Before the season started, I gave my predictions for how the Eastern Conference would play out. All things have not gone the way I expected, but it does appear that I predicted 7 of the 8 playoff teams. Below is my original predictions with original comments and some new comments about my predictions.
Man I'm ready for some real hockey! I really don't know if I can wait. I'll be following the updates today online, then I'll go home and watch the game even though I will know the results. I absolutely love this sport! It is the best of them all.
So here is my preseason predictions for how the Eastern Conference will end up. It should be an interesting year and like all predictions; it will for the most part be wrong.
1. Washington - they have the offensive firepower to just outscore everybody during the regular season. The big question will be their goaltending yet again and I think they will eventually trade for a good goalie. Their offense has actually struggled a little this season, but they have improved the defensive side of their team. They will likely finish either 1st or 2nd, so pretty close prediction.
2. Pittsburgh - they will get off to a slow start without Jordan Staal, but will tear it up in the second half of the season and beat out NJ for the Atlantic Division. Pittsburgh has been through a tremendous amount of injuries this season to key personnel, but they continue to maintain their winning ways. Finishing 2nd is still possible, but they most likely finish 4th.
3. Boston - I don't think they'll be as good as most are predicting, but I also don't believe any team in the Northeast is solid enough to beat them out for the division. Boston is right where I thought they'd be. They will most likely finish 3rd, but have the 4th best record in the East.
4. New Jersey - they have a very good team, but one injury could really cause some problems. I see them getting worn down as the season moves along and they'll have another 1st round exit. I was way off on predicting their finish, but I did mention that one injury could cause them problems. They did not start off well, but when Parise went down; they struggled even more before making a good late season run. Plain & simple, I was way wrong on this one.
5. Philadelphia - the defending Eastern Conference Champs have a solid offense and a very good defense, but like Washington they are missing a netminder. I could really see Jeff Carter being traded during the season for a legit goalie. Philly has been very good all season. They still have the goaltending issue, but Bob was really impressive at the beginning of the year. They are not playing great right now, but 1st or 2nd is their most likely finish.
6. Tampa Bay - They have a good top 6 and a goalie that I think is a little underrated. Take that and multiple games against Florida and Atlanta and they end up with a good record. Pretty close on this one. They will probably finish 4th or 5th. I was wrong about their goalie, but they went out and got a pretty good one from the Isles. I still believe that their lack of quality depth will hurt them in the playoffs.
7. Buffalo - Solid team, but not great. Miller will have to work his magic, but I think they sneak into the playoffs. I wish I was wrong about this one, but it appears the Slugs will get in. Miller hasn't been as great as last season, but he is still pretty damn good.
8. NY Rangers - very tough decision here, but I think Hank has a very good year in net and Frolov is out to prove his worth. I also think Stepan will have a solid rookie year. I was wrong about Frolov, but was pretty spot on about Hank. Things are still up in the air a little, but NYR will finish between 7th & 9th.
9. Ottawa - They are a decent team that could take the 8th spot, but I feel they are stretched thin on the blueline. There is also the Spezza thing, will he or will he not be traded away at some point. And Alfredsson always seems to get hurt at some point of the season. I was wrong about this one. Ottawa stunk this season and traded away half of their team. I was right about Alfredsson getting hurt and missing time though.
10. Carolina - The young Canes start off a little slow, but as the All-Star game approaches; they kids start clicking and they make another late season charge. This projected spot is close to where they will probably finish, but the season didn't play out how I thought it would. The Canes were pretty consistent (average) over the season. We really didn't have a long winning or losing streak and the kids didn't get as much opportunity as I expected.
11. Toronto - They will show some improvement this season, but I still feel as they are missing a piece. They need to find a 1st line center. Toronto actually did show some improvement, but it doesn't seem it was quite enough to get them in the playoffs. They started out strong, went through some Leafs hockey, and are now playing pretty well again.
12. Montreal - I don't believe Price and Auld will keep them in games, plain and simple. I was wrong about Carey Price. He has played well this season. They will make the playoffs, so I was really off here.
13. Atlanta - This team could be real physical and win some games they are not expected to, but they don't have a go-to-guy. I think if Kovalchuk was on this team now, they would be a playoff team. Atlanta will finish higher than I projected, but they are who I thought they were. They have a solid team that could use one elite player to carry them at times. Kovalchuk on this team would probably have them close or in the playoffs.
14. NY Islanders - They showed improvement last season, so what does Wang do to capitalize on that; NOTHING! If not for the goofs in Calgary, this IMO is the worst run organization in the NHL. The Isles are pretty much at the bottom again, but they have played well in the 2nd half of the season.
15. Florida - I think Florida might surprise me at some point during the season, but eventually crap settles; as will Florida. They are moving in the right direction, but that could still be 2 or 3 years. I hope they can last in the Sunshine State! Pretty much right on with this prediction. Florida played well at times, but as the season has gone along; they continue to drop and are now in last place in the East.