Few Clouds 44° Good Evening
Few Clouds 44° Good Evening

NHL Eastern Conference preview

(2014-15 goals-assists-points in parentheses)

1 Tampa Bay Lightning

With a high-octane offense, Tampa Bay has all the pieces in place to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the second year in a row. Steven Stamkos (43-29-72), Tyler Johnson (29-43-72) and company might even win it this time.

2 Washington


Alex Ovechkin (53-28-81) will have some much-needed help with the additions of forwards T.J. Oshie (19-36-55) and Justin Williams (18-23-41). Will it be enough to get through the Rangers in the playoffs, if need be?

3 Islanders

The Isles' young core has been on the cusp of a breakthrough for a few years. The move to Brooklyn might coincide with perennial MVP candidate John Tavares (38-48-86) finally leading this team back to playoff prominence.

4 Rangers

They'll miss Martin St. Louis (21-31-52), but they've still got Henrik Lundqvist (2.25 GAA, .922 SV%) between the pipes to give the Blueshirts a good chance. Rick Nash (42-27-69) and Derick Brassard (19-41-60) will need to carry an extra load.

5 Montreal


Reigning Hart and Vezina winner Carey Price (1.96 GAA, .933 SV%) will always keep the Habs in the hunt. It doesn't matter much where this team ultimately is seeded; they're dangerous.

6 Pittsburgh


The addition of right winger Phil Kessel (25-36-61) is a boon for two-time Hart Trophy winner Sidney Crosby (28-56-84) and Evgeni Malkin (28-42-70). They've got punch, but so do many of the East's power teams.

7 Detroit Red Wings

They're moving on without coach Mike Babcock, who left for Toronto. Either Jimmy Howard (2.44 GAA, .910 SV%) or Petr Mrazek (2.38 GAA, .918 SV%) must step up and own the starting goaltender job.

8 Columbus Blue Jackets

This may be underrating the Blue Jackets. For the first time since their inception in 2000, they may see the second round of the postseason. Newcomer Brandon Saad (23-29-52) will help.

9 Florida Panthers

A mix of aging vets such as Jaromir Jagr (17-30-47) and future stars such as 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad (12-27-39) make for a bizarre roster that likely will miss the postseason.

10 Boston Bruins

How the mighty have fallen. They followed two Cup Final appearances in four seasons by missing the postseason. Goaltender Tuukka Rask (2.30 GAA, .922 SV%) is a bright spot, but they didn't get better over the summer.

11 Ottawa Senators

Last year's surprise playoff entrant will take a tumble. Young right winger Mark Stone (26-38-64) can step up and take the reins, but it won't be enough.

12 Philadelphia Flyers

Another team that didn't do much to improve since missing the postseason during the past six months. Jakub Voracek (22-59-81) and Claude Giroux (25-48-73) will be left to do much of the work.

13 Buffalo Sabres

Well, they likely won't be quite as bad as the 54 points they "achieved" a year ago. Buffalo's future is in the hands of No. 2 overall pick and Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Eichel.

14 Devils

The glory days are long gone in New Jersey. This team is a shell with little to get excited about. Adam Henrique (16-27-43) led the team in points a year ago. Someone has to crack 50 this season.

15 Toronto

Maple Leafs

The Leafs are the new pet project of former Devils mastermind Lou Lamoriello, one of the top executives in sports. He's only just come aboard, so it won't be his fault when they struggle.

16 Carolina Hurricanes

Think it stinks to be a Devils fan right now? Stop in North Carolina to watch this bunch. Last season's points leader Eric Staal (23-31-54) is trade bait.

More news