If you are not a hockey fan then toss this week’s column in the trash now.
Welcome to my annual installation of silly seasonal fridge games, or the Hodge Podge Clip and Laugh NHL Hockey Predictions. Maintaining a silly tradition repeated ridiculously for some 20 years now this amusing little game is simple to play.
I publicly admit (or foolishly submit) my predictions for the upcoming 2016-2017 NHL season. You take this page, cut it out, and stick it onto your fridge with some sort of tacky magnet. Then periodically throughout the season you can occasionally glance at this column and chuckle or guffaw at my complete lack of knowledge of the game. For some reason I and others find this amusing.
Such predictions tend to be a painful route to public humiliation.
Last year’s predictions provided far more chuckles than I had hoped for. However I am a creature of bad habits, among them predictions, and it appears I’m too old to change my ways. So with no further delay (and clearly no sense of fear or shame) — here is how things will look at the end of this year’s NHL regular season.
It will be a season dictated by injuries like no other NHL year. As predicted prior to the world hockey championships, injuries in that series will have an impact on this year’s NHL regular season. In addition an usual number of other key injuries will cause havoc.
Next year’s NHL expansion to Las Vegas means most teams are adjusting their rosters so as to not lose key players. In doing so some teams are getting thin on goaltenders. Expect a couple of clubs to have real problems when their key goaltenders go down for long periods of time this season. Because of those injuries there will be a few upsets in team standings.
This will be the year of Connor McDavid, Austin Mathews, and Jamie Benn. Likewise watch for a huge year for others such as Steve Stamkos, Ben Bishop, Tyler Seguin, Carey Price, John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jonathan Drouin.
Regular season final results will see teams finish like this:
Metropolitan Division: Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes.
Injuries to Crosby and Malkin will hurt Pittsburgh same as Lundvquist in New York. Columbus’ coach gets canned by Christmas.
Atlantic Division: Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Montréal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings .
Playoff bubble finally bursts in Detroit. Jude Drouin will strut his stuff finally in Tampa clicking with Stamkos all season. Radulov and Webber shine in Montreal, Price plays hurt but well. Toronto does marvelous with rookies while injures cripple talent-thin Buffalo, Detroit, and Ottawa. Watch for Buffalo to make more trades during the season including goal but it will be too little too late.
Pacific Division: Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary will surprisingly rule the roost with a determined squad led by Gaudreau and Elliott. Edmonton will surge into respect led by McDavid and Eberle. Injuries take out LA and Anaheim. Last season’s long run and Worlds burns out Burns and other San Jose players who fade away the last six weeks of the season.
Central Division: Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild.
Dallas and St, Louis will have very solid seasons. Clifford will play hurt a lot this year with the Hawks feeling the pressure from injuries and surprisingly go in the tank.
Pittsburgh trades goaltender Marc Andre Fleury to Dallas part way through the season and Dallas goes on to battle it out with St. Louis in the West Division Championship.
Tampa Bay and Washington will battle for the Eastern Conference title.
Tampa will beat out Dallas for the Stanley Cup in seven games
Jamie Benn will edge out McDavid for the NHL scoring championship,
OK, now post this on the fridge and have fun.
By the way — real sporting sorts post their own predictions next to this one.