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:
2. The Coyotes will make the playoffs but the Ducks won't: Boom.
7. The Lightning will still be really bad: Sub-.500 in the Southeast? Yeah, that's really bad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.