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With over two months till the season starts, and then 8 more until it ends, its impossible to try and guess the final standings. But, with over two months till the season starts, and nothing else to do, its fun. The following is my prediction, based on the current lineups and my opinions and thoughts about the game.

The atlantic division (in addition to being the one I know best) is setting up to be a very interesting one. The division features four of the league's top goaltenders, and division's offense has already been improved since last season (at least on paper). No matter what happens, it will be a close division, and the last 8 games of the season will be incredibly exciting (the season ends almost entirely within the division). The entire division is up for grabs, As of now, here are my predictions.

Islanders (-5 points)
Flyers (-6 points)
Penguins (-9 points)
Devils (-11 points)

The Rangers bought an impressive offense starting on July 1. On paper, their offense is scary. If Lundquist can anchor the defense, then Jagr, Drury, Shannahan, and Gomez will be able to power by the rest of the division. Much as I hate to say it as an Islanders fan, the Broadway Blueshirts are going to be a good team.

My Islanders have had more big-name departures than arrivals this summer. However, I beleive they will prove to be for the best. Yashin as a player and as a captain was uninspiring at best, I do not doubt that Guerin will be an improvement. They might not have come out of July 1 with drury or briere or even smyth, but they have Ted Nolan behind the bench, and they have slowly been assembling a corps of solid players whose styles fit in well with the "nolan system". Their defense is young and unproven, but if Dipietro can stay healthy most of the season (or if Dubie can pull out some more heroics), I think the Islanders will be solid nonetheless.

The Flyers have spent the offseason battling to regain respect after ending the season in the basement. I beleive the most significant move they've made to this end was last season's signing of Martin Biron. Getting Briere was big for the team, but one name cannot necessarily do it. At the start of last season, Forseberg was supposed to be their big name, and he was frustrated as his team sank. I'm still not sold on the Timmonen and Hartnell signings (especially their price tags), but only time will tell with that. I think the team will be competitive this year, but it takes a lot to move from last to first, and I don't think they have what it takes.

Sid the Kid might be the hero in Pittsburgh, and the new face of the league, but I'm not running to bet on them for the cup. I see their weakness (at least compared to the rest of the division, as they will be compared over 30 times as the season goes) in goal. Brodeur, Biron, DiPietro, Lundquist, I see all of them as world-class netminders, but I just can't put Fleury in that group yet. Maybe he'll grow into it, but not this season. For all their young firepower up front, the offensive forces of the Rangers and Flyers might turn out to be too much for them, and I can see them losing a lot of high-scoring games.

The devils are going to have an interesting season. New coach, new town, same devils defense-first style. Its risky putting such a perennial powerhouse as the Devils at the bottom of the division, they've always thrived in the past on discipline, defense, and some key homegrown players (not to mention a wall in goal). But they have a new coach, rookie to the NHL level, who will have the added pressure of trying to succeed in front of Lamorillo, who this past season has shown his willingness to fire coaches at the first sign of faltering. I predict the devils will, as usual, be taking a more defensive approach, but with the division's offense improving, and Brodeur getting older (The Maven Stan Fishler criticized him for playing too many games last season, tiring himself out), it will not be so easy.

This has been my first posting on this site. I tried to give some food for thought, keep things interesting. I hope it gives people something to think about and argue about.
July 19, 2007 1:42 PM ET | Delete
What?!?!?!?!?Wow are you delusional. First the Islanders and Flyer will not finish 2 and 3. No possible way. I will be shocked if the Isles finish anywhere above 4th. No possible way the Devils finish last. I would love to see that but its just not happening. The Penguins are favored to win the Eastern Conference. They have solidified their D-fence and got winger that can put the puck in the net 30 times. They won't finish any lower than 2nd. The Rangers if healthy will finish either first or second.Biron better than Fleury??? what??? Brodeur is the best goalie in the division, and arguably the best in the world. Then followed by Dipietro. Then Fluery, Lundquist, and Biron are third tier in division. Biron is the worst in the division, ok worst is a bad choice wording. His talent does not equal the other four, even though he is a great goalie.
July 19, 2007 3:01 PM ET | Delete
Rangers/Penguins will finish in the top 2Flyers will finish 3rdDevils/Islanders will finish either 4th or 5thMaybe for the first time in 10 seasons the Flyers nor the Devils will take the Atlantic Division crown. the Devils will not make the playoffs this year. Loss of key players and Brodeur cannot do it all. If you look at their players, this is the weakest Devils team in 10 years. There is too much talented competition in this Division this year for the Islanders to finish over 4th place. The Flyers will return to the playoffs, but with such a rebuilt team, I think it is safe to say 3rd is the most likely place they will finish in the Division. The Ranger and Penguis will enjoy a sucessful season, but if there is one team that has always had a high payroll but low results are the Rangers.
July 19, 2007 3:25 PM ET | Delete
The Islanders are a good team, but in the wrong division as the Atlantic is now the class of the East. They will finish with 80-88 points and in 5th place. I believe the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins and Devils will all make the playoffs although the Devils will have to squeak in as the 8th seed. To me, the Rangers are the team to beat in the Atlantic (man, I just got queasy typing that!) and the Flyers and Pens will battle it out for third. I still think the Pens have some holes and need to work on their defensive play, but over the next few years they should develop into the powerhouse of the Eastern Conference.
July 19, 2007 3:32 PM ET | Delete
Flyers fans think a like. But I dont see NYR as the team to beat but PIT (I too am a little queasy typing that). 1. PITT 2. NYR 3. PHI 4. NJD 5. NYI PIT has it all except maybe goal tending if Fluery cant deliver. NYR are still poor on defense but one of the strongest teams up the middle and it will come down to Jagr crying because he isnt the go to guy now or accepting that Gomez can set him up for 40-50 goals. This is a hard division and because of it the NJD and NYI will have a hard time getting into the POs. Philly needs to come close to splitting games wtih PIT and NYR to make the 5-7 seed IMHO.
July 19, 2007 7:06 PM ET | Delete
You'd think some people would have learned from pickign the islanders dead last last season. AND we have a better team going into this season. AND we have plenty of money to spend if necessary. Same old story... every one looks at the numbers and the names, no one cares about chemistry.Only one thing you should know about the islanders... DP is 26 years old, a whole lot more mature than a year ago. HE'S ABOUT TO ARRIVE... he showed glimpses of genius last year, and if he was healthy towards the end of the year, he would have turned MANY more heads. He was a rock midseason last year, I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be this year.Goalie is the most important player on the ice, I don't care who came or left. DP is enough to make the playoffs, and with good chemistry among the skaters, who knows what's possible.PITNYRNYIPHINJDand the devs are the only ones to miss the playoffs.
July 19, 2007 7:08 PM ET | Delete
...and PIT is clearly the team to beat in the atlantic.
July 19, 2007 10:53 PM ET | Delete
Most seem to disagree but i really dont think philly improved enough from last year. Yes they got Briere but bigs names cant do it all as Forsberg showed last season in philly.. i see philly not doing much better then last year. Pit and Rags battle it out for first.. Devils are not as strong as last season but still very good. As usual Islanders are being projected by many to place last but i see them battling out with the devils for 3 but probably going to finish in 4.
July 19, 2007 11:58 PM ET | Delete
blah blah blah people counting the Devils out for what..? The 10th year in a row?hah.
July 20, 2007 12:06 AM ET | Delete
hahahahaha 1. NJD/PIT2. NJD/PIT3. NYR4. PHI5. NYIPIT is the team to beat..maybe the devs pending on martys preformance and defenseRangers have no defensemen and that will cost them in the divisionPHI will be competitve but not quite a contender yetNYI sucks.
July 20, 2007 8:51 AM ET | Delete
Islanders 2nd? I think their smoke and mirrors season ended last year and they'll end up just a bit lower than that. I like PIT and NYR to battle at the top with NJD, NYI and PHI fighting for third place on.
July 20, 2007 10:47 AM ET | Delete
Rangers will unfortunately win the division, but they will do it with a 1-3 point cushion. The Penguins are just too strong up front, and will have a maturing defense. They will finish in the second position. In third place will be the Devils. A lot of people ar counting them out, but I just dont see a team coached by Brent sutter, with a maturing stars in Parise and Zajac and a small but unknown goaltender named Marty Brodeur finishing less then 3rd. I think the battle for fourth place will be interesting.The Flyers are a much better team then last year, while the Isles, are looking to start the season in a similar way that they did last year, with many questions.DiPietro is right behind Brodeur in terms of talent and ability. I think he is the real deal, and will do much of the heavy lifting on the Isles. Yashin is addition by subtraction, and not having him in the room will generate a fresh effort from the team. The real "if" for the Isles rest on players like Tambellini. I expect him to get quality ice time, and he has the tools for a breakout season. He should net 20-25 goals. A healthy Guerin can help the team along and I think Comrie is underrated, as is Sim. There is no superstar on the blueline which will hurt the isles, but Bergeron, Witt, Campoli and Gervais will surprise many. Ideally, they need to add either Sutton or Markov.The Flyers are a MUCH better team then some think. Are they ready to lift the cup...probably not. But Timonnen, Hartnell and Briere all make this team significantly better. Biron is not the best goalie in the division, but he will be a big improvement over what was their last year.Is it possible for all 5 teams to make the top 8--yes. But it is VERY unlikely. The Sens, Leafs, Canadiens, Bruins, Capitals, and Lightning all have legit playoff hopes. The east will be very tough, and almost every game from the first drop of the puck will be tough and have playoff implications.
July 20, 2007 11:05 AM ET | Delete
How can you question Timonen's signing at 6.3M/year and then say that Gomez and Drury will give NY an impressive offense. Here are Timonen's stats from last year: G: 13, A: 42, 20, GWG: 2, PP: 8. Here goes Scott Gomez's stats from last year: G: 13, A: 47, 7, GWG: 1, PP: 8. Yet Gomez signed for 1M more per year. Plus Nylander had a much better year than either Gomez or Drury. The Rangers would have been better of bringing back Nylander and signing Drury and letting Gomez go somewhere else. And please don't give me the defensive system in NJ as a reason Gomez's stats aren't impressive. He played with Elias and Gionta. Elias had 21 goals and Gionta had 25 goals. Elias had 267 shots (ranked 17th in the NHL) and Gionta had 194 (ranked 83rd). Gomez had 248 shots (ranked 27th) and only scored 13 goals. That's 59 goals on 709 shots. Now look at the Rangers top line last year: Jagr scored 30 goals, Straka scored 29 and Nylander scored 26 goals (on 682 combined shots). But yeah, Gomez will do better in NY because they are more wide open.
July 20, 2007 12:32 PM ET | Delete
Just have to add after reading the last post...you were right to compare the two...Gomez and Timonen. I think both the Flyers and Rags SERIOUSLY overpaid for both. Gomex more so then Timonen. I think Timonen per dollar yield will play out better then Gomez'
July 20, 2007 12:46 PM ET | Delete
I actually like the Drury signing. I think he brings more to the table than Gomez. I wouldn't say the Flyers SERIOUSLY overpaid for Timonen. Maybe just slightly. I'd say 5.5M is probably what he should have made. But I think Gomez is SERIOUSLY overpaid should have made no more than 5M. I also think he hurts the Rangers offensively.
July 20, 2007 1:11 PM ET | Delete
1. Pitt 2. NYR 3. NJ 4. NYI 5. PHI
July 20, 2007 1:25 PM ET | Delete
The Isles finished FOURTH last season and, aside from the Devils, are the only team that got worse in the off-season. The Devils still have Brodeur so they will remain competitive, plus it seems like they always lose players and still rebound from it. NYI barely squeaked into the playoffs in the weaker conference and has since made major subtractions and only marginal additions. This is akin to a Preds fan picking them to finish at the top of the Central.
July 20, 2007 4:39 PM ET | Delete
There is no way that after adding Biron, Upshall, Timmonen, Briere, Hartnell, Smith and Lupul that the Flyers are finishing last this year. Will they win the cup? Probably not, but I can't see them falling any lower than 3rd in the division and 6th in the conference. Sorry Isle fans, you have a good coach and very good goalie, but if you really look at your roster objectively, there simply isn't enough depth at forward or defense to compete in this division over an 82 game grind. The Islanders are an ok team, but they will finish last in the Atlantic and somewhere around 10th to 12th in the conference.
August 23, 2007 11:16 PM ET | Delete
Where do I begin....Look, as much as I hate the Devils, I certainly would not count them out. They always find ways to play well no matter who they lose. And Brodeur will be more rested this year with Weeks backing him. However, Weeks will win about 60% of the games he starts, so by statistics alone, you have top add a few more loses to Devs this year. If they do make the playoffs, which is still a question mark, Brodeur will be more rested though. PIT and Rangers will battle for the top spot in Atlantic, with Flyers not far behind. HOwever, just as it has been their problems all these years (and the reason for them not winning the cup in the '90's) the Flyers still have a BIG question in net. Biron has been a great back up, it remains to be seen how he will perform as number 1. Finally, Isles fans just have to learn to admit that they are just NOT GOOD. Look, I agree that Guerin is a better leader than Yashin, but Yashin still produced a lot of points for your team. You do not have a legitimate #1 center, and suckP is simply an average goalie at best that you have managed to lock up until he has grandchildren (congrats on that BTW - now no one can have your not-so-great keeper). Prediction: NYR/PIT battle for 1/2 (and as much as I want NYR finishing 1, I can see PIT putting up a good fight), Flyers 3, Devs 4 (and likely in the playoffs) Fishsticks 5, and 10th in the conference.
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