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07-18-2011, 06:29 PM
  #5
Thumpz
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I really think the next 5 slots in the rankings are going to be almost interchangeable between Boston, Tampa, Rangers, Flyers and Sabres. A few games that go any of these teams way and they'll end up near the top of the eastern conference next season.

Boston are obviously the cup champs and have a team that knows what it takes to win now. But can Thomas pull off another Vezina worthy season? If he does this team takes their division with ease, if not and Ryan Miller has a great season, the Sabres have a great shot at it.

For Tampa, Will Roloson be able to survive a full season as the number 1 at 42 years old? I'm expecting him to falter and TB to be left with some serious goaltending issues again this season, but I also expect Stamkos to pick up his production in the second half of the season as opposed to falling off like he did last season which may keep them in the running.

The Flyers had a complete makeover, but they still have some great, great forwards in JVR and Giroux and Briere. Adding Schenn and company might have been a great move on their part or a terrible one. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Bryzgalov play well enough to deserve that 9 year contract.

And the Rangers got Richards, kept going with the youth initiative, and have one of the more solid back-ends in the conference. If adding Richards can help bring the PP% up and the Goals For up while our one year wiser defence can bring goals against down a bit more, we may have a legitimate crack at it.

All in all, the safe bet is Boston, but these next few rankings are really hard to predict.

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