The 2009-10 NHL regular season has come and gone. It’s been nothing short of very entertaining.
From the playoff races to the individual award races to the rivalries to the excitement of great teams (like the Capitals, Blackhawks, and Canucks) to the terrible disappointment of others (like the Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs, and Oilers), the NHL has never fallen short of greatness, and this past regular season was no different.
Here’s how I see the NHL 30 teams entering the playoffs.
1. Washington Capitals (54-15-13)
Alex Ovechkin fell short of the Art Ross Trophy and “Rocket” Richard Trophy, but his eyes are on a bigger trophy. Hint: It starts with “Stanley” and ends with “Cup.”
2. Chicago Blackhawks (52-22-8)
Even though the Blackhawks fell short of the West’s top seed, they still look ready for a strong run in the playoffs.
3. Vancouver Canucks (49-28-5)
They had a shaky end to the regular season. Now is not to time to continue the shakiness. The L.A. Kings are their first round opponents, and they are definitely not a team to look past. I can’t believe I just typed that down...
4. San Jose Sharks (51-20-11)
Because of the three teams ahead of them, I still don’t believe the Sharks are going to win the Stanley Cup this week, despite their strong end to the regular season.
5. New Jersey Devils (49-27-7)
Good news: They get past the Pens for the division championship and Buffalo for the No. 2 seed in the East. Bad news: They draw a division opponent for the playoffs. Yikes!
6. Buffalo Sabres (45-27-10)
It might’ve been a good thing to have the No. 3 seed in the East than the No. 2 seed after all. I’d rather play a team who can’t score at all like the Bruins than play a team with a great power-play unit like the Flyers.
7. Phoenix Coyotes (50-25-7)
If you would’ve told me in October that the Coyotes were going to make the playoffs this year and have a very good team, I would’ve slapped you and told you to keep dreaming. I now take my slap back and replace it with a big hug. This team is fo-rizzle!
8. Los Angeles Kings (46-27-9)
Like the Coyotes, the Kings are a Pacific Division team that I never would’ve thought could have a chance to make the playoffs this year. But Terry Murray’s club proved me wrong, and now the Canucks are going to have their hands full for the next two weeks.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (46-28-7)
Can the Pens become the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs? If they can get past the Caps, Devils, and Sabres, then yes, absolutely!
10. Detroit Red Wings (44-24-14)
I’m interested to see how Jimmy Howard is going to handle his first playoff series. If he plays like he did in the regular season, you can just give the Red Wings the series win over the Coyotes right now.
11. Colorado Avalanche (43-30-9)
I seriously thought this team was going to stink this year. But the young guns in Denver have become one of the greatest stories in the league this year. Their chances of beating the mighty Sharks are very slim.
12. Philadelphia Flyers (41-35-6)
Big ups to Brian Boucher for getting the job done against the Rangers and getting the Flyers into the playoffs. Now, let’s see how he does in a playoff series.
13. Boston Bruins (39-30-13)
Playing against future Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller in the first round of the playoffs will not help the Bruins’ chances of getting past the first round. This team is going one-and-done because they can't score their way out of a paper bag.
14. New York Rangers (38-33-11)
One of the most historic franchises in the NHL will officially go Stanley Cup-less for a 16th year in a row. So sad...
15. St. Louis Blues (40-32-10)
The Blues say goodbye to one of the greatest American-born hockey players of all time in Keith Tkachuk. But there are still reasons for optimism in St. Louis.
16. Nashville Predators (47-29-6)
The Preds win three of their last four to help them grab a playoff spot for the fifth time in six years. Now all they need to do is grab a first round win to boost the confidence of the team’s future. Their matchup against the Blackhawks will not help matters at all.
17. Calgary Flames (40-32-10)
The Flames were my pick to be one of the NHL’s final four teams left standing in late May. Now here they stand as the 2009-10 season’s biggest disappointment. Very embarrassing.
18. Montreal Canadiens (39-33-10)
The fact that the Habs have only won three of their past 11 games leads me to believe that the Habs have almost no shot against the Capitals in the playoffs.
19. Ottawa Senators (44-32-6)
After Ottawa traded away Dany Heatley, I thought this team had no shot at the playoffs this year. They are definitely ahead of the game, but a first round matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins doesn’t help their chances of getting past the first round and getting ahead of the game even more.
20. Dallas Stars (37-31-14)
Happy trails, Mike Modano, who is the greatest American-born hockey player of all time! And to Marty Turco, who has had his head up his rear end for two years.
21. Anaheim Ducks (38-33-11)
Have we seen the end of the incomparable Teemu Selanne? Don’t bet on it.
22. Atlanta Thrashers (35-34-13)
Another season, another disappointing ending. That and winning only three of their last 10 games lead me to believe that John Anderson won’t be behind the bench next season.
23. Carolina Hurricanes (35-37-10)
I have to give a little bit of credit to the ‘Canes for still managing to finish with 80 points while being bit by the injury bug multiple times during the season. I’m calling it right now: The Carolina Hurricanes will be very good next season and will make the playoffs as a top-five seed.
24. Minnesota Wild (38-36-8)
I wonder what Wild fans think about Martin Havlat right now.
25. Florida Panthers (32-37-13)
The Cats are out of the playoffs again. Not surprising. I feel so bad for Tomas Vokoun.
26. New York Islanders (34-37-11)
If the team can sort out its goaltending issues, it can become a playoff contender for once.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning (34-36-12)
Big ups to Steven Stamkos for racking up 51 goals this year. He’s not quite as good as a Sidney Crosby, Ovechkin, or Henrik Sedin, but he’s pretty close!
28. Columbus Blue Jackets (32-35-15)
After a sad ending to an even sadder entire season, I’d be shocked if Claude Noel remains behind the bench next season.
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (30-38-14)
What do the Maple Leafs need to improve on for next season? Answer: Absolutely everything!
30. Edmonton Oilers (27-47-8)
Their 7-2 loss is a great example of how the Oilers’ season went this year. If they want to be good at all, they have GOT to learn how to play defense!
Carter’s FINAL NHL Award Race Results
Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)
1. Henrik Sedin (VAN): 112 points, 83 assists, 29 goals
2. Sidney Crosby (PIT): 109 points, 58 assists, 51 goals
3. Alexander Ovechkin (WSH): 109 points, 59 assists, 50 goals
4. Ryan Miller (BUF): 41 wins, 2.22 GAA, 1,948 saves, .929 save pct.
5. Nicklas Backstrom (WSH): 101 points, 68 assists, 33 goals
6. Steven Stamkos (TB): 95 points, 51 goals, 44 assists
7. Martin St. Louis (TB): 94 points, 65 assists, 29 goals
8. Tuukka Rask (BOS): 22 wins, 1.97 GAA, 1,137 saves, .931 save pct.
9. Brad Richards (DAL): 91 points, 67 assists, 24 goals
10. Joe Thornton (SJ): 89 points, 69 assists, 20 goals
11. Patrick Kane (CHI): 88 points, 58 assists, 30 goals
12. Jimmy Howard (DET): 37 wins, 2.26 GAA, 1,849 saves, .924 save pct.
13. Marian Gaborik (NYR): 86 points, 44 assists, 42 goals
14. Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ): 85 points, 44 assists, 41 goals
15. Ilya Bryzgalov (PHX): 42 wins, 2.29 GAA, 1,805 saves, .920 save pct.
Vezina Trophy Winner (Top Goaltender)
1. Ryan Miller (BUF): 41 wins, 2.22 GAA, 1,948 saves, .929 saves pct.
2. Tuukka Rask (BOS): 22 wins, 1.97 GAA, 1,137 saves, .931 save pct.
3. Jimmy Howard (DET): 37 wins, 2.26 GAA, 1,849 saves, .924 save pct.
4. Ilya Bryzgalov (PHX): 42 wins, 2.29 GAA, 1,805 saves, .920 save pct.
5. Martin Brodeur (NJ): 45 wins, 2.24 GAA, 1,836 saves, .916 save pct.
Norris Trophy Winner (Top Defenseman)
1. Mike Green (WSH): 76 points, 57 assists, 19 goals
2. Duncan Keith (CHI): 69 points, 55 assists, 14 goals
3. Drew Doughty (LA): 59 points, 43 assists, 16 goals
4. Dan Boyle (SJ): 58 points, 43 assists, 15 goals
5. Chris Pronger (PHI): 55 points, 45 assists, 10 goals
Calder Trophy Winner (Top Rookie)
1. Matt Duchene (COL): 55 points, 31 assists, 24 goals
2. John Tavares (NYI): 54 points, 33 assists, 24 goals
3. Tyler Myers (BUF): 48 points, 37 assists, 11 goals
4. Niclas Bergfors (ATL): 44 points, 23 assists, 21 goals
5. Jamie Benn (DAL): 41 points, 22 goals, 19 assists
Jack Adams Award Winner (Coach of the Year)
1. Dave Tippett (PHX)
2. Terry Murray (LA)
3. Barry Trotz (NSH)
4. Lindy Ruff (BUF)
5. Joe Sacco (COL)