ESPN released power rankings for the upcoming season. And wouldn't ya guess it? Detroit is number one in the West. Care to guess who's number one in the East? Read on for commentary.
Right - the Penguins of course.
Apparently the best way for Scott Burnside to judge the top two power rankings is to base it off the Stanley Cup Finals from the previous season.
Here's what he says about the Pens:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
Never mind the absence of Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Jarkko Ruutu and Georges Laraque, the Penguins still have the most formidable lineup down the middle of any team in the NHL, with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, plus an emerging elite netminder in Marc-Andre Fleury.
Crazy thing is, out of the top six in the Conference, four of the teams hail from the Atlantic Division. Once again, it seems, the Atlantic will carry the weight of the Conference.
Never mind Montreal winning it last season...
Let's take a look at our rivals:
3. Philadelphia Flyers
What do Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Braydon Coburn, Daniel Briere, Kimmo Timonen et al do for an encore after going from 30th overall in 2006-07 to a berth in the Eastern Conference finals? How about a return trip?
If you ask me (which I'm sure Flyers fans are not), not with Biron in net. You can win all the games you want during the regular season; the Pens will just win them in the playoffs. When they really count.
Right behind the Flyers in the number four spot is the team the Penguins eliminated in the second round, the New York Rangers.
4. New York Rangers
The Rangers have been flirting with contender status for three seasons now, and they'll have a dramatically different look with Wade Redden, Nikolai Zherdev and Dmitri Kalinin in and Jaromir Jagr, Shanahan (we assume) and Martin Straka out. Different, but not necessarily better.
You know what? Zherdev is the real deal. If anyone is going to really boost the Rangers' offense this year it will be him. Don't believe me? Watch this video.
Those moves at the 40 second mark is scary.
No bother, Pens will take them in Round 3 instead...
And finally, since the Islanders are ranked 14th out of the 15 teams in the East, we look at the Devils:
6. New Jersey Devils
We put the Devils here because they're always better than we expect they'll be. This will be true again with the addition of Brian Rolston and the continued growth of an underappreciated blue-line corps.
Yes, but what about the immenent breakdown of Martin Brodeur between the pipes? Rholston or not (and Guerin again? LOL), this offense is not going to produce. If the Devils are looking to capitalize on a neutral zone trap style again then they better have the security in net. Overstretched hamstrings and lower back twists may be it for Brodeur this season - but people have been saying that for the last two years as well...
Alright - let's just look at the Islanders anyways. After all, they did kinda give the Pens a run for their money in a few games this past season:
14. New York Islanders
Well, GM Garth Snow will have no one to blame now that he has canned Ted Nolan.
Funny. That's literally all they can say about the Islanders.
I don't expect the Isles to be huge competitors this year, but I'd still like to see how they fair against the Pens. Especially when facing off against Satan and Fedotenko for the first time on November 8.
Are the ESPN rankings too generous...over the top? Lemme know what ya think.