2013 NHL PREVIEW: NORTHEAST 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 Northeast Division.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish.

Last season saw two teams make the playoffs from the Northeast Division, however both (Bruins and Senators) bowed out after losing Game 7’s in the first round.  However, a new superstar was born in the division, with the emergence of Erik Karlsson.  Karlsson won the Norris Trophy, and led all defenseman in goals, assists, and, obviously, scoring.  This season could see the addition of a big time goalie to the division (Roberto Luongo trade rumors anyone?), and multiple teams fighting for playoff spots right down to the last game of this short season.

 

 

NORTHEAST DIVISION PREDICTIONS

 

bruins

1.  Boston Bruins

LAST YEAR:  49-29-4 (102 pts)

1st Northeast, 2nd East (Lost 1st Rd 4-3)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Tyler Seguin (29-38-67)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Tim Thomas (2.36 GAA, .920 SV, 5 SO)

The Bruis had themselves a pretty good year last year, save for the first round playoff exit.  That’s much better than most teams do with a championship hangover.  And they did all that despite the fact that Tim Thomas went crazy as the season went on.  With Thomas in a personal exile from the NHL, Tuukka Rask gets another shot at the starter job.  If he plays well, it should be another deep playoff run for Boston.  Nate Horton needs to stay healthy to give the Bruins a viable second scoring line.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Tyler Seguin

2013 Breakout Player:  Dougie Hamilton

 

 

sabres

2.  Buffalo Sabres

LAST YEAR:  39-32-11 (89 pts)

3rd Northeast, 9th East (Missed Playoffs)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Jason Pominville (30-43-73)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Ryan Miller (2.55 GAA, .916 SV, 6 SO)

 

Extreme spending by new owner Terry Pegula brought extreme expectations last year to Buffalo.  Neither the high expectations, or the high paid talent, seemed to pay out.  While the money will continue to flow, and should make Buffalo a possible destination for future free agents, the home grown talent will be the key to this team’s success.  Draft picks Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, and Ryan Miller will continue to be franchise assets, and local Buffalo product Marcus Foligno could be the future of the team.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Thomas Vanek

2013 Breakout Player:  Marcus Foligno

 

 

senators

3.  Ottawa Senators

LAST YEAR:  41-31-10 (92 pts)

2nd Northeast, 8th East (Lost 1st Rd 4-3)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Jason Spezza (34-50-84)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Craig Anderson (2.84 GAA, .914 SV, 3 SO)

 

One of the surprise playoffs teams of last season, the Senators put up a mighty fight before falling in the first round to the Rangers.  While Erik Karlsson is the reigning Norris winner, his offensive production can’t be expected to be maintained.  Karlsson must also actually show that he can play some defense, as opposed to being essentially a fourth forward on the ice.  While Jason Spezza is the scoring leader of this team, Daniel Alfredsson has been the heart and soul of the team his entire career.  Having turned 40 just a month ago, this might be the final go for the redheaded Swede.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Jason Spezza

2013 Breakout Player:  Zack Smith

 

 

mapleleafs

4.  Toronto Maple Leafs

LAST YEAR:  35-37-10 (80 pts)

4th Northeast, 13th East (Missed Playoffs)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Phil Kessel (37-45-82)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Jonas Gustavsson (2.92 GAA, .902 SV, 4 SO)

 

Welcome to the psychotic land of Maple Leaf Nation.  On the eve of the new season, and with Roberto Luongo trade rumors running rampant, the Maple Leafs fired Brian Burke as GM.  With a proven goaltender, Toronto could contend for a playoff spot.  At worst, the abilities of Phil Kessel will no longer be going to waste.  With new corporate owners, the Maple Leaf way might be changing.  The team is still a work in progress, and barring the price of getting Luongo, could be ready to make a small leap this year with an upgrade at the back end.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Phil Kessel

2013 Breakout Player:  Nazem Kadri

 

 

canadiens

5.  Montreal Canadiens

 LAST YEAR:  31-35-16 (78 pts)

4th Northeast, 15th East (Missed Playoffs)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Max Pacioretty (33-32-65)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Carey Price (2.43 GAA, .916 SV, 4 SO)

 

This season could be long season for the league’s most storied team, however long a lockout shortened season can feel.  Les Habitantes have a new coach (Michel Therrien), an unsigned restricted free agent who could be a cornerstone defenseman for years to come (PK Subban), and a roster size disadvantage in a division that is getting bigger and tougher with each roster move.  While some pieces are there, it will be a few years, and a few roster moves, before Montreal will be contending for a playoff spot, much less a 25th Stanley Cup.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Max Pacioretty

2013 Breakout Player:  Jarred Tinordi

 

 

 

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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