Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Season Predictions-East


1) 1) Yes, finally we're back to talking hockey instead of law. Obviously more than any other previous season since 95 this is a real crap shoot. Get cold for a couple of weeks and you could be out of the playoff hunt in a hurry.  We will take injuries (as much as one can tell), players who were active during the lockout, etc, all into consideration.  So without further nonsense we will get right to it. We will project each team's order of finish. Number of points, biggest offseason Additions/Subtractions and name one player we believe might be the 'difference maker'. A player we believe might be the team's wild card.  The top 3 are the Division Winners.

2) First the East:
  • Pittsburgh: (65) Many saw the loss of Staal as a big loss the the organization. However, we feel that Brandan Sutter will have as many points as the younger Staal does in Carolina. Now have solid 1-2 goalie combo with addition of Vokoun We, like many, expect monster season from Malkin and Crosby if the dynamic duo can stay healthy. If they do stay out of the trainers room the Pens will be lethal and hard to beat nightly.    Biggest Addition:Brandon Sutter  Biggest Subtraction:Jordan Staal  Difference Maker: James Neal

  • Boston (61) The team being well-stocked with young talented players at all positions so few roster changes were made. This along with the best defense duos in the game in the Chara/ Seidenberg combo The goaltending duties will fall onto Tukka Rask now that Thomas is retired? If he falters things could get dicy in Bean Town. We don't forsee that and the B's are the likely NE division winners.  Biggest Addition:Garnet Exelby  Biggest Subtraction: Tim Thomas Difference Maker: Tukka Rask

  • Carolina (52) In the long run the Staal trade won't be a winner, but in a short season if they stay healthy both Staal brothers should propel the Canes back into the post season. The change of coaches to Kirk Muller seemed to rejuvenate the franchise last year after too long with Maurice. Can he push Semin to show up more than once every 5 games? If he does, the Canes should fight for/win the SE division crown. Biggest Addition: Jordan Staal. Biggest Subtraction:Brandon SutterDifference Maker: Jiri Tlusty 

  • NY Rangers (62): Despite regular season success the Rangers didn't get to the Final 4, so they added their 'final piece' in the big rig Rick Nash without giving up much. Can brag the best defense/goaltending combo in  the East.  If they score/have a good PP too they can be lethal.  If they all mesh/stay healthy NY will be as good as anyone in the NHL Biggest addition: Rick Nash Biggest Subtraction:Brandon Dubinsky   Difference Maker: Chris Kreider

  • Philadelphia (60) Their defense and goaltending not nearly as settled as it appeared this time last year.  They added Luke Schenn on to their backline and Bryzgalov now is the #1 guy for better or worse till buyout do they part? Forwards remain their strength so the Flyers should win more than they lose during regular season anyway.  Biggest Addition:Luke Schenn   Biggest Subtraction:Jaromir Jagr   Difference Maker:  Brayden Schenn

  • Ottawa (57) Last season we, like everyone else, thought they were going to finish last.  Now we are predicting a strong 2nd place in the NE. Don't underestimate the coaching change of Paul MacLean.  Also didn't hurt that  Eric Karlsson became Paul Coffey and thus a Norris calibre defender. Overall no dramatic changes to the lineup from last season, so it's basically the same  group coming back Biggest Addition:Guillaume Latendresse   Biggest Subtraction:Nick Foligno   Difference Maker: Kyle Turris

  • Tampa Bay (51) So far in his brief stint as a GM, we like what Steve Yzerman has done.  When he sees a weakness he doesn't wait, but addresses it. He went out and firmed up their weakness in net with the Anders Lindback We also like the addition of Matt Carle to their back line. With an already talented group of forwards the Bolts could be fighting for the top spot in the SE and certainly within the top 8 in the East.  Biggest Addition:Anders Lindback  Biggest Subtraction:Ryan Shannon   Difference Maker: Victor Hedman

  • Montreal (50) Can new coach (and more importantly Francophone) Michel Therrien get the Habs back on track?  We think so.  Not that we're big fans of the former Pens (and Habs) head coach, but this team under achieved so much last season that they can go no where but up.  The excision of Scott Gomez will also help team morale. Can (American?)  Galchenyuk make the team and help the offense? Can they finally sign PK Subban?  Biggest Addition:Francis Bouillon  Biggest Subtraction: Scott Gomez   Difference maker: Rene Bourque

  • Buffalo (47) This team will go as far as goalie Ryan Miller can take them.  If he resumes his Vezina calibre play, the Sabres could sneak into the post season. They made few significant changes this off season after making a big splash the previous summer.  We see them just on the cusp of the playoffs, but falling a tad short.  Biggest Addition: Steve Ott   Biggest SubtractionDerek Roy Difference Maker:  Cody Hodgson

  • Florida (46) Team Collage, is the defending SE division champs, but we don't think they can repeat the feat.  Everything came together for the team and head coach Kevin Dineen and the disjointedly assembled squad by Dale Tallon. Unless goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom suddenly impresses, we don't think that Jose Theodore can backstop The cats back into the post season. Last season for the most part they avoided the injury bug. Not likely 2 years in a row? Biggest Addition: Filip Kuba  Biggest Subtraction:Jason Garrison  Difference Maker:Tomas Fleischman  

  • New Jersey (44) Amazing that the defending Eastern Conference champs don't look poised to even make the playoffs, but we don't think they will.  Marty Brodeur is now 40(his backup is 39!) and unable to play all 48 games.  The defense is decent, but unimpressive, and with the loss of Zac Parise there will be immense pressure on over paid Russian Ilya Kovalchuk.  Biggest Addition:Steve Bernier Biggest Subtraction: Zac Parise   Difference Maker: Adam Larsson

  • Washington (43): Organization still in denial that they no longer are Cup contenders. That window shut closed 3 years ago apparently.  Despite nice mini playoff run last spring, we don't anticipate it will carry over.  'Team entitlement' moniker won't change unless/until they buy out # 8 (Never gonna happen). Lets see how long it takes for new coach, and Hall of Famer Oates to develop an issue with his team's captain? Biggest Addition: Mike Ribeiro  Biggest Subtraction: Alex Semin. Difference Maker: Braden Holtby

  • NY Islanders (37) Familiar territory for the other NY team. Destined for the bottom 5 once again, but when they move to Brooklyn next fall we think there will be a big turn around. For now, another season of growing pains.  If they can coax another good season from Nabokov they could stay in the playoff hunt longer than many think, but if he is hurt/plays mediocre even super star John Tavares can't propel his team into the post season on his back. Time for Okposo to break out or is he a bust?  Biggest AdditionBrad Boyes Biggest Subtraction:P.A. Parenteau   Difference Maker:   Kyle Okposo

  • Toronto (35) Team Turmoil. Coming off the firing of their GM 3 days prior to the start of camp. What's next?  A big Luongo trade if you read the local media. Remains to be seen. Even the over paid Luongo would be a significant upgrade over their current netminders. They do have decent forwards, but we're not impressed with their defense.  Without a true #1 goalie to steal a win here and there, it will be another non playoff year in TO Biggest AdditionJames van Riemsdyk  Biggest Subtraction. Luke Schenn Difference Maker: Luongo?

  • Winnipeg (30) Fans will quickly find out the party is over.  Now the hangover.  The Jets over achieved for vast stretches last year before falling back. We feel they will not only have the worst travel schedule of any (East) team, but will have the worst record to boot. Too many issues, and not enough talent. Seems silly, but fans are turning on their best player in Evander Kane? Regular readers know how little we regard new center Ollie Jokinen. Where he goes, mediocrity (or worse) follows.  Biggest Addition:Olli Jokinen  Biggest SubtractionTanner Glass   Difference Maker: Alex Ponikarovsky

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