Sunday, October 9, 2011

NHL Preseason Predictions

I really meant to make these predictions before the start of the season, but I've been really busy lately. I'm sure these predictions are still valid although the season has already started. Here they are:

Western Conference:
1) San Jose Sharks* - Heatley and Setoguchi are gone, but they have a legitimate shot this season thanks to new acquisitions Marty Havlat and Brent Burns, and their stars Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski.
2) Chicago Blackhawks* - The Blackhawks have two stars in Toews and Kane, and a great supporting cast. The only question is at the goalie position, where Corey Crawford is set to start.
3) Los Angeles Kings - Having been shadowed by the Sharks the last few seasons, the Kings have what it takes to win the Stanley Cup this year, with defensemen Drew Doughty and goalie Jonathan Quick.
4) Vancouver Canucks - The defending Western Conference champs are still as good as ever but it will be difficult for Daniel and Henrik Sedin to replicate last season.
5) Nashville Predators - This team seems to stay in the middle of the playoff pack year in and year out. Look for them to make a return appearance this season.
6) Minnesota Wild - One of the biggest disappointments last season might have found a pair of win-win trades in the Heatley and Setoguchi deals.
7) Detroit Red Wings - This team is getting older and older; I'm not sure if they can challenge for the cup this season.
8) Anaheim Ducks - They have nice young player in Bobby Ryan and a stout goalie in Jonas Hiller and that should get them into the playoffs.

Eastern Conference:
1) Pittsburgh Penguins* - This all depends on Sidney Crosby. If he gets back on the ice soon, the Penguins should cruise to a Presidents' Trophy.
2) Washington Capitals* - It's time for Alexander Ovechkin to get this team to the Stanley Cup. He has the supporting cast to do it this year.
3) Philadelphia Flyers - They lost a couple of key players, including their former captain Mike Richards, but they have solved their goaltending problem with Bryzgalov and still have a shot at the cup.
4) Tampa Bay Lightning - I really liked what this team did last year. They are a young group (mostly), but with the experience last year as well as stars Steven Stamkos, Martin St.Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier, they are my dork horse in the East.
5) Boston Bruins* - They had an improbable run for the Stanley Cup last year, but I do not think they will be able to do it again.
6) Buffalo Sabres - They are just like the Predators: year after year, they find themselves around the 6th spot in the playoffs but never quite get to the finals. It will be the same story this year.
7) New York Rangers - I do not really believe that they can win the cup. The only reason that they are here is because the East has too many bad teams and is really top-heavy in terms of talent.
8) Montreal Canadiens - Always a threat in the postseason, but they also have plenty of issues to take care of.

Stanley Cup Finals:
San Jose Sharks over Washington Capitals
Ovechkin will not be able to complete the task and the Sharks, with their dynamic forwards and revamped defense, will claim the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.

* = division winner

What do you think of these predictions?

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