Hodge: NHL prognosticator offers predictions for this season

…while you are busy reading this I am likely wringing my hands in glee knowing once again I will be winning the media hockey pool.

Maintaining a silly tradition, I somewhat sheepishly submit my regular predictions for the upcoming 2015-16 NHL season—a.k.a. The HodgePodge Clip and Laugh NHL Predictions Column.

Such predictions tend to be a painful route to public humiliation.

But for some sad, sordid psychological reason, I perpetrate this prediction ritual abuse upon myself each year.

I am sure there is medication for my disorder but a sad part of me likes to be the brunt of a good joke. It may be due to my past experiences as a journalist, door-to-door salesman, or wanna-be drummer. If nothing else there is clearly a disturbing pattern.

I use the term ‘sheepishly’ because part of the tradition of the Hodge Podge Clip and Laugh NHL Predictions is to remind readers to clip out these silly predictions and post them on the beer/wine fridge in the sports room, or somewhere near the TV.

That way readers maintain easy access to regularly review the predictions, thereby having a regular hearty chuckle throughout the season .

While last year’s predictions provided far more chuckles than I had hoped for, regardless I shall soldier on with predictions again this year for a couple of reasons:

• I wish to redeem myself from last year’s abysmal performance

• I am a determined fellow and rarely known to quit

• I am too stupid to know when to quit

• I like a good joke.

Speaking of a good joke, the Media Hockey Pool will have come and gone between this column’s creation and its arrival in your hands.

That means while you are busy reading this I am likely wringing my hands in glee knowing once again I will be winning the pool. I generally clean up. In fact I almost feel guilty taking their money year after year.

It’s rather like taking candy from a baby, or in the case of the media, beer.

I also admit I like to attend the media pool because I rarely have as much fun the rest of the year. The room is filled with chuckles and laughter all evening.

There is something about a room full of media hacks, a few beers, and three hours of hockey talk that guarantees an evening of hilarious fun.

Like many hockey fans, I expect this to be the year of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel tickling our hockey imaginations.

Likewise, I also think this will be a huge year for others such as Carey Price, John Tavares, and teams like the Anaheim Ducks.

However, I believe when all is said and done it will be the ‘crazy eight’ from Washington who will have the biggest grin. This is the year for Alexander Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals to win it all.

Ovechkin will win the scoring title and lead the league in goals, hits, game winning goals, and overall dazzle. In the playoffs, he will continue the pace winning the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smyth Trophy as playoff MVP.

Regular season final results will see teams finish like this.

Metropolitan Division: Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils.

Phil Kessel will go crazy in Pittsburgh and fill the net with 51 goals. The Rangers will edge out the Islanders for third because the Islanders will feel lost in their new home for the first half of the season. And Tavares will still finish second to Ovechkin in scoring.

Atlantic Division: Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings, Montréal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jack Eichel will prove to be the real deal invigorating his Buffale Sabres teammates, leading to team to a huge turnaround season. Watch for Buffalo to make more trades during the season including goal. Jude Drouin will strut his stuff finally in Tampa and Price will play hurt a lot this year with the Habs feeling the pressure. Boston goes in the tank.

Pacific Division: Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes.

Anaheim will rule the roost battling through key injuries only to just fall short in the cup final. Edmonton will surge into respect actually led by Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle when back from injury, and Justin Schultz waking up on the blue line. Connor McDavid will be superb in his first year surpassing 70 points.

Central Division: St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche. Dallas and Winnipeg will have very solid seasons.

In the playoffs Anaheim, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Dallas will battle for the Western Conference title while in the Eastern Conference it will be Washington, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Montreal.

The Stanley Cup final will come down to Anaheim meeting Washington in the final, which will go to a gave seven with Washington winning it all, completing Ovechkin’s dream season completed.

OK, now post this on the fridge and have fun.

By the way, real sporting sorts post their own predictions next to this one.