With the opening faceoff of the 2009-10 NHL Regular Season just hours away, it's about time I made my Eastern Conference selections, isn't it?
Admittedly, I don't follow the East quite as closely as the West (those projections here), but after the jump you'll find my picks...
And yes, I understand that division winners are assured a Top 3 seed, I'm projecting overall conference standings here:
|1||Pittsburgh Penguins||Won the Stanley Cup with Sergei Gonchar on one leg, now he's healthy.|
|2||Boston Bruins||Well-balanced lineup looks to avenge disappointing playoff loss.|
|3||Philadelphia Flyers||Addition of Pronger a perfect fit, Emery could prove a steal.|
|4||Washington Capitals|| Depth is a concern, and there's no way Mike Green scores 31 goals again.
|5||Carolina Hurricanes||Will Cam Ward live up to his new contract?|
|6||New York Rangers||John Tortorella will make this team a hard-charging force.|
|7||Atlanta Thrashers||Savvy mid-range acquisitions should keep the offense humming.|
|8||Toronto Maple Leafs||That defense looks pretty good, and the goaltending can't be as awful as last year, right?|
|9||Buffalo Sabres||Thomas Vanek's an elite sniper, but it seems like they get snakebit by injuries every year.|
|10||New Jersey Devils||Can the recycled Jacques Lemaire give Zach Parise enough room to score?|
|11||Montreal Canadiens||Can the Lollipop Guild survive all those games agains the truculent Leafs and big, bad Bruins?|
|12||Florida Panthers||Sadly, a great young top line continues to toil in obscurity.|
|13||Ottawa Senators||The Heatley situation cost them dearly.|
|14||Tampa Bay Lightning||Some new pieces, but Tocchet is still raw as a coach.|
|15||New York Islanders||At least they can enjoy watching John Tavares learn the ropes.|