Original win totals help keep proper perspective on each team based on the oddsmakers' original perspective for each team. In essence, it gives a solid place of reference.
Atlanta (36.5 wins): No more Kovalchuk but a number of additions (from the Stanley Cup winning Blackhawks) will help...eventually. As for now, another tough season falling just short of the post-season is very likely. Look for improvement from this team as the season goes on and the Thrashers adjust to the changes under coach Craig Ramsay.
Carolina (38.5 wins): The Hurricanes are in "payroll reduction" mode and they've really lost some key components. As a result, they will hard pressed to get to the post-season unless goalie Cam Ward has a simply phenomenal season between the pipes. Keep in mind, this teams goals against average was among the worst in the league last season.
Florida (33.5 wins): One of the worst teams in the league on offense last season. Goals per game and the power play success rate both were ugly. Now, with going to a younger team and losing a guy like Nathan Horton things are going to get worse before they get better in Florida.
Tampa Bay (40.5 wins): This team has a new "feel" to it with Steve Yzerman at the top. Though there are depth issues with this team, they certainly have enough talent among their core group of top players to make a run at the post-season this spring. Goaltending has been strengthened with the addition of Dan Ellis to push Mike Smith. If Vincent Lecavalier is healthy the Lightning can really make some noise this season but the penalty kill and overall defense needs to improve under coach Guy Boucher.
Washington (50.5 wins): After a disappointing post-season, the Capitals will be strong in the "motivation department" this season. Of course their offense and power play is top notch. However, if one of their young goalies, Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth, is able to step up that will be the big key. The Capitals must improve in their own end if they want to have a shot at winning it all this season. Don't be surprised if they do indeed end up making a big run in this season's play-offs. This team is loaded once again. Boston (45.5 wins): Short on offense last season. Blew a 3-0 series lead in post-season. The Bruins enter the new season with no shortage of hunger. Adding Nathan Horton should certainly help. Additionally, don't forget that Marc Savard missed about half of last season. With improved offense plus continued stellar defense and goaltending, the Bruins should be moving back up.
Buffalo (42.5 wins): Ryan Miller, between the pipes, is the key to Buffalo's success. However, what they really need is more consistent offense. That continues to be an issue each post-season. If Thomas Vanek returns to health and Tyler Ennis picks up where he left off in the post-season look out!
Montreal (40.5 wins): This Habs team could carry momentum from last season's playoff run or the Canadiens could pay for having let goalie Jaroslav Halak go to St Louis. We feel the latter will hold true and we also expect Montreal to fall back some after losing some other key personnel from their roster. Guys like Kostitsyn, Metropolit, and Moore are no longer Habs.
Ottawa (40.5 wins): The Senators are capable of scoring goals in bunches but will they keep the puck out of their own net? Pascal Leclaire hasn't been able to prove he could be consistent at the NHL level. He just can't stay healthy and therefore, can't stay on top of his game. So, unless goaltending gets turned around, considering the departure of defenseman Anton Volchenkov as well, the Sens are likely to fall back this season.
Toronto (37.5 wins): The Leafs are hungry this year. They were a different team after all the roster turnover that occurred in late January last season. We expect some positive momentum from that to carry right into this season. With improved goaltending, thanks to Gustavsson and Giguere both benefiting from pushing each other to be better, the Leafs just might even make the playoffs this season! We like the speed the Leafs now have up front as well as the deeper blueline that is now entrenched on this roster. Conference New Jersey (47.5 wins): With a new coach plus personnel added like Jason Arnott in the off-season and Ilya Kovalchuk last season, the Devils will once again threaten this season. Note that they've added depth on the blue line and still have one of the best ever, Martin Brodeur, between the pipes.
NY Islanders (33.5 wins): Young but improving. Tavares, Molson, and Okposo are all capable of continuing to raise their games. However, this team improved by 26 points last season and it's hard to imagine this team even matching last season's point total. Goaltending seems to be marked by neverending inconsistency. The special teams last season also were among the worst in the league on both the power play and the penalty kill.
NY Rangers (40.5 wins): The Rangers need Gaborik to stay healthy and let's face it, how often does that happen for a long period of time? New York also won just 18 of their 41 home games. Keep in mind, in between a 7-1-0 start and a 7-1-2 finish, the Rangers won just 24 of 64 games! This is a team which, due to inconsistency, is very hard to trust.
Philadelphia (44.5 wins): Though they snuck into the playoffs, the Flyers made a lot of noise once they were in the post-season as they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers have some issues with age on defense and they've had injury issues at the forward spots. That said, health and whether or not goalie Michael Leighton reverts to his "career form" (especially considering his late start to the season) will be the key deciding factors for Philly's success come spring of next year.
Pittsburgh (48.5 wins): The Penguins lost Sergei Gonchar but they added defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin. Also, this club is so strong down the middle. The Penguins questions are depth and the fact the defense has been rebuilt. Also, not having a healthy Max Talbot last season certainly did not help. However, with Crosby and Malkin and a return to top form for Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes this team is most certainly still a top contender for the Stanley Cup. Will Fleury play to the level he is capable of? That is the key question.