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Irrefutable Predictions for the NHL 2011-12 Season

by chewy 6. October 2011 15:05

I've consulted with the tea leaves and gazed into the future.  I now know how the 2011-12 NHL hockey season will pan out.  If you're a fan of mysteries, please stop reading now.  If you'd like to know the answers to all your questions, read on.   First, lets get the big question out of the way…

 

2011-12 Hardware

 

Stanley Cup

This could play out a number of ways, but I'm seeing California over Pennsylvania in the Finals.  I'm ruling out the Ducks (though they should make a run of it).  That leaves LA/San Jose versus Pittsburgh/Philly.  Any combination of these teams would make for a great series and would come as little surprise.  In the end, I see the San Jose Sharks finally getting it done against the Flyers.

 

MVP / Art Ross / Rocket Richard

So who will reign supreme on Trophy night?  He was poised to take the hardware through most of last season.  In his 3rd time out, I see Steven Stamkos claiming all three trophies next Spring.

 

Vezina

This is one trophy that Stamkos can't win, so who will be this year's top goaltender?  Certainly Thomas could repeat, but I see him splitting time evenly with Rask this time around.  The winner will definitely come from the Atlantic Division, meaning it's down to Lundqvist, Fleury, or Bryzgalov.  All three will shine this season, but the winner will ultimately be Ilya Bryzgalov.

 

Norris

The finalist for the Norris tend to stay the same year after year.  The club will add a brand new member next Spring when Shea Weber runs away with the voting.

 

Presidents Trophy

It won't mean a thing come playoff time, but I see the Washington Capitals winning a ton of regular season contests and finishing with the most points.

 

 

The Standings

 

Let's turn our attention now to the Final Standings. 

 

Starting in the East:

 

1. Washington *

2. Philadelphia *

3. Buffalo *

4. NY Islanders

5. Pittsburgh

6. Boston

7. Tampa Bay

8. Toronto

--------------------

9. Montreal

10. Carolina

11. Winnepeg

12. NY Rangers

13. Florida

14. New Jersey

15. Ottawa

 

 

As you can see, I'm going way off the board picking the Islanders to finish with home ice advantage.  This team will put up goals in huge bunches this year.  They showed last season that if one goalie goes down, they can find four more to take his place.   The other side of the Big Apple won't fare so well.  Look for Sather and Torts to be following Avery out of town by the All-Star break.

 

 

Western Conference:

 

1. Vancouver *

2. Los Angeles *

3. Chicago *

4. San Jose

5. Anaheim

6. Detroit

7. Nashville

8. Colorado

--------------------

9. St. Louis

10. Edmonton

11. Columbus

12. Minnesota

13. Quebec (I mean, Phoenix)

14. Dallas

15. Calgary

 

 

Look for the state of California to get a great deal of attention from the hockey world this year, with all 3 teams vying for top spot in the Pacific Division, while feasting on the Coyotes and Stars.  The Oilers will make some progress and challenge for a playoff spot.

 

 

10 More Bold Predictions for the new year:

 

1. The Islanders will score more than 250 goals this season, putting them in the top 5 in the NHL in that category.

2. Claude Giroux will challenge for the scoring title, but will settle for 3rd by the end of the season.

3. Ray Emery will be the goalie of choice in Chicago come playoff time

4. Lou Lamoriello will coach at least 10 games for the Devils this season.

5. This will be the last season that Glen Sather is employed as a GM in the NHL.

6. Eventually, Evgeni Nabokov will get his shot to play for the Wings, just a year later than planned.

7. Ottawa and Calgary will battle all season long for that first overall draft pick in 2012.

8. Jaromir Jagr will put up 15 goals before Christmas, but will slow down considerably in the second half.

9. Despite missing the first 14 games of the season, Sidney Crosby will lead the Penguins in scoring and finish in the top 10.

10. Iginla, Parise, and Spezza will all be wearing new sweaters by the trade deadline.

 

 

 

And in the interest of accountability, here are my 10 bold predictions from last season, obviously with mixed results:

 

1. The Sutters will be out in Calgary by Christmas

2. John Tavares will lead the Islanders in scoring by no less than 40 points.

3. Nathan Horton scores 40 goals.  No other Bruin tops 25.

4. Michael Neuvirth and Jonathan Bernier finish the season with 30+ wins each.

5. The Senators will make a deal for a new starting goalie in time for the playoffs.  Let's say… Kiprusoff or Vokoun.

6. After being relegated to the press box in December, Mike Modano retires during the Winter Classic.

7. No player over the age of 30 will finish in the top 10 of scorers this season.

8. Kari Lehtonen has a healthy season and plays 60 games.

9. Corey Crawford earns the starting job in Chicago heading into the playoffs.

10. NHL announces in February that the Florida Panthers will be moving to Quebec.

 

 

 

 

Bang On Predictions for 2010-11

by chewy 6. October 2010 07:24

 

The preseason wouldn't be complete without a healthy dose of meaningless predictions.  As always, I'm here to serve.  As an added bonus, we'll be tracking predictions from around the hockey world on our predictions page (see the Crystal Ball).  Here are our picks.   Feel free to laugh and hold me accountable if nothing I say comes to pass.

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

Atlantic: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Devils and Flyers will certainly contend, but there's no touching what Pittsburgh has assembled this season.    I don't see either team from New York being a serious threat in 2010-11.

 

Northeast: Toronto Maple Leafs

Go ahead.  Laugh.  Point fingers.  I realize I'm jeopardizing all credibility I may have with this pick, but I actually believe the Leafs could turn things around this season.  More importantly, I don't think there's a quality threat in this division to contend with the big shots from the Atlantic.   A strong case could be made for Buffalo, Ottawa or Boston to win the division, but I see big question marks with each team.  With 24 opportunities to rack up points against their division mates, the Leafs should gain enough ground to squeak out a division title.

 

Southeast: Washington Capitals

Gimme.  I like Yzerman and all, but I'm not buying the Tampa Kool-Aid just yet.  They'll be on the bubble to qualify.  The Caps will wrap up the division by late November.  As for the other southern franchises, it pains me to say I'll be looking forward to next year's entry draft.  (I am a Caniac, for those who don't know).

 

Regular Season Champs: Pittsburgh Penguins

Playoff Champs: Pittsburgh Penguins

 

Yes, I'm all about the Pens this season, as they continue to do everything necessary to remain competitive.  Replacing Gonchar with Martin and Michalek may hurt the power play, but will certainly give Fleury the extra protection he had been lacking.  You just can't beat the stable of centers playing at the shiny new Consol Energy Center this fall.  The Pens should dominate the regular season and cash in come playoff time as well.

 

Final Standings:

1. Pittsburgh *

2. Washington *

3. Toronto *

4. Philadelphia

5. Buffalo

6. New Jersey

7. Ottawa

8. Boston

--------------------

9. Tampa Bay

10. Atlanta

11. Carolina

12. NY Rangers

13. Montreal

14. Florida

15. NY Islanders

 

As always, the difference between 7th and 12th won't be all that much by the end of the season.  Panthers and Islanders are the only teams I'd be absolutely shocked to see in the post-season.  Note, I'm predicting that whoever wins the Northeast division will actually finish no higher than 5th in points in the East.

 

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

 

Central: Chicago Blackhawks

Despite losing 1/3 of their roster in the off-season, fans won't notice that much difference when the team starts playing in October.  The guys who chew up the clock will be same, and that's what matters most.  Winning this division won't be easy, as Detroit and St. Louis promise to make life difficult. 

 

Northwest: Vancouver Canucks

Easiest of the three division to call out West.  The Canucks will face little competition from the likes Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota and Colorado.  Start preparing for the playoffs now.

 

Pacific: Los Angeles Kings

The Kings and Sharks will be within 2 points of each other all season long.  When I flipped the coin, it came up Kings.  The Coyotes should compete, but won't be in the same class as the big boys here.  Dallas and Anaheim are bubble teams.

 

Regular Season Champs: Vancouver

Playoff Champs: Los Angeles

 

I could have gone with any one of five options on who will ultimately represent the West.  Ultimately, I see the Canucks beating up on their division rivals enough for them to earn the regular season title, along with the Presidents Trophy.  However, I just have a feeling the Kings are ready to break through come playoff time, so I'll pick LA to represent the West next June.

 

Final Standings:

1. Vancouver *

2. Los Angeles *

3. Chicago *

4. Detroit

5. San Jose

6. Phoenix

7. St. Louis

8. Minnesota

-----------------

9. Colorado

10. Dallas

11. Anaheim

12. Nashville

13. Columbus

14. Edmonton

15. Calgary

 

The West will be very top-heavy this season.  There will be a noticeable gap between the top 5 teams and the rest of the pack.  The pick I will have the hardest time defending in here is Minnesota, as they've done nothing in the off-season or pre-season to indicate they'll be better.  Bottom line is they'll score more goals than their weak division rivals, which will give them the edge over the other bubble teams. 

 

 

OVERALL PREDICTIONS

 

Presidents Trophy: Vancouver Canucks

Weak division.   Solid team.

 

Stanley Cup Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

Nice new banner to hang in that shiny new arena.

 

Runner Up: LA Kings

Drew Daughty fever.  Catch it now.

 

Hart Trophy, Art Ross & Rocket Richard: Steven Stamkos

Forget Ovechkin, Crosby and Sedin.  Stamkos is the man.  I'm calling a hat trick of trophies.

 

Conn Smythe: Sidney Crosby

He'll be lifting the trophies that matters most next spring.

 

Vezina Trophy: Ryan Miller

Looking for a repeat here, but should have plenty of competition.

 

Norris Trophy: Drew Daughty

Daughty Fever.  Catch it now!

 

Calder Trophy: P.K. Subban

Something to cheer about in Montreal.

 

 

And finally, now that we're through the mundane, here are 10 other predictions, sure to come true in 2010-11:

 

1. The Sutters will be out in Calgary by Christmas

2. John Tavares will lead the Islanders in scoring by no less than 40 points.

3. Nathan Horton scores 40 goals.  No other Bruin tops 25.

4. Michael Neuvirth and Jonathan Bernier finish the season with 30+ wins each.

5. The Senators will make a deal for a new starting goalie in time for the playoffs.  Let's say… Kiprusoff or Vokoun.

6. After being relegated to the press box in December, Mike Modano retires during the Winter Classic.

7. No player over the age of 30 will finish in the top 10 of scorers this season.

8. Kari Lehtonen has a healthy season and plays 60 games.

9. Corey Crawford earns the starting job in Chicago heading into the playoffs.

10. NHL announces in February that the Florida Panthers will be moving to Quebec.

 

Note: If you have links to other "expert" predictions, please email them to me at chewy@landsharkhockey.com, so I can add them to our predictions page.

Western Conference Playoff Race

by chewy 2. March 2010 09:36

 

We tackled the East on Saturday, so let's take a look at how things will shake down in the mighty West over the next six weeks.

 

Who's In:

San Jose and Chicago - Only two teams have enough breathing room to look over their shoulder at this point.

 

Who's Out:

Edmonton and Columbus - Let the firesale begin for the Oilers and Jackets as they look ahead to draft day and next season.

 

Who's Left:

While the math leaves us with 11 teams and 6 playoff spots, don't expect the final participants to look too much different than they do today.  The cream has started to rise in the West.  There will be plenty of jockeying for position, but don't look for an overhaul in the players come April.  We'll take it by Division:

 

Pacific Division

The power in the West has slowly returned to the Pacific Division, at least in terms of numbers.  There will be at least three, probably four, and there's a remote shot at all five teams making the cut this season.

 

Los Angeles (IN) - A few wins out of the break should put the Kings into the lock status.  They entered the break red hot, going 8-1-1.  Would take a seismic event to keep them from getting back to the post-season for the first time since the lockout.

 

Phoenix (IN) - If any team deserves a break this season, it's the Coyotes.  They've worked harder to get to where they are than any team, and it appears it's going to pay off.  They also went into the Olympic Break on a high note.  While they'll most likely slide a bit from fourth place, where they currently sit, they won't fall far.  Welcome back to the post-season, Shane Doan.

 

Anaheim (IN) - Last season, the Ducks rallied down the stretch to qualify and then did plenty of damage in the playoffs.  Don't be shocked if the story repeats itself.  We'll find out tomorrow if the Ducks believe it can happen again.  I believe they'll hold on to their assets and make another run at it.

 

Dallas (OUT) - With all the divisional games down the stretch, somebody has to lose some games in this group.  Look for it to be the Stars.  They're currently just one point of the final spot, but there's not a great deal of evidence to indicate they'll rise above that.  This team is still struggling to find an identity, other than the most difficult franchise to predict from season to season.

 

Central Division

It was less than a year ago that this division was considered the up and coming power in the NHL.  Things haven't gone to plan.  It's quite realistic to think that only one team could qualify this year, and all five nearly made it in 09.

 

Nashville (OUT) - As of today, they're in.  Check back tomorrow and it may be another story.  The Predators are playing mediocre hockey going into the break.  While they'll have the fortune of feasting on their divisional rivals down the stretch, it will come down to the final few games to decide their fate, as it has for the last several seasons.  They just missed last season and they'll just miss again.

 

Detroit (OUT) - That's right.  Detroit's reign of terror may finally be coming to an end.  I hesitate to write those words, as such silly predictions have a tendency to prove false when the Wings are involved.  After all, the boys from MoTown are finally healthy, Lidstrom has regained his form after a slow start, and Howard is playing well in the net.  But nothing lasts forever, including their streak of 2 decades in the post-season.

 

St. Louis (OUT) - Once again the Blues find themselves within a good win streak of qualifying for the playoffs.  Last season, they pulled off the unlikely and made it happen.  While they'll probably make a good go at it, they'll ultimately fall short this time around.  Look for them to miss the dance by a tie breaker.

 

Northwest Division

The past few years have been a wild ride in the Northwest, with all 5 teams typically being within a game or two of each other until the bitter end.  The group seperated early this season, with the Oilers dropping out months ago, and the Avalanche storming out of the gate.  Look for three teams to make the cut.

 

Colorado (IN) - The Avalanche have been the team to beat in this division from the start of the season, and no reason to think they're going to slide now.  Colorado pretty much owned the divisional crown for nearly a decade, and it appears they're ready to reclaim their title, much earlier than anyone expected.

 

Calgary (IN) - The Flames were picked by many at the start of the season to challenge for the Cup.  After a freefall in January, they were being picked to miss the cut altogether.  Look for neither one to happen at this point.  The team has had time to absorb the big trade and should settle down into above .500 hockey down the stretch.  It won't be enough to challenge for the division title, but should be sufficient to land in the playoffs.

 

Vancouver (IN) - I originally picked the Canucks to miss the playoffs this year, given the insane schedule they were up against, and the perceived lack of scoring.  The team has managed it better than expected, and is currently tied for first in the division.  However, they're only half way through their huge road trip and the next couple weeks will likely determine their fate.  Look for them to make the playoffs, but just barely.

 

Minnesota (OUT) - Perhaps the least surprising of the disappointments in this West, the Wild have little chance of turning things around in time this year.  The team was supposed to have a whole new look and exciting style of play.  The problem is that good marketing doesn't mean much when you haven't built a roster to play that way.  Even if Havlat catches fire and Bouchard miraculously heals, it's going it's going to be a good while before this team is a threat in the West.

 

 

So here is my prediction for the Final Standings in the West:

1. Chicago

2. San Jose

3. Colorado

4. LA

5. Calgary

6. Phoenix

7. Anaheim

8. Vancouver

9. St. Louis

10. Nashville

11. Detroit

12. Minnesota

13. Dallas

14. Columbus

15. Edmonton

Eastern Conference Playoff Race

by chewy 27. February 2010 10:41
 

Back to work.

It has been a most enjoyable two weeks of Olympic hockey.  But now, it's time to get back to the NHL.  With roughly 20 games to go in the season, the first few strokes have been painted on the playoff picture.  So let's take a look ahead and who's going to be dancing in April on the East Coast:

 

Who's In:

Washington, New Jersey, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo can start selling tickets now.  No point dwelling on the obvious.  The only team at risk here is Buffalo, who entered the break on a stink boat, but they can't help but ride Miller's wave next week, so count them in.

 

Who's Out:

Toronto - The Bruins are licking their chops at the prospect of the #1 pick coming from the Leafs this spring.

NY Islanders and Florida - While both of the these teams are only 6 points out of the final spot, both squads are in a freefall.  The Islanders didn't really expect to contend this season, and the Panthers have publicly declared that they've tipped their King on the board.

 

Who's Left:

With five spots taken and three teams in the stands, that leaves 7 squads in the circle to squeeze their butts into 4 chairs when the music stops.  6 of those teams are within 5 points of each other, and they're all playing mediocre hockey right now.  So it may be a matter of who defaults into the final slots.  Let's start with the obvious exception…

 

Carolina (IN) - Everyone wrote this team off in November, and again in December when the expected recovery failed to come.  I refuse to give up on this team (sure, I'm biased, I'm a fan).  The Canes went into the Olympic break as one of the hottest teams in the East, winning 8 of their last 10 games.  They already blew their shot at the #1 pick at the draft, so they might as well hold on to their assets and keep driving for the final spot.  Don't be surprised if they get it.  The Canes finished last season as the hottest team in the league, and I believe they'll do it again.  If they don't make the cut, they'll miss by a hair.

 

Philadelphia (IN) - The Flyers hold a slight edge, as they're currently 2 points ahead of the pack, and the only team remaining with a winning record over the past 10 games.  As always, much depends on their goaltending down the stretch.  Expect their goal-scorers to find their way after a needed two week break.  Jeff Carter may be particularly motivated after missing his chance at an Olympic medal by Getzlaf's ankle.

 

Montreal (OUT) - The Canadiens' season was lost on July 1st of last year.  It's remarkable that they're this close.  Montreal has fewer games remaining than the rest of the pack, which puts them at a big disadvantage.  There may be pressure to make some moves at the deadline, but I don't see any quick fixes to this broken roster.  Maybe next year.

 

BOSTON (OUT) - This time last year, the Bruins were just coming down to earth after their torrid start to the 08-09 season.  It's been downhill ever since.  Contract squabbles, injuries, and cold spells have made the team an after thought in the East.  Even with key players getting healthy recently, the confidence on this squad is low.  Count them out, but just barely.

 

Tampa Bay (OUT) - The Lightning is a hard team to read.  There is reason for hope:  Stamkos is emerging as one of the league's best.  Lecavalier and St. Louis are rested and probably bitter over being snubbed for the Winter Games.  Their hodge-podge defense acquired last summer has had time to come together, and their goaltending has actually been a bright spot for a change.   There's also reason for gloom, mostly stemming from off ice incompetency.  Bottom line is they'll be in the hunt down to the final whistle, but will ultimately fall short.  Watch for the Panthers to play spoiler for their in-state rivals, as their final two matchups are against Florida.

 

NY Rangers (OUT) - If they could just score a goal every once in a while, this team might just have a prayer.  Never has a team so drastically been unfit to play the style of play of their coach.  Torterella loves the high tempo offensive attack, but outside of Gaborik, they don’t have the horses.  Maybe it's time to hand the reigns over to Messier and admit that Glen Sather was better suited for the 80's.

 

Atlanta (IN) - Everything is wacked up in Atlanta this year, so why not pick them to make the playoffs?  The Thrashers have low fan expectations, they've come to expect disappointment.  They've already dealt Kovalchuk, so teams may underestimate their drive.  But Atlanta has the scheduling edge among the bottom feeders.  They have 13 of their remaining 22 contests at home, the most of this bunch.  They still have some talent up front, and Pavalec no longer has to worry about his starting job.  I'm counting them in.

 

So here is my prediction for the Final Standings in the East:

1. Washington

2. Pittsburgh

3. Ottawa

4. New Jersey

5. Buffalo

6. Philadelphia

7. Atlanta

8. Carolina

9. Boston

10. Tampa Bay

11. NY Rangers

12. Montreal

13. Florida

14. NY Islanders

15. Toronto

A Few More Predictions

by chewy 2. October 2009 13:40
 

I was on the Warroom on XM 204 yesterday to chat with them about NHL predictions for the upcoming season (and to plug this very site).  3 simple questions were asked.  Here are their picks, along with mine:

 

1.  Which team will win the 2009-10 Stanley Cup?

2.  Which player will win the 2009-10 Hart Trophy?

3.  Give us one wacky and/or out-on-a limb prediction.

 

Peter Berce - Sharks, Joe Thornton, Mike Keenan hired by an NHL team

Mick Kern - Hurricanes, Evgeni Malkin, Lightning make the playoffs

Mike Ross - Flyers, Alex Ovechkin, Balsille buys an NHL team

 

As for my picks…

 

Stanley Cup Winner

Trying to predict a Cup winner in October is a total guessing game, but there are clearly a handful of teams that have a strong shot at it this season.  In the East, it's Pittsburgh, Washington and Philly.  All 3 of those teams have incredible strength up front and boast a superstar defenseman.  However, of the 3, the Penguins are the only one with a clear-cut, top-notch #1 goaltender.  In the West, there are really 4 teams that have a strong shot at making it: Chicago, Detroit, Calgary, and San Jose.  Of those, particularly with the addition of Heatley's standard 50 goals, the Sharks are the best bet.  Overall, it's just not wise to bet against the East keeping the Cup, and the favorite has to be Pittsburgh.

 

Hart Trophy

It seems like Ovechkin is the voter favorite, despite my belief that Malkin earned every bit of that trophy over the last two years.  However, based on last year's playoff performance, and assuming he can stay healthy, I'm going with Crosby this time around.  It's about a 90% chance that one of those 3 will get it, but I like Sid this season to win the scoring title and the MVP.

 

Out on a Limb Prediction

Of the predictions being thrown around everywhere, the one I find most inexplicable is how high most experts are on Vancouver this season.  I just don't see it.  I'm picking them to fall from grace and miss the playoffs altogether.  They'll miss Ohlund on defense more than most think.  Their schedule this season is brutal, as they have to work around the Olympic break with an insane month-long road trip.  Aside from Luongo and the Sedins, what on earth is there to be excited about here?  Flames may be the only team from that division to make the playoffs this year.

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