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The final rosters have been set by all NHL teams

and the speculation of who will and will not make the

team is thankfully over. The 2007 – 2008 NHL season is

finally about to start, and we can now shift our focus on

the season at hand and the final standings for the

Eastern Conference.

Predicting an 82 game schedule is not an exact

science, and nearly impossible to do with all the

variables that can happen, but we all love to voice our

opinions and we at HabsWorld are no different.

Three of HabsWorld’s collaborators have looked

over each team in the Eastern Conference and offer up

their predictions on the final standings with an in-depth

look at the Canadiens and a few other teams of interest.




according to Matthew Macaskill

1) Ottawa Senators *
2) New York Rangers *
3) Washington Capitals*
4) Pittsburgh Penguins
5) Buffalo Sabres
6) Montreal Canadiens
7) Philadelphia Flyers
8) New Jersey Devils
9) Tampa Bay Lightning
10) New York Islanders
11) Carolina Hurricanes
12) Toronto Maple Leafs
13) Atlanta Thrashers
14) Florida Panthers
15) Boston Bruins
* Denotes division leader

Team Comments:

1) Montreal

Canadiens: If you read most, if not all, non-Habs based

media making season predictions, you’ll find they all

share a common assumption that Montreal is not

making the playoffs this season. I beg to differ. I foresee

the Canadiens making a sixth place finish in what will be

a tight Eastern Conference.

Bob Gainey and company have collected a plethora of

useful players at every position allowing for serious

inter-squad competition this season. The fact that

Montreal has more NHL capable players than the team

can ice will go a long way to providing the club with a

competitive team night in and night out.

Team Comments:

2) Carolina


If the ‘Canes are going to have any shot at making the

playoffs this season, they’ll need a big season from a

couple of young players who showed signs of a Stanley

Cup hangover. The players I have in mind are Eric Staal,

who must produce at a point-per-game pace or better

this season and goaltender Cam Ward, who needs to

re-gain his Con Smythe form to bring this team back into

the post-season.

There’s really not much difference between Carolina’s

current lineup and the one that finished eleventh last

season, leaving me to predict a repeat.

Team Comments:

3) Tampa Bay

Lightning: Vincent Lecavalier is one of the best players

in the world – but that still isn’t enough to guarantee a

playoff birth. Tampa Bay will be in an all out battle this

year for one of the final two playoffs spots in the East.

Like Carolina with regards to Eric Staal, the Bolts will

need a big showing from their highest paid player, Brad


There remains a big question mark in terms of the

team’s goaltending position. Johan Holmqvist comes in

as the probable starter with Marc Denis backing him up,

but Coach John Tortorella has never been afraid of

switching things up. With Washington and Philadelphia

improving over the off-season, I see the Lightning

finishing just out of the playoff picture at ninth in their


Standings according to Norm


1 – Ottawa Senators *
2 – Pittsburgh Penguins *
3 – Carolina Hurricanes *
4 – NY Rangers
5 – Buffalo Sabres
6 – Tampa Bay Lighning
7 – New Jersey Devils
8 – Montreal Canadiens
9 – Toronto Maple Leafs
10 – Atlanta Thrashers
11 – Boston Bruins
12 – NY Islanders
13 – Philadelphia Flyers
14 – Florida Panthers
15 – Washington Capitals
* Denotes division leader

Team Comments:

1) Montreal: The

Habs have solid goaltending in Cristobal Huet, Carey

Price, & Jaroslav Halak, which is going to be the key to

helping the team reach the playoffs. Only Buffalo has a

better starting goalie, but the Habs 1-2 punch in the nets

gives them an overall advantage. Their power play will

suffer with the loss of Sheldon Souray; however, in the

2005-06 season, they reached the playoffs with only an

average power play. If the penalty killing squads can

perform in the top third of the league or better, the team

will greatly benefit. The forwards have a good mix of

veterans and younger players. Although there is

relatively little size up front, the team’s overall speed is

very good. The coaching staff all have a full pro season

under their belts, and should be in a better position to

adapt to the new NHL. Motivating underachievers will be

their most serious challenge this season.


biggest team question marks are on defence.
The top 4 [Andrei Markov, Mike Komisarek, Roman

Hamrlik, Mark Streit] are solid, but the bottom 2-3 are

The kids will be all right on this squad, and any injuries

to regulars will open up opportunities to AHL players

that are close to ready.

Team Comments:

2) Toronto: The

Leafs have many question marks to start this season.

Which Mat Sundin will show up to play this season? Will

it be the one who lead the team in scoring and shots on

goal, or the one who finished the season scoring only

once in the team’s last 20 games? Who will be the

starting goalie, Toskala or Raycroft? Will the key

defencemen (McCabe & Kaberle) play up to their

expectations this season? Which Jason Blake will play

in Toronto; the 40 goal scorer from last season, or the

forward who averaged 25 goals over the previous three

seasons? Will GM John Ferguson Jr. last the season if

the team underperforms ? Will Darcy Tucker go psycho

on the ice?

Team Comments:

3) Boston: GM

Peter Chiarelli has made some interesting moves in

rebuilding the post-Joe Thornton Bruins, but there is

still a lot of work left to do before the team gets back into

contention for a playoff spot. Signing forward Patrice

Bergeron to a 5 year contract is a good committment of

funds to a young player who has done nothing but good

things for Boston. Acquiring goaltender Manny

Fernandez was a bold move. It helps their goaltending

overall by not putting all the pressure on Tim Thomas

and prospect Tuukka Rask. The team need defenceman

Zdeno Chara return to a semblance of his 2005-06

season with Ottawa, and forget about his last season in

Boston. Claude Julien gets another shot at steering an

NHL club, after two previous dismissals in the Eastern

conference with Montreal and New Jersey. Veterans

Marco Sturm and Marc Savard provide some offence, as

will sophomore Phil Kessel, but there’s little else in the

rest of the supporting cast.


according to Matt Godbout

1 – Ottawa Senators *
2 – Pittsburgh Penguins *
3 – Atlanta Thrashers *
4 – New York Rangers
5 – Montreal Canadiens
6 – Buffalo Sabres
7 – Philadelphia Flyers
8 – Toronto Maple Leafs
9 – Washington Capitals
10 – Carolina Hurricanes
11 – New Jersey Devils
12 – Tampa Bay Lightning
13 – New York Islanders
14 – Florida Panthers
15 – Boston Bruins
* Denotes division leader

Team Comments:

1) Montreal

Canadiens – I could write one hundered reasons as to

why I think they will finish fifth, but space and time are

short, so I’ll keep it to a minimum.

I’m positive that I

am the only person to pick the Habs this high, but that is

only because people forget too quickly. Last season it

took two major and unpredictable events to take the

Canadiens out of the 4th position in the Conference, and

ultimately out of the playoffs. Frankly, the odds of either

happening again are longer then the Leafs winning the

cup in the next few seasons.

The Canadiens have

some breakout players this season in Higgins,

Plekanec, Kostitsyn, and Komisarek coupled with a

newly found 5 on 5 game that will keep Gainey and co.

happy. There is enough youthful energy to keep the vets

interested and playing with effort, and a few upset

players that were sent down who will push the rookies to

keep their spots on the Canadiens roster or quickly be


The offense will be fine, and better then

last season with a new strategy from the coaching staff

and a revitalized Kovalev; but the major improvement

for the Habs will be on defense. The loss of Souray

changes nothing but the PP strategy (Hamrlik can shoot

too ) and his absence actually keeps 10 -15 goals out of

the net. The hole left on the PP might already be filled by

Markov, who until now has always been the set up man

on the point. Now with Souray gone Markov might be

more opt to shoot again, and while he lacks the power of

Souray, it is a very accurate shot.

Carey Price will

also have an impact here, but that is a huge topic I’ll

leave untouched for now. If nothing else he can’t be

worse then Aebischer.

Team Comments:

2) Buffalo Sabres –

The Sabres are alot like the Canadiens this season with

some veteran players and alot of skilled youth. The

difference between the two is goaltending depth,

injuries, and leadership. These factors are why they will

fall in the standings.

Goaltending first, after Miller

who is a very good goalie they have nothing to write

home about in Thibault. Don’t get me wrong Thibault is a

sound backup, but if Miller goes down with an injury so

does the playoffs for the Sabres with the depleated

defense corps.

Sabres Injuries – These are tough to

predict for obvious reasons, but ask yourself, who was

the first player you thought of when I mentioned injuries

with the sabres?…. I thought of Tim Connolly

too.Connolly can be a very creative and productive

player for the Sabres but the likelyhood of him missing

a big chunk of the season due to injury is high enough

that you can’t get betting odds in Los Vegas. Add the

defense injuries (and heart ailments) and they are

suddenly very thin. A replacement from the farm on

defense will only fill the hole with a body since they lack

a real NHL ready defense prospect.

Let’s forget the

fact that they had their Captain and alternate Captain

ripped out of the teams heart by free agency (top scorers

too) and the impact that will have on any team; instead

focus on what is left. Leadership will have to come from

the IR with Teppo Numminen, Jaroslav Spacek, Toni

Lydman, and Jochen Hecht as the only players on the

roster to hit 30 years old; compare that to the Canadiens

now….. impressive stuff huh?

Team Comments:

3) Washington

Capitals – Don’t pay attention to the big name free agent

signings to find the most improved team in the Eastern

Conference, because you would be misled. The most

improved team in the East is the Washington


I really wanted to put Washington in the playoff picture

but I instead gave the Leafs a little credit with the 8th


Last season the Capitals were a competitive

team only lacking that extra goal in either offense, or by

not giving up the extra goal on defense. It’s no secret

that they did not add a big name free agent in the

summer, but the changes they made were of high quality

talent. Subtle and yet key additions of Tom Poti, Viktor

Kozlov, Michael Nylander , and to a lesser degree Joe

Motzko, all have a huge impact on the line up. Adding a

first and second line centre in Nylander and Kozlov not

only finally solidifies a top scoring line with Ovechkin

and Semin/Clark, but it has a major trickle down affect.

Last season the top centre on the team was Brooks

Laich with 18 points; or was it Brian Sutherby with 17

points? Either way it doesn’t matter because now they

are forced down to the roles they are suited for on the

third and fourth lines. On defense, the addition of Tom

Poti to the top pairing with Brian Pothier not only has the

same trickle down effect, but it helps a defensive core

that struggled on their own side of centre ice last year

while giving more options on what should be a lethal PP


This vastly improved team only gets better by

adding the best player outside the NHL (and calder

trophy favorite) Nicklas Backstrom. Suddenly the top six

of Ovechkin, Nylander, Clark, Kozlov, Backstrom, and

Semin rival any top two lines in the Eastern Conference

for offensive production; and that can take you a long


One thing to remember when persecuting the views of

the only three HabsWorld collaborators brave

enough to put their opinions on display.


of the NHL standings are, in alot of ways, like modern

art; they can sometimes be a little “out there”, but it is

open to interpretation from anyone.