Last year's thread is funny because it got bumped in March and the consensus was that the Caps would finish 3rd-4th in the East. It also dates back to a time when New Jersey was a perennial playoff team.
Anyway, this year:
4. Tampa Bay
6. New Jersey
10. NY Islanders
11. NY Rangers
I feel like Montreal, the Islanders, Carolina and Toronto could finish anywhere from 3-13.
6. Tampa Bay
8. New York Islanders
9. New York Rangers
11. New Jersey
3. New Jersey
5. Tampa Bay
8. New York Islanders
10. New York Rangers
nbtw: I like your Flyers miss the playoffs pick. I thought about that. I think its a definate possibility. I have that entire division struggling, but i dont think that Bryz is going to be a problem there til the playoffs. That and I dont think the Rangers are going to be all that much better, if at all.
though, its even money that pronger and jagr are at each other in the room by halfway and that team completely implodes.
getting callahan back means a lot. but unless getting richards means getting away from the brutal style of hockey they have to play in order to compete, you have to ask yourself, for how long?
staal is having concussion issues. both he and girardi were beaten to a pulp by the end of their playoffs. callahan broke down. they way they play its only a matter of time before there are more battered and broken bodies on that roster. that and ive lived long enough to see umpteen big dollar free agents land in msg only to watch all go wrong again. way too many to believe that brad richards makes the rangers a threat.
That's with lack of confidence/progression from 19/52, 8 not fully returning to form and team D regressing somewhat. One of the three not being the case and they should be positioned higher, assuming decent health. I like the new additions but the big four remain intact and my faith in them collectively is definitely wavering. Prove me wrong.
ive concluded that this team can win in the regular season with their eyes closed. if they could only focus when they lacked it and stayed healthy when they didnt, they might have won three cups in the past four seasons. at this point their greatest obsticle is that they havent won anything yet. the old "the only thing you have to fear is fear itself" trick.
backstrom is the key. they really cant progress very far in the playoffs without 19 on his game. they can do without green short term because they have wideman and carlson who might be #1 offensive defensemen on most nhl teams. backstrom, they cant.
edit: add that i dont see boudreau coaching at the end of the season a team that would finish 2nd in the division and 5th in the conference. that would mean a mid season coaching change. a mid season coaching change that resulted in the caps only finishing 5th means boudreau was fired with the caps outside the top 8 at the time. interesting to think about
the pens being the team to beat doesnt mean they wont be beaten. as for bylsma and boudreau, i am fairly certain if the caps won the next two cups and bylsma made it no further than round one that you would have a hard time convincing most here that bb is the better coach.
personally, i think the pens are very hard to figure. i think without 87 and 71 they played over their heads and the playoffs back that up. this season i dont think they are a lock for anything. crosby may or may not play and may or may not be at previously seen level of play. malkin's knee surgery generally takes at least a full year to return to full strenth. how good these players are this season are at least as big a question as the caps 8 and 19.
i think they could finish first in the east or miss the playoffs entirely. i am splitting the difference and saying that the pens, flyers and rangers are all going to have their struggles.
Malkin has looked like a monster during the preseason. How well that translates into the regular season, and how well his pace holds up over time, will go a long way towards determining what type of team the Pens can be this season I'd think.