*- indicates playoff team
*New York Rangers = Vastly improved from last season, added goal scoring in Gaborik.
*Pittsburgh Penguins = Holding serve, time for defense to step up a notch.
*Philadelphia Flyers = Pronger good enough to get team to playoffs.
New Jersey Devils = So bad that Yahoo hasn’t updated their roster.
New York Islanders = Still one more year to go. New arena may be bolstered by Tavarez, competitiveness.
*Boston = The up and coming get better with Derek Morris.
*Ottawa = Distractions won’t hurt team, especially if Heatley leaves.
*Montreal = Gionta/Gomez may be good enough to make a run.
Toronto = Defense good, what else though?
Buffalo = All eyes on Ryan Miller, no defensive help in off-season.
* Carolina = The team builds off of last year’s success and catapults into elite team status.
* Atlanta= The development ends, Kovalchuk gets his support, goes on mission.
Washington = The offseason losses of two centers with no replacement leaves Ovechkin trying to do it all.
Tampa Bay = This team is almost, almost there. Clearing salary space will help.
Florida = Now that Boumeester is gone, you will see this team’s true colors.
Western Conference Standings
*Anaheim = Saku Koivu won’t be a bust, the core is intact, and this is a tough team to play against.
* Los Angeles = The best young team in the west outside of Chicago. Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth, Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty along with Rob Scuderi. Only missing piece is goaltending.
* San Jose = No improvements, maybe the hunger sinks in?
Phoenix= Could surprise some people if chemistry kicks in, but probably not.
Dallas = Barring no injuries, could challenge for eighth spot. So could Phoenix though. So could lots of teams.
* Chicago = Time for the new guard to step up, and Hossa to deliver what he delivers best. A division title.
*Detroit = No signs of slowing down, but competition has really ramped up.
* St. Louis = Barring a charge from Steve Mason’s Blue Jackets, a healthy Blues team is a dangerous one.
Columbus = May ride Mason and Nash into the playoffs again.
Nashville = You can never count them out, but I do. The roster is a mess.
* Calgary = Jokinen and Boumeester will lead team to division title.
* Vancouver = Not much improvement, just solid and steady.
Minnesota = Loss of Gaborik may be made up by Havlat, but that wasn’t enough before and won’t be now.
Edmonton = Consistently inconsistent.
Colorado = Not enough talent, lots of salary dumping on the way.
Could it be true? Will the Penguins really be knocked out by the Rangers? As a fan, I say, "NO WAY!" but as a realist, all I can say is, it'd make for one hell of a series. The Hawks need to get by Detroit in order to shake that demon from them permanently. The real suprise here? The Kings.
I'm telling everyone right now, watch out for this team. In the end, I could see it (at least as it stands now) either being a 1992 rematch between Pittsburgh and Chicago (Jon Claude van Damme would love that), or an Original Six Stanley Cup Final, with the seasoned Rangers ousting the up and coming Kane and Toews lead Blackhawks. I'm sure this will all change during the year...but for right now...
Eastern Conference Playoffs
1. New York Rangers vs. 8. Philadelphia Flyers = Rangers in five.
2. Boston Bruins vs. 7. Montreal Canadians = Bruins in six.
3. Carolina Hurricanes vs. 6. Atlanta Thrashers = Thrashers in seven.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 5. Ottawa Senators = Penguins in seven.
1. New York Rangers vs. 6. Atlanta Thrashers = Rangers in six.
2. Boston Bruins vs. 4. Pittsburgh Penguins = Penguins in five.
1. New York Rangers vs. 4. Pittsburgh Penguins = Rangers in seven.
Western Conference Playoffs
1. Anaheim Ducks vs. 8. San Jose Sharks = Ducks in seven.
2. Chicago Blackhawks vs. 7. St. Louis Blues = Blackhawks in six.
3. Calgary Flames vs. 6. Los Angeles Kings = Kings in five.
4. Detroit Red Wings vs. 5. Vancouver Canucks = Wings in seven.
1. Anaheim Ducks vs. 6. Los Angeles Kings = Kings in six.
2. Chicago Blackhawks vs. 4. Detroit Red Wings = Blackhawks in five.
2. Chicago Blackhawks vs. 6. Los Angeles Kings = Blackhawks in four.
Stanley Cup Finals
1. New York Rangers vs. 2. Chicago Blackhawks = Rangers in five.