Monday, February 02, 2009

2009 Mid-Season Predictacular

Yes, I know, that the NHL is roughly 50 games into the season, making this more of a 60% prediction, but hey, I live on the other side of the international date line, so give me a bit of a break.

Alrightie, so the NHL has been pretty freakin' unpredictable this year, and looking back at my early calls, I seem to be way off. For starters, it looks like Ottawa will not make the playoffs, Boston will not miss them, Pittsburgh is not running away with the East, and well...actually I did ok as far as the Western Conference is concerned, which is really quite surprising (other than the stupid Ducks, who I always seem to overrate).

So, let me start in the Western Conference for a change. At the beginning of the season, I said that things would shake up as follows:

1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Anaheim Ducks
3. Calgary Flames
4. Dallas Stars
5. San Jose Sharks
6. Chicago Blackhawks
7. Minnesota Wild
8. Edmonton Oilers
9. Colorado Avalanche
10. Phoenix Coyotes
11. Columbus Blue Jackets
12. Los Angeles Kings
13. Vancouver Canucks
14. Nashville Predators
15. St. Louis Blues

And then, 30 odd games ago, I said it would be as follows:

1. Detroit Red Wings
2. San Jose Sharks
3. Calgary Flames
4. Anaheim Ducks
5. Chicago Blackhawks
6. Vancouver Canucks
7. Minnesota Wild
8. Edmonton Oilers
9. Columbus Bluejackets
10. Nashville Predators
11. Colorado Avalanche
12. Dallas Stars
13. Phoenix Coyotes
14. Los Angeles Kings
15. St. Louis Blues

And well, I think that things have changed a bit. Dallas got off to a horrible start, but has turned around enough to be in contention, San Jose has not slowed down one little bit, as opposed to Nashville who is around where I originally said that they would be. Vancouver has somehow managed to struggle, despite early season success (and the addition of Sundin). So, it looks like the first five spots are pretty locked up (SJ, Det, Cal, Chi, and Ana), but then the last three spots may be a bit of a crap shoot. I like Columbus, backed by Nash and Calder favourite Mason, Dallas, because well, they have the talent of a Cup contender, and Edmonton, because at the end of the day, I like them more than Minnesota. Is faith such a crime?

So I think that the West will look like this:

1. San Jose Sharks
2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Calgary Flames
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. Anaheim Ducks
6. Dallas Stars
7. Edmonton Oilers
8. Columbus Blue Jackets

9. Minnesota Wild
10. Phoenix Coyotes
11. Vancouver Canucks
12. Colorado Avalanche
13. Los Angeles Kings
14. Nashville Predators
15. St. Louis Blues

As far as the playoffs go, I think that three of the top four will move on, but Dallas may just prove to be too much for Calgary. Sorry Flames fans, you know that I'm pulling for you. But this sets up San Jose ousting Dallas, in revenge of last years second round, and Chicago beating Detroit in an Original Six upset. San Jose, should be better than Chicago, to give them their first finals appearance ever.

In the east, which has been oddly less predictable this year, at the start of the year I said:

1. Montreal Canadiens
2. Washington Capitals
3. Philadelphia Flyers
4. Pittsburgh Penguins
5. New York Rangers
6. New Jersey Devils
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. Ottawa Senators
9. Boston Bruins
10. Florida Panthers
11. Buffalo Sabres
12. Tampa Bay Lightning
13. Atlanta Thrashers
14. Toronto Maple Leafs
15. New York Islanders

and then quarter-season, I said...

1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Montreal Canadiens
3. Washington Capitals
4. New York Rangers
5. Philadelphia Flyers
6. Boston Bruins
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. Buffalo Sabers
9. New Jersey Devils
10. Ottawa Senators
11. Tampa Bay Lightning
12. Toronto Maple Leafs
13. Florida Panthers
14. New York Islanders
15. Atlanta Thrashers

Feel free to check the standings and outright laugh at my predictions for New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Boston.

The Bruins are playing like they are for real, and should for the rest of the season, New Jersey is defying the odds and have reached the top of the Atlantic, despite a loss of their franchise player, and Pittsburgh, really, what the hell is wrong with them right now?

I see the Bruins taking the top spot, followed by the Capitals. New Jersey has a big lead over Philly and New York at the moment, but I still like the Flyers to take the division. With Montreal also being comfortably in the Top 6 of the conference. The Penguins should find a way into the bottom section of the top-8, because I really just can't see Crosby not making it. Thus leaving Buffalo, Carolina, and Florida fighting it out for the top spot, which I see going to Buffalo at the end of the day. The Canes have been playing well, but not quite enough to overcome Buffalo's surplus of talent. At the bottom, the Leafs, Sens, Islanders, Thrashers, and Lightning should be competing the Tavares derby, with the Isles gaining the best odds of getting the phenom.

So I think that it will all look like this:

1. Boston Bruins
2. Washington Capitals
3. Philadelphia Flyers
4. Montreal Canadiens
5. New Jersey Devils
6. New York Rangers
7. Pittsburgh Penguins
8. Buffalo Sabres

9. Carolina Hurricanes
10. Florida Panthers
11. Tampa Bay Lighting
12. Toronto Maple Leafs
13. Ottawa Senators
14. Atlanta Thrashers
15. New York Islanders

That's right, I think that we will see the first of many Crosby-Overchkin playoff series. As much as I would love to see the Pens move on, I think that this is the year that the Caps get past the first round. They should be joined by the Bruins, Habs and Flyers, that's right, typical Eastern Conference boredom, no real upsets. Moving to the second round though, I see the Caps moving past the Flyers, and the Canadiens upsetting the Bruins, as usual. The Habs miracle run continues in the third round as they beat the Caps on account of superior goaltending, if nothing.

I will stick with my prediction of the Habs shocking the world and winning the Cup in their centennial year, they should beat the heavily favoured Sharks and take the title, because really, it makes a better story this way.

Well that just about does it for this prediction. I should make another several before the season is done. Keep checking back to see how it goes....

Until next time,


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