The Eastern Conference is, as usual, completely up for grabs. Nevertheless, we will attempt to predict where teams will finish and what events may occur throughout the season.
1 – Boston Bruins
It’s doubtful that the Big Bad Bruins will slow down very much this year. Guys like Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, and Milan Lucic will be a year older. The addition of Joe Corvo in an absolute steal of a trade (Fourth round pick? What the hell?) will bolster their defense following the devastating (snicker) loss of Tomas Kaberle.
Predictions: Milan Lucic will continue his evolution into the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Brad Marchand will be annoying to play against (No, really?). Zdeno Chara WON’T commit attempted murder again this year, though 2012 is still up in the air.
2 – Washington Capitals
Look, Ma! A goalie! The addition of Thomas Vokoun for an insanely low 1.5 Million a year will go a long way towards solving their issues in nets. One has to wonder, however, how Vokoun will fair on the big stage after wallowing in Florida Panthers hell for so many years. Roman Hamrlik, coming off an extended stint with the Canadiens is sure to improve when not having to play 30 minutes a game due to injuries.
Will they be cup contenders? Something tells me they still just don’t have what it takes to get over that hump.
Predictions: Ovechkin will trade in his esoteric head-in-a-locker CCM commercials for brand spanking new esoteric Bauer commercials. Vlad Semin and Edward Backstrom will come out of their coffins for the playoffs and promptly turn into mist.
3 – Pittsburgh Penguins
With the (hopeful) return of Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh will be the same solid team they always are. After the absolutely insane amount of injuries these guys suffered last year, only to finish in 4th, I have to say there’s likely very little that I see keeping them down.
Predictions: Matt Cooke will get suspended 546258726726893 times in an 82 game season, which is pretty impressive.
4 – New York Rangers
A great young team. The addition of a veteran number one center. Henrik Lundqvist in nets. The Rangers are going to do great.
Predictions: given their track record, the Rangers will trade away all their young talent and sign Alexei Yashin, Jeremy Roenick, and Ken Dryden to multi-year contracts, thereby finishing 900th in the Eastern conference.
5 – Philadelphia Flyers
The loss of Carter and Richards is a tough pill to swallow for Flyers fans. Will Brygalov be the answer to their goalie woes? Probably, but while they solved their goalie issue, and received quite a few blue chippers in their deals, their current roster is not as strong as it was a year ago.
Predictions: Bryzgalov will decide that Philadelphia’s parks aren’t as nice as he first thought and will decide to go play for the Yellowstone Quake junior hockey team.
6 – Tampa Bay Lightning
Steve Yzerman’s team stood pat in the offseason, for the most part. I don’t see them as much better or worse than last year.
Predictions: No suspension will occur after Pavel Kubina boards Detroit’s Niklas Lidstrom. Afterwards, Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman will make the Wolfpack sign at one another and form the nWo.