Saturday 3 October 2009

NHL Season Preview 2009/2010 - The Cup goes to...

The new National Hockey League season started Wednesday with Montreal defeating Toronto in Overtime 4-3, Calgary outgunning Vancouver 5-3, Washington knocking off Boston 4-1 and the Colorado Avalanche celebrating Joe Sakic's retirement with a crushing 5-2 win over the highly fancied San Jose Sharks.

Also opening the NHL season over the next few days - the Detroit Red Wings play the St.Louis Blues in Stockholm, Sweden and the Florida Panthers taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in Helsinki, Finland. The game has now played season openers in countries outside of Canada and the USA for a few seasons and the only downside to it all - is people aren't sure WHEN the season actually starts.

But started it has. The reigning Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins will open their defence against the New York Rangers at home on Friday Night.

Pittsburgh came back from a 3-2 deficit in the Stanley Cup Finals against Detroit to claim the Cup and enter the year with expectations that a possible dynasty is underway in the Steel City.

Here is all 30 Teams in Predicted Order of Finish in each Conference (after the regular season).


1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Washington Capitals
3. Montreal Canadiens
4. Carolina Hurricanes
5. New Jersey Devils
6. Philadelphia Flyers
7. New York Rangers
8. Ottawa Senators
9. Boston Bruins
10. Tampa Bay Lightning
11. Buffalo Sabres
12. Toronto Maple Leafs
13. Florida Panthers
14. New York Islanders
15. Atlanta Thrashers

Eastern Conference Semi Finals
Washington Capitals over New Jersey Devils
Pittsburgh Penguins over Philadelphia Flyers

Eastern Conference Finals
Pittsburgh Penguins over Washington Capitals

EAST RECAP: Hard to go past the two teams that boast the names Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin, if you're looking for favourites this season. The Penguins and Capitals have the tools to return to the top of the East and I think that you might see Boston struggle in particular. Watch for the Senators, Sabres and reconstructed Canadiens to make big strides with at least two of them making the Playoffs. The Thrashers will be Ilya Kovalchuk-less by February... and in the basement at the end of the season. Devils to have a wow of a year before fading late but that'll be enough to get Brodeur another Vezina and Lemaire the Jack Adams.


1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Anaheim Ducks
3. Calgary Flames
4. San Jose Sharks
5. Columbus Blue Jackets
6. Vancouver Canucks
7. Chicago Blackhawks
8. Los Angeles Kings
9. Edmonton Oilers
10. St.Louis Blues
11. Minnesota Wild
12. Colorado Avalanche
13. Dallas Stars
14. Nashville Predators
15. Phoenix Coyotes

Western Conference Semi Finals
Detroit Red Wings over San Jose Sharks
Calgary Flames over Anaheim Ducks

Western Conference Finals
Calgary Flames over Detroit Red Wings

WEST RECAP: The Red Wings will once again be the dominant force in the West, with the Sharks not having a great regular season this time around. The Flames and Canucks will fight out the North West all year, before the Flames make a late push come playoff time. The Ducks will get 80+ points each from the Koivu and Selanne combo but be outmuscled by the Flames in the Semi Finals. As for the bolters - the Los Angeles Kings will make the playoffs before getting beaten by experience in the playoffs by the Red Wings. The Blue Jackets will either be very good or take a giant step back, while the Blues chances rest on the health of Paul Kariya.


Pittsburgh will return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third straight season but they will face a new opponent for the first time with the Detroit Red Wings falling in the Western Conference Finals to the Calgary Flames. The Penguins biggest challenge comes from the Flyers in the East and they will handle the Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals once again. The Flames are a team that if they get hot (apologies) come playoff time they can beat the Red Wings in a long series.

So the Penguins and Flames for Lord Stanley's Cup... with the Crosby, Malkin, Gonchar, Fleury foursome being the difference as the Penguins repeat as champions in 5 games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will make it 2 Stanley Cups from 3 straight visits to the Cup Finals in 2009/2010.

Hart Trophy (MVP) - Martin Brodeur, Devils
Art Ross (Leading Scorer) - Sidney Crosby, Penguins
Norris Trophy (Top Defenceman) - Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings
Vezina Tropy (Top Goalie) - Martin Brodeur, Devils
Jack Adams (Top Coach) - Jacques Lemaire, Devils
Lady Byng (Gentlemenly Conduct) - Chris Pronger... ok Henrik Sedin, Canucks
Frank J Selke (Best Defensive Forward) - Mike Richards, Flyers
Calder Tropy (Best Rookie) - John Tavares, Islanders
Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP) - Sidney Crosby, Penguins
Lester B Pearson (Best Player Voted By Peers) - Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals

So the Pens to repeat... who is your pick for the Cup?