Hockey World Blog

Hockey World Blog picks the winners

Throughout the month of September, the members of Hockey World Blog deconstructed the strengths, weaknesses and off-season acquisitions of all 30 NHL teams as they finalize their rosters and prepare for the 2009-10 season. Now we offer our predictions for who will lead the league by seasons end. Who will come out on top in each division? And ultimately, which team will be left standing long enough to hoist the Stanley Cup in June? Here’s what we think:

Chris

Division Winners, East

  • Atlantic: This could be the toughest division in the East, but the Flyers have good, young talent and got a whole lot tougher during the off-season. Their blue line looks better with Pronger and Emery could be a surprise in net. The Flyers will take the Atlantic.
  • Northeast: The Bruins are the complete package – good defense, unselfish offense and solid goaltending. The Bruins will skate through the competition without a doubt.
  • Southeast: While the division is slowly improving, nobody can match the scoring power of the Washington Capitals. The Caps could do some serious damage this year.

Who could win the Cup: The Boston Bruins have a great team that has failed to make a significant impact in the post-season in recent years. Attribute it to injuries or lack of toughness or what you will, the Bruins are resilient and play hard and tough every night. Not only can this team put the puck in the net, they all work hard to keep it out of their own net. Last season, 11 players were plus-15 or better. With team scoring leader Marc Savard a potential free agent at season’s end, and with the team tight up against the cap, it’s do or die for the Bruins this season.

Divisions Winners, West

  • Central: Arguably the best division in hockey, my money is still on Detroit. Experience and great leadership, plus an infusion of young, hungry talent, will propel this team.
  • Northwest: The Sedin twins and Roberto Luongo all signed long-term? With the addition of puck-moving defenseman like Schneider and Ehrhoff, the Vancouver Canucks look better on both ends of the rink. This team could be scary.
  • Pacific: This could be a close one, but San Jose should be able to edge Anaheim for the division title. San Jose has good offensive depth and strong goaltending. If Thornton and Heatley click as linemates, watch out.

Who could win the Cup: Quack…quack…quack…Not only are the Ducks big and physical, they have strong depth at all positions. The loss of Chris Pronger will be offset by the addition of Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski, who are both offensively-minded and defensively talented. Koivu, Lupol, Selanne and Ryan all provide excellent scoring depth in addition to Perry and Getzlaf on the top line. These guys are big and tough and thrive on physical play. If Giguere falters in net, the Ducks have a stellar back-up in Jonas Hiller. This team has what it takes to win.

Chris’s Stanley Cup Champion Prediction: Anaheim Ducks

As a Wings fan, I want to put the Red Wings’ name in that line, and I hope I’m wrong in my prediction, but the fact of the matter is that the Anaheim Ducks are big, powerful and know how to score goals. Sure, they lost Chris Pronger, but they offset his absence with offensive depth and still boast a solid defensive corps. Add in the one-two punch of Jonas Hiller and J. S. Giguere in net and you have a lot of work on your hands if you want to put the puck in their net. If the Ducks begin to fly together, do other teams in the West have what it takes to break them apart?

Eric

Division Winners, East

  • Atlantic: With their already deep depth from the previous year, as well as the additions of big defenseman Chris Pronger and wild card Ray Emery, I am going to have to go with the Philadephia Flyers.
  • Northeast: Come on Ottawa! They have added so much talent during the off season, as well as getting rid of unhappy Dany Heatley, they have an amazing team this year on paper and the ability to live up to those numbers. Plus a healthy Pascal Leclaire should be the answers to their goalie troubles.
  • Southeast: Besides the Washington Capitals, is there anyone really worth watching in this division? No there is not, and that is why I choose the Washington Capitals.

Who could win the Cup: This is a tough one, but I will have to say the Philadelphia Flyers. They have the size, grit and talent of every aspect of the game, it is hard not to choose them. The only potential weakness could be of new goaltender Ray Emery, but I have a feeling he will be a great fit in Philly and will do great.

Divisions Winners, West

  • Central: Although I do feel the Chicago Blackhawks have added some amazing talent over the off-season, I still feel the Detroit Red Wings are the dominant team. The Wings have lost some big named players, but in previous years they have proven their young players coming up from Grand Rapids are NHL caliber players.
  • Northwest: Having some of the best hockey fans in the NHL, the Calgary Flames look to build upon their 7th guy and go for it all. Captain Jarome Iginla does it all, fighting, point scoring and penalty killing. Big defenseman Dion Phaneuf is already laying on the big hit in the pre-season, what more could you ask for? A solid goaltender in Mikka Kiprusoff will provide the big saves to win the game as well. Calgary will be tough.
  • Pacific: I would love to say the Phoenix Coyotes, but that would be completely wrong. Maybe almost as far fetched, I am going with the Dallas Stars. They have amazing depth and talented players, as well as some very attractive ice girls. I do believe they have a good chance as long as they stay healthy, which has been a problem in previous years.

Who could win the Cup: Despite losing many talented players, the Detroit Red Wings are still a threat in any 7 game series. A team that turns the other cheek and then smirks as they score on the power play, Detroit is a well disciplined and talented team. The team is comprised of some of the best players in the game today, as well as up and coming talent. The only concern as with every team, is the ability to stay healthy throughout the whole season and playoffs.

Eric’s Stanley Cup Champion Prediction: Philadelphia Flyers

The Broad Street Bullies are back and will be the real deal this season. The whole team is tough. Daniel Carcillo lead the league last year in penalty minutes. Big defenseman Chris Pronger will be skating with the team this year and will provide grit and a lock down defensive play style. Goaltender Ray Emery is on a mission from the previous year playing overseas in the KHL.  Veteran players such as Danny Briere, Simon Gagne and Kimmo Timonen will provide leadership in the playoffs. All of them will be lead by one of my favorite players, Captain Mike Richards. The Philadelphia Flyers will also be playing in the Winter Classic this year which would hype any team up. Do not be surprised when they win it because they are built to win the Stanley Cup this year.

Eddie

Division Winners, East

  • Atlantic: The defending cup champion Pittsburgh will have the infamous “Stanley Cup Hangover” early on, but will get things together to take the division away from Philadelphia and New Jersey after the Olympic Break. It will be interesting to see how well they play under a full season under Dan Bylsma.
  • Northeast: Boston is simply the best team in this division. They dominated last season and they got better. Montreal and Buffalo will try to make a run but will come up short.
  • Southeast: Similiar to Boston in the Northeast, Washington is the clear favorite. Watch out for Florida and Carolina to make the division race closer than it was last season.

Who could win the Cup: Like how last season was Sidney Crosby’s year to win, this could be the same for Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin has won every other major award but the one that’s most important. A team that only got better with the additions of Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison, I like for the Capitals to get over the Pittsburgh hill and reach the Stanley Cup finals.

Divisions Winners, West

  • Central: If Chicago wants to be taken seriously by Detroit, they have to win the division this year. If Chicago doesn’t win it this season, who knows if they ever will. The Blackhawks and the Red Wings will be in the two-team race all season, with the younger Blackhawks wanting it more.
  • Northwest: If Mikka Kiprusoff and Jarome Iginla can pickup their game from last season, this can be Calgary’s division. Whats working in Calgary’s favor is the home ice advantage at the Saddledome and Vancouver’s NHL-Record 14-game road trip before and after the Olympic Break.
  • Pacific: San Jose is everyone’s pick to win this division. While the Sharks and Dallas Stars can be in talks to win the division, the big question is can Anaheim play the way they played the second half of last season throughout the 2009-10 season? Expect the Ducks to take the division title.

Who could win the Cup: Like in the Eastern Conference, this could be the year of the young super stars. That is what will keep the Red Wings from advancing to the finals. Anaheim has Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry. Chicago has Jonathan Towes and Patrick Kane. Expect the Blackhawks to lift the Clarence Campbell Bowl for the first time since 1992.

Eddie’s Stanley Cup Champion Prediction: Washington Capitals

When this season is over, the title of Marian Hossa’s autobiography will be “Close But No Cigar: How I Got To Three Consecutive Stanley Cup Finals Without Winning.” Hossa will play in another Stanley Cup final with the Blackhawks, but this time he will see Alexander Ovechkin raise the Cup over his head.

Matt

Division Winners, East

  • Atlantic: While the Penguins are defending Stanley Cup Champions, they won’t have what it takes to get it done during the regular season this year. Philadelphia got bigger and stronger during the off-season, and a healthy Daniel Briere will lead them to a division title.
  • Northeast: The loss of Phil Kessel and Aaron Ward won’t do much harm to the Boston Bruins. They return enough experience to claim another division title.
  • Southeast: The Capitals are another year older, another year wiser, and another year hungrier. Alex Ovechkin and his crew will run away with this one.

Who could win the Cup: The past two seasons have ended in disappointment for the Washington Capitals, but that could all change this season. They have one of the hungriest groups of players ever, and with their free agent signings, are a clear choice in the East.

Divisions Winners, West

  • Central: As everyone expects the Blackhawks to oust the Red Wings and claim a division championship, the Wings find themselves in the exact position they want to be in – the underdog. Chicago and goalie Cristobal Huet falter under pressure and the Detroit takes the division once again.
  • Northwest: Vancouver added some tremendous depth to their team via trade and free agency. They will own the Northwest Division this season.
  • Pacific: Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley will be absolutely lethal in San Jose, but Anaheim will pick up where they left off last season and take the division.

Who could win the Cup: Detroit’s young players have more experience in the playoffs than they do in the regular season. This should benefit them come April, May and June as they march to a third consecutive Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

Matt’s Stanley Cup Champion Prediction: Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings are eager to prove last year was a fluke and they are still among the NHL’s most elite, while the Capitals are the hungriest to prove they have what it takes to raise Lord Stanley. It will will be a battle, but the stifling defense of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski will shut down the most potent scorers in the league and claim their second Stanley Cup in three years.

4 Comments

  1. b. Lee

    October 6, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I’m new around here, but Eric is already on notice. And while I’m sure your colleagues have already informed you, the Bru Cru are going to ROLL in the Northeast. Ottawa’s about as tough as a Bermudan peacekeeping mission.

  2. EB

    October 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    If by Bru Cru you mean Bruins, and if by ROLL you mean do poorly, then ok I agree.

    Ottawa is back in competitive play again with Pascal. Montreal is a toss up but due to injuries I would place Bruins in second. Might I add it is quite a weak division, which will show as your Bruins will be pounded by Philly and the likes of better teams, like their 4-1 loss to Washington who will be in the top 3 of the Division.

    I do though wish the best of luck to the Bruins as I do think they are a good team, just not good enough this year.

  3. Pingback: From Phoenix with Love « Hockey World Blog

  4. Pingback: Cigars Fast » Blog Archive » Hockey World Blog picks the winners

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.