As Lady Bee told you yesterday, we here at Ladies… can’t wait for the NHL season to finally start, so we’re doing some previews for those of you who feel our pain!
Today I’ll be previewing the Atlantic Division.
In 2008-2009…The Pens finished with 99 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division, and 4th in the East. Last seen: spooning the Stanley Cup.
This season…Expect the Pens to be good, but don’t expect them to go all the way again. Winning the Eastern Conference in two consecutive seasons shows the dedication this franchise has to winning. I expect them to be a contender, but I don’t think they’re winning the East again this year. They’ll have a tough time replacing Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill on the blue line. They also lost Petr Sykora, a frequent linemate of star Evgeni Malkin.
And let’s not forget that this is an Olympic year. Sidney Crosby is already being touted as the star of the Canadian hockey team. Expect a lot of the Pens to be spending the Olympic break working hard. That could have a major effect on the team in the second half of the year. Fatigue will be a factor.
Hottie worth watching: Kris Letang. I mentioned him in my Hockey Hotties on the Rise article a few months ago, and I’m sticking with this pick.
In 2008-2009…The Flyers finished with 99 points, 3rd in the Atlantic Division, and 5th in the East. Last seen: getting eliminated by the Penguins in the playoffs – again.
This season…The Flyers have made some big moves in the off-season. They started at the Draft when they traded some hotness (a.k.a. Joffrey Lupul) to the Ducks for Chris Pronger. His monster contract hasn’t helped the Broad Street Bullies in the salary cap department, though. While they lost the salary of Lupul and Mike Knuble (Welcome to Washington, Mike!), they still need to fill those positions and Pronger’s cap space is not helping.
Another worry in Philly is the goaltending situation. While Marty Biron is minding the nets in Long Island, the Flyers are trying to resurrect the career – and reputation – of Ray Emery. They have also brought in former Flyer goalie prospect and San Jose Shark back-up Brian Boucher (no relation to Bobby). This could get interesting, so don’t sleep on the Flyers.
Hottie worth watching: Mike Richards. If you want to see a hot photo shoot, please, please, please, click here.
New York Rangers
In 2008-2009…The Rangers finished with 95 points, 4th in the Atlantic Division and 7th in the East. Last seen: leaving the Verizon Center ice after losing a hard-fought seven game series to the Washington Capitals.
This season…I have three words that can make or break the Rangers season: “Marian Gaborik’s Groin.” The Rangers added Gaborik in the off-season to boost their offense. So far this preseason, he’s been doing pretty well. The Rangers offense will thrive as long as Gaborik stays healthy and Sean Avery manages to keep his panties untwisted and out of the penalty box. The Rangers certainly don’t want Avery’s temper to get the best of him and hurt the team. (see: 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals) The team shouldn’t have any worries on the blue line or in the net. I don’t see King Henry faltering any time soon.
Hottie worth watching: King Henry! Henrik Lundqvist is one hot goalie!
New Jersey Devils
In 2008-2009…The Devils finished with 106 points, good for 1st in the Atlantic Division and 3rd in the East. Last seen: wishing there were only 58 minutes and 40 seconds in a hockey game. (sorry, Pam)
This season…The Devils have to look past last year’s disappointing finish and keep fighting. They haven’t missed the post-season in 12 straight years, and sooner or later this streak is going to come to an end. The Devils are hoping that this isn’t that year. They have brought back former bench boss Jacques Lemaire in hopes of recreating the glory days of Devils hockey. Last year’s squad has been left pretty much intact.
Future Hall-of-Fame goaltender Marty Brodeur is coming off his first injury-plagued season, and somehow the Devils didn’t crumble. Last season, Brodeur back-up Scott Clemmensen saved the proverbial day, so the Devils shouldn’t have any worries in net, except maybe who to start and now that’s he’s gone, the Devils better hope Marty stays healthy. (Apperently I suck and didn’t realize Clemmensen left, so, again, I’m sorry Pam!) The big question mark might just be Patrik Elias, the franchise point leader. Elias is out 3-6 weeks after having surgery to repair a groin problem. (ouch!) He’s going to need to step up his game, which has faltered due to injuries post-lockout.
Hottie worth watching: Zach Parise. Sorry, there was no other choice for me. Love this guy!
New York Islanders
In 2008-2009…The Islanders finished the season with 61 points, last in the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference and NHL. Last seen: winning the John Tavares sweepstakes. For the Isles, the only thing worth playing for last year was the number one pick in the NHL Draft.
This season…It has to get better, right? Let’s hope. The youth movement on Long Island might pay off a bit for the Islanders. Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and John Tavares will help the Isles escape the land of bottom dwellers. But don’t think they’re headed for the playoffs anytime soon. Rebuilding takes time and development. Injuries don’t help in the development department either.
Goaltender for life Rick DiPietro was bit by the injury bug last season, and so far last season is spilling into this season. Count DiPietro out until November, at least. The Islanders’ DiPietro insurance plan includes Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson. The overload of goalies should help the Islanders win a few more games that would have been losses last season. Consistency is the key to success.
Hottie worth watching: While he may not be on the ice that much, I had to stick with the man that made me fall in love with goalies: Rick DiPietro.
So there’s our take on the Atlantic Division. Let us know how wrong, right and/or awesome we are in the comments.