There’s a new division in town and all the local hockey teams are playing a part in it. The Metropolitan Division takes the majority of its teams from the Atlantic Division, while adding some new teams to the mix.
One of the new division rivals, the Capitals, starts its season Tuesday against the Blackhawks, while the others hit the ice throughout the week. Here’s a breakdown of the division, with teams listed by projected finish.
Sidney Crosby’s Penguins led the league in goals last year, and don’t look for that to change. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had some issues in the playoffs but is expected to return in net this year.
The Flyers fixed a lot of their personnel issues after last year’s 10th-place conference finish. They’ve overhauled their goalies with the offseason signings of Steve Mason (.944 career save percentage) and Ray Emery (.932), who will share duties.
New coach Alain Vigneault will implement an offense-first style that the Rangers haven’t seen in years. The Blueshirts will be looking to rebound from last year’s sixth-place finish in the East after entering the season as a Stanley Cup favorite.
The prowess of both John Tavares and Matt Moulson is clear, but questions surround the Isles’ depth. They may find themselves fighting for a playoff spot based on their young stars alone.
Alex Ovechkin, as always, is the key to Washington’s success. The Caps have adjusted to second-year coach Adam Oates and could fight for a middle spot in the new division.
6. Blue Jackets
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky anchors behind a solid defense as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. The offense is what the Blue Jackets have to worry about. They’ll need to hope ex-Ranger Marian Gaborik has some answers.
The Hurricanes lack any sort of depth. A team that hasn’t made the postseason in the past four years may be looking at a fifth.
Anything short of stellar goaltending and defense could spell trouble in New Jersey. The team that tied for second to last in goals may be headed for a repeat.