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Puck Daddy’s 2013 NHL Eastern Conference Staff Prognostications

Greg Wyshynski
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Wait, actual NHL games being played? Playoff seedings to predict? What is this sorcery?

Yes, the NHL is back, and the 2013 is about to commence. Which means it’s time for the Puck Daddy Staff Prognostications, in all their feeble glory – starting with the Eastern Conference.

We predict the division winners and the conference standings, offering pithy justification for both. Enjoy.

The panel consists of Sean Leahy, associate editor; Harrison Mooney, associate editor; Dmitry Chesnokov, senior writer; Ryan Lambert, columnist and man about town; Darryl "Dobber" Dobbs, fantasy hockey guru and founder of DobberHockey.com; and Greg Wyshynski, editor.

Atlantic

Greg Wyshynski Sean Leahy Harrison Mooney Dmitry Chesnokov Ryan Lambert Dobber
Rangers Rangers Penguins Rangers Rangers Penguins
Penguins Penguins Rangers Penguins Penguins Rangers
Flyers Flyers Flyers Flyers Flyers Flyers
Devils Devils Devils Devils Devils Devils
Islanders Islanders Islanders Islanders Islanders Islanders

Northeast

Greg Wyshynski Sean Leahy Harrison Mooney Dmitry Chesnokov Ryan Lambert Dobber
Bruins Bruins Bruins Bruins Bruins Bruins
Sabres Sabres Sabres Sabres Sabres Maple Leafs
Senators Senators Senators Canadiens Maple Leafs Canadiens
Maple Leafs Canadiens Maple Leafs Senators Senators Senators
Canadiens Maple Leafs Canadiens Maple Leafs Canadiens Sabres

Southeast

Greg Wyshynski Sean Leahy Harrison Mooney Dmitry Chesnokov Ryan Lambert Dobber
Hurricanes Hurricanes Capitals Capitals Lightning Hurricanes
Capitals Capitals Hurricanes Lightning Hurricanes Capitals
Panthers Jets Panthers Panthers Capitals Lightning
Lightning Panthers Jets Hurricanes Panthers Panthers
Jets Lightning Lightning Jets Jets Jets

Greg Wyshynski, Editor

1. New York Rangers

2. Boston Bruins

3. Carolina Hurricanes

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

5. Washington Capitals

6. Philadelphia Flyers

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. New Jersey Devils

The Rangers are the most complete and balanced team in the NHL.

That was actually a statement from last season. Now they have Rick Nash, too.

The Bruins won’t miss a beat with Tuukka Rask replacing Tea Party Tim, and Tyler Seguin’s going to have a monstrous season. Kirk Muller’s first full season behind the Carolina bench produces a division title, as Jim Rutherford’s aggressive management pays off. The Penguins and Flyers will survive a tough divisional schedule, and will sandwich the Capitals, who’ll find their stride during the season. The Sabres are a Stanley Cup darkhorse. The Devils will find a way, and then give the Rangers a hell of a series in Round 1.

Sean Leahy, Associate Editor

1. New York Rangers

2. Boston Bruins

3. Carolina Hurricanes

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

5. Washington Capitals

6. Philadelphia Flyers

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. New Jersey Devils

The Hurricanes will be this surprise team in the East, while the Bruins will again grab Northeast honors. The usual suspects will find themselves 1-8 in the East, with the Buffalo Sabres putting last season's disastrous campaign behind them and back into the playoffs. We'll also be privvy to a juicy opening round with a Rangers-Devils rematch; Bruins and Sabres grudge match and Sid vs. Ovi.

Harrison Mooney, Associate Editor

1. Boston Bruins

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

3. Washington Capitals

4. New York Rangers

5. Carolina Hurricanes

6. Philadelphia Flyers

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. Ottawa Senators

The Penguins will be the highest-scoring team in the Conference, but the East will go to the Bruins, who will have a much, much easier time of it, divisionally. The Bruins' top six remains one of hockey's most formidable groups, and they run roughshod over the Northeast in the shortened season. Tyler Seguin becomes a full-fledged superstar this year, and Tuukka Rask is amazing from day one.

Alex Ovechkin returns to form under the tutelage of his soulmate Adam Oates and leads the Capitals to a division win as well. They're trailed very closely by the Hurricanes, of course, because post-lockout seasons are Carolina's jam.

Lead by Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza, who kicks it up another gear, the Senators eke out an eighth-place finish, besting the Leafs, Roberto Luongo or no, the Jets, who are insanely fun to watch this year but not very good, and the Panthers, who can't replicate the powerplay success of last season.

Dmitry Chesnokov, Senior Writer

1. New York Rangers

2. Washington Capitals

3. Boston Bruins

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

5. Philadelphia Flyers

6. New Jersey Devils

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Rangers may still be the best regular season team in the East, especially with the additions this offseason. This is a short season, and the fact that Ovechkin and Backstrom had been playing together for months in the KHL before the lockout was over should give the Capitals an extra advantage. The Penguins have Malkin, who alone can do a lot, especially in the form he is in. The yo-yo the last season was for the Sabres may materialize into something good this year.

Ryan Lambert, Columnist

1. NY Rangers

2. Boston Bruins

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

5. Philadelphia Flyers

6. Buffalo Sabres

7. Carolina Hurricanes

8. Toronto Maple Leafs

This is all a total crapshoot, so this is based on the best teams on paper and that's about it. But with that said, I feel like it almost has to be Rangers over the Bruins in the East.

Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Fantasy Writer

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

2. Carolina Hurricanes

3. Boston Bruins

4. NY Rangers

5. Washington Capitals

6. Tampa Bay Lightning

7. Philadelphia Flyers

8. New Jersey

I've been tooting the Pittsburgh horn for three years now and I'll keep doing so until one of Malkin or Crosby move onto another team. As long as they're together and healthy, this is the best team. I won't be ridiculous and predict a 48-0-0 season for them - there will naturally be an overtime loss or two - but they're winning this conference.

The team I have ninth is Toronto. So that should clear out the handful of people still taking me seriously after my Pittsburgh spiel.

The Flyers are the surprise team, for all the wrong reasons. Unreliable goaltending will see them lose home ice advantage for the postseason. Such a weird turn of events. But it's a humongous big universe out there and in the grand scheme of things the Flyers' goaltending is just so small, you know?

Carolina not only adds Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, but they also have a healthy Joni Pitkanen and a rebounding Cam Ward. I actually have Carolina, Washington, Pittsburgh and New York separated by two points.

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