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NHL season preview: Predicting the East

Updated: October 7, 2011 12:49AM


1. Washington Capitals

Adding grinders Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer could be huge for Alex Ovechkin and the offensively gifted Caps.

2. Philadelphia Flyers

Gone are Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and in comes former Coyotes star goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for the Flyers, who still have a strong defense.

3. Buffalo Sabres

The free-spending Sabres were busy this summer, and they’re better for it. Ryan Miller was already good enough for 35-40 wins.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Minus Sidney Crosby, the Pens hit 106 points last season. Imagine what they’ll do if hockey’s best player recovers from his concussion.

5. Boston Bruins

They’ll be tired, lack focus at times and be targeted as defending champions. But nearly everyone returns.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning

They came close last season, and all their big guns — Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier — are back. A solid traplike system helps.

7. New York Rangers

They landed the biggest free-agent prize in center Brad Richards. Plus, goalie Henrik Lundqvist is still there.

8. Montreal Canadiens

Goalie Carey Price will carry the load again. Young, charismatic defenseman P.K. Subban is on the verge of big things.


9. Carolina Hurricanes

Can Jeff Skinner fever carry the Canes into the playoffs this season?

10. New Jersey Devils

A healthy, motivated Zach Parise could propel them up the standings.

11. Winnipeg Jets

The Jets may be a surprise with Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and others.

12. Toronto Maple Leafs

GM Brian Burke still has work to do.

13. New York Islanders

There are reasons to be optimistic on the Island, but not many.

14. Florida Panthers

GM Dale Tallon needs one more year.

15. Ottawa Senators

New coach Paul MacLean has plenty of work to do.

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