The NHL's regular season opens tonight on Versus. Washington and Boston are just about underway, Joe Sakic will have his number retired in Denver later tonight. Real quick let me get my regular season predictions on the record.
(C) Central, (N) Northwest, (P) Pacific
1> (P) San Jose - Heatley and Thorton make this offence very potent, though they probably overpaid. Still the Pacific division will again prove to be quite weak. Whether this tranlates into playoff victory or another early exit is the area of speculation
2> (N) Calgary - Bowemeister makes an already good D the best in the division. If Kippersieve plays better the Flames could run away with this.
3> (C) Chicago - The first team not called the Detroit Red Wings to win this division since 2001.
4> (C) Detroit - A year older and sans Hossa, this is the year they get eclipsed.
5> (C) St. Louis - They're still improving and should hang in the race a while, just not quite as many weapons as DET or CHI, yet... A good deadline deal could really make the Blues scary.
6> (N) Vancouver - Might challenge the Flames for the division.
7> (P) Anaheim - A ton of forward depth, especially with S. Koivu, but key losses on D and still a G contraversey.
8> (N) Minnesota - Perhaps a homer pick, but I think they've improved enough for a team one point out last year. But these last two playoff spots will be hotly contested until the bitter end.
9> (P) Dallas - Lot of optimism around this team post-Avery, but I say they still land out.
10> (C) Columbus - Could be in the hunt until the end.
11> (P) Los Angeles - They could be just a season away from the playoffs.
12> (C) Nashville - It's been too long since they've made the playoffs, but the Conference has passed the Preds by, and they play in the leagues toughest division.
13> (N) Edmonton - Not getting Heatly, Comrie's return, this looks to be a team destined for another season of turnover, the microscopic Canadian media won't help anything here.
14> (P) Phoenix - Uncertain summer hurt this team a bit, but they appear set to stay in the desert for a while
15> (N) Colorado - Tonight is Joe Sakic night, sadly, that will prove to be the highlight of their season.
San Jose over Minnesota
Calgary over Anaheim
Chicago over Vancouver
Detroit over St. Louis
San Jose over Detroit
Chicago over Calgary
Chicago over San Jose
(A) Atlantic, (N) Northeast, (S) Southeast
1> (S) Washington - This team will be great
2> (A) Pittsburgh - Remember they took 5th in the East last year
3> (N) Boston - Should still win the division, but will come a little bit back to earth (at least I'm not picking them 12th this season)
4> (A) Philadelphia - They could nip the Pens, but I'll just put them in a solid second for now.
5> (S) Carolina - Last seasons cinderella will take fewer teams by surprise this regular season
6> (A) New Jersey - I'm not as down on the Devils as most
7> (N) Montreal - Season 101 will be marginally better
8> (N) Ottawa - Ended up still getting a really good deal for Heatley
9> (A) New York Rangers- Surprise, early indications from broadway is Gabroik's already struggling to stay healthy.
10> (S) Florida - They again will be in the playoff race until the end.
11> (N) Buffalo - Another year's experience for this young team, wouldn't be shocking if they sneak in the playoffs
12> (N) Toronto - Most of the hype surrounding this team is from a xenophobic Canadian media. They're still firmly rebuilding for a while. Yet they will probably sell more tickets than most of the teams above them (except Montreal).
13> (S) Atlanta - Kovalchuk's impeding free agency is the big question, will they do well enough to try and sign him, or will the Thrash begin rebuilding. Still looking for playoff victory #1.
14> (S) Tampa Bay - Maybe they won't fire their coach after a month this year.
15> (A) New York Islanders - Still a ways from the top, but Tavares should be an exiting first building block.
Washington over Ottawa
Pittsburgh over Montreal
New Jersey over Boston
Philadelphia over Carolina
Washington over New Jersey
Pittsburgh over Philadelphia
Washington over Pittsburgh
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Washington over Chicago