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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

In the Crease: More NHL standings predictions

Edition two: Canadiens, Lightning, Maple Leafs and Senators.

FIXED graphic for Zach Gerson's column "In The Crease"

Graphic by Richie Han Kyaw

The Montreal Canadiens are clearly continuing their rebuild, which began at the start of last season following their appearance in the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals. Apart from their two young star forwards Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, Montreal does not have any notable pieces, emphasizing the fact that they are eyeing future success, keenly focused on developing their young prospects. The Canadiens finished last season with 68 points. Since the front office did not make any key improvements during the offseason and is focused on their rebuild, the club will finish in about the same spot they did last season.

Canadiens prediction: No playoff berth (eighth place in Atlantic Division, 64 points)

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in an interesting place to start the season, as star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is out for at least two months with a back injury. Because of this, many are questioning Tampa’s ability to even make the playoffs. I don’t see that as the case. Tampa is too talented, too well-coached under Jon Cooper and too experienced to not make the playoffs. With star forwards such as Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov and star defenseman Victor Hedman, the Lightning will be just fine with questionable goaltending to start the season. Expect Tampa to continue its success and put up yet another stellar campaign.

Lightning prediction: Playoff berth (second place in Atlantic Division, 103 points)

On paper, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the most talented team in the NHL. To what extent that translates onto the ice this season is yet to be seen, but either way, the Leafs are in for a massive season. With the likes of superstar Auston Matthews, as well as star forwards Mitchell Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander and Tyler Bertuzzi, nobody — yes, nobody — is stopping this team. On top of Toronto’s unprecedented star power, they also have solid goaltending in Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll. The Leafs’ playoff woes are an entirely different story, but for now, expect them to cause nightmares for opposing teams’ defensive cores.

Maple Leafs prediction: Playoff berth (first place in Atlantic Division, 112 points)

The Ottawa Senators, like the Buffalo Sabres, are a young, up-and-coming team with their eyes set on a playoff berth. Heavily scrutinized general manager Pierre Dorion made many improvements to his team recently, including acquiring star defenseman Jakob Chychrun via trade and signing star forward Vladimir Tarasenko and starting goaltender Joonas Korpisalo during free agency. These pieces are key additions to the team’s core, which is headlined by star forwards Tim Stutzle and Brady Tkachuk and star defenseman Jake Sanderson. Despite these key pieces, it will not be enough to find a way into the playoffs this season due to the extremely competitive Eastern Conference. However, the Senators have an extremely bright future and will have a great decade to come, but for now, they will have to wait another year to have the chance to play for hockey’s ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup.

Senators prediction: No playoff berth (sixth place in Atlantic Division, 85 points)