Max Domi‘s ‘gutless’ punch on Aaron Ekblad in a preseason game can only mean one thing; fall will soon be here and we can all rejoice at the impending return of the NHL. Here at 4th Line Towers we can’t wait to watch some proper hockey again. This year we’re approaching our previews in a different way; the word count for each team’s preview has been dictated by the number of points that team scored last season. To further mix things up, we’ve divvied up the teams between our writers. Let the Atlantic division preview begin! Our other previews can be found here:
Tampa Bay Lightning – Joe Martini
2017/18: 113 points
The boys are back. The Tampa Bay Lightning return a squad that made it to the Eastern Conference Final. While another year older is normally used to signify age and decline for the Bolts, this gives youngsters such as Brayden Point, Mikhail Sergachev and late charging rookie Anthony Cirelli an opportunity to grow and build off last season, while the superstars on the team Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are in their prime.
The real question mark will be if goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy will be able to hold the net all season. After admitting fatigue last season the big man will need to be solid if Tampa hopes to bring the Cup back to the bay. With Louis Domingue as the new backup Tampa will need their number one to be just that.
Boston Bruins – Mike Laybourne
2017/18: 112 points
The Boston Bruins without doubt have the best offensive line in the league. The trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak terrify blueliners everywhere. Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy are a solid defensive line.
The biggest question facing the Bruins is about the depth of the roster. The business end is loaded with talent, but the further you get down the lines, the team looks distinctly average. To compete against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston will need to make the most of what it’s got, cos not much was added in the off-season.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Chace McCallum
2017/18: 105 points
After the young team achieved 105 points last season, expectations were sky high for the Toronto Maple Leafs. On July 1st, they landed superstar center John Tavares. The hysteria reached a new level. They have three first-line centermen, a pair of electric young wingers, two 50 point defencemen, and a top-tier goalie. As a result, this team should roll through the regular season, contending for the Presidents Trophy. Sadly, regular season wins are not how success is going to be defined in Toronto. Their Stanley cup window is wide open. How we remember these Toronto Maple Leafs will depend on how they play in April and beyond.
Florida Panthers – Jacob Langsam
2017/18: 96 points
The Panthers might not quite stack up to the Atlantic powerhouses in Tampa and Toronto, but they should be right in the mix for a spot in April. Now captain, Aleksander Barkov is all smiles and Vincent Trocheck is primed for another career year with the addition of Mike Hoffman to his wing. The defense isn’t perfect, but KHL all-star defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich should add a steady, shutdown presence. Roberto Luongo continues to defy age in net, and James Reimer can step in and be effective when necessary. Expect a longer preview for Florida next year.
Detroit Red Wings – Nick Seguin
2017/18: 73 points
The 2018-19 theme for the Red Wings is youth. Larkin and Mantha will be relied upon to carry the team forward offensively while defensive prospects duke it out for a chance to prove themselves among aging veterans. Zetterberg’s retirement leaves a gaping hole both on the ice and off of it. It’s going to be Detroit’s toughest season in many years. If you set the over/under at 75, I’m taking the under.
Montreal Canadiens – Fred Anjema
2017/18: 71 points
It’s time for patience in Montreal. But there are still many questions. After several colossal errors, has the management finally admitted they need to rebuild? Or has the greatest colossal error been to keep the current management around? The Habs have some decent pieces; they’ve made some changes and have a determined Carey Price. Can this group get it done? Not this year. But there’s the future and one word: Kotkaniemi.
Ottawa Senators – Joseph St. Amour
2017/18: 67 points
Coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in Senators history it’s hard to look at this team and be optimistic. With Erik Karlsson traded to the San Jose Sharks, can Ottawa even dream of a playoff spot this season? Anderson and Condon will need to play significantly better not in hopes that they make the playoffs, simply to hope they don’t get embarrassed again.
Buffalo Sabres – Benjamin Burke
2017/18: 62 points
Hot garbage: great way to describe the 2017-18 Buffalo Sabres. Much has changed from top to bottom. What is the skinny on this team? Offense? Needed speed, skill. Got it with a side of prospects. Defense? Rasmus Dahlin. Others add intrigue but the old will have more support. Goaltending? Small sample sizes for projected top 2. Outlook? Improved, not quite there. 85 points; Atlantic’s 5th