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NHL: Jackets, Penguins Poised for Push

Posted by Webster Washington on 8/2/2015 8:28:47 AM

The Metropolitan Division is one of the toughest in the National Hockey League, and has a trio of teams that will be stingy with territory. But there are two teams waiting to make things a little murkier for the upcoming division race.

From a process-of-elimination standpoint, the New Jersey Devils are way too old, the Carolina Hurricanes way too young, and Philadelphia Flyers have way too many holes on defense. On the upside, the New York Rangers look solid to make themselves a Cup contender once again. So the question: Is it enough for the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders to go all-in on goalkeeping in order to maintain pace? The Caps re-upped sensational keeper Braden Holtby, and with Alex Ovechkin working his magic on the offensive end, they still look good. The Islanders got some help for Jaroslav Halak by picking up Thomas Greiss as backup in goal.

Two teams who should make it difficult for everyone are in Columbus and Pittsburgh. The Blue Jackets made a lot of noise in the 2014 playoffs, but last year ran into serious injury problems. They’ve since added a winner by grabbing up Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks. The Jackets may need a little defense, but with Saad playing up front with Ryan Johansen, they are an offensive threat. The Penguins went on the off-season offensive, too, by adding Phil Kessell in a trade with Toronto. That makes the Pens a triple threat in the zone, with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin already stirring the pot around goal. The young Olli Maatta is reportedly the next defensive star in the league, too.

Don’t look for the Rangers to budge, but the Blue Jackets and Pens will be in the thick of a four-team scramble for second honors.

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