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    NHL Eastern Conference preview

    Rick Nash adds more depth to the New York Rangers.
    Ray Stubblebine/REUTERS
    Rick Nash adds more depth to the New York Rangers.

    Teams listed in their predicted order of finish:

    1. New York Rangers

    Coach: John Tortorella (fifth season).

    Record: 51-24-7, 109 points, first in East.


    Playoffs: Lost to New Jersey in conference finals.

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    Notable: GM Glen Sather made the move of the summer by acquiring Rick Nash from Columbus for a package that included Brandon Dubinsky. Nash, Marian Gaborik, and Brad Richards have the makings of a dynamite No. 1 line. Core of team is Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi, and Ryan Callahan.

    2. Boston Bruins

    Coach: Claude Julien (sixth season).

    Record: 49-29-4, 102 points, second in East.

    Playoffs: Lost to Washington in first round.


    Notable: Bruins hopeful that stability and familiarity give them advantage in shortened season. Tuukka Rask should be ready to replace Tim Thomas as No. 1 goalie. Tyler Seguin in line for breakout year.

    3. Pittsburgh Penguins

    Coach: Dan Bylsma (fifth season).

    Record: 51-25-6, 108 points, fourth in East.

    Playoffs: Lost to Philadelphia in first round.

    Notable: After Jordan Staal declined to sign a 10-year extension, GM Ray Shero traded the No. 3 center to Carolina. Brandon Sutter should be perfect third-line pivot behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Tomas Vokoun will push Marc-Andre Fleury in goal. Excellent complementary players in Kris Letang and James Neal.

    4. Philadelphia Flyers


    Coach: Peter Laviolette (fourth season).

    Record: 47-26-9, 103 points, fifth in East.

    Playoffs: Lost to New Jersey in second round.

    Notable: GM Paul Holmgren brought together the Brothers Schenn with a June trade. The Flyers shipped out former University of New Hampshire star James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn. Younger brother Brayden Schenn might ride with top-line center Claude Giroux. As always in Philly, the key is in goal. Anybody trust Ilya Bryzgalov?

    5. Carolina Hurricanes

    Coach: Kirk Muller (second season).

    Record: 33-33-16, 82 points, 12th in East.

    Playoffs: Did not qualify.

    Notable: Carolina now has the best 1-2 brother punch up the middle. Eric Staal will be backed by younger brother Jordan, acquired from Pittsburgh in a package that sent Brandon Sutter to the Penguins. The Staal boys could even play on the same line if Muller wants to power up. Justin Faulk is one of the league’s sharpest young defensemen.

    6. Tampa Bay Lightning

    Coach: Guy Boucher (third season).

    Record: 38-36-8, 84 points, 10th in East.

    Playoffs: Did not qualify.

    Notable: GM Steve Yzerman made a major upgrade in goal. Anders Lindback, buried in Nashville behind Pekka Rinne, is ready to become a No. 1 puck-stopper. Matt Carle will be an offensive threat on defense. Martin St. Louis is ageless. Steven Stamkos is the NHL’s most dangerous sharpshooter.

    7. Ottawa Senators

    Coach: Paul MacLean (second season).

    Record: 41-31-10, 92 points, eighth in East.

    Playoffs: Lost to Rangers in first round.

    Notable: Erik Karlsson might be league’s most important player to his team. Karlsson is involved in every layer of offense. He makes Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson better. Ottawa has depth in goal with Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner, and Ben Bishop. GM Bryan Murray could trade Bishop to upgrade roster.

    8. Washington Capitals

    Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
    Former Bruin Adam Oates will be in his first season as the Capitals coach.

    Coach: Adam Oates (first season).

    Record: 42-32-8, 92 points, seventh in East.

    Playoffs: Lost to Rangers in second round.

    Notable: The Capitals will look to Oates to lead a system that blends Bruce Boudreau’s go-go ways and Dale Hunter’s stifling defense. When clicking, there aren’t many offensive duos better than Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Braden Holtby looked like he had No. 1 stuff against the Bruins.

    9. New Jersey Devils

    Coach: Peter DeBoer (second season).

    Record: 48-28-6, 102 points, sixth in East.

    Playoffs: Lost to Los Angeles in Stanley Cup Final.

    Notable: No way to replace Zach Parise, captain and 31-goal scorer from last season. Ilya Kovalchuk will need to take on more responsibility. Martin Brodeur surprises everyone each season. But even future Hall of Fame goalies can’t make up for Parise’s departure.

    10. Buffalo Sabres

    Coach: Lindy Ruff (15th season).

    Record: 39-32-11, 89 points, ninth in East.

    Playoffs: Did not qualify.

    Notable: GM Darcy Regier added muscle in the offseason. The Sabres signed heavyweight John Scott, then traded Derek Roy to acquire supreme pest Steve Ott. Buffalo will play with more of an edge. Ryan Miller will keep the Sabres in games. But still without a top-line center. Tyler Myers needs a bounceback season.

    11. New York Islanders

    Coach: Jack Capuano (third season).

    Record: 34-37-11, 79 points, 14th in East.

    Playoffs: Did not qualify.

    Notable: No. 1 center John Tavares (31-50—81 last season) is a difference-maker. Tavares makes Matt Moulson better. Kyle Okposo is a good second-line scoring wing. Veteran Mark Streit stabilizes the defense and is a good mentor for youngsters Travis Hamonic and Calvin De Haan.

    12. Florida Panthers

    Coach: Kevin Dineen (second season).

    Record: 38-26-18, 94 points, third in East.

    Playoffs: Lost to New Jersey in first round.

    Notable: The Panthers turned heads last season when a remade roster took the Devils to seven games. GM Dale Tallon, in his second year in South Florida, didn’t do much to upgrade the roster during the offseason. Some talent in Brian Campbell, Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss. But no game-breakers.

    13. Montreal Canadiens

    Coach: Michel Therrien (first season).

    Record: 31-35-16, 78 points, 15th in East.

    Playoffs: Did not qualify.

    Notable: Lots of work for first-year GM Marc Bergevin to fix the rubble left by previous bosses Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey. The Canadiens have their centerpiece in goal in Carey Price. They need to re-sign P.K. Subban promptly. Montreal has a solid line in Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, and Erik Cole. Depth drops off dramatically after that.

    14. Toronto Maple Leafs

    Coach: Randy Carlyle (second season).

    Record: 35-37-10, 80 points, 13th in East.

    Playoffs: Did not qualify.

    Notable: Franchise is still recovering from the sudden whacking of GM Brian Burke. On the ice, Toronto remains without an identity. They have B-level talent in Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf. But no franchise pieces. Must upgrade goaltending, whether it’s Roberto Luongo or someone else.

    15. Winnipeg Jets

    Coach: Claude Noel (second season).

    Record: 37-35-10, 84 points, 11th in East.

    Playoffs: Did not qualify.

    Notable: GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s major offseason moves were signing Alexei Ponikarovsky and Olli Jokinen. Yawn. Ex-Bruin Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little had some offensive chemistry last season. Zach Bogosian (wrist) won’t be ready to start the season. Ondrej Pavelec usually shows flashes of top-tier goaltending, but hasn’t put together a consistent year.

    Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.