NHL SEASON PREDICTIONS
Hockey is back after a lockout that many thought would never end. Now the questions about actual games can start rolling in. Here is a look at how the teams will finish this year, and the some of the biggest questions that will need to be answered.
Teams within each division are listed in order of finish
Atlantic Northeast Southeastern
NY Rangers Boston Washington
Pittsburgh Buffalo Florida
Philadelphia Ottowa Carolina
New Jersey Toronto Tampa Bay
NY Islanders Montreal Winnipeg
Central Northwest Pacific
St Louis Minnesota Phoenix
Chicago Vancouver Los Angeles
Nashville Colorado Dallas
Detroit Calgary Anaheim
Columbus Edmonton San Jose
Can Minnesota’s new pieces lead them to cup glory?
Minnesota will look to do what the Kings did last year, come out of nowhere and win the cup. So far the Wild haven’t been known for glory in the playoffs. This is not their year, although it may come sooner than people think.
Can the NY Rangers bounce back from an early playoff exit to win their first Stanley cup since 1994?
The Rangers had the talent to win it all last season and added a big piece (Rick Nash) in the offseason. The pressure is on them this year perhaps more than any team in the NHL. It won’t be easy but the Rangers should get it done.
Can Tuuka Rask carry the load in net now that Tim Thomas is taking the year off?
If Boston wants to make a serious playoff run Tuuka Rask has to be the man in the net. Rask has done it before, starting45 games in 2009-10, and performed well while Tim Thomas was injured. He finished that year with a 1.97 goals against average. This season Rask must prove he is ready to be no. 1 and worthy of a long term deal which at this point he doesn’t have. In this 48 game season he won’t be given much wiggle room, and neither will his team.
Was St. Louis winning the Presidents cup last season a fluke?
The Blues tallied 109 points despite key injuries throughout the season. Now virtually the same team returns intent on not falling short in the playoffs. The Blues are young in many keys areas. Considering these factors alone, the answer is simple last season was not a fluke.
Will Roberto Luongo get dealt?
The bigger question could be is Corey Schneider ready to an unquestioned no. 1 goaltender. Three are several teams that have significant questions in the net (i.e. Philadelphia, Colorado) so the chances are Luongo gets moved at some point.
Will the LA Kings defend repeat as champions?
The Kings were a buzz saw in the playoffs after barely making it in. This year they will have a target on their back and several teams made big moves to boost their chances. Repeating is not easy in any sport, but it hasn’t been done in the NHL since the read Wings (97-98). The Kings will give their best shot but the competition will be ready this time.