I wanted to get my full predictions up before the first puck drops on the 2010-11 NHL Season at 11am this morning in Helsinki, Finland (Hurricanes-Wild). I’ll follow this up later on today after a nap, with team-by-team commentary and thorough explanations of these detailed predictions.
2010-11 Western Conference Prediction
|2||Detroit Red Wings||48||22||12||108|
|3||San Jose Sharks||47||24||11||105|
|4||Los Angeles Kings||47||25||10||104|
|7||St. Louis Blues||44||30||8||96|
|13||Columbus Blue Jackets||36||37||9||81|
2010-11 Eastern Conference Prediction
|4||New Jersey Devils||45||27||10||100|
|8||Tampa Bay Lightning||40||32||10||90|
|12||Toronto Maple Leafs||35||37||10||80|
|13||New York Rangers||33||40||9||75|
|15||New York Islanders||29||40||13||71|
East Conference Quarter-Finals
Boston Bruins over Tampa Bay Lightning
Washington Caps over Montreal Canadiens
Philadelphia Flyers over Buffalo Sabres
Pittsburgh Penguins over New Jersey Devils
East Conference Semi-Finals
Boston Bruins over Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals over Philadelphia Flyers
Eastern Conference Final
Washington Capitals over Boston Bruins
West Conference Quarter-Finals
Vancouver Canucks over Colorado Avalanche
Detroit Red Wings over St. Louis Blues
San Jose Sharks over Nashville Predators
Los Angeles Kings over Chicago Blackhawks
West Conference Semi-Finals
Los Angeles Kings over Vancouver Canucks
Detroit Red Wings over San Jose Sharks
Western Conference Final
Los Angeles Kings over Detroit Red Wings
2011 Stanley Cup Finals
Washington Capitals over Los Angeles Kings
As I mentioned way back on last month’s TTMI~Radio when we previewed training camp with Sam Fels, I expect Los Angeles to go for it all this year, and acquire Brad Richards from Dallas sometime in February if not earlier. If the Stars are pinning their hopes on Kari Lehtonen, they will regret it. Brad Richards will be a UFA next summer and the Kings are a 1st or high-end 2nd line center away from being serious Cup contenders. The Kings will have Thomas Hickey and Colton Teubert, top defenseman prospects to package in a deal, and the Stars have a tremendous need for good young blue liners.
Where LA finishes mostly depends on when they get Richards, or another big gun. But they will make that move. They wanted Ilya Kovalchuk, but the price was too high and long-term implications would have potentially cost them key pieces down the line. Richards is a big game performer as his Conn Smythe trophy from the 2004 Finals proves. The Kings’ defense might be the deepest, most versatile in the West when its all said an done. In the end, I believe they fall short. But it will be a fun ride for Kings’ fans.
In regards to the Hawks, a lot of where they finish really depends heavily on what Detroit does. If the Wings can stay healthy and receive competent goaltending, I can’t envision them not winning the Central. But, it will go down to the wire. I had the Hawks finishing with 106-107 points before the Campbell injury, and that dropped them one slot and cost them home ice against the Kings on my board.
If it were any other team but the Kings, I’d lean heavy on the Hawks to advance to the second round. At some point though, the lack of depth, inexperience and downgrades in some key positions left behind by the departed will catch up with them. And I can’t bet on Marty Turco.
Going into the season, its apparent to me each conference has clearly defined upper and lower tiers. In the middle are a bunch of teams you could pick to win a round if the worlds align just right by April, but none are real Cup contenders. So, the betting money is with the chalk.
I’m going back to my prediction of a year ago. This will be the season it all clicks in Washington. At some point they’ll get a goalie. Varlamov won’t be that man. George McPhee, in my mind, made a big mistake not making a move on Antti Niemi. Unless he has a bigger fish (Ilya Bryzgalov or Tomas Vokoun) in mind. I also agree, as Sam Fels predicted on our show in September, that Bruce Boudreau won’t be the guy behind the Caps’ bench when they make their run for the Cup in the spring.
I’ll have more later including season-ending trophy predictions.