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NHL 2013 Preseason Predictions

by chewy 21. January 2013 10:24

Making preseason predictions is foolish enough in a normal year, so trying to make sense out of what may take place over the next few months in the NHL is completely uncharted foolishness.  So let's get started.

 

TEAMS ON THE MOVE

No point in dwelling on the obvious ends of the spectrum.  Yes, the Penguins, Rangers, Blues, etc. will be the teams to beat again this year, while the Jackets, Flames, Jets, etc. struggle to stay relevant.  What's truly interesting is the teams that could make some serious movement (for better or worse) in the upcoming shortened season.  For whatever reason,  as I look up and down the lineups of each team in the standings from last season, a few squads jump out as teams to watch.

 

GOING UP:

 

Buffalo Sabres - After reshuffling the deck in the summer of 2011, the Sabres had a hard time coming together in the early months of last season.  By mid season, they were a formidable squad that made a near historic run, before just missing the playoffs.  It's been a long spell since, so it's tough to assume that they'll just keep it rolling, but if there's one non-playoff team heading in the right direction, it's the Sabres.  If Miller stays solid, this team could challenge for tops in the East and should win their division.

 

Carolina Hurricanes- The Canes tried to remake their image last July with the addition of Jordan Staal and Alex Semin.  The key to this team will be Cam Ward and the defense.  It's a tough bunch to predict, but the Canes could easily emerge first from a horribly weak division.

 

Edmonton Oilers - The streak of drafting first overall has certainly come to end.  The same should be said for the playoff drought. Expect the youngsters to put up goals in droves and even win some games in the process this time around.

 

 

GOING DOWN:

 

Detroit Redwings - After two decades of NHL dominance, the Motor City reign of terror is has come to an end.  Lidstrom is gone and it's finally time to start over for the Wings.  They've toyed with missing the postseason the last two years.  They won't bother teasing this time around.  Crash and burn.

 

New Jersey Devils - Ironically, the two teams that met in the finals the last time we went down this 48 game road are my picks for biggest losers coming out of this one.  With Parise gone, Kovalchuk not wanting to come back, ownership troubles, and a one-two punch in net that's older than your mom, it's tough to find encouraging signs for the Devils.  No chance this team makes the playoffs.

 

 

 

FINAL STANDINGS (by points)

 

Starting in the East:

 

1. Pittsburgh *

2. New York Rangers

3. Buffalo Sabres *

4. Boston Bruins

5. Carolina Hurricanes *

6. Philadelphia Flyers

7. Toronto Maple Leafs

8. Tampa Bay Lightning

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

9. Washington Capitals

10. Florida Panthers

11. Ottawa Senators

12. Montreal Canadiens

13. New York Islanders

14. Winnepeg Jets

15. New Jersey Devils

 

Yes, once again, it looks like the "winner" from the Southeast Division will unjustly claim 3rd seed, while the 2nd best team in the East gets bumped down to fourth.  This time, the Rangers will get the shaft, instead of the Penguins.  The Leafs will end their playoff absence, while the Caps will be on the outside this time around. 

 

 

Now, on to the West:

 

1. St. Louis Blues *

2. LA Kings *

3. Nashville Predators

4. Edmonton Oilers *

5. Vancouver Canucks

6. Chicago Blackhawks

7. Phoenix Coyotes

8. San Jose Sharks

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

9. Dallas Stars

10. Detroit Redwings

11. Minnesota Wild

12. Colorado Avalanche

13. Anaheim Ducks

14. Calgary Flames

15. Columbus Blue Jackets

 

A few notes from the West.  Yes, it will be tight as always, but it's not because the West is so much better than the East.  It's because there are so many mediocre teams that you can pull them out of a hat once you get past 5th place.  The Ducks always start slow, so they'll run out of time before the annual playoff push this year.  I'm not drinking the Wild koolaid based on one big day of UFA signings.  Ultimately, it's going to come down to goaltending to decide the winners and losers here.

 

 

THE HARDWARE

 

MVP / Art Ross

Crosby.  End. Of. Discussion.

 

Rocket Richard

Despite a handful of worthy competitors, Stamkos will be holding on to this one for a few years.

 

Norris

Shea Weber will claim his first of many this year.  Expect some votes for Letang and Karlsson.

 

Vezina

The committee always seems to be a year behind in naming the winner here.  Jonathan Quick gets his due in 2013.

 

Presidents Trophy

The Blues will be so good defensively, they'll win this with a week to go in the season.

 

Stanley Cup

Last year, I predicted a California / Pennsylvania matchup in this space.  I was right on one end. 

My vague, cloudy crystal ball shows me the winner this time will emerge from either PA or NY state and will take on a team from the Central Division.  {pause while I crumble up papers.  Place them in the hat…}… and the gutsy prediction is:

 

The Buffalo Sabres will claim their first Cup over the St. Louis Blues.

 

 

 

 

 

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