2010: 3 Teams (Cup Finalist)
2009: 4 Teams (Cup Champ)
2008: 4 Teams (Cup Finalist)
2007: 3 Teams
2006: 3 Teams
What do these numbers show? It’s the number of teams from the Atlantic Division making the playoffs since the lockout, and the brackets are self explanatory. I see a trend: we have a good division every year, and it’s gotten stronger in the last three seasons especially.
Flyers – Made it to the Conference Finals 2 of the past 3 seasons, and of course went one step further last season.
Penguins – Back to back Stanley Cup appearances in 2008 and 2009, winning it the second time around.
Devils- Division champions 4 of the past 5 seasons, not much playoff success however.
Rangers – They struggle on offense, make the playoffs, and then bow out early.
Islanders – Can we forget they exist?
Still, this is a new season. In this division, 4 out of 5 teams have a legit argument that their team has a solid chance to go deep into the playoffs.
Pittsburgh - Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and Fleurywill always make this team one of the strongest around. Their wings mostly suck, so it’s up to the guys down the middle to keep the train on the tracks. They don’t have any stud defensemen either, so it’s got to be a team effort to keep the pressure off of Fleury. On paper, they don’t look as scary, but this is pretty much the same formula they’ve used over the last few seasons.
New York: I’m not gonna bother specifying which one, I think we know which team doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Once again, the Rangers failed to add any significant offensive players, and will rely on Gaborik to score a ton of goals. Yes, he can and will do it, but one guy can’t do it all. Henrik Lundqvist will have to play lights out, night after night, again. At least they have Marty Biron as a back up, who can give King Henrik a break. I don’t think Torts likes coaching a defensive style, but he doesn’t have the right personnel to implement his high pressure offense that won him a Cup in Tampa. The addition of Biron might be bigger than we realize. If he can give Lundqvist a break, then they’ll be a much more dangerous team.
New Jersey – I always write this team off, and they always keep winning. I honestly have no idea what keeps this team ticking. Yes, they have Brodeur, the best goalie ever. But aside from that, the majority of their team sucks. The offensively challenged Rangers scored more than the Devils did last season. Last season NJ trapped their way into the playoffs, but the Flyers superior talent was way to much for them to handle. Now they have Kovalchuk for an entire season, so he’s going to push them a bit better. I still think they have no depth at center, and that’s why they always choke in the playoffs. Still, with Marty in net, I guess there’s always a chance.
Philadelphia – Our top 2 centers are not as talented at the Penguins’, but our overall depth is much better. We have the best group of defensemen in the league, to cover up our horrible goaltending. We played like crap most of the regular season, woke up for the playoffs, and were very close to winning the Cup. Now, we’ve replaced Gagne with Zherdev, while the rest of the key players remain the same. Once again, we have the talent to be a top team in the East, we just have to show it on the ice. Let’s just hope Leighton, or anyone else between the pipes, doesn’t blow things for us when it matters most.
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