NHL Preview: 40 Bold, Crazy and Dumb Predictions for 2011-2012 NHL Season
Finally. After a long summer, NHL hockey is back. It's the time of year where every team is still in contention...even the Maple Leafs...and the time to make some season predictions.
There are more predictions as to who is going to win the Stanley Cup than can be counted. Those predictions are good, but the NHL is more than just the ultimate winner.
There are the surprise stories, the controversies, the near-misses and the annual Canucks collapse to look forward to.
What will those things look like this year?
Here are 40 predictions. Some of them are bold, some of them are dumb and some are obvious.
What do you think will happen this year?
Matt Cooke, Carcillo and Jinxes
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1. Matt Cooke will get suspended. Cooke is back and claims to be a reformed player. With the added scrutiny on head shots, he will not be able to walk the fine line he will need to and will get suspended...at least once.
2. Dan Carcillo will take a bad penalty...and get beat up. Carcillo, or "Car Bomb" as his friends call him, moved on to Chicago this season. That won't stop him from hurting the Blackhawks with dumb penalties. He will drop the gloves a few times this year, but for a tough guy, he's not the best fighter. He will have more losses than wins.
3. Sidney Crosby will score 100 points. He's been duping us all. Head injury? It's all just building up the drama. He'll return and hit the century mark.
4. Steve Stamkos will feel the EA jinx. Being the cover boy for popular video games is a career highlight. It also brings about jinxes. Stamkos will still be good, but his numbers will slide a bit.
5. The Bruins will not repeat. Boston will have a good year, but the East is stacked and returning to the finals will be tough. The Bruins won't make it.
Roberto Luongo, Avery and PK
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6. Luongo will give up a bad goal; fans will demand he be traded. Vancouver fans are split over their star goalie. One bad goal, and the sports radio dial will light up with trade demands.
7. Sean Avery will surface in the NHL; do something stupid. The player everyone loves to hate was waived by the Rangers this week. He'll resurface in the league before the season's done, and yes...do something stupid.
8. Drew Doughty will play with skates made of pure gold. After signing a ridiculous deal with the Kings, Doughty will run out of things to buy with his money. Logically, he will have a pair of solid gold skates custom made by Bauer.
9. Capitals fans will root against Colorado all year. After securing the Avalanche's first round draft pick next year in one of the biggest rip jobs in recent memory, Capitals fans will be rooting for bad times in the mountains.
10. PK Subban will anger Boston fans. The Bruins and Canadiens have a good old fashion hate going for each other. Subban is in the middle of it. He'll score a big goal, taunt the Boston crowd and further cement himself as public enemy No. 1.
Sharks, Leafs and Wings
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11. The Sharks will not miss Dany Heatley. San Jose shipped off the poster boy for playoff disappointment and won't miss a beat. Getting Havlat in return will turn out to be an upgrade.
12. Toronto fans will declare the Maple Leafs the league's best team...in December. You have to hand it to Leafs Nation. Every year, they are convinced this is the year. Get ready to hear how great they are.
13. The Red Wings will not go away. They have to get too old to compete at some point, right? Nope, they will be a contender again this year; deal with it.
14. Hockey will be fun again. After a summer filled with hockey tragedy, we will finally be able to focus on the games. We won't forget the guys that were lost; their memories will always be with us, but it will be nice to scream for your team again.
15. Four confused fans will show up for Thrashers home opener. Four fans who have not been paying attention will show up in Atlanta. "We thought the Thrashers were quiet this offseason, but we just assumed they had cap issues." they will say when they realize the team moved.
Kane, Ducks and Riots
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16. Evander Kane will become a Manitoba hockey legend. With hockey back in Winnipeg, young Evander Kane will have a break out year and become the first new Jets superstar.
17. People will underestimate the Ducks. Despite having one of the best lines in hockey, nobody is giving the Anaheim Ducks any credit. They will be good and will hurt someone in the playoffs.
18. Fans of team that loses playoff series will blame refs. It happens every spring. Fans don't want to admit that their team wasn't good enough. Clearly, the refs handed the series away. Count on it.
19. Vancouver riot jokes will become boring. Get ready to hear, after every Canucks loss, fans make jokes about the riots. "Don't go burn your city down" will be the mantra of Canucks opponents. It will be amusing at first, but soon will become un-original and boring.
20. There still won’t be defense in the All-Star game. The over/under on the All-Star game will be 34...take the over!
Oilers, Iginla and Columbus Night Life
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21. The Oilers won’t make the playoffs, but will be fun to watch. One of the benefits of losing seasons is that you get your pick of young players. The Oilers won't make the playoffs, but if you get a chance to watch them, do it. You'll be glimpsing the future.
22. Jarome Iginla will be doomed to another lost season in Calgary. You have to feel for Jarome Iginla. He is one of the brightest players in the league but mired on a team that is not close to winning. It doesn't appear that the Flames are willing to give him up.
23. Mike Richards will love the L.A. nightlife. Richards was known for his party lifestyle while with the Flyers. It is rumored that the Flyers sent him packing because of it. Don't feel sorry for him, though; the scene in L.A. is much better than in Philadelphia.
24. Jeff Carter won’t like the Columbus nightlife. Richards' running mate in Philadelphia was Jeff Carter. He was shipped away too, to Columbus. Sadly for Carter, he'll find that the scene in Ohio isn't that great.
25. The Coyotes to Quebec, Kansas City, Seattle or Milwaukee rumors will begin by Christmas. Now that the Thrashers are settled in Winnipeg, the vultures are circling around Phoenix. Prepare to start hearing the rumors of their relocation early in the season.
Grapes, Blues and Capitals.
26. Don Cherry will set a record with 1,000 thumbs up given. The bright suits and the crazy rants will all be back for hockey's most beloved curmudgeon. This season will be a record one for Cherry as he gives an unprecedented number of thumbs up.
27. The Capitals and Lightning rivalry will intensify. Both teams are amongst the top of the league and in the same division. This has all the makings of a great rivalry, and it will pick up steam this year.
28. There will be a record number of suspensions in the first half of season. As the league cracks down, be prepared for a slew of Brendan Shanahan videos at the beginning of the season. It will slow down as the players adjust.
29. The St. Louis Blues will make the playoffs. The Blues have a lot of good goal scorers and should return to the playoffs this year. You may be overlooking them; look again.
30. The San Jose Sharks will win the Stanley Cup. Finally the Sharks will get the monkey off their backs. With the addition of Brent Burns, the Sharks now have a complete line up. They will win it all this season.
Lidstrom, the Commish and Green Men
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31. Nick Lidstrom will be proven not to be human, play for 10 more years. It will be discovered that Lidstrom is a cybernetic being and not human after all. Hockey fans every where will say "well, no wonder."
32. Gary Bettman will get booed at the Stanley Cup finals. This one is easy. It's tradition, and will happen in San Jose this year too.
33. People will start to lose interest in the Winter Classic. The NHL struck gold with the Winter Classic. But they keep rotating the same six teams in and out of it. They need fresh blood. How about a Montreal-Boston game?
34. Martin Brodeur will become sad to watch. What happens when one of the game's best goalies starts to age? We're seeing it right before our eyes. It isn't pretty.
35. The Green Men will see a slew of copy cats. As Vancouver's Green Men become more popular, more and more copycats will spring up around the league. It will force the originals to either give up or step it up.
ESPN, Isle and Trotz
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36. ESPN will be forced to acknowledge hockey’s existence. The so-called world wide leader in sports has ignored hockey for over a decade now. With the NBA locked out, they will have to talk about hockey. It will hurt them, but they will do it. Somewhere, Barry Melrose is slicking his mullet.
37.The Islanders will make the playoffs. The New York Islanders will be healthy this year and will sneak into the Eastern Conference playoffs. Hopefully, that will be enough to keep them in Long Island.
38. Shea Weber will win the Norris Trophy. After getting ripped off last year, Shea Weber will claim the Norris this season. It will be just like when the Grammys made it up to Metallica for that whole Jethro Tull thing.
39. Roberto Luongo will win the Vezina. Everyone assumes that Luongo is a head case. But he will bounce back from the finals with his best season ever and take home the trophy. Finally, his tires will be pumped.
40. Barry Trotz will get over-looked again for the Adams. Sadly, one of the game's best coaches will get over-looked again for the Adams Trophy. Despite Trotz's coaching, the Predators just don't have enough guns to finish with enough wins to win it for Trotz.