Of course, I still watch some games and still enjoy hockey. While I don't write about the game like I used to, I figure I might as well throw out my predictions for the upcoming season.
The new conference and division alignments have broken up a few old rivalries, and changed the complexion of the NHL.
For the past few season, our hometown Canucks preyed upon a very weak division. Last season, especially, the Canucks had a good record simply by beating up on the Crapalanche, fLames, and Coilers. This season, the Canucks will have it tougher now that they have to play San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim more often.
Here are my predictions for the final standings, with the bolded teams to make the playoffs.
ATLANTIC - Strong on top, very weak on the bottom
Boston - Still the cream of the crop
Montreal - A good young team on the upswing
Ottawa - Losing Alfredsson will hurt, but they have one of the league's best coaches
Detroit - The core gets older, but they are still a competitive club.
Toronto - Most of the 'smart' fans realize the Leafs fluked out last season, as they were out-shot and out-possessed quite often. They don't quite suck, but I can see them falling back to Earth.
Tampa Bay - Stamkos and St. Louis will score a ton of goals, and then the rest of the team will let in a ton more.
Florida - Tim Thomas will help the goaltending situation, but this club is still the Panthers...
Buffalo - The bottom has fallen out
METROPOLITAN DIVISION - Toughest division, overall.
Pittsburgh - Losing Vokoun hurts, but this team outscores everybody else
Washington - Need to shore up their D if they are ever want to win it all
Rangers - Vigneault is a good coach, he just got stale here in Vancouver
Islanders - Will be a tough battle for them, but I have a soft spot for them
Philadelphia - Their goaltending reeks and the defense is a bit shaky
Jersey - I should know better than to bet against them, but I think this is the year they will fail
Columbus - Bobrovsky was the sole reason they had a shot at the playoffs. The Dinner Jackets have no chance with such a thin roster.
Carolina - Never seem to be the sum of their parts, and their defense is incredibly poor
CENTRAL - Weakest division of them all
St. Louis - So much promise, so much heartbreak :(
Minnesota - Yeo is a terrible coach, but they have a lot of good young talent
Winnipeg - Some talent exists, but lazy blob Pavelec has been a huge disappointment
Colorado - We see just how valuable Craig Anderson was to this club, which has failed to really develop the past few seasons
Nashville - They can only keep losing so much talent before it catches up with them
Dallas - What happens when you refuse to rebuild? You get the American version of the Calgary Flames
PACIFIC: This division will be tight at the top
Los Angeles - Still cup favourites after a hiccup last season.
San Jose - They might have an old team, but they are still competitive
Anaheim - Last season was flukey, but this is a solid team
Vancouver - Meh...
Phoenix - Tippett is a magician with this club, and they are always the wild card
Edmonton - Lots of young offensive stars, but the D is terrible
Calgary - They'll fight with Carolina and Buffalo for the #1 overall pick