Ice Hockey: NHL Eastern Conference Team Previews
Last year, Philadelphia Flyers had to beat New York Rangers in a playoff to qualify for the Stanley Cup Final; the playoff ended with a shootout that Philadelphia won; had the Flyers lost that match, Rangers would have featured in the final, instead.
The eighth identify, the last one, went to eleventh seeded Carolina Hurricanes; twelfth seeded Tampa bay Lightning missed it by a whisker of eight points.
Meanwhile the number one seed went to Washington Capitals, with the Presidents’ Trophy to boot.
This year, the Eastern Conference will see stiffer competition, with quite a few teams raring to go. Let’s take a look at the various teams in the Eastern conference, in order to decide who are the best:
New Jersey Devils:
This year the Devils could have one of the most effective attacks, after signing Ilya Ivanchuk. The Russian will have abundant company in Travis Zajac and Zach Parise. Add to that Martin Brodeur guarding the net, and you see the picture of a balanced team emerging.
Like Washington Capitals, Penguins also have their chief untouched in spite of of an overly long summer, and everyone is well rested. The Consol Energy Center will observe Pittsburgh begin this year’s campaign with Evgeni Malkin and Sydney Crosby at the helm. The attack has been strengthened by off-season joinees to the blue line, Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin.
The presence of Chris Pronger, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards will enthuse the Flyers to build on last year’s great campaign, to appear as a consistent team early in the season, and prove that last year’ performance was no flash in the pan.
Just as they did last year, Washington Capitals will look to Alexander Ovechkin to spearhead their offence, with assistance from the trio of Mike Green, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, except old war horse Mike Knuble. These meaningful players will be backed by the usual supplement of sustain players.
Last season, Thrashers barely missed the playoffs by the slimmest margin of five points, after Ilya Ivanchuk left for New Jersey Devils. This year, the Atlanta team will have cup winners of last year in Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, and Dustin Byfuglien to give the team’s youngster priceless guidance on how to win the championship.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Steven Stamkos had an noticeable first season with Tampa last year, and new GM Steve Yzerman’s signing of Simon Gagne will only add to the squad’s offensive strength that is further embellished by the presence of the battle scarred Ryan Malone, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St Louis.