Metropolitan Division Predictions + Biggest X Factor

1. New York Rangers – Will Rick Nash return to being a top scorer?

2. New York Islanders – Can JT continue his heroics from last year?

3. Pittsburgh Penguins – How will Kessel fit in?

4. Columbus Blue Jackets (WC) – HEALTH!

5. Washington Capitals (WC) – Will the new guys be upgrades?

6. Philadelphia Flyers – I don’t know with them, they really have no hope with their limited cap space.

7. New Jersey Devils – Can they develop an offense?

8. Carolina Hurricanes – Will Lack save the Canes?

Making The Transition Easy

Think about it.  Islanders vs. Blue Jackets. It’s the last game ever at the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders send their team onto the ice.  There is no hope of the postseason, and the fans can’t wait for a terrible season to come to an end.  Kevin Poulin is in net.  Colin McDonald is on the second line. Brian Strait is playing on the first line defense with Travis Hamonic.  And worst of all, they lose another game, but this time it’s the last game ever in LI en route to being one of the worst teams in the league (and their high draft pick goes to Buffalo).  It hurts to think about.

What if Garth Snow did not go and trade for Johnny Boychuck and Nick Leddy?  What if the islanders never traded a 4th round pick to aquire Jaroslav Halak?  What if the Islanders never signed Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulimen?  If none of these moves were made, the Islanders would have put the icing on the cake, and moved on to Brooklyn as a sad, pathetic franchise on continuous decline.  If the Islanders did not make these trades and signings, they would have played their last games at the barn in sadness, as fans witnessed another losing season.

However, the Islanders got two top dmen, got a starting goalie, and got two capable two way fowards, one of whom is a penalty kill specialist. The Islanders went from a team destined for a long sad season to a team that would rally a whole city. They sold out almost every game, and their captain had an MVP season and almost led the league in points.  “Tavares! Tavares!” Doc Emerick yelled as JT scored 15 seconds into OT against the Caps. “Tavares! Tavares!” is about right, because what he and Garth Snow did for Long Island was priceless. They sent off an amazing team into their next chapter of their story, a story that will hopefully end with a new Stanley Cup banner draped from the ceiling of the Barclays Center.