The Cloudy Crystal Ball


Written on 10/07/2010 by Jim Cerny

With the puck dropping on the 2010-11 NHL season today (Yes! Finally!!) I might as well dust off the ol' crystal ball to make a few predictions.

Warning!!! Do not even think of running to Vegas or to your local bookie and lay any cash on these predictions. Past performance has proven that this crystal ball can be quite cloudy...

Though I will pat myself on the back and remind you that last October I did have the Flyers representing the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. Of course there is no way I could have accurately predicted the bumpy road it took for Philly to arrive at that point, but in this case the end justified the means.

Of course I also had the Canucks in the Finals, and, well, we know how good a prediction that was.

In all I had 12 of 16 playoff teams predicted correctly.

But that's in the past, let's look ahead to 2010-11. And since it is likely those of you reading this are hockey fanatics and have read every hockey blog and magazine and watched every NHL preview show, I won't bore you with too many details as to why my picks are my picks.

So here goes....

Eastern Conference:

These 4 teams are locks: Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, and Philadelphia Flyers.

These 4 teams will fight their way in: Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers.

These 3 teams will just miss out: Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, and Montreal Canadiens.

These 2 teams will be better, but not good enough: Atlanta Thrashers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

These 2 teams will continue to struggle: New York Islanders and Florida Panthers.

Western Conference:

These 5 teams are locks: Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks.

These 3 teams will fight their way in: St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, and Phoenix Coyotes.

These 2 teams will just miss out: Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames.

These 2 teams will be improved, but not good enough: Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers.

These 3 teams are just not good enough, period: Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars.

In the Stanley Cup Finals I see the Pittsburgh Penguins, still young and talented and now extra motivated after last year's playoff failure, returning to represent the East just as they did in 2007-08 and 2008-09; but out West the answer is not as clear-cut in my mind. My gut tells me Vancouver...but I hate agreeing with almost every other pundit out there, most of whom are saying that this is finally the Canucks year. I can see Detroit, if they remain healthy, making another run. And I don't count out the Blackhawks, as most everyone else has, despite the dismantling of the lower half of the champs' roster. In the end, though, I'll have to say.....

Stanley Cup Finals: Penguins vs. Canucks

Follow me on Twitter at: @jimcerny and @thenyrangers

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