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Regular Season Predictions: Metropolitan Division

I am continuing my pre-season predictions with the Metropolitan Division.  I have already looked into the West Conference and its Pacific and Central Divisions.  I need to make my at least annual complaint that this is a stupid division name.  Metropolitan does not describe any region of the world and I am at a loss to explain how Columbus is more metropolitan than Chicago or Los Angeles.

Here we go with the Metropolitan Division:

1. Washington Capitals.  The defending Presidents Trophy winner will take another run at the top in the league.  Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom may be the bet threesome of forwards on any team in the NHL.  Justin Williams and TJ Oshie offer some depth.  On defence, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner are a solid group, though they lack a true superstar.  Braden Holtby is the defending Vezina Trophy winner in goal.  He will be hard-pressed to repeat Vezina success, but is one of the better goalies in the league.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins.  The defending Stanley Cup champions have some uncertain news with Sidney Crosby out with a concussion.  Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are very good forwards as well.  Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz offer some depth.  Kris Letang is a first class offensive defenceman.  Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz provide some solid depth.  Marc-Andre Fleury will begin the season as the number one goalie with Matt Murray injured but there may be a goalie controversy when he is back.

3. New York Rangers.  Henrik Lundqvist will keep this team competitive with a strong performance in goal.  The defence is led by Ryan McDonagh.  Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi are key pieces of the defence but both are aging.  At forward, Mats Zuccarello, Mika Zabinejad and Derek Stepan are taking over as top forwards with Rick Nash still round.  This team is slowing down, but a solid performance from Lundqvist should keep them competitive.

4. Philadelphia Flyers.  Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds lead a pretty good bunch of forwards.  Sean Couturier and Matt Read are solid checkers who can fill out the second line.  On defence, Shayne Gostisbehere emerged as their defensive star last year.  Mark Streit and Radko Gudas provide depth.  Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason may not steal many games but they have been solid enough in the past.

5. New York Islanders.  John Tavaresis a very good top forward but his depth left.  Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen are gone.  This leaves Brock Nelson and Andrew Ladd as depth.  On defence, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic are solid.  Jaroslav Halak played a good World Cup and will provide strong goaltending alongside Tomas Greiss.

6. Carolina Hurricanes.  Cam Ward and Eddie Lack will likely be a weaker than average pair in goal and possibly a liability.  On defence, Justin Faulk is an underrated talent.  Noah Hanafin is depth and has the potential to excel.  At forward, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner lead the way.  Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm provide depth.  With better goaltending this could be a team contending for a playoff berth, but without they will be back a bit.

7. New Jersey Devils.  Their biggest strength is Cory Schneider in goal.  He can keep the Devils in games they do not belong to be in.  He better not take a step backwards.  Taylor Hall will be their top scorer.  Kyle Palmeiri, Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique provide depth but it is not clear any are reliable top scorers.  On defence, Damon Severson was their top offensive dman last year with 21 points.  Andy Green is their top defensive dman.  That defence won't scare anyone.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets.  There is potential for a solid season if Sergei Bobrovsky can be healthy and put up a first class season in goal.  David Savard and Seth Jones are their top defemcemen and that is no strength.  At forward, Brandon Saad and Cam Atkinson tied for the scoring lead with 53 points.  Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky and Scott Hartnell are depth.  There isn't much to be excited about if Bobrovsky cannot steal them some games.

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Paul's avatar

Twitter responses…

uh, Derek Brassard? You know he was traded, right? https://twitter.com/Videowilk/status/786008768794337280

wow did zero homework on the Rangers literally zero. Great article. https://twitter.com/EGallion27/status/786014962204418048

to say they’re slowing down when they brought in grabner Zibanejad and 2 more speedy rookies I’m kind of embarrassed for u https://twitter.com/EGallion27/status/786015231810080769

Did you enter a time machine to 2015? https://twitter.com/Videowilk/status/786051676264333312

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 10/12/16 at 06:59 AM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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