New York Hockey Conference Prediction and Final Finish

Steven Cifuentes- New York Rangers- 4th in conference, 2nd Round Playoffs, New York Islanders- 6th in conference, 1st round playoffs, New Jersey Devils- 15th in conference, out of playoffs, Buffalo Sabres- 13th in conference, out of playoffs.

The New York Rangers are getting long in the tooth, while I would love to predict a cup champion, I struggle to see this team making another long run.  The New York Islanders just did not do enough in the offseason to take the next step. Jaroslav Halak will come back down to earth and may miss more time then he plays this season.  More of the same for the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres with the Sabres showing more upside.

Ernie Defalco- New York Rangers- 3rd in conference, See next slide, New York Islanders- 7th in conference 1st Round Playoffs, Buffalo Sabres- 9th in conference, out of playoffs. New Jersey Devils- last place in conference, out of playoffs.

The New York Rangers are in for another solid season.  The defense, which is the strength, and goaltender are back.  The Rangers will rely on some young players and vets to step up and fill the roles of the departed Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin.  Expect the replacements, whoever they may wind up being, to perform equally if not better.  But inflation of some of the other teams, the need to rest Henrik Lundqvist and some of the defense more  in season, has the Rangers drop in the regular season.
The Islanders did not do a lot to improve during the off-season.  Bringing back mostly the same cast and crew that landed them fifth in the conference next season.  The teams above them did not decline enough for them to make a big jump.  But some of the teams around them did.  Namely the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Islanders make the playoffs, but not in the top five.  Which really does not matter much anyway.  The Islanders can improve drastically with in season moves.  If they do that, their position in the standings or playoff chances could increase accordingly.
Buffalo will show much improvement.  They could even sneak into a playoff spot, but probably not.  Buffalo is a team on the rise though, and could be a strong contender by next season.
There is not much to say about the Devils, but they are not a good team and do not have much to look forward too.  They continue their downward spiral and finish in last place in the eastern conference.

Patrick Comia- New York Rangers- 3rd in conference, Stanley Cup Final, New York Islanders- 5th in conference, 2nd round playoffs, New Jersey Devils- 12th in conference, out of playoffs, Buffalo Sabres- 14th in conference, out of playoffs.

I believe the Rangers will make a return to the Stanley Cup Final. They have replaced their lost pieces, with quality players. Their defensive unit hasn’t changed, and will not be a liability (except for Dan Boyle). Plus, Lundqvist is the team’s last line of defense. Enough said.

Till the Islanders bring in an elite goalie, this team will have an early exit out of the playoffs. I don’t trust Jaroslav Halak, he gives up too many bad goals, and you don’t know what you are going to get night in and night out. There was a reason he could not hold a job in Montreal, St. Louis, and Washington. He is not the long-term answer. Until general manager Garth Snow realizes that, I’ll continue to feel that the team in Brooklyn is always beatable.

For the Devils, they are still rebuilding. It will be sometime till the team is finally over Lou Lamoreillo. However, they are starting in the right direction. Ray Shero brings his winning formula over to New Jersey, as well as bringing aboard John Hynes. Both were part of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, and we all know what that team has done in the past. I won’t fluff the Devils, and say they will blow out their opponents this year, cause frankly, I don’t see that. But what I do see is the potential to cause some damage. If any team is looking for a win, look elsewhere, cause the Devils will play till the last whistle. Be prepared.

As for Buffalo, they have Eichel and Evander Kane. Not enough to do any real damage.