Between The Pipes: NHL Preview

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Yes, it’s that time of year again – time to tune in at 7 p.m. on most nights and watch the National Hockey League (NHL) return for another exciting season. Last season, the only team from the tri-state area to make it to the playoffs was the New Jersey Devils, after the Rangers suffered a heart-breaking shoot-out defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers and the Islanders just weren’t good enough to make the cut. And even when the Devils made it to the playoffs as the second-place team with 103 points, they were still knocked out of the first round by the Flyers. Needless to say, it was a pretty disappointing season for all parties involved. But with the approach of the new season there is hope for new talent, good signings, growth of young players and even a small miracle.

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New Jersey Devils
As painful as this is to say, there is no question concerning who is the best of the tri-state teams. For the past couple of seasons, they have consistently been one of the best teams in the entire Eastern Conference and always a sure lock for the playoffs.
Unfortunately, it only got better for this team during the off-season. This off-season, the Devils were able to resign right-winger Ilya Kovalchuk, even after a bogus deal that the NHL turned down. With politics and money aside, the Devils did manage to acquire the Russian who previously played with the Atlanta Thrashers, thus making them even more dangerous than they were last season now that he’s there full time and will be an active member and leader on the team. You heard it here first: that first line involving Kovalchuk, Parise and Zajac is dangerous, and they’re going to be one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Oh well. At least solace can be found in Martin Brodeur. The “best” NHL goalie of all-time is at the end of his rope, and his legs are due to give out soon – could this be the year?
Placement: 2nd In The East
Playoff Chances: Highly Realistic

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New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are just not a good team, plain and simple. However, it should be added that they aren’t a good team yet. The team is still incredibly young, what with the likes of Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and John Tavares, Islanders fans have a lot to look forward to in the future.
Unfortunately, the Islanders just don’t have a good all-around team yet. While they look pretty decent offensively, the same can’t be said for their defense, and let’s not get started on goaltending. Rick DiPietro is far too unreliable at this point and Dwayne Roloson is old and no longer starting goaltender material, obviously.
“I’m trying to be optimistic,” said Rosalie Rodriguez, a first-year Islanders fan. “We’ll just have to wait and see. All I want is for them to make the playoffs.”
There isn’t too much to say except, sorry Fishstick fans, you’ll just have to wait another season to have a realistic shot at reaching the post-season.

Placement: 11th In The East
Playoff Chances: Not Likely

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New York Rangers
Do you believe in miracles?
Any Rangers fan should say yes to this now that Wade Redden has finally been put on waivers, which clears a ton of cap space and will potentially dispose of the biggest disappointment to date.
But, even with the Rangers on the road towards getting rid of Redden, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the team.
There are so many factors that will have an impact on the Rangers’ performance this season. It was an incredibly smart move for Glen Sather (as much of a moron as he is) to go right in to free agency and sign Marty Biron. With  Biron on board, Henrik Lundqvist can take more of a break and possibly be the most feared goaltender in the league now that he won’t be doing everything on his own.
“I’m kind of used to the disappointment,” first-year Sharyce Willand said. “Maybe this year they can really pull it together.”
Nothing is certain for the Rangers, but don’t be surprised if the Rangers are the dark horse of the East. If any more miracles occur soon, that could very well be the case.
Placement: 8th In The East
Playoff Chances: Realistic