Thread: THN Yearbook
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08-20-2011, 06:35 PM
  #9
Alvvays
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I'd be shocked if the Rangers finished lower than 2nd. Don't think they'll win the division, but, IMO, they are clearly the 2nd best team in the division. Philly's roster looks good, but they completely overhauled it, and I'd be surprised if there was chemistry right away between the players. I mean, look at this turnover:

Add: Bryzgalov, Jagr, Talbot, Schenn, Couturier, Voracek, Simmonds

Lose: Carter, Richards, Boucher, O'Donnell, Leino

It feels...somewhat lateral, if not detrimental, to me. They added depth up front, and acquired that much needed legitimate #1 goaltender, but they lost two first line players in Richards/Carter. The impact of Schenn and Couturier won't be felt for a few years, so, as it stands, their roster is slightly worse, IMO.

The Rangers did nothing but improve. They added their much needed 1st line center and an excellent, intimdating 4th line player in Rupp. All of their most important players are still very young, and should improve over the course of next season (Anisimov, Stepan, McDonagh, Sauer, Dubinsky, etc). The Flyers core has some young players, but aside from Giroux/Voracek, the rest aren't going to improve too much from here on out. Simmonds is young, but he is what he is — a top-notch 3rd line forward who can put up decent offensive numbers.

The only major 'question mark' with this team is the 2nd pairing — McDonagh and Sauer. They were, obviously, fantastic last season, but they're still relatively inexperienced. I'm not really worried about Sauer, but McDonagh instills a twinge of doubt, as much as I love his game. He's very smart and poised, but his decision making is questionable, at times. He made some bad decisions last year that he worked his way out of, but he may not be able to do so under more responsibility. I believe he will, as he certainly has the ability to do so, but I wouldn't rule out a 'slump'.

Aside from the Flyers, there isn't much competition. The Islanders are still a bubble team at best, and the Devils are in a state of disarray. Their defense is in shambles, their #1 center just suffered a major injury, and their best forward has played one game since November. Their forward depth will keep them in the playoff race, but unless there are significant injuries, I don't see how they'll challenge the Rangers. Of course, anything is possible, and their lineup is full of gamebreaking forwards, but there isn't much depth, and Brodeur is steadily aging/breaking down. I think their future is potentially bright, but in the here and now, their roster is very unimpressive.

For the Atlantic, IMO:

Pittsburgh: 1st
Rangers: 5th
Philadelphia: 7th
Devils: 9th/10th (could finish anywhere from 6th-11th, really)
Islanders: 11th

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