Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2013-14 NHL Season Predictions

So a new... full... season is now upon us, meaning it is time to make some predictions. 4 new divisions with some silly names, an interesting playoff format, and a lot of player movement to digest. So with all of these changes, will the Blackhawks become the first team since the Wings in '97-'98 to repeat as Stanley Cup Champion? Check out below to find out:

Patrick Plus (nee Metropolitan) Division:

1. Pittsburgh
2. New York Rangers
3. Philadelphia
4. Washington
5. New York Islanders
6. Columbus
7. Carolina
8. New Jersey

Thoughts: The Penguins are still the class of the division even with the swelling of 3 teams... the Rangers should be much better with Alain Vigneault coming in to open up the Rangers system, which will help players like Rick Nash and Brad Richards... the Flyers could go either way this season, but their scoring prowess should see them into the playoffs... the Capitals are a fascinating squad with some issues but if Alex Ovechkin plays as he can then they will succeed... the Isles and Jackets aren't quite there yet but will provide some good challenges... and the Devils and Canes will struggle as the building process either continues or begins anew.

Flortheast (thanks Sarah Connors) (nee Atlantic) Division:

1. Boston
2. Detroit
3. Ottawa
4. Montreal
5. Tampa Bay
6. Florida
7. Toronto
8. Buffalo

Thoughts: The Bruins re-tooling should help them get back to the Final, especially with an underrated player like Loui Eriksson coming in... the Wings have some interesting pieces that they've added and last season proved you can't ever rule them out of anything... the Senators are in flux but might be better with Bobby Ryan in tow... the Habs are still a playoff team but they aren't quite ready to compete with the big guns yet... the Lightning will still be the Lightning, which means they'll score plenty but give up plenty... the Panthers are not going to be that bad, especially with their slew of new additions of late... the Leafs are going to find out what "regression to the mean" means... and the Sabres are starting over from scratch.

Conference III (Thanks J.R. Lind) (nee Central) Division:

1. Chicago
2. St. Louis
3. Minnesota
4. Nashville
5. Dallas
6. Winnipeg
7. Colorado

Thoughts: The Cup Champs are almost unchanged from last year, meaning they're still the team to beat... the Blues are a hot cup pick for some, but they're gonna have to find consistent scoring to get there... the Wild's mix of young and veteran talent will get them into the playoffs, but going further is questionable... the Predators will have to find someone to score in order to make the playoffs, but their D and goaltending is typically stout... Dallas and Winnipeg are building towards something good, but it will take some time to get there... and Colorado is a young team that probably has one more top of the lottery season in them before they improve.

Pacific (nee Pacific... I don't have a clever name for this one) Division:

1. Los Angeles
2. San Jose
3. Phoenix
4. Vancouver
5. Anaheim
6. Edmonton
7. Calgary

Thoughts: The Kings and Sharks will duke it out again for the division title, and both could likely win it, although I think LA has a little more defense... the Coyotes are once again going to surprise with players like Mike Ribiero and possible Norris winner Oliver Ekman-Larsson... the Canucks will still make the playoffs yet the style will grate the players fast... The Ducks will be another team that suffers regression to the mean... Edmonton has a few more face-punchers than talented centers which is head-scratching... and the long road back to the top for the Flames will begin from the very bottom.

Playoffs (Remember that the better wild card in each conference plays the lesser division winner and the lesser wild card plays the better division winner... for the sake of clarity they'll be all intra-divisional):

Eastern Conference:

Pittsburgh vs. Washington (WC2)
New York vs. Philadelphia
Boston vs. Montreal (WC1)
Detroit vs. Ottawa

Western Conference:

Chicago vs. Nashville (WC2)
St Louis vs. Minnesota
Los Angeles vs. Vancouver (WC1)
San Jose vs. Phoenix


Penguins over Capitals in 5
Rangers over Flyers in 6
Bruins over Canadiens in 5
Red Wings over Senators in 7

Pens over Rangers in 6
Wings over Bruins in 6

Wings over Pens in 7

Blackhawks over Predators in 5
Blues over Wild in 5
Kings over Canucks in 5
Sharks over Coyotes in 6

Blues over Hawks in 6
Kings over Sharks in 5

Kings over Blues in 5

2013 Stanley Cup Final: Kings over Red Wings in 6

Award Predictions:

President's Trophy: Pittsburgh
Hart: Sidney Crosby
Art Ross: Alex Ovechkin
Rocket Richard: Steven Stamkos
Vezina: Antti Niemi
Norris: Alex Pietrangelo
Calder: Filip Forsberg
Selke: Jonathan Toews
Jack Adams: Dave Tippett

So there they are. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong, because I likely am.

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