The 2013 NHL season is literally right around the corner...no really it is and with any start of the season it's time to make some bold, not so bold, and totally out there predictions that will surely come back to bite me in the butt.
Now, predicting an 82 game set is a hell of a lot easier than predicting a 48 game set due to being able to go back and look at past 82 game performances for players and teams. Not so easy with 48 games but all in all these are for fun and should be in the ballpark of the actual totals.
Here's how its gonna work. I'm gonna list my predictions for the conference standings then break it down by division so here goes nothing.
St. Louis Blues: Last year Ken Hitchcock turned Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot into one of the stingiest goaltending tandems in the NHL and with the way the Blues are built up front, St. Louis is looking primed to make a big step forward in being one of the tougher teams in the West.
Chicago Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews is healthy and is quite possibly the best two way player in hockey and with the Blackhawks strong defensive depth the Hawks will be competing all season long for the Central division title with the Blues.
Nashville Predators: Losing Suter hurts, but keeping the best defenseman in the NHL doesn't. The Preds strong Barry Trotz run system will keep the Preds competitive but lack of a real scoring threat keeps them from climbing higher
Detroit Red Wings: I really want to put them in the playoffs, but they are so old. All through the line up there is a lot of wear on those legs and even Pavel Datsyuk's magic can't keep Father Time away. Also, the loss of Niklas Lidstrom is gonna prove huge as Detroit's thin back end is going to expose Jimmy Howard for being the average goaltender he is
Columbus Blue Jackets: Oh Columbus, I feel so bad for you. You lost your Franchise Player, you lose the All Star Game and your team really is not that good. On the bright side though Nathan MacKinnon will look real good playing with Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky next year.
Vancouver Canucks: The Northwest and the Northeast are really parallels this year with the Canucks being the class of a crappy division. The biggest questions for the Cancucks are who's gonna step up while Ryan Kesler is out with an injury and who is your starting goaltender? Roberto Luongo or Corey Schneider? (Hint: it's the one linked to all the trade rumors)
Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche are good, young team with the benefit of playing in the Northwest division. Matt Duchene should have a bounce back year playing with reigning Calder Trophy winner Gabriel Landeskog and with Ryan O'Reilly also in the fold the Av's should have a good shot at making the playoffs by playing the likes of the Flames and the Oilers.
Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nuget-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz. Man the Oilers are gonna be a fun team to watch. A bad team, but a fun team none the less. I can see them catching a bit of luck here and there and making a push for the playoffs but the Oil are a little too young and not good enough between the pipes to make a real push this year.
Minnesota Wild: I'm not sold on the Wild being a playoff team just yet. I know they signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter but can Dany Heatley find his old goal scoring ways paired with Parise? (not likely) Though the Wild do have some nice players, I can't see them being any better than they were last year.
Calgary Flames: Thank goodness for the Columbus Blue Jackets eh? The Flames will be a bad hockey team and with Jay Feaster rambling on about making the playoffs things are just going to get worse. Look for Jerome Iginla to be shipped to a playoff team in either conference by the Trade Deadline.
Los Angeles Kings: The reigning champs showed us during the playoffs that they really underachieved during the regular season last year. 48 games of Darryl Sutter behind the bench and Jeff Carter and Mike Richards up front not to mention Jonathan Quick in the crease should make the Kings one of the best teams in the entire NHL.
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks are a maddening team; good talent up front, solid on the back end and some good, not great, goaltending should make the Sharks a playoff team set to make a deep run. Except, how many years have we been saying that about San Jose? This is probably the last year of those questions are asked as the Sharks are also not getting any younger.
Phoenix Coyotes: The bottom Pacific division is going to be a tight race to the eighth seed and the Phoenix Coyotes are going to be the team with just enough puck luck to get there. With Shane Doan on board and the surrounding cast still good enough the Coyotes have a chance of making some noise this year, but don't expect much.
Anaheim Ducks: Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are looking at career years and Teemu Selanne is making his farewell tour this year so expect the Ducks to be a lot better under Bruce Boudreau but still not enough to crack the top 8 in the conference this year
Dallas Stars: There is a lot to like on this Stars roster (namely Jaime Benn and Loui Eriksson) but there are also a lot of question marks as well (Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr?). There's also Kari Lehtonen who, if healthy, can be a strong goaltender but that health factor is a big IF.
So, that's my Western Conference, here's the link to my Eastern Conference predictions. Have at it guys, tell me why I'm wrong
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.