We’ve finally reached the end of the offseason and things kick off this week around the NHL. Exhibition games are underway in Europe and final cuts have come down all around the league. The excitement for the upcoming season is palpable, with even the most minor transactions generating plenty of interest among hockey fans.
With that in mind we’re going to ask you, the PHR reader, to give us your thoughts on the upcoming season. We started with the Atlantic Division, which seemed an easy choice for a good chunk of our community. The Tampa Bay Lightning ran away with the poll, earning a whopping 46% of all votes. With the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins firmly in the second and third spots, it may be another difficult year for Atlantic teams trying to crack those divisional playoff spots.
We’ll now move on to the Metropolitan Division, which has been dominated by one team for the last several years. The Washington Capitals have taken home the divisional crown for the past four consecutive seasons, posting at least 104 points in each. Even after losing head coach Barry Trotz to the rival New York Islanders, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals were able to fend off the rest of the group for the top spot. It didn’t do them much good as they ended up kicked out of the first round by the hard-charging Carolina Hurricanes, who should be in contention for the division lead after going all the way to the Eastern Conference Final.
It certainly won’t be easy to capture though, as the division had five playoff teams last season and could potentially be a battle between all eight clubs this time around. The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils both underwent huge changes in the offseason, while the Pittsburgh Penguins are still led by the Hall of Fame duo down the middle.
Who do you think will come out on top of the Metropolitan Division in the regular season? Can the Capitals make it five in a row? Will the Islanders complete the transformation to defensive powerhouse? Will Carter Hart’s goaltending be the missing ingredient for the Philadelphia Flyers? Cast your vote below and explain how you think the season will play out!
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