The day we’ve long-awaited has finally arrived!
Hockey is back!
The lockout-shortened 2013 NHL Season starts today and I know you are just as excited as we are.
Pants has been cartwheeling down the WUYS hallways, while I’ve taken to spinning around and around in my office chair, screaming “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.
Time for our 2013 Season Predictions!!
Chuck: Rangers. They were *thisclose* last year, so they went out and picked up Rick Nash in the off-season. Not only does this adds much-needed offense but also takes some pressure off of Lundqvist. NYR are a built for another long, tough playoff run.
Pants: Penguins. I’m always going to say this, at least in the Crosby era. He’ll have a monster year, added to Geno & Neal lighting it up like last season. A healthy Letang is a threat on both ends of the ice, and hopefully Flower asks his GAA to go steady. They’ve got the most offensive firepower in the NHL, enough to cover a few hiccups in the defensive zone.
Chuck: Bruins. I might be slightly biased but I’m not the only one that thinks the Bruins have a shot. Many of the Bruins stars played overseas during the lockout so they should be fit and game ready. Tyler Seguin looks to build on his 2 great season and become the superstar we know he can be. Fans should be ready for Tuukka Time as Rask will take on the brunt of the goaltending duties with Tim Thomas “retired.”
Pants: Rangers. I don’t want this to be true, but they’re so strong. They were a powerhouse before Rick Nash. If he’s really as good as promised, if he can bring them 40+ goals alongside Gaborik and Richards, they’ll dominate in front of King Henrik’s debonair brick wall.
Chuck: Penguins. Pens only finished a point out of first – and most of that without Sidney Crosby. Reports suggest that his is fully recovered from concussion. If this is in fact true, then the Pens will once again contend for the Stanley Cup. The departure of Jordan Staal could be a factor but when you’ve got Malkin & Neal, I’m thinking that you’re probably all right. It will be interesting to see how the defense and goalie tandem of Vokoun and Fleury perform in this shortened season.
Pants: Capitals. I’m the Queen of Wishful Thinking. Ovi responded like a brat to having his wings clipped by Hunter last season. Now Oates is in (and Semin out, seeyalater!), hopefully Ovi will follow suit. Better support for Backstrom, a healthy Mike Green rediscovering his offensive touch and clutch guys like Chimera make the Caps very promising.
Chuck: Capitals. Caps are going to have to put last year behind them and reclaim their spot atop the Southeast division. We have to face the fact that Ovechkin is not the dominating player he once was, so it is up to the other to step up. New coach Adam Oates needs to get this team to perform in the post-season to live up to the Caps fans’ high expectations.
Pants: Bruins. They’re strong, they’re mean and they’re hungry to reclaim their trophy. Losing a goaltender like Thomas is a question mark, but their offensive chemistry can make up for it. Seguin should have a stellar year and plenty of protection out there.
Chuck: Flyers. Orange and Black and Red. Expect Flyers to light the lamp a lot this season, led by new captain, Claude Giroux. Captain Ginger is filthy good and is surrounded by guys that can easily score 20 + goals, even in this short season. Defense will be suspect, especially without Pronger and don’t get me started on goaltending. It is going to be a humougous big problem.
Pants: Hurricanes. Jordan Staal is a beast. We only saw a fraction of it in Pittsburgh. He’ll make Eric a stronger player and take some of the Calder-rebound defensive heat off Skinner. If only getting a 1-year deal scares Alex Semin into proving himself, he can devastate. Now someone hug Cam Ward, tell him he’s special, and send him out there to be consistent.
Chuck: Lightning. Stamkos. St Louis. Lecavalier. Bolts can produce goals but need more from the goaltending if they want to make the playoffs. GM Stevie Y did get G Anders Lindback from Nashville and the defense will be anchored by Matt Carle, so the potential is there.
Pants: Flyers. Hartnell and Giroux terrify me, because I hate the Flyers. My love for Briere only gets me so far. But their goaltending mess is too volatile to hang any hopes on… and it’s not getting solved anytime soon.
Chuck: Senators. So goes Erik Karlsson, so go the Senators. He’s a bonafide superstar after winning the Norris Trophy last year and will carry this team. While teams focus on shutting Karlsson down, it could free up some of Ottawa’s young talent like Kyle Turris to make their mark.
Pants: Panthers. I can’t overlook their success from last season, though I’m still not sure how they did it. They’re aging up singing guys like Kovalev and Parros, but stayed mostly intact and could replicate their success.
Chuck: Sabres. My wild card pick. So much potential last year but they stumbled out of the locker room. They made a great playoff push at the end of the 2012 season but it just wasn’t enough. The addition of some grit in Steve Ott & John Scott and stalwart goaltender Ryan Miller could allow the Sabres to sneak in to the #8 slot.
Pants: Devils. I don’t know about this. Parise is a big loss to them, and Adam Henrique will suffer the same fate as Jeff Skinner’s sophomore season – now everyone knows to watch out for him. That could cut his point production, leaving Kovy and Elias with even bigger loads to shoulder.
Chuck: Blues. Another team that came *thisclose* to the top spot in the West last year. St. Louis was the NHL’s top defensive team lead by Alex Pietrangelo on the blue line and the best goaltending tandem, Elliot and Halak. David Backes will continue to be a two-way hockey machine. Ken Adams has got everyone drinking the Kool-Aid which can only bode well for the Blues.
Pants: Canucks. They’re just so… predictable. Every year, right up there. It’s infuriating.
Chuck: Canucks. No team has one the Presidents Trophy three years in a row, but that doesn’t mean that the Canucks are going to try. Will Luongo remain the #1 goalie or will the Ginger Kid, Cory Schneider, usurp his spot? Their lineup is virtually unchanged and you can count on the Sedins to put up their usual offensive numbers.
Pants: Blackhawks. I like this team angry. I like them under-performing and coming back riled up. Toews missed 22 games last season, and I think his presence is the lynch pin for this whole group.
Chuck: Kings. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Every member from the Kings’ Stanley Cup team is back. No reason to think that the Kings can’t win it all again. Will they suffer from the hangover? Or will the added time only rejuvenate the team to make another run for the Cup?
Pants: Red Wings. Underestimate them at your peril – but no one ever does. They’ll be old and rich and winning, as always.
Chuck: Blackhawks. Chicago’s offense is stacked like a library. Toews, Kane, Sharp. Their defense costs alot of money and they are undersized. Regardless, the Hawks are always a team to watch. Big questions that remain are the health of Marian Hossa and their goaltending situation. But don’t get it twisted, you will be seeing this team in the playoffs.
Pants: St. Louis. Another team that surprised me last year because I don’t really follow them. Like Florida they have a lot of guys with solid number, but no real standouts. Balance and persistence pay off in the end.
Chuck: Predators. My wild card prediction. Suter might be gone and sure, they lack a dynamic scorer, but I can’t help it. I like the Preds potential. Pekka Rinne is a two-time Vezina finalist (and my fantasy goalie). They still got big bad Shea Weber. Then there is crop of young talent like Colin Wilson, Brandon Yip, and Craig Smith. But most important is Barry Trotz, the only coach the Preds have ever had, who always gets the best from his players.
Pants: Edmonton. Whaaaaa? They can score 10 goals a game, I promise. Add Justin Schultz with all those points he had from the Barons blue line and it might not matter what they give up. Since they’re all young and restless, they can do it every night.
Chuck: Wings. This might be a stretch but you can never count the Wings out of the playoffs. Lidstrom and Holstrom are retired. Brad Stuart went adios. But when you have Datsyuk and Zetterberg leading the way, you have to put them on the list. But they wont’ win the Cup.
Pants: Sharks. Every year they get into the playoffs, and every year they choke. They’ve made the Conference Final two of the last three years, and never managed to win more than one game per series. Something’s gotta give. Their older guys (Thornton, Marleau, Boyle) are still among their best guys. They’ve gotta be motivated because they’re running out of time.
Chuck: Sharks. This team has depth. You’ve got Thornton, Marleau and Havlat. Add Couture, Pavelski, Clowe. Defense is built on Dan Boyle, our favorite homeless caveman yeti, Brent Burns, and the Pickle, M-E Vlasic. New Sharks Adam Burish & Brad Stuart shore up the blueline.
Pants: Wild. Let’s see it, Parise and Suter. Put that money where the playoffs are and show the Minnesota fans they’re right to be so excited.
Chuck: Stars. Knock knock knocking on the Playoffs door. A mix of the old (Jagr, Whitney) and the young (Eriksson, Benn) could have the Stars just sneaking into the playoffs, were they haven’t been in almost 5 years. Lehtonen is a solid goaltender but will he be able to hold on in this shorten season. If the Stars need to make additions mid-season, he’ll have the money to do so.
Pants: Kings. Last year’s huge playoff run was not indicative of their team capability. They were 29th in goals-per-game. I’m putting them here because they know how good it feels to win, and they know it can be done. But they can’t wait till the last-minute again because no one gets that lucky twice.
So there you have it. Our 2013 season predictions.
Who do you think will go all the way? Who is your dark horse pick?
Now, let’s drop the puck already!