time I'll be predicting how the NHL's Eastern conference will shake out as well as why I think each team will be in that sport in the standings. The regular season starts up tomorrow so this is the perfect time to release my predictions. Now this is the first time I have ever publicly delivered my predictions so no hate guys!
1. Washington Capitals
2. Boston Bruins
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Buffalo Sabres
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
6. New York Rangers
7. Montreal Canadians
8. Philadelphia Flyers
9. Toronto Maple Leafs
10. Carolina Hurricanes
11. New Jersey Devils
12. Winnipeg Jets
13. New York islanders
14. Florida Panthers
15. Ottawa Senators
the last few years the Capitals have had a common theme to their season; a dominate regular season followed by a let downs in the post-season. Led by the leadership of Alexander Ovechkin the Capitals are going to have yet again another amazing season. Ovechkin production was down last season and was kind of embarrassed in the media and around the league, that is why I think Ovechkin is going to have a bounce-back season. It's put up or shut up for Ovechkin and the Capitals. If the Capitals don't get something big done this post season look for some major changes in DC. The Capitals also brought in some real character players and a real solid goalie; The Washington Capitals should clinch the conference title for the 3rd straight year and should go deeper in the playoffs this season.
New arrivals: Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward, Chris Hanson, Thomas Vokoun and a few others. Thomas Vokoun gives the Capitals some reliable goaltending that they can FINALLY count on! With the goaltending taken care of the Capitals can focus more on offense! This season the Capitals are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
After winning the cup in the 2010-2011 campaign, the Bruins are rested and ready to try to muster a repeat victory. The Bruins have kept most of the players from the Stanley cup winning team, which is a good start for next season. There is no doubt this team is poised for another outstanding season, and helping its cause with the contract extension of Brad Marchand. The Bruins surprised me last season, I did not see them having such a stellar season, but hey its hockey and anything can happen! Much of the success of the bruins will like last season come down to how well Tim Thomas will play. Last season Thomas one the Vezina and had unrealistic numbers, breaking the GAA all time for the NHL. But this season Thomas will likely see less time between the pipes, due to his age (37) and playing 82 games last season Tukka Rask should get his fair time this season.
With Dwayne Roloson between the pipes the veteran should help tighten up the back end. With Teddy Purcell primed and ready to have a breakout season, and Steven Stamkos looking to rebound from last season the Lightning should be good to go this upcoming season.
Now this will come as a surprise to most that I ranked them 4th, but hey, I am a little bias.
Buffalo now has a new owner . Pegula has shown the Buffalo faithful that he wants to win and isn't afraid to spend the money to do so, If something needs to be done he will get it done. The sabres made major off-season acquisitions bringing in;
Tim Erixon is poised and ready to have a break-out campaign. ohn Tortorella can keep Sean Avery under control
Well Flyers made some major shake-up moves this off season, trading away their captain Mike Richards and super star Jeff Carter for the 3 men you see in the picture on the right. Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Jacob Voracek. The Flyers have gotten rid of 127 goals and 282 points and replaced it with 36 goals and 99 points and 2 stud prospects. Does the future look light or dim for the new faced Flyers? They have finally put an end to their forever spinning goaltending wheel, which spelled an end to any hopes of a Stanley cup final. They brought in former phoenix coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgolav. So was this a good or bad offseason for the Flyers... only time will tell, I think I may have ranked them a little high for all their new editions. Also added in the off season is former pittsburgh penguins Jaromir Jagr, who is trying to make a comeback to the NHL. It was a extremly risky move shaking the core of the Flyers and it will result in a drop of their stnadings If the flyers get solid goal tending from Bryzgolav and solid production from Brayden Schenn, then they should be able to make the post-season.
Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs are looking to finally make the post-season for the first time since 2004. The leafs started off last season with 4 straight wins but were then out of the post-season picture by January by going long stretches without a victory. But then Jame Reimer turned up and resurrected the finally of the Leafs season. The leafs finished only 8 points out of a playoff spot. They made some major off season moves and found some nice rookie talent coming up for next season. The Biggest move this off season would be the addition of the Tim Connolly of the Buffalo Sabres, truth be told the leafs over paid for a player who is always hurt! There was a reason the Sabres let Connolly go for nothing (dumb Leafs). A player who can make have a break out season is defence man Jake Gardiner, who will be in the line-up come opening night. For the leafs it all comes down to the goal tending of James Reimer, if he plays well he'll give the Leafs some extra much needed wins if he does not play well it will be another long long season for leafs nation. The leafs defence and offence aren't the greatest BUT they are good enough to make the post-season. I think the leafs will be the dark horse in the east this coming season and could easily finish in 8th but will likely just miss out again like last season. If the leafs don't make the post-season, look for the GM and Coach to be gone! (Brian Burke and Ron Wilson) For the offence of the leafs to be good enough to make the playoffs; the *new top line of Kulemin-MacArthur-Grabovski needs to be the leafs top line against like last season.
Last season the hurricanes controlled their own playoff destiny, in a win and your in game verse the lightning, but the lightning smoked the canes 6-2. Who knows how the playoffs would have shaped up if the Canes had made it but probably not much different. The team relies to heavily on number one goalie Cam Ward and captain Erick Staal, the Hurricanes need a more "full team" effort if they intend to make the post-season. The bright spot was rookie Jeff Skinner who won the Calder trophy and toar up the rookies. this season Skinner needs to replicate his rookie season. Most of the "bubble" teams try to get much better in the off season but the Hurricanes did nothing and lost a couple key players, this team is far from the 2006 Cup winning team!
New Jersey Devils
The devils had an horrible start to their season but had an amazing 2nd half and ended up just, yes just missing the playoffs they caped off the year with 28-10-3 run. Due to a tight salary cap the Devils did very little in the off season, but will need to find a solid back-up goalie as this could be the 39 year old Martin Brodeur's last NHL season. Brodeur has had quite the career and is likely to be a Hall of Fame Candidate in the future. Kovalchuk the guy who was supposed to "save" the team, they even gave him 100 million bucks to watch him do nothing! But Zach Parise is back from injury and should help the offense of this team. The devils are likely to be on the bubble fighting for a play off spot but will likely fall just short of that elusive final ticket into the NHL's 2nd season.
The Jets are back!!!! woo its been 15 long years since the old jets departed from Winnipeg too long for many fans. But the Jet faithful are excited as ever to welcome back their storied franchise. Unfortunetly for Jets fans, the team they have ended up with is the same Thrashers team who have made the playoffs once in 11 years. But luckily their is no shortage of big names and talent; Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien who both won a cup with Chicogo and Evander Kane the 4th overall pick from 2009. For the management of the new jets making the post season is a secondary thought, as they are focusing on molding a team that can win in the future. Antropov and Fehr will need to stay consistent if this team hopes to improve an offense that was 20th last season. Enstrom and Byfuglien can be one of the top defensive tandems in the league when both are on top of their game; but legal issues for Byfuglien may cause him to miss some time on the ice. Still stuck in the south east division a trip to the post season would be tough to conjure up, but hey anything other than dead last is positive news right? Mark your Calenders Jets fans October 9th is when the party kicks off!
But amidst the joy and celebration of having the jets back lets remember the jets are or were the Thrashers a team hastily ripped away from Atlanta, so lets have a moment of silence for thrashers fans.
New York Islanders
Now the Islanders aren't one of the better teams in the Eastern conference, they will become better, maybe not in the standings but as a tougher team to play. Its not as easy for teams to walk all over the Islanders any more. You gotta feel bad for John Tavares, super star player on a less than good team, the last two season Tavares has lead the islanders in scoring and its safe to say its his team now. The islanders need Rick DiPietro to stay healthy, if he can stay healthy and prove why he was a former #1 draft pick that the islanders are in business. With good goal tending and a healthy defence the Islanders should be able to take some teams by surprise and challenge for a playoffs spot right to the end. The islanders will be a fun team to watch with all their young talent but will fail to make the post season yet again.
ah sunny side Florida, hard to believe that we can ice a hockey team in Florida. Coming of last season which found the panthers as the 3rd worst team in the NHL, and missed the post season for a 10th straight time, this team needs to turn things around and pronto. This off season they showed that they are serious about becoming a top notch team, with some major moves this off season, will see the panthers ice nearly a brand new team. they spent money on some pretty risky players that may or may not play well; Adding Sean Bergenheim and injury worry Tomas Fleischmann and spending a bit to much money for Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky. But added the tiny guy with a ton of grit in Kris Versteeg. But this team will need help from the 2 best players on the team Stephen Weiss and David Booth if they are going to get anything accomplished. Unfortunately on the defensive end the panthers found them making some of the worst moves in a while signing veteran Ed Jovanovski the price was too much and the fact that Jovanovski has a history of injuries should have been a no go there sign for the panthers. The panthers also added former cup winning defence man Brian Campbell. In goal the panthers have taken some steps back having Jose Theodore and Jacob Markstrom as the goaltending Tandem. Theodore is mainly a back-up goaltender so it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressures of being the starter. not to forget the 3rd overall pick Jonathan Huberdeau who could be a break-out candidate with all the veterans around to help his development. It looks like the post season will be out of reach for the panthers yet again making it 11 straight seasons.
Last but certainly not least the Ottawa senators. Sadly their 20th season will be nothing cheer about in the nations capital, wins are something that will be few and far between and its a secondary option for the Senators, developing the youth is the first and foremost mission for them. It is looking that the senators will have some stability in between the pipes with Craig Anderson, which is something for sens fans to cheer about! Andersons play may be the lone bright spot this season; as their focus is developing young rookies. But all eyes will be on the veteran leadership of Alfredsson, Spezza and Phillips, these three especially Spezza will need to "grow up" in a way; by logging big minutes playing more responsible hockey and putting the puck in the net as well as mentoring the next generation of senators. It is looking more and more like Spezza is the face of the franchise and will be the captain in a few years. The forecast is calling for a rough season in the nations capital, but hey once you hit rock bottom you can only go up.
So there you have it folks my breakdown on how the Eastern Conference will shake out. This Blog took a extremely long time and tons and tons of research so I'd appreciate if there was not real "hate" towards it. Any who hope you enjoy my blog.
With the today being the eve of the nhl regular season, thought it would a good time to release this, you guys should be stocking your shelves with nachos and wings and I'll see you guys in the couch starting tomorrow!Here's to another great hockey season!