NHL 2013-14 divisional previews and predictions

September 30, 2013

Neil Greenberg’s previews and predictions for the realigned NHL in 2013-14:


(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Metropolitan Division
A divisional title for Pittsburgh will be tougher than it looks, especially with Marc Andre-Fleury, who had a .909 save percentage on the road last year, in net. Still, with Coach Dan Bylsma behind the bench and forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Norris Trophy nominee Kris Letang on the ice, this is still the team to beat in the East.

Predicted order of finish:
Pittsburgh Penguins 98
New York Rangers 97
Philadelphia Flyers 94
Washington Capitals 94
New York Islanders 91
Carolina Hurricanes 91
Columbus Blue Jackets 90
New Jersey Devils 89

 


(REUTERS/Matt Smith)

Atlantic Division
Boston’s offense could see an improvement over last year (Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson will replace Tyler Seguin, Jaromir Jagr, Rich Peverley and Andrew Ference) and will complement a defense comprised of young blueliners and netminder Tuukka Rask, who has a .929 regular season save percentage in each of the past two years and is a dark horse for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league’s best goalie.

Predicted order of finish:
Boston Bruins 97 points
Ottawa Senators 96
Montreal Canadiens 95
Detroit Red Wings 93
Tampa Bay Lightning 92
Toronto Maple Leafs 88
Buffalo Sabres 86
Florida Panthers 80

 


(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Central Division
Reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago will face some stiff competition from St Louis for divisional supremacy, but it will be hard to bet against the only team in the salary cap era to have won the Cup twice. The Blackhawks are well coached by Joel Quenneville, have plenty of star power in their top six (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp) and are always one of the top puck-possession teams in the NHL (more than 53 percent of even-strength shots in their favor over the past three seasons).

Predicted order of finish:
Chicago Blackhawks 97
St. Louis Blues 96
Dallas Stars 92
Colorado Avalanche 88
Winnipeg Jets 88
Nashville Predators 87
Minnesota Wild 83

 


(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Pacific Division
If there is a team that can unseat Chicago as Cup champs, it is Los Angeles. Ignoring special-teams play and lead-protecting situations, the Kings had possession of the puck 57.3 percent of the time last season, the highest percentage in the league. Expect great goaltending from Jonathan Quick and a bounce-back season from Anze Kopitar to fuel a Pacific Division title and deep playoff run.

Predicted order of finish:
Los Angeles Kings 95
Phoenix Coyotes 91
San Jose Sharks 91
Edmonton Oilers 91
Anaheim Ducks 90
Vancouver Canucks 89
Calgary Flames 83

greenberg
Neil Greenberg, when he isn’t watching the games, analyzes advanced statistics in the NHL and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd. Follow him on Twitter: @ngreenberg.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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Katie Carrera · September 30, 2013

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