By: Don’t Try This At Home
This weekend marks the start of another NHL season, and whether your team made it to the Cup Finals or was out of it in March, we can all agree it’s great to see hockey again.
This week I’ll give my predictions for the playoff picture come April.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Tampa Bay managed to take the Southeast Division from Washington this year. It all depends how Dwayne Roloson plays this year between the pipes for the Bolts in what may be the last season of his career. Also do not sleep on the Kings in the Pacific division. This team is young and very skilled and has a chance to take over the division from the Sharks.
Next 8 in:
East: Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators
West: Chicago Blackhawks, LA Kings, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators
Pittsburgh, Boston and Tampa Bay are locks in the East and the same with Chicago and LA in the West. These teams are just too good to miss the playoffs. Ottawa didn’t make it last year, but hasn’t missed the playoffs for two years in a row since 95-96. With a new coach in Ottawa this streak continues. Nashville’s defense (full of potentially big free agents this coming offseason) and goaltending will get them back into the playoffs this year in what might be the last shot for this team (no way they keep all their big free agents next summer). Calgary has been fairly disappointing the past two years but manage to figure things out this year behind solid goaltending from Kiprusoff.
Last 2 in:
The last team into the playoffs in the East will be New Jersey. If this team hadn’t completely skipped the months of October and December they would have made the playoffs last year and still had a chance at climbing back in with a few weeks left in the season. They continue the momentum and manage to make it back into the playoffs this year.
The last team in in the West will be Minnesota. The Wild made big moves during the offseason (Heatley and Setoguchi from the Sharks) which push them into the post season after a 3 year break from playing a meaningful game in April.
The Vancouver Canucks will be able to repeat as top team in the west at the end of the regular season. Don’t expect them to get to 117 points like last year, but the Sedin twins are just too good for this team not to end up best in the west.
In the east it’s Buffalo that comes out on top. Ryan Miller begins another Vezina campaign this season and the younger players step up and give him the goal support to secure the top spot in the East.