I was recently asked to provide my predictions for the 2009-2010 NHL season as part of the NY Times Hockey Night in Blogdom series titled 30 teams in 30 minutes. I’ve been in analysis mode for a while now, thanks to the task of proving my friends wrong as I school them in our hockey pool. But regardless, it was still a tough call. I was further inspired by Kent’s prediction, so here are my predictions for the 2009-2010 season
5. New Jersey
7. Tampa Bay
8. NY Rangers
15. NY Islanders
I don’t believe that Pittsburgh will come out flying following their Stanley Cup win last year, and will be edged out of first place in the division by Philadelphia. The Pens will still be strong, and will probably go deep into the playoffs much to the chagrin of Wings and Flyers fans and the ever-present Crosby-haters.
Though I do detest them (for obvious reasons) I think the Lightning will have a much-improved year and will actually make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Boston had a magnificant season last year thanks to career performances by many different players, but I think they have the grit to do it again, and I predict that they will take the President’s Cup. Washington will be in the mix again. The question is whether they have what it takes to win in the playoffs…
Notable teams not making the playoffs are the Montreal Canadians and Buffalo Sabres. Montreal just has too much bad karma going and Buffalo is on an Ottawa Senators-inspired downward spiral that will continue no matter how good Ryan Miller thinks he is.
1. San Jose
8. St. Louis
11. Los Angeles
Yeah, so the first thing you’ll notice is that the Flames are #2. “What!?” That’s right. I’m a Flames fan and I have the right be blinded by my unconditional love of my team like any self-righteous Canucks fan. So I say #2 it is for the team that everyone else seems to hate.
It was a toss-up between San Jose and Chicago for tops in the West, and I chose San Jose because they’ve shown that they can get it done in the regular season. (Insert Joe Thornton joke here) Chicago will surely be right up there with their wealth of young talent, but San Jose has an easier division and will benefit the most. I also say a whispy “buh-bye” to Detroit as they slip away like sands through the hourglass. They’ve still got enough talent to make the playoffs, but they won’t go far this year. Anaheim will beat them in 6 games.
And then there’s Vancouver. Everyone thinks they’ll be one of the best teams in the West this season based (I suppose) on their superhero of a goaltender and the fact that the Sedin twins are back with multi-million dollar contracts. I think that most people are overlooking their 14-game road trip before and after the 2010 Olympics. The Canucks won’t play at home from January 27 to March 13, 2010. If you think that’s a recipe for first place in the NW, I’d like to have some of whatever you’re smoking. When you throw in the “I just signed a huge new contract and will be loaded for life” factor, its easy to see that the Sedins will tank this season while Luongo cracks under the microscope of Vancouver and the 2010 Canadian Hockey fans.
Please feel free to post your disagreements below.