Saturday, October 8, 2011

HOCKEY: NHL Predictions 2011-2012

The 2011-2012 NHL Season is upon us, and here are my predictions for the final standings. For teams that did not make the playoffs last year, I have included a short explanation of why I think they will make the cut this year. Likewise, for teams that were in the playoffs last year but that I have predicted will miss the cut this year, I have included an explanation of why I think that will be.

Eastern Conference

1. Capitals
2. Penguins
3. Sabres
4. Bruins
5. Rangers
6. Flyers
7. Lightning

8. Maple Leafs: They have a strong defense and I think James Reimer will be the answer in net. They went out and got some offense in the form of Matthew Lombardi, Tim Connolly, and John-Michael Liles. I expect Grabovski and Kulemin will repeat last year's success (both were right up against the 60-point mark).

9. Canadiens: The East is on the rise and somebody's going to be left behind. Admittedly the 7-10 spots in the East are very difficult to predict -- this pick is more of a reflection of my belief in the eight teams above than a disparagement of the Habs.

10. Islanders
11. Hurricanes
12. Devils
13. Jets
14. Panthers
15. Senators

Western Conference

1. Blackhawks
2. Kings
3. Canucks
4. Sharks
5. Red Wings
6. Ducks
7. Predators

8. Blue Jackets: They have shown flashes of brilliance the past two years, and I am betting that this is the year they will develop some consistency. Scott Arniel is finally going to be able to play the type of uptempo, offensive hockey he wants to. I think the new additions will excel, and I think Steve Mason will return to the form of his rookie year.

9. Blues
10. Flames
11. Avalanche
12. Wild
13. Oilers

14. Coyotes: They lost Bryzgalov, and their division includes two of the most improved teams in San Jose and Los Angeles. You know things are bad when they are expecting a breakout year from Kyle Turris.

15. Stars

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