Thursday, October 2, 2008

NHL 2008-2009 Season: Eastern Conference Preview

Well, the current NFL season has seen a big shift in power from the AFC to the NFC... could this be repeating in the NHL with the East rising and the West falling?

Nah... I don't think so.

That said, let's take a look at the Eastern Conference (including the odds of winning the Cup, however long they may be)...

Playoff Teams

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (8-1) - Even without Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone and Sergei Gonchar (for 4-6 months), this is still an excellent team. One way to evaluate the potential of a team is to focus on their elite players and the Pens bring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin up front, Brooks Orpik on the D line and Marc-Andre Fleury in goal. Pretty good elite...

1A. Philadelphia Flyers (8-1) - An impressive team. They're sure to be just as nasty as they were last season, but another year of experience under budding star Mike Richards' belt will only make them better.

1B. Montreal Canadiens (12-1) - Les Canadiens are celebrating their 100-year anniversary this season and their rabid fan base (rabid as in dedicated, not like rabid Flyers fans who are... well, rabid) is wondering if this is the year. Well, it might be. One interesting thing to watch will be what type of season super sophomore netminder Cary Price has, especially what type of playoffs he has.

1C. Washington Capitals (12-1) - Similar to my views of the Flyers, the Caps may wind up better than anyone expects simply due to the brilliance of Alexander Ovechkin. While they might have wanted to keep Cristobal Huet in net, Jose Theodore should be a solid replacement.

5. New Jersey Devils (30-1) - Yep, they still have Martin Brodeur... not expecting much offense, though.

6. New York Rangers (30-1) - Like the Devils in terms of my expectations... good, but not great.

7. Boston Bruins (30-1) - A fascinating team to me. Maybe it's just that I really like their jerseys, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bruins surpass a lot of expectations.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning (40-1) - Lotta new faces, could fail, but should be fun to watch.

Teams That Might Slide In

Buffalo Sabres

New York Islanders

Florida Panthers

Atlanta Thrashers

Carolina Hurricanes

Ottawa Senators

Don't Think So

Toronto Maple Leafs - Will be fun to follow the Toronto Press as they cover Coach Ron Wilson.

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