2010/11 NHL Preview

Pittsburgh Penguins 114 points

The Penguins entering a new arena have a Presidential look about them. Anytime you have players like Jordan Stall, Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby you are a threat to win the Stanley Cup. Add in some defensive help from Paul Martin, and the Penguins should dominate. The only question is will they again sip from the cup or will they get caught by the President’s Cup Curse.

Washington Capitals 110 points

Again the Capitals have the look of a Cup contender. The only question is can they get it done in the postseason. Last year they won the President’s Cup and were impeached in the first round. With much the same team returning they should continue to dominate and play exciting hockey thanks to Alex Ovechkin. In the end it will come down to a showdown with the Penguins, not in January outdoors, but in May in the Eastern Finals.

Buffalo Sabres 103 points

Win or lose the Sabres will look snazzy as they return to their classic look, after ditching the hideous Bufalslug. They have one of the best goalies in the NHL and a solid young defense led by Tyler Myers. Last year they won the Northeast Division and they can do that again, but postseason success will continue to ellude them as long as they don’t have a finisher who can score the big goal.

Boston Bruins 102 points

How does a team bounce back after blowing a 3-0 lead in the playoffs? The Bruins will be answering that question all season. A solid defensive team, with a reliable goal scorer, they should battle the Sabres for the division title. However, the health of Mark Savard still feeling a concussion from last season will be an issue as long as they don’t have a finisher who can score the big goal.

Philadelphia Flyers 100 points

Despite barely making the playoffs the Flyers took off in the playoffs and made their way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, making a classic comeback from 0-3 along the way. The Flyers certainly have the ability to make a similar run this year, but once again the lack of a reliable goalie is their Achilles’ heel, and the reason they won’t sip the cup.

New Jersey Devils 98 points

What a drag it is getting old, should be the theme of the Devils, as Goalie Martin Brodeur the (Greatest of All-Time) is starting to show his age as the Devils have failed to get out of the first round three years in a row. The true question will be weather the contract given to Ilya Kovalchuk is worth it. If it is the Devils will have a solid 1-2 punch with Kovy and Zach Parise and they could make a run, if they are able to allow Brodeur to be fresh come April.

Tampa Bay Lightning 95 points

Things are looking up in Tampa, as Steven Stamkos is developing into a star. It is also looking up for Vincent Lecavalier who is expected to play on the same line as Martin St. Louis, when together the two have put up stellar numbers. They won’t make a run at the Cup this time around, but they should be able to reach the playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs 91 points

Having Jean-Sebastian Gigure and Dion Phaneuf for a full season should allow the Maple Leafs to re-enter the playoff picture, as they have dropped off the map since the 2005 Lockout. Defensively the Leafs will be a difficult team to beat. However, their lack of an offense will keep them on the playoff bubble. Phaneuf the newly minted Captain declared anything less than the playoffs is unacceptable, the way he hits I don’t want to argue.

Detroit Red Wings 112 points

The Red Wings are as reliable as the great classic cars that once rolled off asembly lines in Detroit. Every season you can pencil in the Wings as one of the cup contenders in the Western Conference. Last year they fell short of reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time in three years, Look for them to return this season as Goalie Jimmy Howard in year two as starter should be even better.

Vancouver Canucks 108 points

Oh Canada it has been a long time since a Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup and the Canucks are the best hope thanks to the Sedin twins. The key will be Goalie Roberto Lunogo, who seemed to run out of gas in the playoffs last season. This year he won’t have to play an exhausting Olympic schedule, if he is at the top of his game look out.

San Jose Sharks 106 points

If you can’t beat him sign him. After losing in the Western Conference Finals to the Blackhawks, the Sharks signed Goalie Antti Niemi, who stone walled them. Ultimately the Sharks success is determined by how far they play in the postseason. Talent wise they are the best in the west, and can win the cup, but is this the year they finally reach the Finals?

Chicago Blackhawks 104 points

After winning the Stanley Cup the Blackhawks made some hard choices by parting with postseason heroes Dustin Byfuglien and Antti Niemi. Repeating is hard enough, but losing two key players will make it all the harder. They managed to land Marty Turco to replace Niemi and that should help the Blackhawks remain a contender along with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but it will be hard to see them in the Finals again let alone winning again.

Los Angeles Kings 102 points

With a solid young defense the Kings are maybe just one player away from being a Cup contender. One thing for sure is they are team on the rise and a team to look out for. Watch for them to challenge the Sharks for the Pacific Division and if they get enough scoring in the playoffs they could find themselves on a run.

Phoenix Coyotes 98 points

Despite hovering in bankruptcy the Coyotes challenged for the Pacific Division last season. They should again be a contender for the division title thanks to Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. However, without being able to land that extra piece making it far in the playoffs could be asking too much. If this team gets some stability in ownership it could become a serious contender.

Calgary Flames 96 points

On paper the Flames always look better than they actually are, as they have a solid Goalie in Miikka Kiprusoff and a solid playmaker in Captain Jarome Iginla. However, finding scorers to help Iginla has been a long frustrating battle in Calgary. Adding Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay could help, but in the West they will still be on the playoff bubble and matched against an elite team in the opening round.

Colorado Avalanche 94 points

The Avalanche had a remarkable turnaround last season adding 25 points to reach the playoffs. Leading the way last season was a solid group of young players who will need to repeat their performance. There is some talent here and as long as they can perform consistently the Avs should reach the playoffs.

Montreal Canadiens 90 points

Despite leading stunning upsets of the Penguins and Capitals the Canadiens decided to part with Goalie Jaroslav Halak and turn back to Carey Price. If Price struggles he will be the target of much scorn in Montreal, as Halak the hot goalie in the playoffs won over a lot of fans. The bad news is the Habs are more like the team that qualified as 8th in the East and not the one that made the Conference Finals as they will fall just short in a battle with the Leafs.

Ottawa Senators 88 points

The addition of Sergei Gonchar should help the Senators. However, the Eastern Conference has a number of teams that are still better than them, as they will struggle on the playoff bubble all season. One game here or there will be the difference and the Senators will likely be on the outside looking in when the playoffs arrive.

New York Islanders 84 points

The Islanders are likely the team that is one year away from getting back to respectability as John Tavares enters his second season. Last year as an 18 year old rookie he struggled at times as the Islanders played in an empty Nassau Coliseum. Islanders fans may want to start coming back down Old Country Road before the team leaves, as they need a new arena that if it is not built in New York will be built elsewhere.

Atlanta Thrashers 80 points

Ilya Kovalchuk is gone and the Thrashers need to find a new star to try and build around. This time it appears they are focusing on defense as they have acquired Dustin Byfuglien from the Chicago Blackhawk. They also have some solid young wingers that can make it exciting despite the team having almost no shot at the playoffs.

New York Rangers 76 points

The lights will go down on Broadway for many Rangers this season, as this will be a year of failure and change as the Rangers will crash land in last place in the Atlantic Division. Who will left on the team remains to be seen, but expect a full front office shake up and new coaches and a fire sale as the Rangers are a high priced team in ruins.

Carolina Hurricanes 72 points

With the retirement of Rob Brind’Amour and the departure of Ryan Whitney, its rebuilding time in Carolina, as the Hurricanes only excitement this season will come when they host the All-Star Game. The Hurricanes still have a strong Goalie in Cam Ward, who may be best valued as a tradable piece to get more young players to lay the foundation of the future.

Florida Panthers 60 points

Anaheim Ducks 90 Points

The Ducks are team that can go either way. Things could all gel and they could be among the best teams in the West, or things could fall apart and they could miss the playoffs again. Signing Bobby Ryan long term should help. However, there is a lot of talent in the West, and Teemu Selanne in his last season may be more valuable as a deadline deal that will make the Ducks younger.

Columbus Blue Jackets 88 points

After winning the Calder Trophy and leading the Blue Jackets into the playoffs in 2009, Goalie Steve Mason was one of the most disappointing players in the NHL last year. I expect Mason to play better this season. However, it may be a tough task to get back in the playoffs as the Jackets don’t have many pieces on their roster.

St. Louis Blues 86 points

The Blues have seen the departure of Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya. They have even added Goalie Jaroslav Halak who had a miracle run with the Canadiens in the playoffs last season. If Halak can carry that play in the regular season, the Blues could slip into the playoffs. However, there are too many ifs to put any money on the Blues getting in this year.

Nashville Predators 82 points

Every year I pick the Predators to miss the playoffs, and somehow they seem to slip in almost every season. Though, it has yet to translate beyond as they have never won a playoff series. Again this season I look at this team and I see plenty of teams that are better than them, though a bounce here they could again get the eighth seed.

Minnesota Wild 80 points

The Wild are a team that does not have much to look for. They are not awful, but they are not even close to being a playoff contender. So here they stand stuck in mediocrity. The addition of John Madden may help win a few games, but Madden will likely be on the trade block for a team looking for a proven playoff winner come the deadline.

Edmonton Oilers 76 points

After last season’s disastrous 27-47-8 record the Oilers have no place to go but up. They used the #1 pick to select Taylor Hall who had 106 points in the OHL last season. However, allowing goals was the biggest problem last season for the Oilers. Hall should add some excitement but the Oilers have a long way to go before they will see the playoffs again.

Dallas Stars 70 points

After missing the playoffs again last season, Dallas said Good Bye to longtime Stars Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, and Marty Turco. Expect more changes to come this season as the Stars are clearly in a mode for rebuilding.

NHL AWARDS

  • ART ROSS
  • RICHARD
  • ADAMS
  • CALDER
  • SELKE
  • VEZINA
  • NORRIS
  • HART
  • SMYTHE
  • Sidney Crosby Penguins
  • Ilya Kovalchuk Devils
  • Ron Wilson Maple Leafs
  • Taylor Hall Oilers
  • Ryan Kesler Canucks
  • Ryan Miller Sabres
  • Drew Doughty Kings
  • Sidney Crosby Penguins
  • Roberto Lunogo Canucks
  • ART ROSSSidney Crosby Penguins
  • RICHARDIlya Kovalchuk Devils
  • ADAMSRon Wilson Maple Leafs
  • CALDERTaylor Hall Oilers
  • SELKERyan Kesler Canucks
  • VEZINARyan Miller Sabres
  • NORRISDrew Doughty Kings
  • HARTSidney Crosby Penguins
  • SMYTHERoberto Lunogo Canucks
  • Sidney Crosby Penguins
  • Ilya Kovalchuk Devils
  • Ron Wilson Maple Leafs
  • Taylor Hall Oilers
  • Ryan Kesler Canucks
  • Ryan Miller Sabres
  • Drew Doughty Kings
  • Sidney Crosby Penguins
  • Roberto Lunogo Canucks

Coaches Who Will be Fired

  • Randy Carlyle Ducks
  • Cory Colston Senators
  • Peter DeBoer Panthers
  • John Tortarella Rangers
  • Barry Trotz Nashville Predators

EASTERN FINALS:

Washington Capitals over Pittsburgh Penguins

WESTERN FINALS:

Vancouver Canucks over Detroit Red Wings

STANLEY CUP FINALS:

Vancouver Canucks over Washington Capitals

OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS

Predictions made by Frank Fleming on October 7, 2010 aat 12:45 am ET.

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