Abbreviated picks for the abbreviated season...
This year's NHL season is finally upon us after months of highs and lows for fans when word would leak out that a resolution to the lockout was near only to be dashed by harsh words from the negotiating parties. Frankly, for most of the lockout, I thought we were looking at a rerun of the lost season of 2004-05.
That being said, anyone who says with authority that they are confident in their picks for this year's 16 playoff teams is completely delusional. In the shortened 48 game season, any of the 30 NHL teams has a shot at being in the post season (except for Columbus, of course).
The teams that have the most continuity from last season, the fewest injuries to key players, and have the hottest goalie can sneak into the top eight in either conference with even average talent on the roster. Those are keys in any season but with less room for error, they will me magnified much so in this three month sprint to the playoffs.
Short of drawing names out of a hat, here is my best guess at the year's final standings...
1. NY Rangers
7. New Jersey
10. Tampa Bay
14. NY Islanders
3. San Jose
4. Los Angeles
5. St Louis
With the full expectation being called a homer, I predict that the Rangers will win the President's trophy by a hair over Vancouver and will eventually meet the Predators in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Cup winner will be the Predators and many will say that there should be an asterisk in the record book due to the shortened season.
So there it is, guesses as bad as anyone else's. At least in this storybook fantasy, there is a happy ending for the citizens of Smashville.
Buddy Oakes for PredsontheGlass