Welcome to the New York Rangers' new home, the MassMutual NHL East Division. This year, the Rangers share a division with the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals. So, it’s the Metropolitan Division we know and loathe but swap out the Columbus Blue Jackets for the Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes for the Sabres. That simplifies things a bit, right?
As a result of the structure of this unique season, we’re going to get to know the teams of the East Division very well. Let’s jump into a roundtable division preview where we answer some straightforward questions about the Rangers’ temporary new home.
Who wins the Division?
- Boston: Bryan, Adam
- Philadelphia: Mike, Shayna, Kevin, Brianna
- Washington: Tom, Joe, Matt
It looks like Banter’s staff is more worried about the devil we know — the Flyers and the Capitals — instead of the Devil we only kinda know — the Bruins.
Boston and the Capitals remain forces to be reckoned with and the Flyers are a rising power under the guidance of former Rangers’ bench boss Alain Vigneault.
All things considered, this is a pretty brutal division — which is why so many of us think the Rangers will finish outside the playoff picture. Remember, only the top four teams from the division will be in the playoffs. Are the Rangers better than the Bruins, Flyers, Capitals, and Penguins/Islanders? Almost certainly not. Are they better than four of those teams? We’ll soon find out.
Who finishes last?
- New Jersey: Everybody
Well, that was easy.
Remember the nonsense I said in the question above about being afraid of the devil we don’t know? Well, no one is afraid of the actual Devils. The New Jersey Devils, that is.
Every participating member of Banter’s staff picked New Jersey to finish last in the division. Listen, someone has to finish last and the Devils certainly didn’t do add a lot of pieces to bolster the roster or address their needs in the offseason. They added Ryan Murray, Dmitry Kulikov, and brought back Sami Vatanen but free agent signing Corey Crawford retired before playing a single game as a Devil. There’s a lot riding on Mackenzie Blackwood. The good news for the Devils is the youth of their most important pieces, especially Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.
So, are the Rangers and Bruins rivals again?
- Nope: Everybody
Well, there you have it.
Despite what NBCSN and others might tell you, the rivalry between the Rangers and Bruins is long dead. There’s no recent bad blood here and the most interesting thing to happen between the two franchises in recent history is the Rick Nash trade.
Still, it’s worth noting that when we polled our Twitter followers in July asking who the Rangers’ biggest out-of-division rival was, the Bruins came in with 61.5% of the 460 total votes. So, maybe there’s something here.
Which team is the most improved from last year?
- Buffalo: Everyone not named Tom
- New York Rangers: Tom
Apparently, Tom is a pretty big fan of this Alexis Lafrenière kid.
After years of something a step or two below mediocrity, the Sabres had a huge offseason wherein they landed UFA Taylor Hall on a one-year “pay me” deal and added Eric Staal in a trade with the Minnesota Wild. This is also a young team with a lot of potential that should be getting better with each passing year.
Which team is the least improved?
- Boston: Joe, Mike
- New York Islanders: Shayna, Adam, Kevin, Bryan, Brianna, Matt
- Pittsburgh: Tom
Finally, a bit of a debate! The Bruins lost Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara on their blue line, the Penguins are a year older, and the Islanders lost Johnny Boychuk to retirement and traded underrated defender Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche for a couple of 2nd round picks. The Isles failed to really replace those pieces, especially Toews, with anyone of note, putting a lot on the young Noah Dobson’s shoulders.
So, what do you think? Which team finishes first in the division? How about last? Which teams make the playoffs out of the East? Let us know what you think of the Rangers and their new (and old) neighbors in the East Division.