Wednesday, October 04, 2006

NHL Predictions

Sneaking in right at the deadline, here are our NHL season predictions, with our usual 100% money back guarantee. First, the East.

1)Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo is as solid a team as your going to find. Great goal-tending, great young scorers. They will be tough to beat.

2)New Jersey Devils
When you have a magician like Lou Lamoriello for a GM, good things follow. Somehow managing to sweep away two unsightly contracts that were strangling his team, he now has Brian Gionta and Paul Martin under contract, which means the good times are still on in East Rutherford. As long as Martin Brodeur is in net, this is a team to watch out for.


3)Carolina Hurricanes
Do the defending champs have another cup on them? That's up for debate, but we think they easily have another division title. They lost a few players from last spring, and a couple more are injured, but that shouldn't matter. Eric Staal has MVP numbers in him, and Cam Ward was no fluke.

4)Ottawa Senators
Tick tock, the clock is ticking on the Senators. A decade of title expectations have resulted in not so much as a Stanley Cup final appearance. Now, we'd be lying if we said we did enjoy that just a little bit, but the truth is that the Senators are still one of the best in the league. We don't see them winning any cups this year, but hopefully sweeping the season series against Toronto will make up for that.

5)Philadelphia Flyers
We're being a little generous here, but we're also working under the assumption of a healthy Peter Forsberg and improved play from Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Will this be the season people point to as the beginning of Philadelphia's decline?

6)Atlanta Thrashers
There will champagne in the Thrashers dressing room this season as they qualify for their first post season. Losing Marc Savard hurts, but it shouldn't matter if Kari Lehtonen plays the whole season and Ilya Kovalchuk challenges for the Art Ross.

7)New York Rangers
The Rangers are going to keep riding the Jagr express for as long as it takes them, and it says in our book he's not quite done yet. Another superseason from him, plus decent contributions from his supporting staff and the sustained play of Henrik Lundqvist sees them into seventh.

8)Toronto Maples Leafs
Call this the home town discount, but we think the Leafs will make it. They will surprise some people this year. We see good things coming from their experiment in youth, from their gamble on Andrew Raycroft, and especially from new coach Paul Maurice. This is a precarious prediction, even the slightest breeze could knock the Leafs off in favour of the

9)Boston Bruins
So the Bruins dipped into the free agent market to fix their otherwise shoddy team. Stop us if you've heard this one before. Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard are great additions, but there's still something stopping us from putting them in the playoffs. The Bruins always find a way to fail, and we don't think that's going to stop now.

10)Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay could go either way this season. They could return to Cup winning form with career years for Brad Richards et al, or they could continue the regressing that began last season. Guess which side we're on.

11)Florida Panthers
Does Todd Bertuzzi return to form? Does it matter? We don't think this team has it in them either way. We hope for best for Eddie Belfour, we really do, but we can't help but think that he is setting himself up for disaster.


12)Montreal Canadiens
Montreal didn't really do anything major in the offseason (Signing Sergei Samsonov doesn't count as major. Just ask Edmonton) and they will suffer for it. Don't expect too much from them.

13)Pittsburgh Penguins
Speaking of expectations, how 'bout these guys? Can Sidney Crosby improve on his massive rookie season? Can Marc-Andre Fleury remind us why he was chosen first over all? Can Evgeni Malkin live up to his Best Player Outside of The NHL label? Even if the answer to all three questions is yes, this team is still not ready for the playoffs. But damn if this isn't a good time to start buying 2008/2009 season tickets.

14)Washington Capitals
The critically acclaimed one-man show, "Alexander Ovechkin," will continue to play in the D.C area from October to mid-April. Plenty of tickets still available.

15) New York Islanders
What to say that hasn't already been said? This team is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Make that 'If' it gets better.

West:

1) San Jose Sharks
Time for Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo to give us a season long encore. Good things will happen.

2) Calgary Flames
One Alex Tanguay a Stanley Cup does not win. A Northwest Division? Sure, why not. Look for Iginla to bring the scoring back, JT style.

3) Nashville Predators
Time for the Preds to shine. Their division is ripe for the taking, and their roster is stocked with talent. Nashville in the Stanley Cup finals? You heard it here first.

4) Anahiem Ducks
Ok, so the new logo is... unfortunate, but these Ducks are not. Brian Burke has shown again why he's the best at what he does. That defensive line up is the stuff of GM wet dreams.

5) Minnesota Wild
Hey, the lockout's over! Minnesota took awhile to realise it, but here they are ready to make a splash. Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik say that this team makes the playoffs.

6) Detroit Red Wings
Beginning of the end for the Red Wings? That's what we said last year, and then they went and won the Presidents Trophy. Either way Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk can only do so much.

7) Vancouver Canucks
Roberto Luongo equals playoff spot for Vancouver. After that? Well, Marcus Naslund's season will go a long way to determining that

8) Dallas Stars
The Stars are grasping at straws here. Eric Lindros? Seriously? Marty Turco will ensure respectability, but for how long?

9) Edmonton Oilers
We are on record as saying Dwayne Roloson will blow up in Edmonton's face, but you can't help but love their players up front. Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, Joffrey Lupul, and the rest give Edmonton a fighting chance.

10) Columbus Blue Jackets
Not this time Columbus, not this time. Is Nikolai Zherdev as good as he thinks he is? Freddy Modin is great, but who's left in net now? Things are looking up though.

11) Phoenix Coyotes
The Wayne Gretzky Experiment is still going strong, but the Coyotes aren't. Their defense is great, Ed Jovanovski, Keith Ballard and the like, but after that? Cujo has seen better days, and as much as we love Jeremy Roenick, why hasn't he moved into the broadcast booth yet?

12) Colorado Avalanche
Final requiem for the Colorado Avalanche, as we see the end of an era. Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk are all that remain of the glory days. Even if Jose Theodore keeps out of the Montreal tabloids, this team isn't going anywhere.

13) Chicago Blackhawks
Martin Havlat has never scored more than 68 points, or played in more than 75 games. We're not knocking the Hawks' move, we're just saying be patient. Which is something Chicago fans are all to familiar with. Don't worry, there's light at the end of this tunnel.

14) Los Angeles Kings
Does Dan Cloutier have pictures of coach Marc Crawford and an underaged Vietnamese prostitute? That's the only reason we can think of why they've been reunited in LA. This team, not exactly in the fast lane before, is slipping.

15) St. Louis Blues
The '96 US World Cup reunion tour begins in October and will tour the country featuring such former greats as Doung Weight, Bill Guerin, and Keith Tkachuk.

Ok, let's make the one prediction that really matters: Who will win the Stanley Cup? We have New Jersey and Nashville duking it out, with New Jersey coming out on top. But hey, we've been wrong before.

Jason

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