PHT’s 2020-21 NHL East Division predictions

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season begins with Wednesday triple header featuring Flyers-Penguins, Blackhawks-Lightning, and Blues-Avalanche.

NBCSN LIVESTREAM: Penguins vs. Flyers – coverage begins at 5:15 p.m. ET

NBCSN LIVESTREAM: Blackhawks vs. Lightning – coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET

NBCSN LIVESTREAM: Blues vs. Avalanche – coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. ET

Realignment has given the four NHL divisions a fresh look for the 2020-21 season. In the East Division, gone are the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes. Let’s welcome the Bruins and Sabres to the mix this season.

For this season, only four teams from each division will make the playoffs, which will make the East incredibly competitive from top to bottom. You have your old standards in the Bruins, Capitals, and Penguins; your upstarts in the Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders; and your “wanting to trend upwards” Devils, and Sabres.

[PHT PREDICTIONS: NORTH/WEST/CENTRAL]

Be sure to give us your picks in the comments!

EAST DIVISION

Sean Leahy, NHL writerThis certainly has a last ride to it for the Bruins after coming up short in 2019. It’s seriously going to be a competitive division with only four teams making the playoffs. Those final two spots could easily see four teams separated by just a few points.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: Consider this a brutal division, even if it’s more about quantity (most teams being viable, some very good) than quality (each has flaws, some potentially fatal). The top three could easily swap positions, while the fight for the fourth spot has the potential to be epic. Counting out the Capitals is cause for some indigestion.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Boston and Washington are the class of the division I think, and then you have Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the Islanders, and Rangers fighting for the other two playoff spots. I like the offensive potential of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to win that, and while I love the Rangers potential the defense has enough questions that I am not quite ready to put them in the top-four of this group.

[NHL Power Rankings: Contenders and pretenders for 2020-21 NHL season]

Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: The Bruins got ridiculously lucky to not have to deal with Tampa Bay or Toronto. Philadelphia and Washington will also be forces to contend with, but could see the Capitals having some struggles.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: This division is absolutely loaded and I wouldn’t be surprised if at least two of the teams I’ve put in the playoffs end up missing. I still believe in the Caps’ roster so right now I’m putting them on top.

Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: This is the toughest division to call as there are six or seven good teams. Boston needs Pastrnak back and the loss of Krug and Chara from the blueline will hurt but they are likely still good enough to win. The Flyers were terrific when the regular season came to an end last year and I love the Rangers this season as they are a talented team. The Islanders are too strong defensively and should hold off Washington and Pittsburgh but that should be a battle. Buffalo is improving but are in too tough a division. The Devils are still not close to playoff contention. 

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