Each year I write out 10 fearless forecasts (some crazier than others). This past September was no different (check my list for 2010-11 out here). I was right in a few cases, I was close in a few cases, and I was completely off base in a few as well. How did you do with your preseason predictions (preferably those that were a bit out there)?
10. Three teams from the Southeast make the playoffs.
Why? Washington is a no-brainer. Atlanta has improved leaps and bounds, and I also really like what Steve Yzerman has done in Tampa Bay. Carolina has an outside shot if Cam Ward has a strong season.
Outcome: Washington and Tampa Bay are in. Atlanta was in contention until they collapsed in the second half. The Hurricanes are on the cusp. I'd say this one was decent.
9. Lubomir Visnovsky leads the Western Conference in scoring (amongst defensemen).
Why? Anaheim has horrid depth on defence, but their first unit on the power play is incredibly talented. Visnovsky has a great shot, and if he’ll have the likes of Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan to pass to if he decides not to shoot.
8. Tyler Bozak leads the Leafs in scoring.
Why? He thinks the game well, he faces almost zero competition from other centers within the organization, and he’s added some size this summer.
Not even close. Grabovski emerged as the go-to center, and Kessel is his usual 30-goal self.
7. Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan combine to score 90 goals.
Why? Dropping my bold prediction from 100 to 90. Anaheim is going to ride its top guns hard, and these two are going to benefit. Don’t expect Ryan to stick at center. He’s a better winger at the NHL level.
Closer than I had expected. 81 goals and counting.
6. Washington doesn’t win the Eastern Conference.
Why? Boston is deeper on defense and stronger in goal. Also, the Southeast Division has improved considerably this summer.
Flyers could prove me right.... But the Caps are there once again.
5. Only one Canadian team makes the playoffs.
Why? Calgary is on the fence. Edmonton has improved, but how much? Toronto is a bubble team. I’m not sold on Montreal yet. Ottawa is a good team but they have holes in the lineup (most notably between the pipes).
Montreal and Vancouver. Close but no cigar.
4. Jaroslav Halak wins the Vezina Trophy.
Why? Great goalie, strong team, tremendous coach. The Blues are poised to make some noise.
Right division, wrong goalie. Halak isn't ready for a starter's workload.
3. St. Louis wins the Central Division.
Why? See above. Also, an emerging core of talented players at both forward and defense.
A year or two early...
2. John Tavares and Matt Duchene both score over 45 goals.
Why? Both had solid rookie campaigns. Duchene was more consistent, Tavares was a bit streaky. He doesn’t have as much help on Long Island as Duchene has in Colorado, but both have the skill set to score 40 as soon as 2010-11.
Both have taken offensive steps forward, but the big breakout hasn't occured yet. Tavares needs more support, Duchene needs more seasoning.
1. Chicago struggles to make the playoffs.
Why? Turco has been anything but solid over the past few years. A lack of depth could haunt the Hawks if the injury bug strikes. The Central Division is the toughest in hockey.
Battling for eighth as I write this.