2010 NHL Predictions

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2010 NHL Predictions
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Eastern Conference 

Atlantic Division

*Pittsburgh Penguins

*Philadelphia Flyers

*New Jersey Devils

New York Rangers

New York Islanders

 

I fully expect the Atlantic Division crown is the Penguins to lose this year. It may be a homer pick, but top-to-bottom I think the Pens have the best team in the Atlantic. With an improved defense, the Big 4 with another year of experience, and with something to prove following the Game 7 beatdown by the Habs last year, Pittsburgh will take the division this year and compete with the Caps for 1st place in the East. The Flyers, as much as I despise them, look to have a solid team heading into next season, but the question that always follows them is goaltending. I don't even know who their starting goalie will be next season. Will it be Boucher or Leighton? Or will they make a splash and try for Niemi? I think Marty will keep the Devils competitive like always. But, I think they'll take a small step backwards this year because I think age will be a factor for Brodeur this year and they need to find scoring from somewhere, especially if Kovalchuk signs somewhere else. IF Gaborik can stay healthy again and Frolov provides a second scoring touch for the Rangers, along with a strong season from Henrik, I think the Rangers could shock some people. However, there are too many IF's for me to put them higher. The Isles look a little improved, but I think they're still too young to take that "next step" just yet.

 

 

 

Southeast Division

*Washington Capitals

*Tampa Bay Lightning

Atlanta Thrashers

Carolina Hurricanes

Florida Panthers

 

Unlike the last few years, there may be more than 1 competitive team in the SE this season. Even so, the Caps will run away this division once again. They basically have the same team intact from last year's President Trophy winning squad. However, like the Flyers, they have a major goaltending question. Is Varlamov good enough/improved enough to take them over the hump in the playoffs? I'm not sold. However, they will likely win the East regular season again due the SE being miles weaker than the Atlantic and SE, too many easy points for the Caps to pick up. Tampa is probably the most improved team from last season, and they'll make noise in the SE but their lack of depth in their 3rd/4th lines worries me. Atlanta could be a surprise team, but not a big enough surprise to actually make the playoffs. Carolina's lack of a strong defense and lack of scoring from anyone other than Eric Staal will hurt them this year. Florida is full-blown cleaning house mode it seems. Vokoun will be traded at the deadline this year.

 

 

 

Northeast Division

*Boston Bruins

*Buffalo Sabres

*Ottawa Senators

Montreal Canadians

Toronto Maple Leafs

 

The biggest problem the Bruins had last year was absolutely no scoring. They may have fixed that with the additions of Nathan Horton and Tyler Sequin. Improved scoring, combined with solid defense and a young stud in Tukka Rask gets Boston the division crown. Buffalo will once again be carried by Ryan Miller into the playoffs, and if Vanek can stay healthy they should provide Boston with good competition for the SE division crown. Gonchar adds depth at the blueline for the Sens, but Boston and Buffalo, and questions about Pascal Leclaire, keep the Sens from having as strong a season as they did last year. Montreal will quickly regret the decision to trade Halak away. Toronto, although improved, will ensure Boston of another Top-10 pick.

 

 

 

Conference Standings

1. Washington Capitals

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

3. Boston Bruins

4. Philadelphia Flyers

5. Tampa Bay Lightning

6. New Jersey Devils

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. Ottawa Senators

--------------------------------

9. New York Rangers

10. Atlanta Thrashers

11. Montreal Canadiens

12. Carolina Hurricanes

13. New York Islanders

14. Toronto Maple Leafs

15. Florida Panthers

 

 

Playoff Seedins/Results

Quarterfinals

1. Capitals vs 8. Senators

Caps offense is too much for the Sens to handle, win the series 4-1.

 

2. Penguins vs 7. Sabres

With Miller in net, the Sabres give the Pens some fits, but Pittsburgh battles through, wins the series 4-2.

 

3. Bruins vs 6. Devils

Two defensive teams make this a low-scoring series, but exciting nonetheless. Devils pull the upset in 7, win series4-3.

 

4. Flyers vs 5. Lightning

Best 1st round matchup of the playoffs. High scoring and explosive, Tampa wins an amazing game 7, 6-5, win series4-3

 

Semi-Finals

1. Capitals vs 6. Devils

An explosive offense vs a tight defensive system, the Caps survive, winning the series in 7, 4-3.

 

2. Penguins vs 5. Lightning

A high scoring series through the first 4 games, Fleury stones the Lightning in games 5 and 6, Pens win the series 4-2

 

Conference Finals

1. Capitals vs. 2. Penguins

Rematch of the incredible 2nd round matchup of 2009, Crosby once again outduels Ovechkin, Pens take the series in 7, Washington loses a Game 7 on home ice for the 4th straight season. Pens win series, and the eastern conference, 4-3.

 

 

 

Western Conference

Central Division

*Detroit Red Wings

*Chicago Blackhawks

*St. Louis Blues

Nashville Predators

Columbus Blue Jackets

 

Chicago will suffer from a post-Cup hangover and a team blow-up the likes of the Florida Marlins. They'll still have a good team, but Detroit proves once again to not take them lightly and they'll take advantage of the Hawks sufferings. St. Louis will surprise people, and the Halak-led Blues will once again return to the playoffs. Nashville will probably have another strong season, but the rise of St. Louis means someone has to suffer, and that team is the Preds. Columbus has a lot of young players, and it will show again this season.

 

 

 

Northwest Division

*Vancouver Canucks

*Colorado Avalanche

Calgary Flames

Minnesota Wild

Edmonton Oilers

 

The Sedin brothers and Roberto Luongo will finally have a break-out season and take the West this year (regular season anyways). Colorado's young core continues to grow together, but their biggest question mark will be if Craig Anderson can have a second straight strong season in net. Calgary will be competitive this year, but just miss out on the playoffs. Minnesota did nothing to improve, they'll have another mediocre season. Edmonton did take steps towards improving, but they're another year or two away from being competitive. 

 

 

 

Pacific Division

*Los Angeles Kings

*Phoenix Coyote

*San Jose Sharks

Anaheim Ducks

Dallas Stars

 

The young teams of LA and Phoenix take the "next step" behind strong seasons from Quick and Bryzgalov, with LA taking the division from a stronger defense and more scoring depth. San Jose will fall back to the pack as they recover from Nabokov's departure. Despite his post-season failures, Nabokov always made the Sharks one of the best regular season teams. With Jonas Hiller in net, the Ducks may end up being the surprise team from the West this year. A shaky defense (although improved with the drafting of Cam Fowler) will keep them from being too surprising. The losses of Turco and Modano will hurt the Stars next season.

 

 

 

Conference Standings

1. Vancouver Canucks

2. Los Angeles Kings

3. Detroit Red Wings

4. Chicago Blackhawks

5. Phoenix Coyotes

6. Colorado Avalanche

7. San Jose Sharks

8. St. Louis Blues

-----------------------

9. Nashville Predators

10. Calgary Flames

11. Anaheim Ducks

12. Minnesota Wild

13. Columbus Blue Jackets

14. Edmonton Oilers

15. Dallas Stars

 

 

Playoff Seedings/Results

Quarterfinals

1. Canucks vs 8. Blues

Halak doesn't come up clutch like last season for his 8th seeded team, Canucks win the series in 5, 4-1.

 

2. Kings vs 7. Sharks

The young Kings show the Sharks how to win a playoff series, win it in 6 games, 4-2.

 

3. Red Wings vs 6. Avalanche

Shades of '96 and '02, the Wings vets prove too much for the young Avalance, win the series 4-1.

 

4. Blackhawks vs 5. Coyotes

Second-best 1st round matchup behind Philly/Tampa, the series turns into a shootout, Chicago taking Game 7 at home, 4-3.

 

Semi-Finals

1. Canucks vs. 4. Blackhawks

Third times the charm for the Canucks, as they finally get through the Hawks, win the series in 7, 4-3.

 

2. Kings vs. 3 Red Wings

This time youth beats out experience, as the Kings beat the Wings and win in 6, 4-2.

 

Conference Finals

1. Canucks vs. 2. Kings

Quick outduels Luongo, and the Kings outlast the Canucks in a thrilling 7-game series, winning it 4-3.

 

 

Stanley Cup Finals

2. Penguins vs 2. Kings

Pens finish with a better record than the Kings, getting them home-ice. This proves costly, as the series goes 7, with the home team winning every game, and the Pens finally hoisting the Cup at home, win series 4-3

 

Conn SmytheSidney Crosby 

HartAnze Kopitar

Art Ross: Anze Kopitar

Richard: Steven Stamkos

NorrisDuncan Keith

CalderTaylor Hall

Vezina: Roberto Luongo

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