The Blueshirts will finish fourth, not so much because they won’t be as good - with Rick Nash and Chris Kreider for a full year, they’ll improve offensively - but because the Penguins will be that much better with a healthy Sidney Crosby. Henrik Lundqvist remains the heart of the team, but he won't need to be a game-saver on most nights as a better offense in front of him will take a lot of the pressure off. The additions up front are obvious, but the 'D' will be better, too, another year of experience in the pocket of Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonagh. Post-season positioning won’t matter much, anyway, for a team that is built for another long, tough playoff run and was tied for the best road record last season.
THN also has New Jersey finishing 11th and the New York Islanders as basement dwellers, finishing dead last.
(H/t to reader David T.)
- It's true the Penguins are better than the Rangers with a healthy Crosby. The problem is Pittsburgh isn't 100% guaranteed they'll have a healthy Crosby for a full season. I don't disagree with THN's prediction, however it's no slam dunk Pittsburgh wins the division.
- The fan in me loves reading both the Devils and Islanders will have sub-par seasons.
I'm totally comfortable with the Rangers being ranked lower -- keep the pressure on the crybabies. See how they handle it. Recent history suggests not so well. Sid was healthy for the playoffs and they never made it past the first round. Just goes to show you -- doesn't matter where you rank in the regular season or on paper. The best TEAM wins in the end. (And frankly, I don't think Pitt has what it takes in the "all for one, one for all" department.)
Honestly if this team gets in with the 8th spot they can do damage. If that means giving Hank 5 more games off this year then do it! Get a good start tithe season and then coast a bit. I hope they learn from last year.
Makes sense to me with the Rangers without gabby for the first few months. The Pens have done a decent job replacing staal with sutter and cal o'reilly might surprise a few people. I think the biggest question with the pens is what kind of a season will fluery have, especially when they lost arguably their best defensive defenseman in michalek. Vokun meanwhile can be one streaky goalie, I would know since he has won me and lost me many a fantasy hockey season.
Penguins, Rangers, Devils, Flyers, Islanders
Idk for the rest of the conference but I think I can see something like this...
Bruins , Senators, Sabres ), Canadiens Maple Leafs
Hurricanes , Capitals, Jets, Panthers, Lightning
Penguins, Bruins, Hurricanes, Rangers
Devils, Senators, Flyers, Capitals
13. Maple Leafs
7. Red Wings
15. Blue jackets
I think Red Wings, Sharks and Predatos fight heavy for that 7 and 8 spot.
That's ok...The Giants in football are never getting respect and look at what they've done....It might b better this way....LETS GO RANGERS......By the way the players and owners only talked for 90 minutes today so that can't b good.....
I'm way more comfortable being picked to finish 4th than expected to win it all. Now, if we can just have a season please!
Somewhat random clip-of-the-day:
They picked the Pens first despite losing Staal and his 25g and not replacing him with anyone of note? The Pens biggest advantage last year was sustained pressure. They lose that with the loss of Staal.
@danbouchard Saying that Brandon Sutter isn't "anyone of note" is a pretty far stretch. Sutter was a #11 overall pick in 2007, and if he was wearing a Rangers jersey, he'd be up on a pedestal as a key, untouchable part of our "young core". In alot of ways, it seems he's going to be a BETTER fit for the Pens then Staal, as his game is better suited to becoming their 3rd center with Crosby and Malkin back in the mix.
Sutter can keep the pressure on from the 3rd line roll, as well, if not better then Jordan Staal. The biggest Pens advantage last year, and the past few years, has been coaching. Bylsma has gotten that team to win no matter who was hurt. If they're all healthy, they're dangerous. Even if they're not all healthy, they're still a dangerous team.
Not sure you can actually say that the Penguins are better than the Rangers with a healthy Crosby. If the Raners have a healthy Gabby, I think they are better based on a better D and goaltending and, we hope, an improved offense. Pens are top heavy on O, especially with Staal bolting. Rangers seem to have a good balance of scoring now, at least on paper.
I'll take fourth place. THN is pretty bad at these things though. But if fourth is how it pans out then sign me up. Save some energy boys!