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Last year, the final Northeast Division standings were as follows:
Boston Bruins — 102 points
Ottawa Senators — 92 points
Buffalo Sabres — 89 points
Toronto Maple Leafs — 80 points
Montreal Canadiens — 78 points
This year, the Leafs and Sabres will switch spots.
Both teams made significant moves recently; the Leafs recently gave up Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk while the Sabres recently traded Derek Roy for Adam Pardy and Steve Ott.
Aside from that, their respective rosters are largely unchanged from last year.
So why will the Leafs do better this year?
Because goaltending aside, the Leafs are a better team overall.
Before you say give me a retort, I'd like to point out two things:
1) The Leafs never seem to play as well as they should. In other words, the on-ice product is always inferior to the on-paper lineup.
2) The other NE division teams (minus Montreal) always seem to play with more heart than the Leafs, which is partly why they always seem to do better, even when they don't necessarily have a better group.