Alright, enough good ideas outta me. Let's see how my picks for this crazy season are doing!
New York Rangers (my call: President's Trophy; currently: 7th)
Here's how close this season is: because I was lazy and didn't start writing this article until the World Baseball Classic was on (go Canada! woo), the Rangers moved up a spot in their matinee with the Capitals. They were eighth this morning, a point behind New Jersey. Alright, so the Rick Nash experiment isn't working as well as we all thought it would, but I still think this is a great team on paper that'll be hell to play in the postseason. They just need Johnny Torts to yell at them some more. Get that man a lozenge!
Washington Capitals (my call: 2nd; currently: 12th)
Having a little trouble getting our star encouraged to play, are we Coach Oates? And it can't help that Mike Milbury has decided this is the year he singlehandedly restarts the Cold War with his own private nuclear arsenal of anti-8 rants. On the plus side, friend of SBHQ and apparently a professional Tumblr-er now Bill Eager likes my moxy:
@simonbob it's no use trying to decipher the caps this season. i appreciate that you're trying.— beager (@beager) February 28, 2013
Thanks, dogg. Sorry 'bout those Sabres.
Ottawa Senators (my call: 3rd; currently: 6th)
Well, it looked pretty good off the top, didn't it? A repeat Norris for Karlsson, the Vezina and maybe even the Art Ross for Anderson, even the vague possibility of a scoring title for Spezza... And now it's the Ironic Post-Lockout Fortune Reversal Show, featuring all those developing kids who got the Calder in Bingo but still weren't supposed to be up here for another few seasons at least. Couple that with the apparent non-shitshowiness of the rest of the northeast and I'm just all over the place with the predos on this one. We'll be lucky if we can drag this team into the second round of the playoffs now.
New Jersey Devils (my call: 4th; currently: 8th)
Brodeur still has his legs. That's about all I can tell you right now. Who are these guys? I feel like I haven't seen a single Devils game all year, even though I know the Sens played them at least once.
Pittsburgh Penguins (my call: 5th; 2nd)
Malkin just got injured again so these guys should be declining for the rest of the season. Good news if you're the rest of the atlantic, looking for spare points to pick up and try to stay on the bubble; bad news if you hate most of the teams in the atlantic (fucking philly) and want all of them to lose forever. And hey, an extra-special homesauce-style "GO FUCK YOURSELF" to Matt Cooke. What goes around comes around, buddy. Learn to skate properly, or maybe don't and get your leg broken or something.
Tampa Bay Lightning (my call: 6th; currently: 13th)
At least Ottawa can blame its injuries for the slip in the standings. The Bolts have no excuse. Hell, it was just a couple of weeks ago they named Stamkos the first star of February. Can they right this ship in time? Or are they doomed to circle the drain with the Caps until the bitter end? I dig on rootin' for underdogs, so I'm gonna say they can make it, which is probably the final nail in their coffin.
Philadelphia Flyers (my call: 7th; currently: 11th)
Chris Pronger says his concussion gave him depression. Far be it for me to cast aspersions on a man who made more money than I probably ever will, but let's ask the likes of Dean McAmmond and Tomas Holmstrom how they feel about that. (Again, I hope Matt Cooke's paying attention.)
Florida Panthers (my call: 8th; currently: 15th)
I've heard of a Stanley Cup hangover, but a first-round elimination hangover? Dang. The "Luongo returns" rumours not panning out? Double dang. The silver lining is they're only seven points out of the playoffs. That's not so bad! You just have to beat eight other teams!
Montreal Canadiens (my call: not in playoffs; currently: 1st)
These are the same Habs who tanked last year! What the hell is going on! Lockouts are baffling.
Carolina Hurricanes (my call: not in playoffs; currently: 3rd)
My perennial pick for ninth place does it again. I guess if you're going to profit off the respective destructions of Washington, Florida, and Tampa Bay, you might as well do it with Cam Ward in nets, right?
Boston (my call: not in playoffs; currently: 4th)
Still waiting for these guys to fall apart at the seams. They lead the league in off days, so I figure it'll balance out as they hit the rough part of their schedule and start to lose a bunch in a row. There's also that snowstorm cancellation to pick back up. With any luck they'll finish in eighth and go seven games with the Habs in the first round.
Toronto (my call: not in playoffs; currently: 5th)
Good news, believers in destiny! If Toronto makes the playoffs, then Ottawa can beat them, dispel their personal curse (preferably in a game 7 win -- two monkeys off one back) and go on to win the Cup. GLORIOUS.
Detroit Red Wings (my call: 1st; currently: 6th)
I'm not worried; they're probably just biding their time until they can rejoin the east in the realignment. Speaking of which, who had Columbus in the East Movin' Sweepstakes? What's the thinking there? I talked at length about it a few weeks ago, and I still think the whole Colorado-Nashville thing is a shortsighted band-aid solution. The only explanation I can come up with is they honestly don't give a half-shit because they're shipping the Blue Jackets to Quebec City in another year. (Coda to my all-star hypothesizing: it was supposed to be in Ohio this year, remember? Wonder if the lost revenue has something to do with this.)
Phoenix Coyotes (my call: 2nd; currently: 8th)
Speaking of teams going places, I still hold fast to my theory that desert hockey will last as long as Bettman does. And given that nobody seems to want to get rid of the guy after all, hockey will live on in Phoenix well past the retirement of Shane Doan. They may not win the division after all, but it looks like they've got a shot at the postseason.
Minnesota Wild (my call: 3rd; currently: 9th)
Oops! We forgot to gel! What a team: all that talent and nothing worth doing with it. The most noteworthy thing they've done all year is feud with Edmonton, which ain't exactly what Zach Parise is leadin' off his resumé with.
Los Angeles Kings (my call: 4th; currently: 4th)
Oh, the start of the season seems so far away now. When's the last time we didn't have the words "Stanley Cup hangover" in the first ten articles about the reigning champions, regardless of how they've started? More importantly, who honestly thought the Kings wouldn't compete this year? I'm an idiot and I even got this call right so far.
Nashville Predators (my call: 5th; currently: 11th)
I bet David Poile is real pleased about the Avs-Flames-O'Reilly thing; it's finally taken the spotlight off his own encounter with the ultimate GM asshole move, when he had to match Philly for Shea Weber. Unfortunately, their attempt to prove that they can pay their way with the big boys hasn't translated into wins. The good news is they're right in the middle of the western logjam, and it just takes one win to leap multiple spots in the standings right now. Have fun playing six games against Winnipeg next year, guys!
San Jose Sharks (my call: 6th; currently: 7th)
"We're a pass-first team in a shoot-first league," said GM Doug Wilson on his team's misfortunes. Hey, seemed to work for the first seven games, didn't it? You just need to cut back to what worked for the last five years: make Joe Thornton your pass-first player and let everyone else take the shots. Also, beat the shit out of Anaheim again. Do it for me if nothing else.
Chicago Blackhawks (my call: 7th; currently: presumptive Stanley Cup champions)
As good as it might be for hockey to have an old-fashioned unstoppable juggernaut grabbing headlines, I'd be much more excited if the 'Hawks loss to Colorado on Friday was the first of twenty-four straight. That would make for an epic season, in that their hero's journey would experience a peripetia the likes of which would spin the heads of Athenians and Trojans alike. I'm all for incredible feats of superhuman capability, but secretly I'm always kinda hoping for unbelievable, unrepeatable storylines. Gotta have something to bore the grandkids with!
Edmonton Oilers (my call: 8th; currently: 15th)
At what point does this team finally decide it's had enough of first-overall draft picks and just throws down a wholly unmatchable offer on a really good RFA? According to Capgeek, they've got a $23 million cushion to play with -- snatch up your fourth straight top player, put in an unbeatable sheet on someone like Nazem Kadri, and wreak havoc on the division next year. (I know, I know, this has been the plan in Edmonton since the last lockout, but I'd like to see them pull the trigger on it for a change.)
Anaheim Ducks (my call: not in playoffs; currently: 2nd)
Fuckin' Ducks. Somebody beat these guys. Knock them off their nest, please. Not a fan.
Vancouver Canucks (my call: not in playoffs; currently: 3rd)
St. Louis Blues (my call: not in playoffs; currently: 5th)
If it's not one thing, it's another. I figure Vancouver is in goalie trouble: they only happen to get a hell of a one-two tandem that they can play or trade or whatever. And I assume the Blues were last year's big fluke: they just go and quietly stick themselves in the thick of the playoff race. I knew this year was gonna be crazy, but I didn't think it'd be insane! EVERYBODY GO BACK TO THE POSITIONS I DETERMINED FOR YOU BASED ON A CURSORY GLANCE AT YOUR ROSTERS AND VAGUE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT PERSONALITY ARCHETYPES RIGHT NOW.