Thursday, October 6, 2011

Prediction Time

Plan The Parade Now...Kings Are Winning The Cup

With the season only a few hours away, here are my predictions for the 2011-12 season...

EASTERN CONFERENCE
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (Atlantic, 1st): Malkin wins the Art Ross.
2. Washington Capitals (Southeast, 1st): Ovechkin scores 53 goals.
3. Boston Bruins (Northeast, 1st): Tuuka Rask is starting by January.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (Southeast, 2nd): Roloson's wheels fall off.
5. Philadelph Flyers (Atlantic, 2nd): Giroux makes fans forget about Richards/Carter.
6. N.Y. Rangers (Atlantic, 3rd): Richards flops on Broadway.
7. Buffalo Sabres (Northeast, 2nd): Miller wins the Vezina.
8. New Jersey Devils (Atlantic, 4th): Kovalchuk scores 50 and Parise stays.

9. Montreal Canadiens (Northeast, 3rd)
10. Toronto Maple Leafs (Northeast, 4th)
11. Carolina Hurricanes (Southeast, 3rd)
12. Winnipeg Jets (Southeast, 4th)
13. New York Islanders (Atlantic, 5th)
14. Ottawa Senators (Northeast, 5th)
15. Florida Panthers (Southeast, 5th)

WESTERN CONFERENCE
1. Vancouver Canucks (Northwest, 1st): Luongo dominates the regular season only to fail in the postseason.
2. Detroit Red Wings (Central, 1st): Wings transition from Rafalski to White goes without a hitch.
3. Los Angeles Kings (Pacific, 1st): Doughty wins the Norris.
4. San Jose Sharks (Pacific, 2nd): Havlat misses 40+ games.
5. Chicago Blackhawks (Central, 2nd): Crawford stumbles Emery takes over the net.
6. Anaheim Ducks (Pacific, 3rd): Selanne is finally slowed by injuries and misses 40+ games.
7. St. Louis Blues (Central, 3rd): Halak finds his game and the Blues young forwards all mature.
8. Colorado Avalanche (Northwest, 2nd): Avs get average defense and outstanding goaltending from Varlamov to sneak into the postseason.

9. Columbus Blue Jackets (Central, 4th)
10. Nashville Predators (Central, 5th)
11. Calgary Flames (Northwest, 3rd)
12. Edmonton Oilers (Northwest, 4th)
13. Minnesota Wild (Northwest, 5th)
14. Dallas Stars (Pacific, 4th)
15. Phoenix Coyotes (Pacific, 5th)

Eastern Conference Finals
Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Seven Games
The Caps have added some much needed grit by acquiring forwards Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer.  Tomas Vokoun will thrive being back in the spotlight of the postseason.  And stars Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green will take the necessary steps in the postseason to push the Caps over the top and into the Cup Finals.  
Western Conference Finals
Los Angeles Kings over the Vancouver Canucks in Six Games
Over the past few seasons the Kings have built their identity on goaltending and strong defensive play while ignoring their offensive deficiencies.  DL finally acknowledged the team's anemic offense by acquiring two top-six forwards in Mike Richards and Simon Gagne.  If the Kings forwards can stay healthy, they'll give Vancouver all they can handle and may just run Roberto Luongo out of town.
Stanley Cup Finals
Los Angeles Kings over the Washington Capitals in Seven Games
I like the Caps to win the Cup in this matchup but if I've got the Kings advancing all the way to the Cup; they've got to win it all, right?  If the Kings can acquire Zach Parise like many 'experts' are already speculating then the Kings would have to be heavy favorites.  I think the Kings and Caps matchup well.  The Kings defense first system will stifle the Caps dynamic forwards.  The Kopitar-Richards combination will outplay Backstrom-Laich.  And Drew Doughty will show everyone that he was worth every penny by winning the Conn Smythe Award for shutting down Ovechkin all series long.

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