By Mike Basile
The NHL season is officially underway and with the new conferences, there is much debate which teams will make it to the postseason this year. The new format this year is three teams from each conference and two wild card teams with the next best records.
1 seed– Pittsburgh Penguins- Personally I do not see much debate here. They have been the most dominant team in the east the past few years and with a fully healthy Crosby, this team is more dangerous than ever. Also with Letang just coming back from injury and Fleury playing at his best, this team could run away early this season.
2 seed- Washington Capitals– There are a few teams that I could see getting the 2 seed in this division, but the highly powered offense of the Caps wins them this 2 seed for me. Ovechkin is playing like the 50 goal scorer we know he is and the young defensemen have been stepping up and showing the Caps are no joke.
3 seed- New York Rangers– This team has struggled early, but wouldn’t most teams that started on a long road trip and had many injuries? This team relies on their defense and goaltending, and why wouldn’t you with a goalie like Lundqvist? With offensive threats like Stepan and Nash this team could be a danger.
Wild card: New York Islanders– I see this team only missing the top 3 by one or two points. This team is highly powered offensively with Vanek and Tavares leading the way. With some shaky goaltending and defense, they will find themselves out of the top 3 and getting in with a wild card spot.
1 seed: Toronto Maple Leafs– Depth is the key here, and when I hear depth I think Maple Leafs. It is scary how many scoring options they have offensively . Their defense is no slouch either, and with Bernier and Reimer in net, this team is very dangerous.
2 seed: Detroit Red Wings– Veterans lead the way for this team. Backed behind Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Alfredsson, they are filled with leadership. If Jimmy Howard plays this whole season like he has so far, they will no doubt be the 2 seed in a very very good division.
3 seed: Boston Bruins– The team I believe to be the most defensively sound in the NHL. They play strong defensively, make little to no mistakes and wait for their offensive breaks, which will come with players like Krecji and Iginla. It doesn’t hurt to have Rask between the pipes either.
Wildcard: Ottawa Senators– Yes, I know this team has struggled to begin the season, but a team with this much talent cannot stay down for 82 games. The newly acquired Bobby Ryan really gave this team a big boost offensively and if other players like Spezza and Turris can step up, this team will be golden. With my pick to win the Norris (Erik Karlsson) leading them defensively and a solid Anderson between the pipes, they should get in.
1 seed: Anaheim Ducks– I have loved this Ducks team in the west for many years now, but now with more spread out scoring, I believe this team has finally found a way to get over the peak. With the best 1-2 punch in goal with Hiller and Fasth, lighting the lamp against this team is no easy task.
2 seed- San Jose Sharks– This team is always successful during the regular season, and with player like Thorton and Pavelski, it is no secret why. With young players like Couture and Hertl stepping up, this team could be great! The defense helping with the scoring is also a key to this team’s success.
3 seed: Los Angeles Kings– Quick has a save percentage under 90 percent and this team is still sticking around the top 3. The defense has also been shaky thus far, but when this team puts it all together, they are very dangerous.
Wild card: Phoenix Coyotes– When a team gets scoring all throughout their lineup, they are a tough team to beat. That is exactly what the Phoenix Coyotes do and that is why they have 22 points so far this year. Mike Smith is also a big key for this team, as he usually makes or breaks them.
1 seed: Chicago Blackhawks– Have I said enough? Another team that I really do not think there is much debate about, as there’s too much talent all around. An offensive power house and a defensive lockdown, this team is awfully good! One minor weak spot in net, but Crawford has only been getting better.
2 seed- Dallas Stars– My dark horse pick. This pick may surprise many, but I love the Stars this year. My vezina pick Kari Lehtonen will be the back bone for this team. Having offensive threats like Seguin and Benn will give Kari a little support back between the pipes.
3 seed- St Louis Blues– This team is fundamentally sound all over the rink. They do not turn the puck over, and they make other teams pay for their mistakes. Another defensive based team that also has their d-men jump up and help the offense in the scoring category. With Halak in net, they are tough to beat.
Wild card: Colorado Avalanche– I am not buying this hot start from the Avs. I do believe they are a good team, but I do not see them winning this division. Behind superstar Matt Duchene and solid goaltending from Gigure, they will get a playoff spot.
Stanley Cup Finals- Ducks over Leafs in 6
Mike Basile is a sophomore at York College Of Pennsylvania. He is a huge sports fan, and when it comes to hockey maybe considered a little obsessive. Giving insight on the Islanders and all things hockey. You can follow him on twitter at @mikeybasile1