Puck Daddy - NHL

Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

By this time next week, the new NHL season will have been underway for a few days. And that's really good news, isn't it?

Over the next couple days, just about every major, minor and inconsequential sports outlet will roll out its predictions for the upcoming season. The experts at ESPN will inevitably predict that the Rangers are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. It will be the 30th year they will have done so.

TSN will say that a Canadian team is, in fact, the odds-on favorite to win it all, before conceding that, OK, maybe half of the other 24 teams in the league have a chance of being better than the worst Canadian squad (Ottawa).

Then Sportsline or somebody will predict the Wild will win the President's Trophy because they haven't seen a hockey game in, like, six years.

I'm not interested in those things. Where everyone ends up at the end of the season isn't as fun as everyone getting his or her feelings hurt along the way.

Here are 20 bold predictions about the 2010-11 NHL season ...

(Coming Up: Brian Campbell(notes) injured for Chicago; Bobby Ryan(notes) vs. Drew Doughty(notes); Ron Wilson admires Detroit's manliness; Alexei Yashin(notes) haunts the NHL; when Moen mauled Gudbrandson; why Cammalleri could be in clear for Niederreiter slash; Schenn wrestles an Aforgator; Theo goes Wild; Blues coach butchers Muppet; latest on Loophole Lou; and a spear gets a gold star.)

1. There will be three 100-point scorers on the Capitals this year as Alex Semin plays big-time for a new contract.

2. Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) leads the league in power-play goals and actually stays on the right wing for a considerable portion of the season. He and Zach Parise(notes) will also make Travis Zajac(notes) a fantasy hockey superstar.

3. The Rangers will make the playoffs this year.

4. Olli Jokinen(notes) might actually not make any Flames fans cry this year. Not that he'll score 60 points or anything like that to earn his contract, but he won't be actively terrible.

5. Carey Price's(notes) house won't need to be under 24-hour surveillance because he'll actually play well and no one will hate him.

6. Taylor Hall(notes) will actually beat out Tyler Seguin(notes) for the Calder. But the Oilers will be last in the West again this year.

7. Brad Richards(notes) will go and put up yet another 90-plus point season and everyone will still act like he's overpaid.

8. The Blues will sneak into the last postseason spot out West this season, not entirely because of Jaroslav Halak(notes), but rather because all those kids will take a big step forward.

9. Rick Nash(notes) will continue to be awesome, with at least 40 goals, and no one in Columbus will care because the team is still going to stink.

10. Ryan Miller(notes) plays a one-man show in Buffalo for 70-something games and the Sabres still miss the playoffs.

11. The Tampa Bay Lightning power play will be the best in the East.

12. Evgeni Malkin(notes) will round back into form this season. Something like 35 goals and 95 points.

13. The Red Wings win the Central this season as heavy losses for the Blackhawks do more damage than people expected.

14. Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) will win the Vezina.

15. In a shocking bout of consistency, the Flyers will only dress six different goalies this season.

16. Dustin Byfuglien(notes) will be a total disaster at the Atlanta blue line and get moved back to forward well before January.

17. The Florida Panthers will be the worst team in the league.

18. Jussi Jokinen(notes) will fall back to earth with a resounding thud. That 60-point season was a crazy fluke.

19. Anze Kopitar(notes) becomes widely recognized around the league as a superstar, as people tune into more Kings games to get an eyeful of Drew Doughty.

20. Antti Niemi(notes) will do no better for the Sharks than Evgeni Nabokov(notes) ever did.

OK, have a good season.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: An actual, real-life question posed by the OC Register's Ducks blog -- Would you rather have Bobby Ryan or Drew Doughty? At last check, votes were, somehow, 125 to 109 in Doughty's favor. In a poll with 234 voters, it should be 234-0. One guy who goes by "Pacific Ocean" is particularly adamant about this.

Atlanta Thrashers: Not a good preseason for new coach Craig Ramsay's boys. Six games, no wins. And for a team that focuses on defense, allowing 18 goals is probably the opposite of good. Though maybe they should be more troubled by their only having scored 10 themselves.

Boston Bruins: At one point in Saturday's exhibition with an Elite League all-star team of sorts, the Bruins were down 1-0. Then they scored three times in 45 seconds. And that was the end of that. Watch the below video for lots of talk from PERSON OF ACTUAL IRISH DESCENT Shawn Thornton(notes).

Buffalo Sabres: Farewell and adieu to Zach Kassian. Now you have to go try and win a third consecutive Memorial Cup. Deal with it.

Calgary Flames: Fantasy owners everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief since Rene Bourque's(notes) injury, of which we never quite learned the full nature, has healed and he played Sunday night in Calgary's final exhibition game. That leaves only David Moss(notes), Ales Kotalik(notes), Matt Stajan(notes) and Daymond Langkow(notes) on the "out indefinitely" list to start the season.

Carolina Hurricanes: Later Monday the 'Canes will play SKA St. Petersburg, which features the great Alexei Yashin! Best part of this article? "Yashin, 36, starred for the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders..." Starred!

Chicago Blackhawks: Brian Campbell's out four to five weeks, leaving the Blackhawks scrambling to find another defenseman who is woefully overpaid.

Colorado Avalanche: Among the Avs' latest cuts was Ryan Stoa(notes), who lost his job because three rookies were more impressive than him in camp. Not good news for a guy with a season of pro experience, including 12 games in the NHL, already under his belt.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Nikita Filatov(notes) is officially in Columbus' top six. Weird, I thought he wasn't even good enough to be on the team last year, eh Hitchcock?

Dallas Stars: Kari Lehtonen(notes) had a false-alarm groin issue that nearly held him out of practice, but he's fine now. And luckily he's been upgraded to "elite level" by Mike Heika, though there's no word what that's based on. He's missed 150 games since 2005-06, to groin, ankle, back and "upper body" injuries. Enjoy, Stars fans!

Detroit Red Wings: Ron Wilson called the Red Wings a "real man's team," which is why the Leafs, who spent most of the game standing on a chair and shrieking because Dion Phaneuf(notes) thought he saw a mouse, got clobbered 7-3 on Friday. Meanwhile, Henrik Zetterberg(notes) lifted heavy things.

Edmonton Oilers: Theo Peckham(notes), Richard Petiot(notes) and Shawn Belle(notes) all played for a job Sunday night in the Oilers' final preseason game. Liam Reddox(notes) had to sweat it out from the press box. Word on demotions should come Monday, but seriously, I don't care how bad the Oilers are, Liam Reddox shouldn't be on an NHL roster.

Florida Panthers: Watch now as Erik Gudbrandson gets punched in the face rather hard by Travis Moen(notes).


Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick(notes) is somehow still the starter in L.A., and Jonathan Bernier(notes) will back him up. Remind me again which one had the save percentage of .907 last year.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild signed Jose Theodore(notes) since Josh Harding's(notes) done for forever. Not a terrible insurance pickup, eh?

Montreal Canadiens: Habs Inside Out says hey, whoa, wait a minute you guys, Mike Cammalleri only slashed the buhjeezus outta Nino Niederreiter(notes) because he got clobbered by a blindside hit. So that's why he might escape without suspension: because two wrongs make a right.

Nashville Predators: The Preds want to score more goals than they did last season (a paltry 225). Look at that roster and please tell me where they get even 230 goals. They're gonna white-knuckle their way to another easy playoff berth, and isn't it more exciting that way?

New Jersey Devils: Good news Devs fans! That concussion Bryce Salvador(notes) has might just save Lou's ass when it comes to that whole salary cap issue. How very CONVENIENT that a team that needs $2.9 million in cap space sees an injury to a player making exactly that much. Yes, very CONVENIENT indeed! Somewhere, Lou is rubbing his hands together maniacally, saying "Yes, YESSSSSSSSS."

New York Islanders: Speaking of Alex Yashin as I was earlier, the Islanders are still using his buyout to stay above the cap floor, but that's not circumventing the spirit of the salary cap at all, no siree bob.

New York Rangers: It seems Rangers fans are a bit divided on whether the final round of cuts was a good or bad thing. Witness consecutive posts on Blueshirt Banter extolling how horrible the decisions were, and then praising them for their judiciousness. (You can also consider this part to be my undying and bottomless lament for underestimating the Dolans' desire to waste money by sending Wade Redden(notes) to the AHL, so you morons can feel free to stop chirping me. Get over it.)

Ottawa Senators: David Hale(notes) actually made the Ottawa roster, if you can believe it. It will be a fun exercise to see how long he can go without scoring. My bet: all season.

Philadelphia Flyers: Prospect Zac Rinaldo(notes) is like the perfect Flyer. Friday night he had four penalties (three of which were in the third period) and almost started a brawl during warm-ups. That's awesome.

Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes have three players from the Czech Republic on their roster, and their trip to Prague is going to be like the freakin' Beatles landing at Idlewild. So much press for Petr Prucha(notes), who I guess is like Ringo.

Pittsburgh Penguins: "Eric Godard expands his role," says the headline. Basically Dan Bylmsa thinks Godard brings more to the team than the ability to punch other tough guys in the face, which is why he's averaging like 4:08 of ice time a night in his two years with the Pens and hasn't gotten into one of the team's 37 playoff games. 

San Jose Sharks: Andreas Lilja(notes) is making the trip to Europe to (maybe) play with the Sharks, but he still doesn't have a contract. Gotta think if they're lugging him over to Sweden they're gonna sign him, yeah?

St. Louis Blues: No wonder Bourne calls Davis Payne the best coach he ever had: the guy went to a Jedi master for a motivational quote. "I think it was Yoda who said, ‘You either do or do not ... there's no try,'" he said. Come on dawg, get the line right at least.

Tampa Bay Lightning: They're lovin' Guy Boucher in Tampa. Seriously, it looks like Yzerman picked a real winner.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Luke Schenn(notes) was not freakin' happy about this Justin Abdelkader(notes) hit.

Couple of southpaw bombs right there. 

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks released Brendan Morrison(notes), who apparently won't be waiting too long for the phone to ring. There's a line around the block for his services. Funny story, though, Peter Schaeffer, of all people, is still with the club on his pro tryout.

Washington Capitals: Well, it couldn't last forever. In the Caps' last preseason game this year, they finally had their run of five straight wins ended by Nashville. Said Bruce Boudreau, "There's a lot of good system stuff that we really did bad out there. There will be great video for Tuesday."

Gold Star Award

That Derek Boogaard(notes) cup check on Chris Neil(notes) made me laugh for a while. That's worth $1.6 million right there.

Minus of the Weekend

It's gotta go to the Flyers' disastrous goaltending. Johan Backlund(notes) and Sergei Bobrovsky(notes) combined to allow nine goals on 35 shots. Yikes.

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

User PuckInTheNet would like to help ... someone?

Toronto gets

Dustin Penner(notes)

3rd rounder

Edmonton gets

Carl Gunnarson 

What do you make of THAT?

Signoff

Excuse me, do these effectively hide my thunder?

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness rather infrequently over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can email him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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