2013 NHL PREVIEW: ATLANTIC DIVISION

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Finally, after months and months of everyone involved being morons, causing 113 days, 625 games, and the biggest outdoor hockey game in history to be cancelled, hockey fans can finally say “Game On!”  The NHL has a new 10-year labor agreement, and is set to start the shortened, 48 game 2013 season on Saturday, January 19.  Find out what you need to know about every team in the NHL for the upcoming season, this time featuring the Atlantic Division.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish.

Last year, the Atlantic Division gave us four playoff teams, including the Eastern Conference representative, the New Jersey Devils.  This season sees the division loading up again for what should be many intense, personal games between these teams.

 

ATLANTIC DIVISION PREDICTIONS

 

rangers

1.  New York Rangers

LAST YEAR:  51-24-7 (109 pts)

1st Atlantic, 1st East (Lost ECF 4-2)

2011-12 Leading Scorer: Marian Gaborik (41-35-76)

2011-12 Top Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist (1.97 GAA, .930 SV, 8 SO)

 

The least kept secret in the NHL finally happened, as the Rangers were finally able to acquire Rick Nash from the Blue Jackets over the summer.  With a top line of Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Nash, the Rangers will have plenty of fire power.  And with possibly the best goaltender in the league, Henrik Lundqvist, backstopping, the Rangers might finally end their Cup drought, albeit a much shorter one than they previously endured.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Marian Gaborik

2013 Breakout Player:  Chris Kreider

 

 

penguins

2.  Pittsburgh Penguins

LAST YEAR:  51-25-6 (108 pts)

2nd Atlantic, 4th East (Lost 1st Rd 4-2)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Evgeni Malkin (50-59-109)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Marc Andre Fleury (2.36 GAA, .913 SV, 3 SO)

 

Sidney Crosby is back and healthy.  Evgeni Malkin might be the best all around player in the game.  However, Marc Andre Fleury was terrible in the playoffs, and their blueliners, in my opinion, are overrated.  All the pieces are there to have a shot at the Stanley Cup, but the health of Crosby, and the ability to defend their own zone will decide how deep into the playoffs this team goes.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Evgeni Malkin

2013 Breakout Player:  Simon Despres

 

 

flyers

3.  Philadelphia Flyers

LAST YEAR:  47-26-9 (103 pts)

3rd Atlantic, 5th East (Lost 2nd Rd 4-1)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Claude Giroux (28-65-93)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Ilya Bryzgalov (2.48 GAA, .909 SV, 6 SO)

 

The Flyers found a way to beat own the Penguins in the playoffs last year, but could get no further.  This season, Claude Giroux is officially The Man for this team, but how the back end plays will decide how well this team does.  Ilya Bryzgalov must be strong in net, and the defensive corps must do more than contribute offensively.  You can’t expect to outscore your opponents to win the Cup.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Claude Giroux

2013 Breakout Player:  Jakub Voracek

 

 

islanders

4.  New York Islanders

LAST YEAR:  34-37-11 (79 pts)

5th Atlantic, 14th East (Missed Playoffs)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  John Tavares (31-50-81)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Evgeni Nabokov (2.55 GAA, .914 SV, 2 SO)

 

One of the best collection of young talent, on paper, the Islanders look ready to become a team to contend with in the future, possibly even before their move to Brooklyn in 2015.  John Tavares is one of the best talents around, but has been undermined by terrible goaltending throughout his career.  If Evgeni Nabokov can return to form, the Islanders might be in the playoff hunt in such a short, crazy season.

2013 Leading Scorer:  John Tavares

2013 Breakout Player:  David Ullstrom

 

 

devils

5.  New Jersey Devils

LAST YEAR:  48-26-6 (102 pts)

4th Atlantic, 6th East (Lost Stanley Cup 4-2)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Ilya Kovalchuk (37-46-83)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Martin Brodeur (2.41 GAA, .908 SV, 3 SO)

 

For a team who was so close to a Stanley Cup last year, this Devils team will not find a way to win a Cup in a short season this time around.  The loss of Zach Parise will hurt, the interest of Ilya Kovalchuk of being back in Russia will be a distraction, and the age of Martin Brodeur might finally show itself.  Could be a long year in New Jersey.  Sorry Wyshynski.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Ilya Kovalchuk

2013 Breakout Player:  Adam Larsson

 

 

 

bryan vickroy the sports bank

Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms.  He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey all year long.  Look for new articles throughout the week.  He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy.  If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at bryan.vickroy@gmail.com.

 

 

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