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We are only a little more than a month away from the start of pre season action! While there still will be more signings and possibles trades, I thought that today I would make predictions of the Atlantic Division if the season started tomorrow. I will look into the other divisions and conferences as a whole, but the Atlantic in more depth.
ATLANTIC DIVISION (record against Flyers)
1. Rangers: 52-24-6= 110 pts (3-3)
2. Flyers: 45-25-12= 102 pts
3. Penguins: 48-29-5= 101 pts (2-4)
4. Devils: 41-33-8= 90 pts (2-4)
5. Islanders: 37-36-9= 83 pts (2-4)
I see the Rangers playing good hockey before the return of Gaborik, and then the Rangers go on to play some serious hockey to finish out the season strong heading into the playoffs. I also see Rick Nash hitting the 30 goal mark, but no more than 35. I also see D. Stepan continue his growth with a bigger role on the squad and a definite point increase. Lundqvist? I don't see him cooling off too much over the summer. I see the Rangers ready to make a strong push for the cup.
The Flyers are going to have a decent year I imagine, with last years rookies stepping into more of a dominant role on the team. I see Giroux breaking the 100 point mark landing somewhere in the 103-107 range, while Hartnell cooling off ending in the 55 point area. I think Brayden Schenn will have the best year for the sophs while Matt Read cools off alot. I see Schenner in the 48-54 mark, Read in 38-43 area, and Couts around 43-47 points. Also, I see a former Sabres Captain becoming the newest Captain in Flyers history.
The Penguins always are a competitive team, and how couldn't they with their roster? Yes they lost Jordan Staal which hurts them down the middle, but Crosby should be back full time and hungry to get his team back. While I do see Crosby having a solid year with high 90's in points, I have a feeling a power struggle with get into Malkins head having Sid back full time and "Geno" drop down to high 80's.
The Devils lost Parise, they lost Ponikarovsky, Taormina, and Boulton. They also have a few UFAs they still have to deal with. They got to keep Marty in town which was key, but I do not see the numbers and threat that they were last year. Their captain... gone, is Ilya back in the role he had in Atlanta? Not only captain, but their main guy on the ice? Adam Henrique will hopefully have a breakout season for the Devils, but all in all, I see them finishing 4th in the Atlantic, and this time, not in the playoffs.
The Islanders...oh the Islanders. While they are always at the bottom of the barrel, they still seem to play pretty good hockey againt the Flyers. I see them grabbing two, but falling to the bottom and missing the playoffs yet again. Tavares had a very good year (81 pts) and I dont see him and Matt Moulson (69 points) calming down much. Expect Tavares to break the 90 point mark this year.
So there is my outlook of the Atlantic Division if the season started tomorrow. You may have different opinions or thoughts on players and the type of year they will have. Id like to hear it in the comments page!
Thanks for reading