NHL Eastern Conference 2013-14: Puck Daddy predicts the Metropolitan, Atlantic Divisions

Greg Wyshynski

Took you long enough, NHL.

We waited decades for the League to finally acknowledge the Pittsburgh/New York/Raleigh metropolitan area, a.k.a. NewRalBurgh.

Now, in the new Metropolitan Division, it appears our wishes have been granted.

The Metro also features the Washington Capitals, who will no longer have the luxury of the Southeast Division as their punched-ticket the postseason; and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who get their time zone problems fixed but who will have to face some brutal competition in the East.

The Atlantic Division, meanwhile, features such oceanfront towns as Detroit, Ottawa and Buffalo.

Which teams will master realignment and advance in the East? Glad you asked …

And here … we … go. Playoff teams are shaded in blue for each division.

And the Atlantic ...

Greg Wyshynski, Editor

Remember how pissed off you were back in the day when one division’s No. 4 seed who made the playoffs was inferior to your division’s No. 5 seed who missed the playoffs?

Be pissed off no more! The Metrosexual Division sends three playoff teams and both wild cards, as the Blue Jackets make the dance for the second time in franchise history. The Devils once again have everyone counting them out, despite being a veteran team with potentially stellar goaltending. The Islanders take a step back before their inevitable leap forward in the years to come.

Over in the Atlantic, Boston, Detroit and Ottawa far outclass the other contenders, and will snag the top three spots.

Sean Leahy, Editor

Kind of the usual suspects here forming the top eight in the East. The Islanders made big strides last season and if Evgeni Nabokov can solve his glove hand problem that was exposed in the postseason, they should be there at the end of the regular season.

The Penguins, Rangers and Bruins will all once again find their way in, and be joined by the Red Wings, who should have an easy time in their first season in the Atlantic Division.

One team to watch is the Senators. Sure, they lost Captain Alfie, but they gained a Bobby Ryan who, after years of trade rumors, finally got out of Anaheim and will play well enough to hopefully get noticed by ESPN next year.

Harrison Mooney, Editor

Watch me eat these words, but the Atlantic Division strikes me as the most predictable of the new divisions. Of the eight clubs, four are playoff teams, and four are not. It's that simple. Boston is the class of the Atlantic, but those other three aren't far behind. The other four? They definitely are. Tim Thomas will steal some games in Florida but not nearly enough, Buffalo and Tampa Bay are messes, and Toronto simply didn't get better this offseason.

The Metropolitan Division was harder to pick, and not just because I had to pause and take deep breaths in order to keep my brain from exploding upon considering this division's ridiculous name. There are five playoff-worthy teams here, in my opinion, and I don't think five are going to get in. Pittsburgh and Washington will, and I think the New York teams will as well, which narrowly squeezes out the magic of #Lumbus. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Rangers fall just outside of the playoff bubble, however. I have my suspicions that John Tortorella got more out of that team than Alain Vigneault may be able to.

Ryan Lambert, Columnist

Boston's the best team in the East and don't have any glaring holes like the Penguins (whose problems include but are not limited to a non-existent bottom six, a not-great D corps and a headcase awful starting goaltender). The Pens are still the best team in their division, though, because Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are really that good. The Rangers should round back into form, and the Devils' regression to the mean equals a playoff appearance. Everyone else in the conference who makes the playoffs, well, it only makes sense.

Nick Cotsonika, Y Sports NHL Columnist

Crosby. Malkin. Ovechkin. Lundqvist. Tavares. Giroux … The Metro is packed with Hart winners and Hart candidates. The Penguins continue to be the team to beat because of all their firepower — and because this is the regular season and goaltending historically isn't an issue until the playoffs. Yes, the Capitals are no longer in the Southeast Division, but after coming on strong in the second half of the lockout-shortened season, they will thrive in their first full season under Adam Oates. Alain Vigneault might need time, but he eventually he will get the Rangers to attack, not just sit back. Another huge season from Tavares will help the Isles edge the Flyers and Jackets.

How will the skilled Wings handle the brawny Atlantic? Just fine. They will be invigorated by the change, with better travel and new/old rivalries, and their style of play will work as it did against the heavy teams in the West. The Bruins still have the same great core, and Loui Eriksson will be a great addition. Jarome Iginla will look better than he did in Calgary (better team) and Pittsburgh (natural position). Considering how the Senators performed without their best players, they should be far better with them healthy. Bobby Ryan will have a big year, taking the sting out of losing Alfie. The Habs will take a step backward, but not as much as the Leafs, who remain weak at center.

Sam McCaig, Y Sports NHL Editor

After facing off in the Eastern Conference final last spring, Boston and Pittsburgh remain the teams to beat. With an abundance of top-end talent bolstered by enviable depth, the Bruins and Penguins have question marks – Is Boston fully recovered from last season’s run to the Stanley Cup final? Is Marc-Andre Fleury able to rediscover his form after another playoff meltdown? – but enter the 2013-14 NHL campaign as clear-cut favorites. The Bruins and Penguins figure to send several players to the Sochi Olympics, which could have some wear-and-tear implications when the 2014 NHL postseason rolls around.

Detroit should benefit from realignment, moving East to a more sensible time zone and friendlier travel. The Red Wings have qualified for 22 consecutive playoff berths and look good to make it 23. Ottawa is a young team on the rise, and could challenge for conference supremacy…or perhaps take a step backwards due to growing pains and Daniel Alfredsson’s absence. Washington continues to seek a postseason breakthrough; at the very least, you can expect the Capitals to make it to the springtime invitational.

The Rangers, Islanders and Maple Leafs are my picks for the final three playoff spots in the East. But if Philadelphia, Montreal and/or Columbus play up to their potential, they’ve got what it takes for a playoff ticket.

Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Fantasy Hockey

The Bruins and Penguins are proven strong teams and not even a glaring Marc-Andre Fleury weakness that crops up early on would prevent another 100-point season. The Caps were on fire in the second half last season – and that’s from fully adapting to Adam Oates’ coaching system. Now they enter a campaign already knowing said system, so look out. The rebuilding Sabres are putting together a nice pipeline of blue-chip prospects, but for now they’ll be the doormat of the East.