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Guesstimate Your Eastern Conference Final Standings


LGR4GM
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I think the Sabres can make the playoffs and I don't by the crap analysis going on in the public sphere that we are worse than the Flyers and are a bottom 5 team. As such I was asked how I get the Sabres into the players so I will guesstimate the Eastern Conference standings and I encourage others to add their own. 

  1. Carolina Hurricanes, they return a veteran team with good defense that also have excellent young talent that keeps pushing this roster forward. Their goaltending is pretty decent and I think Brind'Amour is a good coach. Only weakness might be a lack of true all star power on the defense. 
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning, they also return a veteran team and a good defense which features a couple of all stars. Their goaltending is solid but they drop below Carolina because of age and a little bit of a depth issue especially after years of being at the top. Solid team though that can roll multiple lines and beat you. My concern would be injury as this team is good but the depth runs out quickly. Still, until they prove the window closed, we have to assume they bring the same level every night.
  3. Florida Panthers, the dumbest thing they did was fire their coach. They lost because of some poor luck and some hot goaltending opposition. I think they take a step back this year because of the coaching change and I think they will still be a very dangerous team. Lots of forward depth but with slightly less defensive depth, they can really come at you with multiple lines. 
  4. New York Rangers, I actually don't love the rangers but their goaltending is the best in the world so that is going to save them at times just like it did in the playoffs. I think they have some young talent that can really shine a bit more this year but if the goaltending doesn't hold out, this team is in trouble. Vincent Trochek is a bit of a gamble so it will be interesting to see how that pays off and their defense is good with Fox, Miller, and Schneider so that should really keep them as a top playoff team.
  5. Toronto Maple Leafs, blow leafs blow is the motto of a team that hasn't won a playoff round since... uhhh... many years ago. I think their goaltending probably got worse and their defense has already been suspect so unless they can score 5 goals a game they have some issues at hand including signing Rasmus Sandin to a new deal. Really like their forwards and they can score a ton but that defense is Achilles's heel. Maybe a couple of the young defenders make the team and solidify it but the goaltending is yikes. 
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins, they are getting old and they haven't drafted well in years and years. However they have Crosby and Letang still so it is hard to count them out. If their goaltending doesn't holdup however, they will be in big trouble because they simply do not have the firepower to boat race teams anymore. Still I will believe in Crosby until he proves otherwise. 
  7. Buffalo Sabres, well here we are. Hey look at us, look at us, who would have thought? I believe in Comrie because the analytics believe in him. That is the major key to this team, the goalie. When we had even mediocre goalie play last year we won games. The defense is much improved and Owen Power might already be the best defender on the team, sorry Rasmus. That said Dahlin and Samuelsson is a force and if Dahlin improves his defense even mildly, dear lord. I think Boosh is a great player to put with Power and will help him a lot. I have some concern over that bottom pair of Bryson and Joker but maybe with better usage they will be okay. The forwards I am starting to love though and I think coupled with our improved GT, they push us into the playoffs. Tage will be good and Skinner will hold his play. Tuch has more to give I think. Olofsson fully healthy all year will be a revelation. Quinn and JJP are going to be a little off in October but by the time we hit Christmas look out. If Cozens and Mitts can both take a step this is a truly deep forward group capable of rolling 4 lines. Okposo will be a 20g scorer again and won't spend that much time on the 4th line, you watch. I think this team is poised to take the step and I think the speed they will bring will overwhelm teams like Washington, the NYI, Pittsburgh, and the Bruins. 
  8. Ottawa Senators, a team that in many ways is like Buffalo where there is a lot of younger talent but a good mix of veterans too. I think Giroux is underrated and I love Debrincat. Both these additions really bolster their young forwards which feature Tkachuk, Stutuzle, and Josh Norris. Couple that with decent defense and I think improved goaltending and they could do something this year. Their offseason moves seem smart and targets versus the panicked flailing that other teams seem to engage in. 
  9. Boston Bruins, they are getting older and slower. Their drafts haven't looked great in several years and that ripple is finally starting to catchup to them. No idea how they will deal with having two 1b netminders but they do have decent goaltending. I think their defense is solid and that might save them from falling out the playoff picture as long as Bergeron holds up. That said they have major injuries to start the season so I think they slide and have to claw back into the playoffs. 
  10. Columbus Blue Jackets, this one was hard because I thin the blue jackets had a fantastic offseason but they aren't quite there yet. My issue for them lies in their center core and even though I love Sillinger, it just seems a little weak and I don't think Gudreau will be enough to overcome that. Their defense is young and improving and they will be battling with Buffalo, Boston, Ottawa for that final playoff spot very late into the season. I hope Jiricek gets called up at some point though because I love that guy.
  11. Washington Capitals, they ditched their goalies and are running it back with Kemper (he did just win a cup). It is a top heavy team that wasn't all that threatening last year and Backstrom is injured which leaves a thinner forward group that can't afford any more injuries. On defense they are going to be older and slower than much of the east and that will get exploited leading them to missing the playoffs.
  12. New York Islanders, the only thing holding this disaster together was the coach IMPO. I think Lou has lost his way and his arcane rules and micromanagement of ppl is long since lost its charm. Couple that with a roster that lacks a lot of game breaking star power or even goal scoring and I start to wonder how the Islanders do in a world where Ottawa and Buffalo, along with teams like Detroit and Columbus are improving. The Islanders changed goalies and did nothing else this year but with a new coach they will be better? I don't buy it. 
  13. New Jersey Devils, Lindy Ruff is going to get fired and there is an assistant that will be taking his place. I want to like the Devils and I will put them above the Wings but outside of their excellent top line, I just don't see the forward depth yet. Further they need Nemec and Hughes (still in college) to really complete a blue line that revolves around Dougie Hamilton. I think this year in particular they face some adversity as Nemec learns the NA game.  
  14. Detroit Redwings, I don't believe in the bandaids and ufa splashes they made to in an attempt to fix this roster. They are where Buffalo was in 2020 with some talent but way too many JAGS filling key roles. Maybe I will be wrong and their new goaltending tandem can lift them up but I think this is a team that is about 2 lines deep with suspect defense (seider is great) that just won't have the horses to stay relevant all season. I am lower on them than most ppl. 
  15. Philadelphia Flyers, this team makes no sense and is a dumpster fire. Their top center is... checks notes... Kevin Hayes. Wait that can't be right, oh ***** it is. They do have some talent with Konecny who I really like and Farabee but this is a paper thin forward group. When Deslauriers is your 7th highest paid forward, I have concerns for you. The defense might be okay as Deangelo is a good defender but Risto will still be force fed minutes he can't handle and outside of their top pair, their defense is a lot of meh. I don't believe in the Carter Hart resurrections but maybe. With Couturier out long term this team just is starting out bad and I expect them to start selling assets at some point to try and get that sweet sweet Bedard pick. 
  16. Montreal Canadiens, quick I need a team with massive amounts of players on IR, no goaltending, and a defense that makes me cringe. The forwards might be okay but that defense is not. The goaltending will ultimately sink this team though as the constant hemming into their zone will overwhelm what is best described as subpar goaltending. The fowards are gonna need to score 4 or 5 a night to win and there isn't enough talent there. What is going to be really sad is Juraj Slafskovsky being fed to the wolves. He is talented but I agree with other assessments that the processing and pace of play isn't there which will result in lots of frustration for fans. Sorry kid but you can't just power to the net or through everyone anymore, there are NHL guys on just about every team as big and strong as you. 

That concludes my rundown and after looking at all the rosters, the east is going to be a lot closer than it was last year. Lots of teams either improved internally or went out and pulled talent from the west. I fully expect one team to completely destroy my standings and that wildcard team is.... Columbus. Either way I think we have some tiers of teams. There are the top 3, a middle 3, the playoff hunt 5, the could of been in the hunt but nope 3, and the bottom 2 dumpster fires. 

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I fully know this prediction won't be right and I fully expect many of you to disagree but I like our team and finally see a way for us to win consistently. Owen Power is going to be really good and will be a difference maker. I should have ranked him higher. Is part of all of this hopium? yup but hey, why not be hopeful right now?

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I'm on board with the "We will surpise everybody" mentality

we have some wildcards that could prove to be big difference makers in young talent and Cromrie coming over. But last year built the confidence, and if they can carry that into a whole season and deal with the ebs and flows of a season we can defintiely be in the coversation

There are some teams in the East getting long in the tooth.

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19 minutes ago, ddaryl said:

There are some teams in the East getting long in the tooth.

I think this is where a lot of the prognostications fall short:  They project where teams have been and expect trends to continue.  But this is all cyclical.  Teams like the Sabres, Sens & Red Wings are on the rise, at the expense of the traditional powers.  The projections assume those teams will continue to play at a high level although in some cases their cores should be collection Social Security.  Boston is the poster child for that; I'd be shocked if they can continue at their previous pace.  Too many key players are banged up and getting older.

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Nice write up. Good points made on all Eastern teams. I'd swap NY Islanders to 6th and move Pittsburgh to 12. The Pens are so overrated. And I'm willing to bet New Jersey ends up higher than Ottawa (mostly because I think the Sens D is gonna stink). Just a hunch though.

I love the Sabres as dogs and surprise everyone. Like you said, they have a ton of speed now and their D with the addition of Owen Power is going to stabilize this group (even as a rookie). Just need a solid performance from the goal tending and this team will be a lot stronger than years past.

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Toronto - don't want to really put them on top but I expect good regular season bad playoffs and going out first round to Boston AGAIN would be sweet.

Tampa - aging but the same

Florida- slight drop off due to defensive weaknesses

Boston- one last kick at the can and it's the last kick

 

Carolina- solid fast team, could go to the finals

NYR- like last year, assuming the goaltending is the same

Washington- not done yet

Pittsburgh- ditto, but fading fast.

 

and the losers in order:

Ottawa - will just miss behind Boston

Columbus - improved but not enough

Detroit - will be up and down all year at moments looking great but not often enough

NYI - fading but still enough hard to play against players they will win some close ones

Buffalo - rising but rookie mistakes and bad goaltending will cost many close losses

New Jersey- maybe getting better but I see nothing to get excited about

Montreal- tanking

Philadelphia- really tanking.

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13 minutes ago, PerreaultForever said:

Toronto - don't want to really put them on top but I expect good regular season bad playoffs and going out first round to Boston AGAIN would be sweet.

Tampa - aging but the same

Florida- slight drop off due to defensive weaknesses

Boston- one last kick at the can and it's the last kick

 

Carolina- solid fast team, could go to the finals

NYR- like last year, assuming the goaltending is the same

Washington- not done yet

Pittsburgh- ditto, but fading fast.

 

and the losers in order:

Ottawa - will just miss behind Boston

Columbus - improved but not enough

Detroit - will be up and down all year at moments looking great but not often enough

NYI - fading but still enough hard to play against players they will win some close ones

Buffalo - rising but rookie mistakes and bad goaltending will cost many close losses

New Jersey- maybe getting better but I see nothing to get excited about

Montreal- tanking

Philadelphia- really tanking.

I don't believe for 1 second that the eastern conference playoff will be the exact same teams as last year. 

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Pretty reasonable take @LGR4GM.  Expecting your prediction for the Sabres is too optimistic, but hoping to be wrong about that. Do believe if they get in 7th is actually more likely than 8th.

My guess (without having looked closely at the lineups, may change it closer to opening night).

Carolina

Tampa Bay

Florida

Toronto

Rangers

Columbus

Pittsburgh

Boston

Otters

Sabres

Devils

Capitals

Red Wings

Islanders

Montreal

Filly

 

Would've gone w/ Swamp Cats ahead of Bolts, but expect they'll miss the losses of Huberdeau, Weegar, & the coach more than they'll gain from the new additions.

Expect Columbus could surprise & not sold the the Pens aren't too long in the tooth.

Have been wrong too many times about the B's imminent demise, won't expect them out until they officially are.

Could easily see the Sabres & Otters flipping on being the squad just missing out especially if it takes time for Ottawa's new additions to fit in.

Caps are due to slide; can see it being hard if it happens.  Maybe Ovie can will them to a stronger finish.

Dumping Trotz doesn't seem to be a smart move for a team that has to live on it's D & goaltending.

Filly & the Habs should both be horrible.  If Hart isn't horrible again, Moe-ray-all might have the 2nd best Berard odds behind Chicago.  If he is, Chicago has a run for it's money.

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