Yesterday, Zach cited my proficiency at pre-season predictions (nice alliteration). I managed to beat out "experts" like Eklund and E.J. Hradek, which is going on my resume ASAP. After a nice little celebration, which consisted of merely a smile and a fist pump, I submit my predictions for 2010-11. Just a note for purposes of full disclosure, I went on a nice five-month break from everything that relates to hockey. If these predictions make no sense, I'd cite that as a reason. Of course, if these predictions do come true, forget I said anything.
2) New Jersey
5) NY Rangers
7) Tampa Bay
11) NY Islanders
1) San Jose
5) Los Angeles
8) St. Louis
Washington over NY Rangers
Detroit over Chicago
Detroit over Washington in 6
Picking the right teams to finish in the right spots is the easy part of prognostication. The far more difficult (and fun) proposition is to predict the events of the season. As I see it, the season will include the following elements...
- A big-name coach will be fired before November 15. My prediction: John Tortorella.
- An unheralded team will come out of nowhere to start red-hot, defying "experts". Last year, it was Phoenix and Colorado. This year, I pick Tampa Bay and St. Louis.
- The league's new blind-side hits rule will prove itself to be woefully ineffective, resulting in at least one suspension in the league's first month.
- Islanders fans will pine for Billy Jaffe by the time the first period ends tonight. Fans will also proclaim the new radio deal with Hofstra as "bush-league" and clamor for the return of the simulcast before ever hearing a game on the radio.
- None of the agonizing decisions and heated debates over who should be the 23rd man on an NHL roster will amount to anything.
- This year's Winter Classic will draw the highest ratings and interest levels the NHL has ever seen.
- The Islanders-Rangers rivalry will finally receive a shot in the arm, with at least one big fight or controversial incident helping these games reach their potential.
- Doug Weight and Dwayne Roloson will be traded at the trade deadline.
- The Islanders will get off to a slow start, but nobody will question the bizarre split-squad games as a potential reason why.
- Rick DiPietro will finally make it through a season in perfect health.
- Henrik Lundqvist will finally get to go on a ridiculous playoff run.
- Ilya Kovalchuk will win the Hart Trophy.
- The Jack Adams Award will go to a first-year coach who makes a big difference. I predict Guy Boucher of Tampa Bay.
- At least one team will unveil a new retro third jersey that will end up replacing their current uniforms next year.
- The NHL will re-sign with NBC, but will take its cable package to TBS.
- Bad officiating and inconsistent discipline will become a huge issue yet again, this time playing a significant role in the Stanley Cup Final.