It’s officially hockey season with the NHL kicking off tonight and I’d hate to be someone that doesn’t enjoy my content because you’re about to get a whole hell of a lot more of it.
It’s now time for me to give out my yearly season predictions from the division standings to my Stanley Cup predictions. Two years ago I absolutely nailed the Stanley Cup Final as I predicted both teams in the Stars/Lightning with the Lightning winning it. Last season I had the Islanders and Avalanche as my predictions and that was wrong. This year I’m feeling pretty confident in my predictions. So let’s start with the Eastern Conference I’m not going to go too in depth with everything here I’m just going to give my final standings predictions.
8. Blue Jackets
You can get my full breakdown of the Metro division here
1st-Tampa Bay Lightning
The defending Stanley Cup Champions and they very well could win it a third straight time they’re that good. The best goaltender in the league, a great defense, and incredible talent on offense it’s not going to be easy and Florida and Toronto are going to push them to the limit but I still think they win the division.
The Florida Panthers had their breakout party during the Stanley Cup Playoffs where they showed they can compete with the top teams. The pushed the Lightning to the limit in their playoff series and that experience is only going to help them going forward. They have great goaltending and can score with the best of them don’t be surprised to see this team have a nice run.
3rd-Toronto Maple Leafs
I was high on the Leafs last year as I really though it could have finally been their year but once again they proved all their haters right. This year I am not buying into them at all, yes they are going to be good and they should make the playoffs but I don’t see them getting any further than the first round. Sorry Leafs fans it’s still not your year.
Bruins fans for years have underapperciated Tuukka Rask and this year they will finally wish they didn’t do that. Other than their incredible top line I don’t think this team has what it takes to be as good as they used to be. Yes, they still have a solid group of defenseman but without Rask being in between the pipes they are going to struggle to keep other teams from scoring. Don’t be surprised if the Bruins fail to even make the playoffs because the Metro has too many good teams and I don’t see them finishing in the top three of the Atlantic.
Last year was a fluke, the divisions were all messed up the playoff format was different and that is why this Canadiens team made it to the Final. Nothing put pure luck and that won’t be the case this season, sure they have some great young talent but I just don’t see them having the same success. Cole Caufield is going to be a stud and I think he is a lock to win the Calder. Other than that though, I think they stay around this 4-5 range in the division all season long.
Ottawa is still in rebuild mode and honestly if the other two teams I am going to have at 7 and 8 weren’t so bad Ottawa would be ranked lower. Honestly the next three teams are all probably going to be equally as bad so really you could have them in any order here at the bottom. Matt Murray if he can stay healthy could be the reason Ottawa finishes better than expected.
7th-Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings aren’t as much of a dumpster fire as the Buffalo Sabres and that is why they come in here at 7th. I really don’t have anything else to say about them.
Relegated To The AHL-Buffalo Sabres
Go ahead try and give me a reason this team doesn’t finish last in everything this year I’ll wait….
You can’t, this organization is an absolute mess and it’s going to be a long season for the Buffalo fans.
Now let’s take a look at how the western conference could play out…
For the second straight year the Avs come in as the Stanley Cup favorite as they should be. This lineup is stacked from top to bottom and they are going to run away with the Central division. They are probably going to win the Presidents trophy too. It’s Stanley Cup or bust for the Avalanche and this might just be their year.
The only real concern I have with the Wild is the goaltending, other than that they are solid all around and are setup to have a pretty solid year. It’s going to be a tight race between 2nd and 6th place all year long and the Wild could end up in any one of those spots but I think they end up finishing in 2nd.
They sured up their defense, they added a Vezina winning goalie, and their captain is back. The Blackhawks are a team that everyone should be worried about because they could come back with a vengeance this season. Don’t be shocked when they end up making the playoffs this year.
This just feels like a bounce back year for the Stars they struggled last year with injuries and I feel like they are poised for a rebound. I’m not saying they are going to be incredible but they should be good enough to compete for a playoff spot.
I just don’t know about the Blues, they have shown they can still be that Stanley Cup contending team at times but they just aren’t consistent enough. Binnington hasn’t been as great as he was during their cup run but if he can get back to that form then they could make the playoffs.
I feel like there are more questions than answers surrounding Nashville and they should compete for a playoff spot but I just don’t know if I see them getting in. Other than the Avalanche this division really is up for grabs all of these teams are good with potential to be great it just a matter of which teams take that step.
I’ve seen a lot of people high on the Jets this year and I don’t understand it. Yes, Hellebuyck is great and can steal games but their defense just isn’t that good. Their offense has shown they can be inconsistent and that is why I have them close to last place in the division.
They could be a fun young team who may start off hot but they will come back to reality. They have young talent who will shine but their defense isn’t great and goaltending is another question mark. I don’t expect the Yotes to have that great of a season.
Connor McDavid. That’s really all I have to say about this Oilers team, this guy is going to carry this team to a division title and probably another MVP award. Goaltending still worries me for them but I think they can pull it off an end up winning the division.
2nd-Vegas Golden Knights
A high powered offense, solid defense, and a great goaltender. Vegas will once again find themselves at the top of this division.
Getting in front of this now, they are going to be better than people think. Not Vegas first year good but good enough to claim that third spot in this division.
This division kind of stinks after these three teams and really the last 5 spots are completely up for grabs. I have zero confidence in any of these ending up being right which is why I’m just ranking them instead of writing a little about all of them like I have for the other teams.
4. Calgary Flames
5. LA Kings
6. Vancouver Canucks
7. Anaheim Ducks
8. San Jose Sharks
Stanley Cup Prediction:
The most important part of the blog..Who is Walsh taking for his Stanley Cup predictions.
Colorado vs Tampa Bay
Stanley Cup Champion: Tampa in 7
As an NHL fan this is the Final we all want to see and we all deserve to see. The two best teams going head to head for the greatest trophy in all of sports. I need a seven game series with these two teams, Tampa going for a three-peat and Colorado looking to make their name as the new big dog of the NHL. I am begging of you hockey gods, give me this final or give me the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup. I want one of those two things to happen this year.