NHL 2012-13: What we were expecting in the East | Hockey | CBC Sports

NHLNHL 2012-13: What we were expecting in the East

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 | 11:42 AM

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Had the season started on time, Sidney Crosby (87) and the Penguins might have been favourites in the Eastern Conference. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) Had the season started on time, Sidney Crosby (87) and the Penguins might have been favourites in the Eastern Conference. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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The puck was supposed to drop on the 2012-13 NHL season tonight.Here's a quick look at how the Eastern Conference teams might have stacked up had the season started on time.

The puck was supposed to drop on the 2012-13 NHL season tonight.

Alas, we're left wondering what might have been.

Here's a quick look at how the Eastern Conference teams might have stacked up had the season started on time:

1. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS They lost Jordan Staal but if they were looking for a younger replacement, they could do a lot worse than Brandon Sutter. Add a healthy Sidney Crosby, reliable backup Tomas Vokoun to step in when Marc-Andre Fleury looks shaky and you've got a Stanley Cup contender.
(Last Season: 51-25-6, 108 pts)
2. BOSTON BRUINS Less distractions (and Facebook messages) coming from goal crease this year with Tuukka Rask ready to assume the role of go-to goalie. Question marks still surround Nathan Horton (concussion).
(Last Season: 49-29-4, 102 pts)
3. CAROLINA HURRICANES They've added a third Staal (Jordan joins brothers Eric and Jared) but their success and return to the playoffs may come down to how mercurial sniper Alex Semin performs in a new environment. Moving to a divisional foe of the Capitals may be a spark.
(Last Season: 33-33-16, 82 pts)
4. NEW YORK RANGERS Problem: Scoring. Answer: Rick Nash. The other big gun in the lineup, Marian Gaborik, isn't due back from shoulder surgery until late November so the Rangers are in no rush to make what could be their best chance at a Cup run since 1994.
(Last Season: 51-24-7, 109 pts)
5. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS They missed out on signing Shea Weber to fill the gaping hole that Chris Pronger (concussion) leaves but last year's tough and talented team is pretty much still here aside from backup Sergei (Bobo) Bobrovsky (Columbus) and Jaromir Jagr (Dallas).
(Last Season: 47-26-9, 103 pts)
6. OTTAWA SENATORS Last year's performance was enough to convince Daniel Alfredsson to return and that's good news for a Senators team on the upswing. Craig Anderson and Erik Karlsson will be leaned on heavy to repeat last year's performances.
(Last Season: 41-31-10, 92 pts)
7. WASHINGTON CAPITALS New head coach Adam Oates gets a mixed bag as he arrives in D.C. Pros: Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby and no Alex Semin. Cons: Trying to marry the high-octane offence that put the team on top of the conference two seasons ago with the defensive-minded ways that saw it reach two Game 7s last playoffs. New addition Mike Ribeiro should help.
(Last Season: 42-32-8, 92 pts)
8. WINNIPEG JETS The newest incarnation of the Jets had an up-and-down first year but now the nostalgia campaign is over and the experience will help the youngsters. Evander Kane will be joined by Mark Scheifele as they make a run at a playoff spot, which would be only the second time in the franchise history.
(Last Season: 37-35-10, 84 pts)
9. NEW JERSEY DEVILS Martin Brodeur returns but Zach Parise doesn't. Rookie sensation Adam Henrique needs to step up in a big way in his sophomore campaign while Johan Hedberg will be counted on to spell the aging Brodeur.
(Last Season: 48-28-6, 102 pts)
10. FLORIDA PANTHERS Pressure is on to prove that last year's "get to the cap floor!" team was no fluke. However, losing your best goal-scoring defenceman (Jason Garrison) to the Canucks and depending on another renaissance season from Jose Theodore (unless prospect Jacob Markstrom is ready for prime time) is gambling to say the least.
(Last Season: 38-26-18, 92 pts)
11. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING Having the Rocket Richard Trophy winner (Steven Stamkos) means little when you miss the playoffs by eight points. New goaltending (Anders Lindback) and healthier veterans may help the Bolts but will it be enough to make it back to the post-season? In a division that got better, maybe not.
(Last Season: 38-36-8, 84 pts)
12. BUFFALO SABRES The questions surrounding the Sabres revolved around toughness after the incident between Ryan Miller and Milan Lucic. That may have been blown out of proportion, considering Buffalo gave up a scorer in Derek Roy for gritty agitator Steve Ott. You can't intimidate/chirp pucks into the net.
(Last Season: 39-32-11, 89 pts)
13. MONTREAL CANADIENS PK Subban and Carey Price had another year to develop and mature. That's the good news. The bad news? Scott Gomez ($7.35M) and Tomas Kaberle ($4.25M) are still on the team and Brandon Prust is being paid $2.5M per season. Great players in their own way but terrible price tags. That's a lot of cash tied up in three players that combined for 10 goals in 2011-12.
(Last Season: 31-35-16, 78 pts)
14. NEW YORK ISLANDERS When I think of the Isles, I think about young talent and a goaltending carousel. You'd assume that Rick DiPietro would use the lockout to stay healthy. Nope. The oft-injured goalie is heading to Germany to play during the lockout, meaning either a) he's healthy enough to want to keep his conditioning up or b) he'll be on the IR on another continent when the NHL gets back on the ice.
(Last Season: 34-37-11, 79 pts)
15. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS Brian Burke said they needed to pick up a goalie in the off-season. Progress report: No Roberto Luongo, instead the only movement was to re-sign AHLer and probable backup to James Reimer, Ben Scrivens. Also traded for James van Riemsdyk but gave up Luke Schenn to do so. Analysis: playoff drought continues.
(Last Season: 35-37-10, 80 pts)

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