NHL season preview – final predictions

 

Well here are my conference predictions, conference final predictions, Stanley Cup prediction and awards predictions.  Won’t waste anymore time, here they are.

 

Western Conference

1. St. Louis Blues – They continue to improve on their breakout 2012 season

2. Phoenix Coyotes – Boring as hell, but they get the job done

3. Vancouver Canucks – I’m not expecting a good start, but they’ll get on track

4. Nashville Predators – Suter gone but just watch how good their blueline still will be

5. Chicago Blackhawks – Questions still remain in net, but they’re still elite

6. Los Angeles Kings – No hangover, but could still struggle out of the gate

7. Detroit Red Wings – Not dead YET, but won’t be a contender

8. Minnesota Wild – Like Vancouver it might take a while, but they’ll eventually click

9. Edmonton Oilers – Will be vastly improved, but just fall short of the dance….not next year though

10. Anaheim Ducks – A healthy Jonas Hiller will go a long way

11. San Jose Sharks – I just think this is the season it all falls apart

12. Dallas Stars – Top 6 looks solid but not good enough to offset an awful blueline

13. Colorado Avalanche – Low in the standings but won’t be as bad as spot indicates

14. Calgary Flames – They do have some talent but I really don’t like the mix

15. Columbus Blue Jackets – I actually like what they’re building, but it’ll be 1 more down year

 

Conference final – Phoenix vs Vancouver

The Coyotes start to benefit from the rules being called more “2004” like last season and that will continue this season.  Vancouver as I keep saying I think will start slow but will peak at the right time, and they’ll knock off the Coyotes in 6 games to get to their 2nd Cup final in 3 years.

 

Eastern Conference

1. Boston Bruins – Well rested and a weaker division should put them on top of the East

2. NY Rangers – 2nd straight division title, most complete team in the league

3. Washington Capitals – Tougher division but expect them to be better as well

4. Pittsburgh Penguins – Is it just me or do they own this spot in the standings?

5. Carolina Hurricanes – Off season spending spree will pay off; Jordan Staal vs Pens in round 1!

6. Philadelphia Flyers – Lost quite a bit of offense and I still hate their goaltending

7. Ottawa Senators – They’ve got a good thing going, but I hate how much grit they lost

8. Buffalo Sabres – Quietly they’ve put together a real nice roster

9. Tampa Bay Lightning – I like what they have, but will come up just short

10. New Jersey Devils – Won’t recover from losing their heart and soul

11. Winnipeg Jets – I expect more of the same as last season, great at home and bad on the road

12. Toronto Maple Leafs – Burke firing not a good “distraction free” start to the season

13. Montreal Canadiens – Not much improved from last year, but headed in a much better direction

14. Florida Panthers – They lived off a hot start and O.T. loses last season, won’t have the same luck

15. NY Islanders – This is how you don’t do a rebuild, what a mess of an organization

 

Conference final – Boston vs Pittsburgh

I don’t see many road blocks for the Bruins.  Tim Thomas is gone but Tuukka Rask is one of the best in the game as well.  The Pens meanwhile did lose Staal but Sutter will be a great fit and they have the cap space to add at the deadline.  While a Bruins/Canucks rematch is enticing, the Pens are too talented to slow down and head back to the final for the 3rd time in 6 years.

 

Stanley Cup final – Vancouver vs Pittsburgh

This is the ultimate good vs evil in my mind!  Both teams are great down the middle (at least the Canucks will be when healthy), both a good in goal (assuming MAF can bounce back strong), and both teams are very well coached.  In the end I think I like the Canucks talent just a bit better….HOWEVER, they’ve never cleaned up the trash on this team and it will hurt them once again against a Pens team that will keep their heads this season.  The Pens know how to win, I don’t think this Canucks team will ever figure it out.  Pens take the series 4-2 and win their 2nd cup in 5 years.

Conn Smythe – Sidney Crosby

 

Player Awards

Hart – Sidney Crosby

Art Ross – Sidney Crosby

Richard – Steven Stamkos

Calder – Justin Schultz

Norris – Shea Weber

Vezina – Mike Smith

Adams – Adam Oates

 

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