SEE YOU NEXT YEAR: Eastern Conference Preview

So here's how it shakes out...

In the next day or two, the NHL will finally release full schedules. It's expected by everyone that it will be similar to the truncated 1995 schedule, where every game will be intra-conference.

In other words, barring a Stanley Cup final matchup, we once again don't get to see Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby take a faceoff.

So why are we offering a preview of the Eastern Conference at all? Because a hockey site, even one as shit-for-brains as this one is pretty much obligated to do one. Hell, it has to be better than the nocaps we did, right?

So screw it. I'm doing it here. Bottom to top, all the Eastern teams. Let's get to this:

15. NEW YORK ISLANDERS - John Tavares or no John Tavares, this is a shitty team.

Best Case Scenario - Rick DiPietro actually stops a puck or two and gets traded...OK, I laughed. They might as well list him as "Amnesty Buyout" in the program.
Worst Case Scenario - Barclays Center in Brooklyn burns down, and the Islanders have to stay in the Coliseum.

14. WINNIPEG JETS - the fact that their shortest road trip is to Pittsburgh means it's going to be a long 4 months.

Best Case Scenario - Realignment happens this summer.
Worst Case Scenario - They spend more time in airplanes than most pilots.

13. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS - Holy crap, they're paying Van Riemsdyk HOW much???

Best Case Scenario - They win the draft lottery this summer.
Worst Case Scenario - Fans in southern Ontario watch Tyler Seguin pass the Stanley Cup to Dougie Hamilton.

12. MONTREAL CANADIENS - At least they're under cap when it drops next year. Let me just double check on Capgeek...whoa - and they still need to sign Subban? Ouch, babe.

Best Case Scenario - Carey Price gets hot and everyone in Montreal believes in him as their franchise goaltender.
Worst Case Scenatio - Peter Budaj gets hot and everyone in Montreal believes in him as their franchise goaltender.

11. NEW JERSEY DEVILS - Sure, it sucks that Zach Parise is gone, and Ilya Kovalchuk might spend the rest of the season in the KHL, but they still have plenty of scoring, right? Right?

Best Case Scenario - Adam Henrique takes the next step toward legitimate NHL stardom, and he and Patrik Elias combine to replace some of the scoring lost by Parise's departure.
Worst Case Scenario - Martin Brodeur wanders into the Newark Dinosaur Barbeque, and is never heard from again.

10. QUEBEC NORDIQUES - Captain Shane Doan leads the NHL back to Que-oh, shit...hang on...Sorry, check back with us in the fall.

10. FLORIDA PANTHERS - Goddamnit, we can't do any "Burn Notice" recaps this year.

Best Case Scenario - The Panthers' veteran players manage to ratchet it up for one more run at the postseason.
Worst Case Scenario - Kris Versteeg's new moustache runs off to join the Allman Brothers.

9. OTTAWA SENATORS - Erik Karlsson is the Ashton Kutcher of the NHL.

Best Case Scenario - The Senators can take advantage of their depth in the compressed season to once again surpsise everyone and make the playoffs.
Worst Case Scenario - Somebody on the Senators looks back over their shoulder and realizes that's Craig Anderson playing goal.

Since they now have two Staals, who will undoubtedly dress next to each other, we get to see how many guys think they're witty by making "Staals' Stalls" jokes.

Best Case Scenario - Alexander Semin surges out in an explosive burst, causing cries of ecstasy.
Worst Case Scenario - Cut me some slack, it's the only time all year I'll get to make any Semin jokes.

7. BUFFALO SABRES - Great. Steve Ott is not only one of the NHL's leading jagoffs, but now he gets to hide behind the Murdersaurus.

Best Case Scenario - Ryan Miller leads the Sabres playing behind the massive Tyler Myers.
Worst Case Scenario - Ryan Miller leads the Sabres playing behind the massive John Scott.

6. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS - Uuuuuuuniverse.

Best Case Scenario - They use the fact that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter went to Los Angeles and won the Stanley Cup as motivation to prove themselves.
Worst Case Scenario - They all keep leaving pictures of Kings players on Mike Paul Holmgren's desk, with notes about how if they were GM, they'd trade themselves for those guys.

5. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING - They actually have something better than a tattered Shooter Tutor in net this season.

Best case Scenario - Anders Lindback meets everyone's expectations and gives the Lightning solid goaltending.
Worst Case Scenario - Martin St. Louis gets abducted and spends the rest of his life baking cookies in a hollow tree.

Alexander Ovechkin is engaged. No word on whether his bride-to-be has a matching tramp stamp.

Best Case Scenario - Ovechkin becomes the first Russian Captain to win the Stanley Cup.
Worst Case Scenario - Seriously...the guy has a fucking tramp stamp.

3. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS - They finished one point off the Eastern Conference overall lead, with Sidney Crosby playing only 22 games. He had 37 points in those 22 games.

Best Case Scenario - Sidney Crosby plays all 48 games. He might actually be able to notch 100 points.
Worst Case Scenario - Bear in mind, if Sid goes down for any length of time, Evgeni Malkin is taking most of the faceoffs. I'm pretty sure Stevie Wonder can beat him in the circle.

2. BOSTON BRUINS - When people complain about Brian Burke not rebuilding over the last four years, they obviously haven't see what he's done for the Bruins.

Best Case Scenario - Tukka Rask plays well enough in goal to make the Boston faithful, and the hockey community as a whole, forget Tim Thomas.
Worst Case Scenario - "I'm standing outside the Thomas compound..."

1. NEW YORK RANGERS - It's a short season, with a lot of games crammed in. Having the easiest travel schedule in the NHL is key. Plus, Rick Nash doesn't have to do anything but skate and shoot. Hopefully he can handle that.

Best Case Scenario - The 2013 team replaces the 1994 team in Ranger folklore.
Worst Case Scenario - Marty Biron.

That's how I see the East, from way over here. Let's see how it plays out.


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