Friday, January 18, 2013

Thoughts on an Unlocked Season

I just really enjoy this picture.
I was at the point of complete apathy. Three weeks ago, I didn't give one iota if the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a new CBA or not.

Thanks to my season tickets for the Cornell Big Red hockey team, as well as the occasional Binghamton Senators affair, hockey lived on during the final months of 2012.

The lockout pissed me off - just like it pissed pretty much every other hockey fan off. Yet, similar to pretty much every other hockey fan, I can. not. wait. for the season to start.

It took viewings of this:


and this:


and this:


 Hook, line, and sinker.

Hockey is back. Drop the puck. I make these predictions every season. Last year was somewhat of an embarrassment. It's time for redemption.

This season...

-Ryan O'Reilly returns before the fourth game of the season. He'll sign a one year deal, lead the Avalanche in scoring, and be a key part on the team's top 10 penalty kill. And now that he has your attention, he's going to win the Selke, too.

-Paul Stastny, refusing to be weighed down by trade rumors or buyouts, will have a career year (relatively speaking) playing alongside Jamie McGinn. 

-Nobody calls for Joe Sacco to be fired. 

-Tyson Barrie becomes a regular on the blueline. 

-Milan Hejduk scores 15 goals (82 game equivalent of 25) and decides to return for one more season.

-David Jones, however, struggles to get his name on the scoresheet. Doghouse time. 

-Captain Gabriel Landeskog flourishes along P.A. Parenteau and Matt Duchene. Finally, the Avalanche have a legitimate first line. 

-The Avs go 24-18-6. Good enough for 54 points and a tie with the Minnesota Wild for the eighth and final seed. The Avs win the tiebreaker and make the postseason

-Other Western Conference playoff teams: Blues, Predators, Blackhawks, Canucks, Kings, Coyotes, Sharks. Screw the Wings

-Ryan Suter struggles without Shea Weber. Shea Weber doesn't struggle at all. Every "expert" in the world is predicting the opposite. Oh well. I'll take the annual Norris contender over the guy who has a crazy amount of spotlight on him in hockey-crazed Minnesota. 

-The Edmonton Oilers don't get off to that hot a start. If Lake Erie can handle Edmonton's core, so can the rest of the West. Oilers don't pick first, but they don't make the playoffs, either. 

-Except for Justin Schultz. He's going to be tremendous. 

-Dany Heatley and Zach Parise show no chemistry whatsoever. The Wild get off to a bad start, finish hot, and just miss the playoffs by virtue of the tiebreaker. 

-Calgary sucks. 

-The Blue Jackets suck worse. A lot worse. 

-Wade Redden, St. Louis Blues defenseman, becomes a force to be reckoned with. 

-Jaromir Jagr is not relevant to anything. Wait..he plays for the Stars now? 

-Eastern Conference playoff teams: Rangers, Penguins, Flyers, Bruins, Sabres, Capitals, Lightning, Hurricanes. 

-Now that Brian Burke has been fired, the Toronto Maple Leafs get off to an absurdly good start but sputter down the stretch. In other words, not much will change. Sorry, Mr. Burke. 

-Claude Giroux, buckling under the pressure of being Philly's captain, has a subpar year. Luckily, Ilya Bryzgalov actually does well in the regular season for the Flyers. 

-Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin light the world on fire. They'll go 1-2 in scoring. Malkin will get his second straight Hart and Art Ross. 

-Tuukka Rask is really good. 

-Alex Ovechkin returns to goal scoring relevance on the right wing. 

-Scott Gomez signs with the Devils and has a pretty good year. Martin Brodeur, on the other hand...

-A team from the Eastern Conference complains about travel, even though the West travels much, much more.  Oh, sorry Winnipeg. 

-Award Predictions: 

Hart: Evgeni Malkin
Vezina: Pekka Rinne
Norris: Alex Pietrangelo 
Calder: Justin Schultz
Lady Byng: Loui Erikson 
Selke: Ryan O'Reilly 
Jack Adams: Adam Oates 
Art Ross: Evgeni Malkin
Richard: Steven Stamkos

-Final Four: Predators, Blues, Bruins, Penguins
-Stanley Cup: Blues, Bruins 
-Champion: Boston Bruins.
-Conn Smythe: Patrice Bergeron  

-Two scenarios for the Cup presentation. Option A: Gary Bettman takes the opportunity to apologize to fans one last time for the joke that was the lockout. OR Option B: Gary Bettman DOES NOT present the Cup at all. Instead, he hands the duty to Brendan Shanahan, who immediately suspends operations until further review. 

Let's play hockey. 

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