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United States, NY • United States • 25 Years Old • Male
Each and every year, I decide it is humorous to put myself on the line here (and at the wrath of every single individual), and put forth my predictions for the final standings. While I am only a blogger, I like to think of myself as somewhat of a smart hockey-mind, and I understand that I will be ripped apart by fans of all backgrounds who feel that I betrayed them by not putting their teams at the top of each conference or in the playoffs. That being said, here are my Eastern Conference predictions for the 2009-2010 National Hockey League season.

1. Washington Capitals: This was a tough choice, considering the Boston Bruins and their tremendous season last year, however, I feel that Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green, and company are ready to come through and finally take it to the top of the Eastern Conference this year. The only question I have for the Capitals is whether or not Jose Theodore or Simeon Varlamov will be the starting goaltender for them.

2. Boston Bruins: The entire Northeast has changed dramatically over the offseason, with the exception to that being the Bruins. The loss of Phil Kessel’s speed and scoring is a big reason that I pushed the Boston Bruins to number two in the conference, and I feel they will have one hell of a year again.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Atlantic Division, besides the Islanders, holds four teams that all can make the playoffs this year, however, the Pittsburgh Penguins seem to be the powerhouse team who has the ability to make it out of the Eastern Conference. The loss of Rob Scuderi, Miroslav Satan, and Peter Sykora are not the end of the Penguins, however, I just believe that both the Bruins and Capitals are better teams all around. They could win it all again this year if everything falls into place.

4. New Jersey Devils: They won the Atlantic Division last year behind stellar goaltending from relatively unknown Scott Clemmensen and a hardcore defensive system, and this year will prove to be the same situation in New Jersey as Jacques Lemaire brings his old-fashioned, defense-first system back to New Jersey. The loss of Brian Gionta and John Madden do not effect the Devils standing too much, and Parise, Zajac, and Clarkson are all ready to have stellar years once again. They will perform well in the regular season, but can Brodeur hold up into the postseason this time around?

5. Philadelphia Flyers: The Pronger trade goes to show you that the Flyers believe they can take it all now. With their true number one defenseman now on the roster, the Flyers are going to have a great year. Another great year can be expected from Jeff Carter, whose offensive output last season was fun to watch. Mike Richards, the captain of this team, will again prove why he is going to be a Selke candidate every year for the next decade. The only question on this team is whether or not Ray Emery can keep his head straight and display his talent on the ice.

6. Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes proved they were for real last year when they not only upset the New Jersey Devils, but also the Boston Bruins on their way to the Eastern Conference finals. A quick, aggressive, and young team, they will have another good year and should find themselves returning to the playoffs behind solid goaltending from Cam Ward.

7. Tampa Bay Lightning: Victor Hedman was an excellent pick for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who immediately addressed their need for a defensive prospect who can turn into a number one defenseman. He will be ready for this upcoming year, and I would not doubt seeing him on the top shutdown-unit with Mattias Ohlund, who was the other big name acquisition this offseason. With a year of experience behind Stamkos, and the return of all-stars Lecavalier and St. Louis, it is going to be a return to the playoffs for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

8. New York Rangers: As much as I hate to admit it, I feel that the Rangers are going to find a way to squeak into this year’s playoffs. Tortorella is just the no-nonsense guy that the Rangers need behind the bench, and if their skill alone doesn’t get it done, the Rangers conditioning will help them win games late into the season. They lack a true first-line center, but Dubinsky and Prospal will do their best to fit that position. The biggest question marks for the Rangers will be the health of Marian Gaborik, and whether or not Redden and Rozsival remember how to play hockey.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs: I know I am going to take a lot of heat for this one, however, I just do not see the Leafs making it this year. Brian Burke proved he’s a strong-minded general manager by going after Kessel and getting what he wanted. Kessel’s return to the Leafs in November will be a nice boost, however, there are still too many questions surrounding the Leafs for them to crack the line-up this year. They have one of the most solid defenses in the conference, however, next year will be the year they make it, unless they have a surprise for us all this season!

10. Ottawa Senators: After finally unloading Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks, the Ottawa Senators finally are on track to building up a solid winner. With two good lines leading the attack, a solid defense featuring Campoli, Volchenkov, and Kuba, and a number one goalie in Leclaire, there will be a slight adjustment period this season for the Senators. It will be a tough season again in Ottawa, but hopefully for them it will all fall into place soon.

11. Montreal Canadiens: After last year’s horrid collapse, the Montreal Canadiens had a complete roster overhaul this offseason and seem to be a team searching for their identity. They got completely hosed on the Gomez trade, giving up promising, young defenseman McDonagh in the trade. Hopefully the Canadiens can pull it together going into this season, otherwise they are going to find themselves in a long rebuilding process.

12. Buffalo Sabres: A team who had a tremendous number of questions surrounding them last season just simply did not improve enough this offeseason to answer those questions. Ryan Miller is their only hope of making it into the playoffs this season, and even that is going to be a long shot. The Sabres had their best days two and three seasons ago, respectively, and need to find an identity before they can proceed forward.

13. Florida Panthers: Another year, another playoff-less ending for the Florida Panthers. Jay Bouwmeester is not an easy player to replace, by any means, and his presence will be sorely missed by a team that is only somewhat strong up front. Bringing in Clemmensen to back up Vokoun was a smart move, but unfortunately, it was the only smart move this offseason by the Panthers. There is still a long way to go in Florida, and hopefully they can get it right soon.

14. Atlanta Thrashers: Although they have brought in Antropov (for a ridiculous salary), and Afinogenov will most likely make the team thanks to the Thrashers lack of depth, the Thrashers will once again struggle this season. Bogosian will demonstrate why he is going to be an elite defenseman in this league for a long time, and he will get plenty of help from Kubina, Hainsey, and Enstrom, however, it will not be enough to take the Thrashers out of the Eastern Conference basement.

15. New York Islanders: The drafting of John Tavares was a move in the right direction for an organization sorely lacking any type of identity, however, it was their only positive offensive move as the Islanders focused on bringing in Mathieu Biron and Dwayne Roloson to fill in the goalie vacancy until DiPietro is ready to return sometime in November. It will be fun to watch Bailey and Okposo develop further this season, along with the rest of the Islanders youngsters, however, they will still find themselves in the basement of the Eastern Conference and with a chance to select first-overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. As my partner Glen Miller said in his predictions blog, the lottery watch for 2010 begins on Long Island on October 3rd.

Well, there you have it, my personal predictions for the 2009-2010 Eastern Conference. I know you will not agree with every single team and their placement, however, I do believe these will be somewhat close to the final standings.

As always, comments and questions are greatly appreciated and can be emailed to me at [email]IslesNet@Gmail.com[/email] , or left in the comments section below.

-Justin
Filed Under:   NHL   Eastern Conference   Predictions   NYI  
September 20, 2009 10:42 PM ET | Delete
Going to take more heat from me for leaving the Senators out of the dance but including the Rangers. Who has more question marks? I definitely feel like Ottawa will continue the late-season surge under Clouston and be a major player in the East this year.
September 20, 2009 10:48 PM ET | Delete
ur assessment ont he rangers is spot on..if gaborik can stay healthy, and reddena nd rozi can play atleast average hockey.. were set
September 21, 2009 12:40 AM ET | Delete
YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE RANGERS IS SPOT ON MY FRIEND
September 21, 2009 7:26 AM ET | Delete
21 yr old blogger- doesn't know anything SENATORS will make the playoffs - they are top 4 in the EAST. C'mon who lets these guy write on here.
September 21, 2009 10:28 AM ET | Delete
um.. just for future reference Richards is not the Future Captain of the flyers he IS the captain.. other then that.. you predictions are good except I think that the Rangers will just miss out this year .. its been awhile since they have missed and Hank can not do everything this year again
September 21, 2009 11:47 AM ET | Delete
Tamba Bay and Rangers in, but the Sens and Leafs out? Sorry, but switch those two and I'll believe it more.
September 21, 2009 11:52 AM ET | Delete
Good blog. I think Montreal is going to be in the playoffs. I think the NYR or Devils may suffer with the games against Philly and Pittsburgh. I also think that Washington will win the SE but not the conference. They are still lacking blueline depth to beat Pitts, Philly, and other strong teams.
September 21, 2009 12:03 PM ET | Delete
A-Mar, you may be right, thats why these are are just predictions. I do think that the Senators could surprise, but time will tell. Jakester, no need to take these predictions personal. No need for the character attack. Lastly, OrangeNBlackBlood, you are right, my bad. For some reason I thought Briere was named captain and I don't know why. Thanks for the update!
September 21, 2009 12:27 PM ET | Delete
Spot on with the predictions... I will say this though, the Canes aren't really a "Young" team... in fact they're one of the oldest, it's just that their most prominent players are young... they'll be a much younger team next year.
September 21, 2009 3:34 PM ET | Delete
Sens and Leafs are a JOKE. Bottom feeders. Better than Rangers? Canadians are so fing dumb. Hayseeds! LMAO!
September 21, 2009 3:36 PM ET | Delete
Cryer fans - Philly has no goaltending. And you're gonna need Betts with all the penalties that Pronger will take. OVERRATED!
September 21, 2009 3:46 PM ET | Delete
Dubinsky and Prospal 1st line centers! Redden and Rozival regaining form? The health of Marian Gaborik? These are concerns for sure. Not to mention if The King goes down for any period of time with injury. I'm not saying the Rangers cant make the PO's. I'm saying there are better choices for predicting the 8th spot. Even with their obvious shortcomings, I think all 3 Canadian teams have a better shot then the Rangers. But like you say, they're only predictions and will be long forgotten in a few months.
September 21, 2009 4:37 PM ET | Delete
I don't see the Rangers making the Playoffs over the Canadiens, Senators and Leafs. All that New York has really done is trade one bad salary for another, but the new guy they picked up is extremely injury prone. If he goes down, the Rangers are done.
September 21, 2009 6:01 PM ET | Delete
Rangers > Canadians, Leafs, and Sens. Deal with it. If you don't know who the Rangers are, then STFU. Canadians are still tiny and under-skilled, Price is a joke. Leafs have no offense whatsoever and overrated defense, and Sens are a mess. Bottom feeders, thems the facts, hayseeds. Go tip a cow.
September 21, 2009 6:04 PM ET | Delete
also - Sens traded top 5 player for two overrated, over the hill ex-sharks. What does Heatly know that idiot Sens fans do not? I guess we'll find out.
September 21, 2009 8:52 PM ET | Delete
I'll take Montreal over TB
September 22, 2009 12:31 AM ET | Delete
GioRock, stop being a moron. You literally have no reason to try and insult other teams based on offense when your team's entire offensive output is placed on the shoulders of an oft-injured player. By the way, the Leafs apparently crappy offense posted 40(!!!) more goals than the Rangers last year. You're an idiot, and Lundqvist won't be able to carry the team on his back this season.
September 22, 2009 12:54 PM ET | Delete
Crusty, Excellent reply to Gio. He did make himself look like a horse's rear end, didnt he?
September 22, 2009 4:53 PM ET | Delete
Indeed he did.
September 22, 2009 10:54 PM ET | Delete
September 29, 2009 2:04 AM ET | Delete
September 29, 2009 2:05 AM ET | Delete
Ek u fuckin suck...fix these posting bullshit problems
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