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Eastern Conference Pre-season Power Rankings

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YOU HAVE TORONTO AT 8?!!? NO WAY. Absolutly no way. I live in the area, and from what they've done all summer, they have built a rock solid blue line. Their offence is a black hole. They have nothing in terms of scoring. They will finish somewhere between 10-14.

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YOU HAVE TORONTO AT 8?!!? NO WAY. Absolutly no way. I live in the area, and from what they've done all summer, they have built a rock solid blue line. Their offence is a black hole. They have nothing in terms of scoring. They will finish somewhere between 10-14.

Okay fine, but the post was intended to get your feelings on the entire conference. Care to add yours? I am sure others might find something to tweak there also. ;)

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Based upon the draft and all the off-season signings by all the other teams in the Eastern Conference, here are my preseason power rankings. I know rosters aren't completely etched in stone, just thought it might generate some discussion. It's not like we don't need something to talk about.

1. Pittsburgh

2. Washington

3. Boston

4. Carolina

5. Philly

6. New Jersey

7. New York Rangers

8. Toronto

9. Montreal

10. Atlanta

11. Florida

12. Tampa Bay

13. Buffalo

14. Ottawa

15. New York Isles

1. Pittsburgh has to remain the cream of the crop.

2. Boston still has a very solid team if they can figure out the Kessel thing.

3. Carolina because I think we have improved and I drink the Kool-Ade (it's tasty and red)

4. New Jersey still has a solid squad.

5. Washington is going to have a hot mess in goal but Ovenchicken is enough by himself to take them far.

6. Philly continues to play good hockey.

7. NYR are better than the rest below.

8-15 I don't have a clue. Who knows what is going to happen in any of these places. Heatley (Senator, Hab, or where),Tampa Bay (need I say more). Isles have a junior squad. Atlanta has some new faces. Florida can't get over the hump. Toronto is trying to field a team of all defensemen.

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1. Boston

2. Philly

3. Washingtoin

4. Pittsburgh

5. NYR

6. Carolina

7. Devils

8. Montreal

9. Atlanta

10. Ottawa

11. Tampa Bay

12. Florida

13. Buffalo

14. Toronto

15. Islanders

Boston remains the team to beat. Assuming Thomas to can even come close to repeating his performance from last year, of course.

Philly's addition of Pronger will help their defensive game, and I have a feeling Emery's going to come out and prove a lot of people wrong.

Washington will again by the victor of the SE, though I'm hoping the race will be closer than it was last year. OV = division

Pittsburgh will be a few points behind Philly, mostly due to injuries and MAF's inconsistency

NYR keeps that spot assuming Gaborik plays at least 50 games for them. Lundqvist will continue his stellar play.

Injuries to aging players and a lack of speed and scoring on the blueline will keep us down, but we'll sneak in late in the season

Devils haven't improved and actually lost a lot of their top 6, but Marty being Marty and Parise progressing gets them in

The 8th spot's a coin flip, mostly depending on injuries, chemistry, breakout seasons, etc. I put Montreal there, because Boston and Montreal always match up, but Atlanta's finally got a legit top line and if Lehtonen stays relatively healthy, they'll make a push. Ottawa could make it, depending on the Heatley situation. And Tampa Bay won't be anything like last year, when they were crushed by injury.

Florida will be Florida, either choking down the stretch or only making a push once they're too far out. Losing J-bo will hurt. A lot. Buffalo hasn't done anything, but Vanek and Miller keep them above Toronto, who have defense and that it. The Islanders will get another Top 5 pick, adding to their rebuilding process.

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I don't normally predict anything, mainly because I'm afraid of anger the hockey gods, but this looked like fun (maybe a little too much fun as you'll see) so here it is-have at it. :)

1. Pittsburgh-they've kept almost everyone and if the Stanley Cup hangover doesn't get them, they will be awesome again.

2. Boston-very similar reasoning to Pittsburgh if, like Superdave said they figure out the Kessel situation.

3. Carolina-is that too homer-ific? Our D has gotten bigger, better and meaner-we definitely won't be a team that gets pushed around anymore. Oh and Superdave-that kool-aid really is tasty. :)

4. Washington-their goaltending is all over the place, but AO, Semin, Backstrom, Green...holy goalscoring Batman

5. New Jersey-A healthy Brodeur has to inspire confidence. If the new coach has a system that works for the make-up of the team, they'll still be a legit contender...maybe another classic NJ-CAR series coming up?

6. Philly-I'm still not convinced that Emery won't become another cancer in the locker room and I hate Pronger, but their talent should be enough to get them in the playoffs again.

7. Rangers-they've lost some important components and added Avery (I know he was there last season, but this is the first full one back). And if they're pinning their hopes on a very fragile Gaborik, it could be bad. They better hope Lundqvist ate his wheaties this offseason.

8. Montreal-It'll be interesting to see what Gomez will bring to Montreal and if Price will be steady for them in goal. They may implode again, but I think they'll claw their way to 8th.

9. Florida-no J-Bo and no playoffs again.

10. Atlanta-they've added some talent, but I don't think it will be enough to make the playoffs.

11. Buffalo-IMO Miller was the only thing holding that team in playoff contention late last season and I don't know if he'll be able to do it on his own.

12. Ottawa-they added Kovalev, but the "will he or won't he" with Heatley may end up hurting the team.

13. Tampa Bay-owners fighting, revolving door for d-men, poor Tampa.

14. Isles-they now have three goalies and a hotshot new forward, but they're still the Isles-baby steps.

15. Toronto-all D-men is a tough way to win a hockey game.

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1. Boston

2. Pittsburgh

3. Carolina - hopefully we've improved enough to win the division B)

4. Washington

5. New Jersey

6. Philly

7. NY Rangers

8. Montreal

The rest is up in the air although I would put Florida higher than a couple of other folks have....

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I gotta agree with Frog's placement of the team, though he didnt say why he picked them there. Injuries are going to happen and in a perfect world of 82 perfectly healthy games I would rank us 3rd or 4th. But people are going to get hurt and I think that's going to be the difference maker and put us at 6th. I believe the teams ahead of us have the offensive depth to shrug off an injury. I dont feel we have that in our offense unless a camp kid comes in and does amazing. I might need to reserve judgement until 10 games into the season and see if Boychuk or Sutter make the team in a extravagent manner.

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I gotta agree with Frog's placement of the team, though he didnt say why he picked them there. Injuries are going to happen and in a perfect world of 82 perfectly healthy games I would rank us 3rd or 4th. But people are going to get hurt and I think that's going to be the difference maker and put us at 6th. I believe the teams ahead of us have the offensive depth to shrug off an injury. I dont feel we have that in our offense unless a camp kid comes in and does amazing. I might need to reserve judgement until 10 games into the season and see if Boychuk or Sutter make the team in a extravagent manner.

I do wonder why you predict the injury bug will affect us more than the other teams you have ahead of us.

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I do wonder why you predict the injury bug will affect us more than the other teams you have ahead of us.

Because a lot of our key cogs are veteran players and/or have a history with injuries. And while our depth may be fine if it's one or two players for a couple games, it starts to get a little hazy if we lose too many at once or some for long periods. I expect the following to miss a decent amount of games to injury:

A. Ward

Ruutu

Brindamour

Walker

Whitney

Cole

Pitkanen

Cullen

Now, 4 of our Top 6 is there and 2 of our Top 4 is there. If they spread their injuries out (like they have a choice), then we might be ok, but if it starts to pile on like it did a couple seasons ago, we could be in trouble.

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I do wonder why you predict the injury bug will affect us more than the other teams you have ahead of us.

When hasn't it? If this team hadn't finally gotten healthy in the last 2 months it would have been another miss at the playoffs and we had to deal a injured player to finally have a healthy lineup.

If it wasn't for Cam taking over the flu ridden Gerber in 06 we wouldnt even have a cup to our name and that was the only season we've ever had capable goaltending depth. We do not have scoring depth this year, we have just enough to be successful. We have an entire topic devoted to we need a first line winger, if anyone in the top 2 lines goes down it could be ugly. Just like it was with Williams out until Cole got brought in.

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1. Washington

2. Philadephia

3. Boston

4. Pittsburgh

5. New York Rangers

6. Carolina

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Florida

9. Montreal

10. Ottawa

11. Atlanta

12. Buffalo

13. Tampa Bay

14. Toronto Maple Leafs

15. New York Islanders

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1. Washington - Maybe if Varlamov can keep up playing real well, goaltending always seems to be their problem.

2. Boston - Assuming they can keep Kessel, will fall lower if they can't.

3. Pittsburgh - Will definitely lose steam with the loss of Sykora and Satan. Guerin is getting old.

4. Philly - So many good young stars still getting better (Richards, Giroux, Carter, ect)

5. Carolina - Goes without saying, we play our best when underrated.

6. Rangers - Good addition with Gaborik, I think he will finally stay healthy for a season.

7. New Jersey - Always a contender but they lost a lot more than they gained.

8. Tampa - I'm predicting a good year from Tampa, especially if they can pick up Tanguay. Stamkos will have a great year, Hedman will be playing, and Lecalvier/St. Louis should help out.

----------------

9. Florida - Who knows they might make it finally this year.

10. Ottawa - Another close but no cigar.

11. Montreal - I'm thinking their smurf line will turn out bad

12. Toronto - At least they won't get scored on

13. Atlanta - Kovalchuk counting down the days, how amazing would he be as Staal's winger (dreaming)

14. Buffalo - Maybe they will be better if Miller can stay healthy and Vanek shows up.

15. Islanders - They are on the Pittsburgh plan, suck horribly for 3-5 years... get the overall first/second pick in each of those years... collect superstars.

Our division sure looks a lot tougher this year though... Washington, Tampa, and Atlanta all got a lot stronger and Florida could be much better if they pickup a good forward and Horton has a better season.

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When hasn't it? If this team hadn't finally gotten healthy in the last 2 months it would have been another miss at the playoffs and we had to deal a injured player to finally have a healthy lineup.

If it wasn't for Cam taking over the flu ridden Gerber in 06 we wouldnt even have a cup to our name and that was the only season we've ever had capable goaltending depth. We do not have scoring depth this year, we have just enough to be successful. We have an entire topic devoted to we need a first line winger, if anyone in the top 2 lines goes down it could be ugly. Just like it was with Williams out until Cole got brought in.

I think assuming Jokinen/Samsonov/Larose we're third line wingers that any one of those could step up on the top-2 lines easily. Samsonov played first line most of the first half of last season alright and Jokinen showed enough promise in the playoffs to warrant a chance. Larose probably would be better off on the third line but it seems he has a ton of chemistry with Cullen. I think Boychuk and Bowman are gonna put on a good show in training camp and they will also be solid call-ups to get some top-6 experience and fill gaps if injuries occur.

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I think assuming Jokinen/Samsonov/Larose we're third line wingers that any one of those could step up on the top-2 lines easily. Samsonov played first line most of the first half of last season alright and Jokinen showed enough promise in the playoffs to warrant a chance. Larose probably would be better off on the third line but it seems he has a ton of chemistry with Cullen. I think Boychuk and Bowman are gonna put on a good show in training camp and they will also be solid call-ups to get some top-6 experience and fill gaps if injuries occur.

key is the last line, which is what I did say. If a rookie comes up and puts on a decent, not amazing but a decent show. We'll be ok with a offensive injury.

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1. Pittsburgh - right now they are the team to beat

2. Boston

3. Carolina - by winning the division, but we'll have less points than Jersey

4. New Jersey

5. Washington - their questionable goaltending and i don't think their D is that good is why the Canes take the division back.

6. Philly - Emery is the question mark on whether this team ranks higher (division or 4th)

7. NYR

8. Montreal

9. Tampa Bay

10. Ottawa

11. Bufflao

12. Atlanta

13. Florida

14. Toronto

15. NY Islanders

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1. Boston

2. Philly

3. Washingtoin

4. Pittsburgh

5. NYR

6. Carolina

7. Devils

8. Montreal

9. Atlanta

10. Ottawa

11. Tampa Bay

12. Florida

13. Buffalo

14. Toronto

15. Islanders

I think this is a pretty good guess. Pittsburgh is bound to have some cup hangover, they struggled for stretches last year and had to make an heroic run at the end. Philly will physically beat everyone down. Washington showed last year that they are going to be regular season monsters. Boston barely lost to us, but is still the most impressive top to bottom.

Carolina. We have had serious slumps each of the last 3 years. If we can minimize that we should be a playoff team. But there is an awful lot of top line talent ahead of us, and we have a couple of guys on the backside of their careers. If we add a top line winger we will be in the top 4 easily. But we probably wont. The biggest factor this year is Ward, Cam that is. If Cam continues his late season form we will be right there. If he slips back to his average at best form, it could be a race again. We will need to see what Brindy brings, but maybe the bulk of the drama on that is behind us, since he will clearly not be on the second line.

There is no reason to think Cam will slide, so he could be a top 5 goalie. I would like to see that top winger to put us over the top, but even without it, a top 5 goalie will take this team far.

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Because a lot of our key cogs are veteran players and/or have a history with injuries. And while our depth may be fine if it's one or two players for a couple games, it starts to get a little hazy if we lose too many at once or some for long periods. I expect the following to miss a decent amount of games to injury:

A. Ward

Ruutu

Brindamour

Walker

Whitney

Cole

Pitkanen

Cullen

Now, 4 of our Top 6 is there and 2 of our Top 4 is there. If they spread their injuries out (like they have a choice), then we might be ok, but if it starts to pile on like it did a couple seasons ago, we could be in trouble.

When hasn't it? If this team hadn't finally gotten healthy in the last 2 months it would have been another miss at the playoffs and we had to deal a injured player to finally have a healthy lineup.

If it wasn't for Cam taking over the flu ridden Gerber in 06 we wouldnt even have a cup to our name and that was the only season we've ever had capable goaltending depth. We do not have scoring depth this year, we have just enough to be successful. We have an entire topic devoted to we need a first line winger, if anyone in the top 2 lines goes down it could be ugly. Just like it was with Williams out until Cole got brought in.

What, do I have to take you both on? Fine, that's the way you want it, that's the way you get it. ;)

Frog, that bunch wasn't an unhealthy bunch this past season so I don't know how you assume that it's going to be an issue this year. It was definitely better than season before last. Any team is going to suffer if they lose players for long periods of time.

Legend, I'd say we have the potential to bring up some youngsters that may be able to contribute in case of an injury. We still have a couple of guys with the Rats who have time in the NHL. Sure they won't be the same as the player that went down, but what team wouldn't have the same issues. I think basing picks on potential injuries is a shot in the dark..

If Cam were to get hurt that's another issue, but then again any elite team is going to have an elite goalie that would severely handicap them if hurt.

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I guess it depends on how you look at it.

If A. Ward is going to play the style of play we hope he does, he's going to miss games. It comes with the territory, and at his age, it's all the more likely. He missed 34 games over the past two seasons, if he misses another 17 this upcoming one, that's the best we could hope for. The same applies to Ruutu and Cole. They'll miss anywhere from 5 to 10 games, just because of their style of play.

Brindamour played a lot of games, but in no way was healthy for most of the year. Walker played 41 last season, 58 the year before. He's become injury-prone, but he'll be playing mostly the 4th line, so it may not happen as often. Whitney's got an interesting pattern of either playing close to an entire season or missing 10-15 games. I bet on the latter.

As for Cullen, all it takes is a nice hit to the side of the head to mess him up now, and with him playing more minutes and Pronger in the conference now, I'm not brimming with confidence as to his ability to stay healthy. Pitkanen, I have a hunch. He was too big of a factor on the team last year for opposing teams to ignore. He's a marked man and will be treated as such.

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I see what your saying Frog, but we've got a couple of hitters on our team this year that we didn't have last season. Maybe that will help level the playing field a little.

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I see what your saying Frog, but we've got a couple of hitters on our team this year that we didn't have last season. Maybe that will help level the playing field a little.

Literally and figuratively.

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I think this is a pretty good guess. Pittsburgh is bound to have some cup hangover, they struggled for stretches last year and had to make an heroic run at the end. Philly will physically beat everyone down. Washington showed last year that they are going to be regular season monsters. Boston barely lost to us, but is still the most impressive top to bottom.

Carolina. We have had serious slumps each of the last 3 years. If we can minimize that we should be a playoff team. But there is an awful lot of top line talent ahead of us, and we have a couple of guys on the backside of their careers. If we add a top line winger we will be in the top 4 easily. But we probably wont. The biggest factor this year is Ward, Cam that is. If Cam continues his late season form we will be right there. If he slips back to his average at best form, it could be a race again. We will need to see what Brindy brings, but maybe the bulk of the drama on that is behind us, since he will clearly not be on the second line.

There is no reason to think Cam will slide, so he could be a top 5 goalie. I would like to see that top winger to put us over the top, but even without it, a top 5 goalie will take this team far.

I agree...as Cam goes, so goes the team.

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I agree...as Cam goes, so goes the team.

I think Cam is a great goalie, he is just still very young at 25 years old. He could very well easily develop into a top-5 goalie in the league, he has the skill which is obvious by how great he is consistently in the playoffs where the true stars shine. I just think in the regular season he goes on slides because he is still learning how to deal with having a bad game. Sometimes things just don't go his way and I believe he lets it get to himself too much which is quite normal among goalies. If you look at the difference between who I would say are arguably the top 5 goalies in the league (Brodeur-37, Lundqvist-27, Luongo-30, Backstrom-31, and Nabokov-34) and Ward is just 2 or so more seasons of experience to get that consistency and elite goalie mindset. Marc-Andre Fleury is the same way (24 years old), he is a pretty good goalie (Although I would pretty confidently say not as good as Cam) but he definitely has had some horrible slides every year since he became the Pens starter including last season.

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MarkyMarks Psychic Networks 100% Accurate Pre-Season Predictions

1. Philadephia - A lack of great goaltending away from being a truly dominant team.

2. Boston - Young guys continuing to improve makes up for the guys they've lost.

3. Carolina - Dogfight for first with Washington.

4. Pittsburgh - Cup hangover takes its toll again in beginning of the year. Probably second most points in Conference though.

5. Washington - Look good again on paper, but still need to shed more salary to make the cap. See dogfight above.

6. Atlanta - My sleeper pick for playoffs this year.

7. Ottawa - Barring any additional player discord, too much talent to not make the playoffs again.

8. New Jersey Devils - Aging players, player losses, new coach make missing playoffs a possibility this year.

9. Florida - Losing Jay-Bo will hurt. Close but no cigar.

10. Montreal - Too many changes made this off-season. Expect them to come on strong at the end of the year.

11. Buffalo - Defense still highly suspect.

12. New York Rangers - Gaborik, Redden, Lundquist, and a bunch of overpaid guys are not enough to make it.

13. Toronto Maple Leafs - Still re-building.

14. Tampa Bay - Basket-case ownership.

15. New York Islanders - Things are bad when Doug Weight is your star forward.

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