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NHL Power Ratings

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Bob Grove's annual predictions

Eastern Conference


Pittsburgh: Martin, Michalek will improve defense. Can challenge for Cup with bounce-back seasons from Fleury, Malkin and improved power play.

Philadelphia: Solid defense, and Cup run should improve confidence of Giroux, van Riemsdyk. But, hey, goaltending questions as always.

New Jersey: Volchenkov, Tallinder help D, but Brodeur’s consistency and Kovalchuk’s ability to handle enormous pressure big questions for new coach MacLean.

NY Rangers: Frolov, White not enough to provide meaningful improvement for anemic attack. Handcuffed by Redden contract.

NY Islanders: Promising young forwards to build around, but Eaton, Jurcina, Wisniewski don’t dramatically improve defense that needs healthy DiPietro.


Kuba injury hurts early, and won’t be as hard to play against without Sutton, Volchenkov. But Gonchar, healthy Kovalev boost PP.

Boston: NHL’s weakest attack added only enigmatic Horton, so Rask and Bruins need another outstanding defensive season to forget playoff meltdown.

Buffalo: Desperately need Vanek to rediscover scoring touch and help take some pressure off Miller in goal.

Montreal: Essentially returns intact from surprising playoff run with one overwhelming question: was Price the right goalie to keep?

Toronto: Versteeg and full season from Giguere help. But special teams, scoring depth and overall defensive play need huge improvements.


Surprisingly silent this summer, and questions remain about young goalies and defensive commitment, but Caps remain best in an improving division.

Tampa Bay: The Yzerman Era begins with a terrific top six and new coach Bouchard, but lots of personnel change means improvement may take time.

Atlanta: Chicago South should benefit from Cup experience of Byfuglien, Sopel, Eager and Ladd. Bergfors and Peverley must score for new coach Ramsay.

Carolina: Loss of Whitney will hurt immensely, and Sutter needs to take bigger role. Return of Corvo, Babchuk not significant moves.

Florida: A healthy Booth would be big start up front. Wideman helps on D, but still a team that has to prove it can learn defensive fundamentals.

Western Conference


Detroit: Healthy Franzen, Kronwall and return of Hudler are a boost. Questionable if Modano can have measurable impact.

Chicago: What Cup winner can lose eight players and return to Final? Still very good, but not the same depth and Turco isn’t answer in goal.

St. Louis: Halak gets to prove he’s a No. 1, but Blues go nowhere without much more from Backes, Steen, Perron and Boyes.

Nashville: Gritty, well-coached and sound defensively with monster Weber. But still lacking the big-time scorer; Lombardi isn’t it.

Columbus: If G Mason returns to form and Filatov is serious about NHL game, Jackets will improve under new coach Arniel.


San Jose:
Adding G Niemi a great move, as was re-signing Marleau. Remain one of the West’s best teams.

Los Angeles: Lots of hype for promising young team, and rightly so. Doughty, Kopitar, Quick only getting better, and good vets to guide them.

Phoenix: Loss of Michalek hurts. But healthy Upshall, Whitney, improving Hanzal and Wolski could make workhorse Bryzgalov breathe easier.

Anaheim: With Getzlaf healthy and Ryan signed, rebuilt defense must come together and team must learn discipline to reach playoffs.

Dallas: G Lehtonen critical to defensive improvement, but his track record is shaky. Did little to improve depth, so youngsters are key.


Hamhuis, Ballard solid pickups on D, and Torres, Malhotra help depth. Could make a run for Cup if Luongo ever comes through.

Minnesota: Need healthy Bouchard and more of same from Latendresse, but nothing more important than wakeup call for Havlat.

Colorado: Not much added to blossoming stable of young forwards, so G Anderson might be key to improvement.

Calgary: Return of Tanguay, Jokinen still among most curious moves of summer, and when is Bouwmeester going to reach his true potential?

Edmonton: Hall, Eberle outstanding young players, but boy are they going to take their lumps this season.

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