Monday, October 06, 2014

2014-15 NHL Predictions

In the last five years, only three teams have won the Stanley Cup: he Los Angeles Kings won two, the Chicago Blackhawks won two, and the Boston Bruins won the other

There's nothing new that tells me those three teams won't once again be contenders to hoist the Cup next summer. But if I had to put my money on it, I wouldn't bet the Kings to repeat as champs. Fo no reason other than the fact that the Stanley Cup is the toughest trophy to win, in any sport, never mind repeat.

We saw that first-hand, after the Bruins won the Cup in 2011. The Cup hangover is real. there's no denying that. As a reporter at the time for Comcast Sportsnet New England, I can recall Shawn Thornton telling me that the following season, in 2011-12, felt like an extension of the championship 2010-11 season.

"It felt like a baseball season," said Thornton.

Baseball plays 162 games. In the NHL, there are 82. The year after the Bruins won the Cup, they lost to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs, in seven games.

Long story short, they just ran out of gas.

As to what point the Kings will run out of gas this season, remains to be seen. But after winning the Cup last year -- their second in three years -- I expect them to be watching someone else hoist la Coupe when it's all said and done.

If the trend of the last five years continues, one would have to consider the Blackhawks and Bruins as favorites to win it all again. In the days leading into the beginning of the regular season, the Blackhawks were the overall favorites, at 13/2. After that was the Anaheim Ducks at 10/1, the Bruins at 10/1, the Kings at 10/1, and the Pittsburgh Penguins at 12/1.

And that would be the moment when you remember the Penguins still exist, and that Sidney Crosby is the reigning league MVP. If there's any team entering this season that would be capable of crashing the Stanley Cup party, it would be the team with the best player in the world.

But will they?

Here are my 2014-15 NHL Predictions:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:
Atlantic Division: Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins
Metropolitan Division: Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets
Wild Card: Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers

WESTERN CONFERENCE:
Central Division: Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche
Pacific Division: Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks
Wild Card: Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS:

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:
(1) Montreal Canadiens over (4) Toronto Maple Leafs
(3) Boston Bruins over (2) Detroit Red Wings

(1) Pittsburgh Penguins over (4) New York Rangers
(2) Washington Capitals over (3) Columbus Blue Jackets

Western Conference Quarterfinals:
(1) Chicago Blackhawks over (4) San Jose Sharks
(3) Colorado Avalanche over (2) St. Louis Blues

(1) Los Angeles Kings over (4) Phoenix Coyotes
(2) Anaheim Ducks over (3) Vancouver Canucks


Eastern Conference Semifinals:
(3) Boston Bruins over (1) Montreal Canadiens
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins over (2) Washington Capitals

Western Conference Semifinals:
(3) Colorado Avalanche over (1) Chicago Blackhawks
(2) Anaheim Ducks over (1) Los Angeles Kings


Eastern Conference Final:
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins over (3) Boston Bruins

Western Conference Final:
(3) Colorado Avalanche over (2) Anaheim Ducks


Stanley Cup Final:
Pittsburgh Penguins over Colorado Avalanche

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