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2011/2012 NHL Atlantic Division Gambling + Handicapping Preview

NHL Betting – Atlantic Division Preview

There may not be another division in the NHL with more uncertainty heading in to the season than the Atlantic, where all five teams are in the midst of transition.

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The biggest question mark is with the defending division champion Philadelphia Flyers, who traded two of their top forwards in the offseason, including captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, but finally landed a franchise goaltender with the addition of Ilya Bryzgalov.

Flyers’ fans hope the moves they made will help them get back to the Stanley Cup finals, while the New Jersey Devils will look to bounce back after a rough year, and the Pittsburgh Penguins hope their captain Sidney Crosby can make it back to lead them.

On The Rise: New Jersey Devils

Nearly everything went wrong for the Devils early on a year ago, but the team showed enough poise and resilience over the final couple of months to provide optimism for the future.

New head coach Peter DeBoer will be tasked with getting the most out of sniper Ilya Kovalchuk, who struggled mightily with his transition to the right wing in his first season with New Jersey, but he is too talented not to bounce back.

Goaltender Martin Brodeur is healthy and has something to prove after his team missed the postseason for the first time since 1995-96, and All-Star forward Zach Parise is also back after going down last year after just 12 games.

If Brodeur can provide the Devils with one more season at an All-Star level, they should have enough to return to the postseason.

On The Decline: Philadelphia Flyers

The New York Islanders are building with a young core, and the New York Rangers will once again be in a battle for a playoff spot even with the addition of free agent center Brad Richards, but neither should take a major step backward this season. The Penguins will get Crosby and Evgeni Malkin back, which leave the Flyers as the team most likely to take a step back.

One year after representing the Eastern conference in the Stanley Cup final, Philadelphia added a division title, but opted to make major changes anyway this offseason. [ad-4437448]

Although they finally got the goalie they wanted in Bryzgalov, the Flyers lost a couple of key pieces in Richards and Carter, and with the rest of the division improving they will be in tough to stay on top.

One of the biggest reasons why Philadelphia decided to move in a different direction was rumored to be the chemistry in the locker room, and it will be interesting to see how these moves affect that outlook.

Projected Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

A big part of how the division plays out depends on the health of Crosby, as the Penguins could again contend for the top spot in the Atlantic if they get their captain back.

The Flyers and Devils should contend for a playoff spot once again, while the Rangers and Islanders may be at least another year away, but barring any significant injuries, Pittsburgh should be able to bring clinch first place in the Atlantic.

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