The Atlantic teams were extremely strong last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning breezing their way to a Presidents Trophy (Best regular season record) along with the B’s of Boston losing in the Stanley Cup Final to St. Louis. A young, but extremely talented Toronto team made the playoffs, yet once again did not live up to the hype and were knocked out in the 1st round. I don’t bet on futures, I’m more of a game by game degenerate so lets see how this division breaks down.
The Bruins are a playoff lock again, and once they are in they are always a threat with the best line in hockey with Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak but they aren’t the favorite to win the Atlantic after their long run last year.
Atlantic Finish & Outlook: 3rd, Makes playoffs, 2nd round of playoffs minimum.
The Sabres were one of the early shocking teams last year that put up a bunch of points in the early months of the season. But then they forgot how to skate and ate too many Buffalo wings and finished dead last in Atlantic. Eichel and Skinner can only carry an offense so far, and Rasmus Dahlin can’t buy booze legally yet so he needs more help on that Sabres back end. Another rebuild year for Buffalo.
Atlantic Finish & Outlook: 7th, Misses playoffs, Dismal times in Buffalo but the Bills right?
Detroit Red Wings
The Wings excite me but have no goaltending. With hockey legend and the silkiest D-Man of all time, Steve Yzerman, back in Detroit as the new GM and having immense regular season success in Tamps will have the boys in better condition then when he inherited the team in April. Too much talent in the Atlantic for the Wings to make it to post season puck this year.
Atlantic Finish & Outlook: 6th, Misses playoffs, Give them 2-3 more years.
The ole’ Florida Panthers are the hottest team coming into this year from a dynamite off-season. They added the 2 of the most important pieces to a team with legendary, and maybe the best coach of all-time in Joel Quenneville and an absolute animal in the net with Big Bob, Sergei Bobrovsky. The Panthers are loaded upfront and have a strong D lead by Keith Yandle. Gotta piece the new pieces together but they could be a dark horse Cup team with the talent on that squad
Atlantic Finish & Outlook: 4th, Makes playoffs, Sneaky team.
Montreal is interesting. A team with a lot of depth upfront and has a competent top 4 Defense along with Carey Price who is lights out between the pipes. Consistency has hindered the Habs’ and once again will be the deciding factor whether playoff hockey returns or not. I don’t think it’s their year because of the talent in the East this year, but they’ll be in the playoff hunt.
Atlantic Finish & Outlook: 5th, Bubble team, Misses playoffs.
This franchise and city are in for another long year. Besides Brady Tkachuk up front and Thomas Chabot on D this team is a cake walk. Fade this team early and often this campaign.
Atlantic Finish & Outlook: 8th, Misses playoffs, Worst team in East.
Tampa Bay Lightning
To think this team didn’t win it’s opening playoff round against Columbus last year, let alone got swept is still one of the craziest things to ever happen. That’d be like the Sacramento Kings sweeping the 70 win Warriors (NBA is a joke of a league until the Finals by the way), it’s just not suppose to happen. This team resigned Brayden Point and have a fire under their ass to not be a post-season zero again. This team will roll all year and is my pick to win the Atlantic, the East, and probably the Cup if I bet futures on playoffs.
Atlantic Finish & Outlook: 1st, Makes playoffs, Cup Favorite.
Toronto Maple Leafs
This is my favorite team in the Atlantic. Not by how good they are but how they play the game. High octane offense with Matthews, Johnny-T, and Marner just to name a few. They need to light the lamp and hope the back end and goaltending can snatch up games for them, especially in the playoffs where Boston has been their kryptonite the past 3 years. Look for Mike Babcock to be on the HOT seat if the Leafs can’t make an impact in the postseason this year.
Atlantic Finish & Outlook: 2nd, Makes playoffs, expectations of making the ECF.