The next part of my NHL preview thats us to the NHL - Eastern Conference, specifically the Atlantic division. New Jersey won the division last year but it was the Flyers that got all the way to the cup finals. It was Pittsburgh the darlings of the NHL who bowed out to the Montreal Canadians of all teams. This was all after the Flyers got into the playoffs on the last day of the season in spite of the NY Rangers. The NY Islanders brought up the rear of the the division in 2010. Lets take a look at the teams closer:
The New Jersey Devils - The story of the off season for the Devils has been centered around the voided contract of Kovalchuk. Everyone knew it would get voided by the NHL because it was like a 20 yr deal. The Devils still have the ageless wonder that is Martin Brodeur that is in net. The question will be how much long can he go? They still have big time players Parise and Elias on the left side of the ice. They have a lot a fire power, including recently signed Jason Arnott from Nashville. They will be in a three sided war with Philly and Pittsburgh for the title in the Atlantic Division.
The Philadelphia Flyers - If the Flyers could have gotten better goal tending in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2009 they might have won the cup. But that did not happen when Leighton let in a pretty soft goal in game 6 to close it for the Blackhawks. The Flyers seem to be putting that whole thing behind them as they have started the preseason 2010 5-1-1. Leighton is injured right now and will miss at least the first month of the season. Most of all the same characters from last year will be back including top liners, Richards, Hartnell, and Pronger. They even asked the always entertaining Dan Carcillo to come back for his instant energy. I think it will be another good year for the Flyers.
The Pittsburgh Penguins - Who would have thought that they would be taken out of the playoffs by the Montreal Canadians. The team with the NHL's chosen one Cindy Crybaby Crosby. Personally, though I hate the Penguins, I have always thought that Malkin was the team's best player. The Penguins have also been having a very positive 2010 preseason with a mark so far of 4-1. I truely believe if the Penguins want to win another cup with the current goalie Fluery must play a lot better then he did in the playoffs last year. The Penguins really did not lose that many key parts of last years team and they are expecting big things from Pittsburgh this year.
The New York Rangers - The New York Rangers were knocked out of the playoffs on the last day of the season, and I think it was also in a shoot-out. The New York Rangers will have an up hill battle to get into the playoffs being in the hardest division in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers have decent players but no players in my mind that will be able to take them over the top. They might want to look into trading some players if they want to make a real push this year.
The New York Islanders - They finished last in 2009, and there is not much hope for this year. The preseason tally so far is 1-4 in 2010. Its a good thing that it does not count but it does give me any warm feelings about how this team will fair in 2010. Maybe they are just trying to get their fans ready for a long season. After looking over their depth chart for this year, I only recognized one name and that was Doug Weight and I had to ask myself, How old is that guy now? This will be his 18th season or something close to that. Unbelievable. Its going to be a really long season for the Islanders, sorry for not being more optimistic.