The NHL has realigned its divisions for the 2020-21 season, which begins January 13, 2021, and each team will play a condensed intra-divisional schedule of 56 games.
The Philadelphia Flyers found their rhythm late last season and entered the Stanley Cup playoffs as the Eastern Conference seed after winning the round robin game of qualifying. of the Stanley Cup. New York Rangers add forward Alexis Lafreniere, the first pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, the Buffalo Sabers have signed forward Taylor Hall, the League’s 2018 MVP, and the New Jersey Devils, who have a new coach at Lindy Ruff, boast of a young core that includes forwards Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and Jack Hughes, No.1 in the 2019 NHL Draft.
So which team from this new division is the favorite?
Five NHL.com staff editors offered opinions. Here are their responses:
The Flyers came in full force last season before play was suspended on March 12 due to concerns over the coronavirus, winning nine of their last 10 games. They played well in the playoffs until they ran out of steam against the Islanders in Game 7 of the second round. Carter Hart is the main reason I chose Philadelphia. The 22-year-old goalkeeper has proven himself in consecutive seasons. It wouldn’t be surprising if he improved his 2.59 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in his first 74 NHL games. Hart also Brian Elliott, a veteran capable of helping him. The Flyers can win with Elliott. Ivan Provorov is one of the best defensemen in the NHL. They are deep in the front and back. More particularly, center Sean Couturier won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL last season and Kevin Hayes play a similar type of game. Philadelphia is hungry, talented and ready to win. – Dan Rosen, Senior Writer
Islanders of New York
The Islanders have made major strides in two seasons under coach Barry Trotz and there’s no reason to think much will change this season, especially after advancing to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 1993. The deep playoffs are good, but the Islanders are. ready for more this season, when they will play their home games at the Nassau Coliseum for the last time before moving to their new arena at Belmont Park. Islanders have star power in the center Mathew Barzal, three scorers from 20 goals forward Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageauand keepers born in Russia Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin ready to form a formidable double. I look forward to striker Oliver Wahlstrom and the defender’s hope Noah Dobson to fill the gaps in the range. What makes the Islanders so difficult is their ability to play any type of game. Whether it’s a tight control game, in your face, or a north-south game in the face. fast paced, they have the coach and the staff that can get the job done. – Mike G. Morreale, Editor-in-Chief
Video: 31 of 31: New York Islanders’ 2020-21 season preview
Capitals to go as far as second-year goaltender Ilya Samsonov takes them, and I think it’s a long way. Backup Henrik LundqvistThe decision to skip the season due to heart disease leaves Washington slim in goal, but there’s no doubt Samsonov is the real deal. The 23-year-old is coming off an impressive rookie season that saw him finish 16-6-2 with a 2.55 GAA and .913 save percentage in 26 games. The rest of the roster has as many high-end talent as any other player in the NHL. Attackers Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeni Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie and Tom Wilsonand defender John Carlson, each played a key role in the 2018 Stanley Cup-winning team and are a core that can do it again. Washington also added a defender Justin Schultz, a member of the 2016 and 2017 title-winning Penguins. Incoming coach Peter Laviolette, who guided the Carolina Hurricanes to the Cup in 2006, may need to manage some of the veterans’ ice time to avoid exhaustion from the compressed 56-game schedule, but this team is deep enough to win it all. – Mike Zeisberger, editor
I will take any team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But the Penguins, like the Bruins, face questions about closing their championship window; Crosby and Defender Kris Letang are 33 and Malkin 34. That’s why they should be motivated and hungry to win. The Penguins chose to mount the goalie Tristan jarry, sending two-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray to the Ottawa Senators this offseason. Jarry, 25, was 20-12-1 with a 2.43 GAA and 0.921 save percentage last season. Malkin scored 74 points (25 goals, 49 assists) and Crosby scored 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games, missing 28 due to a core muscle injury that required surgery. The Penguins also have an emerging star as a defender John Marino. It sure won’t be easy, but the Penguins have the experience, the intelligence and the stars to take them through this compressed season and win the East as they try to extend that window a bit more. – Amalie Benjamin, editor
Video: 31 in 31: preview of the 2020-21 Pittsburgh Penguins season
Bruins de Boston
As Amalie mentioned, the Bruins window may be starting to close. But between the veterans who have made the Stanley Cup final three times with Boston since 2011 (forwards Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci) and their youngest stars (24-year-old strikers David pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk), the Bruins will win the East. Pastrnak led the Bruins with 95 points (48 goals, 47 assists) last season and Marchand was second with 87 (28 goals, 59 assists), each in 70 games; Bergeron finished third with 56 points (31 goals, 25 assists) in 61 games. I know Pastrnak and Marchand may not be ready to start the season, but they will be back soon. Defense will be different without Torey krug, who signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues, and captain Zdeno Chara’s future with Boston remains uncertain. But the Bruins are in good shape with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo on the blue line. They are also in great shape for the purpose. Tuukka Rask, back after retiring from the 2020 playoffs, was 26-8-6 with a GAA of 2.12 and save percentage of .929 in 41 games, it all begins. Jaroslav Halak completes a brace that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL last season. The Bruins will be doing very well. – Tracey Myers, rédactrice