What We Learned: 10 bold predictions for Stanley Cup playoffs

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.

At the start of every NHL season, all the experts make predictions about how the season will go, who will break out, who will underperform, and so forth. And then, whether they were right or not, you never hear a word about those predictions again.

I believe in some level of accountability.

You might remember I made "20 bold predictions for the NHL season" back in late September, so I figured I should go back and see how well I did.

Right before I make 10 more predictions for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, from first-round upsets to the Conn Smythe winner.

(Coming Up: Incredible photo of Matt Cooke(notes) getting knocked out; the Sutter Bros. silent "feud"; Teemu and Niedermayer face retirement; the equipment that can defeat the Blackhawks; finding a fit for Kovalchuk; Islanders victims of their own success; Sidney Crosby's(notes) solid 51st goal; Sedin wins the Art Ross and Ovechkin doesn't; NBC's mistakes; and how to get Jarome Iginla(notes) to Boston.)

Here's the Cliff's Notes version of the 20 bold predictions from the preseason:

1. John Tavares(notes) will only score 40 points: Nope.

2. The Coyotes will make the playoffs but the Ducks won't: Boom.

3. Someone challenges Alex Ovechkin(notes) for the Rocket Richard: Put it on the board.

4. Vesa Toskala(notes) gets his job taken from him before November: This pretty much happened.

5. Alex Kovalev's(notes) stay in Ottawa is an unmitigated disaster: "Unmitigated" may have been overstatement, but "disaster" was not.

6. Brent Sutter will decrease Dion Phaneuf's(notes) minutes significantly: They had a big-time blowout that led to Dion getting shipped out of town, so I'm counting it.

7. The Lightning will still be really bad: Sub-.500 in the Southeast? Yeah, that's really bad.

8. Mike Green(notes) will win the Norris : Obviously awards haven't been handed out yet, but Greenie's got a better case than pretty much everyone that isn't Drew Doughty(notes).

9. Marian Gaborik(notes) will miss at least half the season: He missed only six games.

10. The Blackhawks win the division: Count it.

11. The Flyers will set a franchise low in match penalties: I think Danny Carcillo had 128 by himself this year.

12. Cal Clutterbuck(notes) will finally dump the visor: Nope.

13. Dany Heatley(notes) will lead the league in power play goals and the Sharks' power play will run at 26 percent: Wrong on both counts. Heater finished second behind Stamkos, and the Sharks' power play was only 21.0 percent.

14. Regardless of how well the season finishes, Red Wings fans will be aggrieved by some perceived slight: Obviously this happened.

15. Bob Gainey will be gone: He sure did.

16. Mike Comrie(notes) will have a pretty good year, like 60 points or something: He missed half the season, but didn't even score at a 60-point pace.

17. Buffalo will miss the playoffs and both Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier will be fired: Buffalo won its division. Lindy and Darcy will never go anywhere.

18. Evgeni Malkin(notes) will lead the league in points. Sid Crosby will barely crack 90: Nope.

19. Marty Turco(notes) will cost an otherwise good Dallas team a playoff spot, and will keep his starting job regardless: Well that 2.72 GAA sure didn't help anybody.

20. The Central will be the best division in hockey: Chicago, Detroit and Nashville all broke 100 points, so yes.

I went 12-8, basically. I'll take 12-8.

And now, 10 predictions for this postseason:

1. The Capitals will get out of the second round for once, but they won't win the conference.

2. Jaroslav Halak(notes) will make the Canadiens look far better than they have any right being.

3. The Predators will force a Game 7 against Chicago but still won't win their first playoff series in team history.

4. The Bruins will beat Buffalo in the first round with relative ease, and then get crushed in the second.

5. The Avs will get everyone back healthy and it won't matter even a little bit because they are going to get rolled.

6. The Penguins will sweep the Senators in embarrassing fashion.

7. San Jose will make the conference finals, but I can't in good conscience pick them to win no matter what I believe.

8. People will watch the Kings' games and wonder how the hell they got into the playoffs in the first place.

9. Another Stanley Cup Finals appearance for the Devils ho hum no big deal.

10. Jonathan Toews(notes): Conn Smythe winner.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: Scott Niedermayer(notes) and Teemu Selanne(notes) are considering retirement. If they both hang up the skates, will this be the most talented single Hall of Fame class of all time? Tkachuk, Modano, Niedermayer and Selanne is pretty strong.

Atlanta Thrashers: By now we've all watched that wonderful video of Matt Cooke getting KTFO'ed by Evander "Marc Savard's New Best Friend" Kane, but if you haven't seen this picture of it, you're missing out. Shot of the year for sure.

Boston Bruins: Mark Stuart(notes) hasn't practiced with Boston since last week, and will probably miss the first two games of the playoffs at the very least.

Buffalo Sabres: Drew Stafford(notes) picked up a concussion on Saturday against Ottawa. He'll "miss some time," says Lindy Ruff.

Calgary Flames: Given that Eric Francis is a bit of a clod, I'm inclined to take his report that Darryl and Brent Sutter hardly speak with a grain of salt. On the other hand, it would explain why the Flames' management style doesn't seem to mix well with its coaching style.

Carolina Hurricanes: Paul Maurice on next year's ‘Canes: "The direction is set with what we're going to do. We're going to get a lot younger. I like it. Most importantly, I think they'll be fun to watch." Translation: we're going to be pretty awful.

Chicago Blackhawks: This is a really, really, really interesting post about the Chicago Blackhawks and their success, or more accurately, lack thereof, against goaltenders that wear their catching glove on their right hand. These numbers are really pretty crazy. Seriously, if you click one link from this WWL, make this one it.

Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene(notes) will, reportedly, be fine after suffering from complications of a torso injury he picked up on Wednesday and being held out of Sunday's regular-season finale.

Columbus Blue Jackets: The point from the Islanders' OT loss actually hurt them as they passed the Blue Jackets in the standings and gave Columbus a slight shot at getting the No. 1 pick in Tuesday's draft lottery.

Dallas Stars: Brenden Morrow(notes) says that missing the playoffs two years in a row is a big motivator for next year. "We can't be living in our '99-2000 glory days," he added. Oh, THAT was their big problem the last two years? I just thought it was Marty Turco.

Detroit Red Wings: So the Red Wings ended the year with 102 points. That's 10 straight seasons of 100 or more points. And that's crazy.

Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers finished the season last night with an appropriately crushing defeat at the hands of the lowly Ducks. Oilers fans really couldn't have cared less.

Florida Panthers: I swear to you that when the Panthers' final game of the season ended, they dropped confetti. For a 28th-place finish. I don't know if anything is as funny as that.

Los Angeles Kings: Terry Murray said the team was disappointed to not finish fifth. I dunno, I'd much rather play the Canucks than the Coyotes.

Minnesota Wild: At the beginning of the season, Wild management and ownership declared its desire to build a team that can consistently contend for a Stanley Cup. I can't believe anyone bought that.

Montreal Canadiens: Here is literally everything you could have ever wanted to know about the upcoming Habs/Capitals series.

Nashville Predators: Say, Barry Trotz, are you happy or unhappy that your playoff opponent is a Blackhawks team against whom your squad lost four of six games? "I don't know if there's a right answer for that to be quite honest for you." This is hardly quite honest.

New Jersey Devils: Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) has had six different linemates since being traded to New Jersey. The Devils are concerned that they haven't found a proper place for him yet.

New York Islanders: It got a bit lost in the whole "Sid Crosby had like 100 points tonight" thing, but Matt Moulson(notes) scored his 30th goal of the season. Matt Moulson. If you had made bold predictions like me, and yours included him getting 30 freakin' goals, you would've been laughed off the Internet.

New York Rangers: Two people wanted the Rangers to actually make the playoffs: Henrik Lundqvist(notes) and Jody Shelley(notes). That is not the optimal combination for success.

Ottawa Senators: When the biggest story on Dany Alfredsson Night is that Cuba Gooding, Jr., star of cinematic masterpieces "Boat Trip" and "Sled Dogs," happened to be in attendance, you did not have a good night.

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers handed out their team awards over the weekend and the team MVP was Chris Pronger(notes). I guess finishing with 55 points and a plus-22 from the blue line while playing almost 26 minutes a night will do that for ya.

Phoenix Coyotes: Here's a story you're not likely to see too often: Russian player gets demoted to the AHL, then goes back to play in the KHL, then comes back and looks considerably better than when he left. Good for Viktor Tikhonov(notes).

Pittsburgh Penguins: Look at this 51st goal by Sid Crosby. Great recognition to jump up-ice the second the shot went awry.

San Jose Sharks: The Sharks media voted Patrick Marleau(notes) the team's best player for the second year in a row. Joe Thornton(notes), who has 175 points over those two campaigns, must have beat up some of the reporter's kids.

St. Louis Blues: While there won't be any official news for a few weeks, Davis Payne seems like he's in decent shape to retain his job as head coach, and maybe even get that "interim" taken off his title.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos(notes) says he doesn't mind tying for the Rocket Richard on an empty-net goal. Somewhere, Al Iafrate is shaking his head.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Dion Phaneuf has turned the Leafs into a juggernaut, apparently.

Vancouver Canucks: Yes, Henrik Sedin(notes) won the Art Ross. Here is a link with a funny picture about it.

Washington Capitals: Of course, that last bit of news means Alex Ovechkin did not catch Sedin for the Art Ross, nor did he score a goal that would have guaranteed him a three-way tie for the Rocket Richard. Said Bruce Boudreau, "To me it doesn't take away from the year he had." To me it does. He finished tied for second in points and third in goals he stinks trade Ovechkin.

Play of the Weekend

Because none of us will ever get sick of watching this:

How has this not a "History Will Be Made" video yet?

(Ed. Note: O RLY?)

Gold Star Award

During the first intermission of the Caps/Bruins game on NBC, Pierre McGuire suggested Sid Crosby could conceivably score eight points and catch up to Henrik Sedin in the Art Ross race. Everyone was like "Yeah OK Pierre."

Then Crosby had five points in 31:09 and everyone was like "Oh right he's unstoppable."

Minus of the Weekend

NBC really should've shown the Rangers/Flyers game instead of the largely meaningless but still a bit testy Bruins/Caps game.



Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

User "surferdude99" has this bright idea for a Boston/Calgary trade.




Toronto's 1st in 2010


And people's problem with it is that Boston is overpaying. My how times change.


I think that's just as good of a time as any to end the meeting.

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness pretty much every day over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

What to Read Next