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2014-15 NHL season preview: Atlantic Division
NHL
2014-15 NHL season preview: Atlantic Division
Dan Gartland
Sunday September 28th, 2014

MORE ATLANTIC PREVIEWS: Bruins | Canadiens | Maple Leafs | Red Wings | Senators | Sabres | Panthers

NHL
SI.com's 2014-15 Preseason All-NHL Teams: first, second, third

COACH: Jon Cooper

2013-14 RECORD: 46-27-9, 101 points (second in Atlantic; lost to Canadiens, 4-0, in first round)

VITAL SIGNS: 2.93 goals-for per game (8th), 2.62 goals-against per game (11th), 18.52 power play pct. (13th), 80.74 penalty kill pct. (23rd); shootout record: 8-6 (7th)

NOTABLE ARRIVALS: D Anton Stralman, F Brian Boyle, G Evgeni Nabokov, F Brenden Morrow

NOTABLE DEPARTURES: D Keith Aulie, G Anders Lindback

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards

Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Ryan Callahan
Jonathan Drouin — Valtteri Filppula — Richard Panik
Alex Killorn — Tyler JohnsonNikita Kucherov
Brenden Morrow — Brian Boyle — J.T. Brown
Cedric Paquette

Defensemen

Victor Hedman — Matt Carle
Anton Stralman — Radko Gudas
Jason GarrisonEric Brewer
Andrej Sustr, Mark Barberio

Goalies

Ben Bishop
Evgeni Nabokov

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Fancy Stats Primer: Your guide to hockey's advanced analytics jargon

OUTLOOK: The fact that Tampa Bay finished second in their division with Steven Stamkos out for more than half of the season bodes very well for the 2014-15 campaign, and the team is out to prove that it can make a deep playoff run. With their elite sniper healthy and back in form, the Bolts promise a high-power offense that should rank among the league's best. Calder Trophy runner-up Ondrej Palat produced 59 points last season and will have an opportunity to take a step forward during the Lightning's first full season of the post-Martin St. Louis era. Tyler Johnson, so good in Stamkos' absence, slips back on the depth chart to key a very promising third line. Winger Jonathan Drouin, the third pick in the 2013 draft and a preseason Calder favorite, is coming off a season in which he scored 108 points in 46 games with Halifax of the QMJHL. A fractured thumb will keep him out for the season’s first few weeks, but he’ll be expected to produce once he returns. Tampa Bay also strengthened its defense by signing Anton Stralman from the Rangers and trading for the Canucks’ Jason Garrison, whose presence should take some power play pressure off Norris Trophy candidate Victor Hedman. Reuniting Brian Boyle with his former Rangers teammate (and PK partner) Ryan Callahan will improve a penalty killing unit that ranked 23rd in the league last season.

• GM Yzerman confirms that Drouin will be in the lineup

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ben Bishop

Bishop's breakthrough season earned him consideration as a Vezina finalist, but late-season wrist and elbow injuries ruined his party, keeping him out of the playoffs and effectively ending Tampa Bay's postseason chances. He admitted recently that his wrist is not yet fully healed, and while he hopes to be 100 percent by opening night, it could be a lingering concern. The Bolts have proved they can survive without Stamkos. They're dead in the water without Bishop.

PREDICTION: 99 points, third in Atlantic

• METROPOLITAN PREVIEWS: Capitals | Penguins | Flyers | Devils | Islanders | Blue Jackets | Hurricanes | Rangers

• PACIFIC PREVIEWS: Canucks | Sharks | Coyotes | Flames | Ducks | Oilers | Kings

• CENTRAL PREVIEWS: Wild | Stars | Blackhawks | Avalanche | Jets | Predators | Blues

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