Ranking Boston Bruins’ Biggest Divisional Threats

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Boston Bruins' Biggest Divisional Threats

Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Next season launches the start of the new NHL realignment which places the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic division. This new division is among the most difficult in the league due to the quality of opposition and the additional teams added to the mix. Boston will see some familiar faces as well as some new ones as it tries to claim the top spot in the standings.

There are some old foes that will remain in the division as the Bruins, most notably the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both team have been historically bitter rivals which has been taken to new heights given the fact that all three are talented and always competing. Toronto has been active in the free agent market and looms as one of the biggest threats to the Bruins next season. Meanwhile, the Canadiens will always be a thorn in the Bruins' side with games that always bring out the most intense competitions between the two.

The Atlantic division will see the arrival of another storied franchise in the form of the Detroit Red Wings. As their window of opportunity closes on their chances of a deep Cup run, due to their age, they will be pushing for the playoffs as hard as anyone. In addition, they have added new talent, especially on the offensive side of the ice, to help with their scoring. Also, arguably the best tandem of players in the league will be in the same division as the Bruins. Tampa Bay Lightning's Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos light up the ice in every game as they pound the net with shots and goals that creates problems for any defense.

Here are the rankings of which of the seven teams in the Atlantic division will give the Bruins the most trouble as they seek to win a divisional title and make the playoffs.

Tim Nikolouzos is a Boston Bruins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @timnikolou

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Florida Panthers

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers are certainly the smallest obstacle in the Bruins' path to a division title. The Panthers are still tying to grow and develop any talent they have. The addition of Scott Gomez is a plus for them, but they are still unable to seriously challenge any team. They may win a few surprise games when someone takes them too lightly, although do not expect them outside the bottom half of the division.

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Buffalo Sabres

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres are going to be a mixed bag next season. They have not done much to rid themselves of the problems that plagued them last year and have been unable to move some players they no longer want. Part of this is due to the salary cap; their situation may not change at all this offseason. With the talent they have, the Sabres should do better, but a repeat of the previous season may be what's in store.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Lightning are in a similar boat as the Sabres. They still have not found a solution to their defensive problems this offseason. While they may be able to pile on goals, they will have their own net full of them if no moves are made to improve the defense. They look to be set for a similar season as last year with anticipated similar results.

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Ottawa Senators

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators took the league by surprise last season with their impressive performances despite numerous injuries sustained by the team. Losing their former captain to Detroit will do them no favors. Aided by their coach and young goalie, who both proved themselves last season, they should be able to continue their form into the next year. The Senators will likely make the playoffs again with an even healthier squad to draw from this time.

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Red Wings Detroit

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings are look to be a top team in the division next season. They have done the most to maximize their chances by bringing in scorers to compliment what they already have, most notably Daniel Alfredsson. They will be among the teams that will be seriously challenging the Bruins for points. An intangible that might give them an edge in the need to perform for a city that is desperately in need of some pride. Their time is closing on them to win a Stanley Cup as their stars age, so expect that most out of them.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs have taken everyone by surprise and have come back stronger than ever from their exit in the playoffs at the hands of the Bruins. Besides being extremely active in the free agent market, they have transformed their front office and mentality. They are taking winning the Stanley Cup as serious as ever so expect that to carry over onto the ice and give the Bruins a few headaches.

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Montreal Canadiens

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadiens are rivals and the biggest threat to the Bruins in the division. Their history with the Bruins goes back decades and speaks for itself, but that is not the reason why they are such a challenge. They have talent and the attitude to match the Bruins well. The only disadvantage would be their lack of a physical presence. The two teams battle it out for the top spot every year so next year should be no different.

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  • Lauren Burg

    I’m not sure if I totally agree with your assessment of the Tampa Bay Lightning. While they didn’t go sign any defenseman via free agency, there are a lot of NHL ready ones in their minor league system. Names like Radko Gudas and Mark Barbario highlight the list, and those two should both make the big league roster come opening day.

    Personally, I think it will be more of a question whether Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback can step up and perform at the level everyone knows they’re capable of.