NHL's Eastern Conference: Who Is a Pretender and Who Is a Contender?

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NHL's Eastern Conference: Who Is a Pretender and Who Is a Contender?
Michael Heiman/Getty Images
Are the Flyers destined to make a second straight run to the Stanley Cup Final?

As we approach the playoffs, the Eastern powers either are fighting for a playoff berth, a division title, or just a better seeding. Each team has found their identity at this point and is building on it to make a run for the Cup. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are extremely unpredictable as evidenced by last year's Eastern Conference bracket, where #8 seeded Montreal knocked out Washington in the quarterfinals in a stunning upset and then as if that wasn't enough, went on to oust Pittsburgh in the semifinals before succumbing to Philadelphia in the Conference Finals.

That being said, it is a great time to see who is really a contender and who, like Washington last year, has a great record but has major flaws that will be exposed in the playoffs.

Let's start with the contenders:

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