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Eastern Conference: Atlantic
Kostya Kennedy
October 08, 2007
NEW YORK Rangers
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October 08, 2007

Eastern Conference: Atlantic

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KEY ADDITIONS C Mike Comrie, LW Ruslan Fedotenko, RW Bill Guerin

KEY LOSSES RW Jason Blake, D Sean Hill, C Viktor Kozlov, D Tom Poti, LW Ryan Smyth, C Alexei Yashin

This maligned team finally got some good mojo going at the end of last season, winning its final four games to make the playoffs. As in every postseason appearance since 1993, however, the Islanders failed to get out of the first round. And then came the off-season. New York lost three of its top five forwards ( Ryan Smyth, who was acquired last February, Jason Blake and Viktor Kozlov) and two core defensemen ( Sean Hill, Tom Poti) to free agency. Meanwhile, franchise goalie Rick DiPietro, plagued by concussion-related issues at the end of last season, underwent surgery to clear bone fragments from his left hip.

DiPietro at least appears healthy now, but the replacement players in front of him represent a significant drop-off in talent. That means the Islanders will need coach Ted Nolan to inspire a middling cast to overachieve. He has the benefit of a favorable early-season schedule-- New York plays nine of its first 13 at home--and can only hope that some October wins will get his charges to believe in themselves as few others do.

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