Thursday, October 9, 2008

PredsOnTheGlass Season Predictions

Jackson’s Picks


1. Montreal

2. Pittsburgh

3. Washington

4. Ottawa

5. Boston

6. Philadelphia

7. New York

8. New Jersey


1. Detroit

2. San Jose

3. Calgary

4. Dallas

5. Anaheim

6. Nashville

7. Edmonton

8. Chicago

President’s Trophy Detroit

Finals San JoseMontreal

Winner San Jose

Buddy’s Picks


1. Montreal

2. Pittsburgh

3. Washington

4. New Jersey

5. Philadelphia

6. Boston

7. Ottawa

8. Tampa Bay


1. Detroit

2. Dallas

3. Anaheim

4. San Jose

5. Calgary

6. Nashville

7. Minnesota

8. Chicago

President’s Trophy Detroit

Finals DetroitMontreal

Winner Detroit

Jackson and Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Buddy’s full Conference picks with 30 team commentary as first published on follows:

The Detroit Red Wings Will Repeat as 2008-2009 Stanley Cup Champ

Since opinions are like rear ends (everyone has one) it’s time for me to give my predictions for the 2008-2009 season. Several teams look different on paper but fortunately the season is played on ice. As the headline states, I can’t foresee anyone overtaking the reigning champs. The Wings lost only Dallas Drake and Dominique Hasek from the Cup team. They more than replaced the pair with Marion Hossa and Ty Conklin. I also don’t buy into the “Cup hangover” argument that everyone is making to try to say the Wings won’t repeat. They are one of the best coached and disciplined teams in the league.

I will make specific predictions of all thirty teams by conference. Additionally, in parenthesis I will project a range of where each team will finish from what I feel is the best they can finish if everything falls into place and the worst they could finish if the bottom falls out for them. Please note, my predictions are on total points and do not take in consideration a third place finish for division champs.

Western Conference

1. Detroit Red Wings (1-2) As stated above the Wings should have no trouble repeating. Their point total will also be buoyed by being in the weakest of the three divisions out west.

2. Dallas Stars (1-4) The Stars came on strong in the playoffs last year and if the new additions blend in early in the season the Stars should be able to challenge the Wings for the conference title. Steve Avery’s feistiness should add a new dimension of the Stars normally business as usual approach. One thing that is a drawback in the West division is that includes three of the top five or six teams in the entire league.

3. Anaheim Mighty Ducks (1-4) For those who subscribe to the “cup hangover” theory it should not apply to the Ducks this year since they bailed in the first round last season. With Niedimeyer and Selanne there from the start along with all the other returning veterans the Ducks are in a position to challenge the Wings in the west. If Brian Burke can stay focused on his current team and not on the rumors of his departure he should have all the parts to go deep in the playoffs this season

4. San Jose Sharks (1-6) The Sharks will be an interesting team to watch as the season unfolds. The team had been picked by many to compete for the cup the last couple of years but never played to their anticipated level. With a fresh start under a new coach and most of their skilled players returning this could be the year for them to live up to their potential. Many new faces on the blue line will have to learn to play as a team quickly. It will be interesting to see if coaching has been the issue or if the players simply are not as good as folks have been led to believe.

5. Calgary Flames (4-9) The Flames appear to be the most solid choice among a very competitive group in the Northwest division. I don’t see anyone in the division being able to break free from the rest. I think we will see a tight race like last year with any of the five actually capable of winning the division if things come together for them.

6. Nashville Predators (5- 10) Could this be the year for the Preds as the NHL ad says? Obviously I am somewhat biased and optimistic since the Preds are my team but I’m also realistic enough to consider that if the goaltending falls flat on its face and few goals find the net that the Preds streak of four years in the post season will come to an end. Since day one of the Preds, long time under recognized coach Barry Trotz has done more with less than any other coach in the league. Last year after the Preds’ “fire sale” Trotz was able to do what few thought he could getting the Preds into the post season with much less talent than the 110 point team of the year before. With the loss of Radulov and the burden of the world on Dan Ellis Trotz hopefully has a few rabbits left in his hat. More pluses in the Preds favor is that they have plenty of cap space, stockpiles in the minors and plenty of picks in the 2009 draft.

7. Minnesota Wild (5-10) The middle group in the west this year starting with #5 Calgary above all the way through #12 Colorado are in a group that are all capable of making the playoffs if things go their way. The Wild are a team that may have fallen off a little versus the competition in their division but should still have enough to sneak into the playoffs.

8. Chicago Blackhawks (5-11) The Hawks were very active in the off season with several veteran acquisitions to solidify themselves in goal and on the blue line to go along with the young scoring talent that has developed over the last couple of years. If they get off to a slow start, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an early coaching change after all the off season moves. On paper they look like a playoff team but it may take time for them to play as a cohesive team.

9. Phoenix Coyotes (7-12) The Desert Dogs have my vote as the most improved team in the west since last year. Unfortunately they are playing in the toughest division in hockey. A key to watch is how they perform in the 18 games vs the Eastern Conference. Success vs the East over 18 games could offset the really tough 18 games they have to play against the division’s top three. A mix of good veterans and young future stars will make this team competitive every night.

10. Vancouver Canucks (6-12) The Canucks improved their scoring potential over the summer and should be able to field two solid scoring lines if everyone stays healthy. As long as Captain Luongo plays his 65-70 games and stays in top form they will be a contender for a playoff spot. The Nooks had a good preseason so it will be interesting to see if that will continue when the puck drops for real.

11. Edmonton Oilers (6-12) Edmonton has also improved themselves over the summer an has several youngsters that should be ready for break out years. I’m still not impressed with the duo in goal. Over the last couple of years it has been hard to believe they are only recently removed from the cup final. The playoffs are in reach but things will have to fall in place early for them to be successful.

12 Colorado Avalanche (8-14) The Avs are another team that will be a step slower than they were last year. With several older veterans and younger players that did not meet expectations last year the Avs will need to take it up a notch to make the playoffs. They will need a return to form by Ryan Smyth and a break out by Wolski and Stasney to go to the postseason. The play in goal has potential to be problematic and contributes heavily to where they are ranked.

13. Columbus Blue Jackets (9-14) On paper the Jackets should be much improved with addition of a couple of scorers to go with Rick Nash. LeClair should be solid in goal as well. For some reason the BJ’s have consistently underachieved with what they have had. I have really expected more from a Ken Hichcock coached team than I have seen since his arrival. With more weapons this year this will be his best shot but I still don’t see a playoff birth this year.

14. St Louis Blues (11-15) The Blues seemed to have been snake bit in the recent past. A golfing accident to Erik Johnson who was set to bloom this year is indicative of how things have gone for them recently. Legacy and Mason will have to be stellar every night for the Blues to compete. More is also needed from several aging scorers than we saw last year. I don’t think they will fall below the Kings but it could be close.

15. Los Angeles Kings (14-15) I can definitely say the Kings have a lock on last place in the west. I don’t see anything on the horizon that would indicate any upward movement in the standings. They parted with several solid veterans and replaced them with similar talent. The younger base is still a year or two away from lifting the Kings out of the basement and that will insure another top draft pick next summer.

Eastern Conference

1. Montreal Canadians (1-4) I’m picking the Habs to win the Eastern Conference but don’t really feel good about doing so. The West has at least four teams that are better than the best the East has to offer. The Habs were good last year and look to be better than Pittsburgh on paper. The East probably has numerous teams that could challenge for the title due to parity but none that will chase the Presidents Trophy. If Carey Price fails to play well, the Habs could take a significant dive in the standings.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (1-5) As sure as I was that the cup hangover would not affect the Red Wings I am equally sure that the Pens will feel it. They have a much younger team and lost several key players from their run to the finals last year. I am still not a big fan of Marc Andre Fleury and was really disappointed with Malkin at times in the finals. They still have a lot of firepower and should be able to out score opponents on most nights.

3. Washington Capitols (1-5) The Capitols should pick up where they left off at the end of last season. If they had better goal keeping (even a top 10 goalie) they would be my number one pick in the East. They can score in bunches bit with Theodore in goal the other teams will too. They will benefit by playing in the Southeast division. A.O. should repeat taking home a mass amount of hardware. As far as I’m concerned he is the number one all round player in the game.

4- New Jersey Devils (2-6) On paper, I shouldn’t rank the Devils this high but they are the most consistent team in the East over the last decade and beyond. All they do is win. They have a solid team, great goalie and a coach that doesn’t know how to lose. As long as Brodour stays healthy they should be in the mix to win their division all year. They are not always fun to watch but they always are in the post-season, something that 14 other teams don’t have a chance to do.

5. Philadelphia Flyers (2-7) The Flyers have a good young team that should finish in the top three in the Atlantic division and should easily qualify for the playoffs. They came on strong at the end of last season and should pick up where they left off. They have a good combination of speed, grit, scoring and youthful enthusiasm that should keep them in the playoffs for years to come.

6. Boston Bruins (5-9) The Bruins were back in the playoffs last year and appear to be poised to pick up where they left off. Tim Thomas proved himself in goal and the team competes every night in a tough division. With the return of Manny Fernandez they will be strong in goal. They will need to play well as a team in order to make it past the first round of the playoffs.

7. Ottawa Senators (5-10) Despite the free fall at the end of last year, the Senators should have a new optimism (less the disgruntled Ray Emory) and have a good shot to return to the playoffs this year. Their top line should score with anyone. The combination of speed and regaining the memory of how to win should keep them in the top three in the division.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-12) The Lightning did more over the summer to grab headlines than any other team. With the return of Barry Melrose and all the new players, they will need their names in tape on the front of their helmets for well into the season. They have plenty of talent but I’m not sure Melrose can perform as well as he could talk on the TV. Picking up Kolzig may be the best addition they made if the unproven Mike Smith struggles behind a revamped blue line. This is a really hard pick and it will be a real challenge for the team to play as a unit early in the year.

9. New York Rangers (7-12) The Rangers have the best chance to take the biggest fall in the East this year. They play in a tough division and appear to be the fourth team and will finish out of the playoffs. They lost several key players that defined the team and should struggle out of the gate. Their strength in goal should keep them competitive on a nightly basis.

10. Carolina Hurricanes (8- 11) The Canes had relatively little movement during the off season for a team that finished two points out of the playoffs. Two teams will make the playoffs out of the southeast and it is hard to pick which one the second team will be. The canes appear to be a player or two away from being able to assure the 8th spot this year. Cam Ward will need to step it up a notch for the Canes to play into April.

11. Buffalo Sabres (8-12) I really would like to see the Sabres back in the playoffs but wouldn’t feel comfortable picking them there at this point. They have a similar team to the one that finished 10th last season and did little to improve their position. Miller should be strong in goal and they should score plenty of goals but I don’t see who they could move out of the playoff picture in their division.

12. Florida Panthers (10-13) The Panthers had significant turnover during the off season. They had wholesale changes on the blue line and lost some of their limited scoring ability. Several folks feel that they have a shot at the playoffs but even in a weak division I don’t see it.

13. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-14) I really feel sorry for fans in the hockey Mecca of Toronto. They really have very little to look forward to this year other than the possible signing of Brian Burke at the end of the season. The team will probably muddle along mired in mediocrity and probably lead to a few crying injected interviews by new coach Ron Wilson. If he could cry for the cameras in San Jose, the Leafs will give him plenty to cry about this year. It’s a good thing the Preds didn’t move to Hamilton because they would take the spotlight away from the Leafs.

14. Atlanta Thrashers (13-14) The Thrashers are a team with no apparent plan throughout their history. Ilya Kovalchuk it the shining light in a cast that doesn’t have many stand outs. Kari Lehtonen should be a better goalie than he has shown in the past but has been burdened by a weak defense and a series of injuries. The trade of Hossa last year diminished the Thrashers even more. They are definitely not better after dealing one of the best scorers in the game. I guess the theory was that they could finish near the bottom with or without him.

15. New York Islanders (15) The Islanders, like the Kings, have little to look forward to this year other than next summer’s draft. Unlike the Kings they don’t have a young base of talent to even be able to chant “Wait ‘till next year”.


missing301 said...

This Jackson guy is a genius.

missing301 said...

I know it is a few days into the season, but I think I better post these now:
Western (the most important conference)
1. san jose
2. detroit
3. calgary
4. dallas
5. anaheim
6. minnesota
7. nashville
8. phoenix