The puck dropped on Tuesday night to signal the start of the NHL regular season and unlike last season, fans of the greatest game on earth packed NHL arenas in October. As expected around this time of year, many industry experts step forward with “bold predictions” that usually take a safe approach, but there’s no fun in safe. The safe approach would be to predict Sidney Crosby for the Hart Trophy or Henrik Lundqvist for the Vezina Trophy, but in about five minutes, you’ll realize the only safe pick comes from my Stanley Cup winner. Saying that, just remember that since 1927, only eight teams have won the Cup after losing in the finals the season prior, but only two teams have done so since 1969.
Divisional Standings (* playoff team)
Atlantic Division Metropolitan Division
1) Boston Bruins * 1) Pittsburgh Penguins *
2) Detroit Red Wings * 2) New Jersey Devils *
3) Ottawa Senators * 3) New York Rangers *
4) Montreal Canadiens 4) New York Islanders *
5) Toronto Maple Leafs 5) Philadelphia Flyers *
6) Florida Panthers 6) Columbus Blue Jackets
7) Tampa Bay Lightning 7) Washington Capitals
8) Buffalo Sabres 8) Carolina Hurricanes
Central Division Pacific Division
1) Chicago Blackhawks * 1) Vancouver Canucks *
2) St. Louis Blues * 2) San Jose Sharks *
3) Dallas Stars * 3) Los Angeles Kings *
4) Minnesota Wild * 4) Anaheim Ducks *
5) Nashville Predators 5) Edmonton Oilers
6) Winnipeg Jets 6) Phoenix Coyotes
7) Colorado Avalanche 7) Calgary Flames
Eastern Conference Finals: Boston Bruins over the Detroit Red Wings (7 games)
Western Conference Finals: San Jose Sharks over the Chicago Blackhawks in (6 games)
Stanley Cup Final: In a matchup New Englanders are salivating to see, the Bruins handle Jumbo Joe Thornton and the Sharks rather decisively in a four-game sweep.
Conn-Smythe: Patrice Bergeron (BOS)
Hart: Claude Giroux (PHI)
Art Ross: Steven Stamkos (TB)
Norris: Alex Pietrangelo (STL)
Vezina: Jimmy Howard (DET)
Calder: Valeri Nichushkin (DAL)
Jack Adams: Peter DeBoer (NJ)
5 Bold NHL Predictions
1) Tyler Seguin finishes in the NHL’s top 10 in points and the Dallas Stars make the playoffs. As a security measure, the team hires Cordell Walker from “Walker, Texas Ranger” to keep an eye on Seguin during the playoffs. To no avail, Seguin and the Stars are swept 4-0 in the first round.
2) Once viewed as organizational building blocks, LW Thomas Vanek and G Ryan Miller are traded to Western Conference teams, but enforcer John Scott sets a career record in games played
3) The loss of Ilya Kovalchuk to the KHL pays off in the end for the New Jersey Devils who quietly contend for first place in the Metropolitan Division. With something to prove, G Cory Schneider is one of the league’s best from the start, forcing Coach Peter DeBoer to relegate backup duties to future Hall-of-Famer, Martin Brodeur.
4) Tim Thomas defies the laws of gravity and excels with the Florida Panthers, but that hardly makes a difference because the Panthers simply aren’t very good. As the trade deadline approaches, Panthers GM Dale Tallon sends the former Bruins goaltender to the front runners of the Metropolitan division, the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for prospects.
5) I picked Joe Thornton and the Sharks to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup finals, isn’t that bold enough?
5 Bold Predictions on the 2013-2014 Boston Bruins
1) The Bruins are a better team now than they were at the conclusion of Game 6 back in June and instantly, newcomers Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla will remind you of that. This season, Eriksson eclipses 70 points while Jarome Iginla flirts with 40 goals.
2) Gregory Campbell will lead all NHL forwards in blocked shots heading into the Eastern Conference Finals, which #11 then follows up by scoring the game-winning-goal in Game 7 vs. Detroit.
3) Led by Jarome Iginla’s adept ability to find the back of the net from the slot, the Bruins finish in the top 5 in power-play efficiency, which carries over throughout the NHL Playoffs.
4) Ryan Spooner is recalled from Providence, a place he never returns and picks up exactly where he left off with Boston during the preseason by notching a couple of assists in his return.
5) Defenseman Doug Hamilton appears in more games during the regular season than teammates Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski. Meanwhile, during the playoffs, Julien once again turns to Krug and Bartkowski over Hamilton during a successful Cup run.