1.21 Gigawatts!

Each season, the National Hockey League gets more and more unpredictable. With the entrance into the league of even more dynamic young talent—Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin the most prominent among them—this trend will only quicken. That is no excuse, however, for my poor forecasting from the 2014-15 campaign. Routinely I have no trouble nailing three-quarters of the playoff teams. Yet last season I missed three—I thought Boston, Columbus and New Jersey would get in over the New York teams and the Ottawa Senators—in the Eastern Conference and an absurd five (Calgary, Minnesota, Nashville, Winnipeg, Vancouver not Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, and San Jose) in the wild West. Of those I knew the Oilers were a reach but I never thought the Sharks, Stars, or high-flying Avs would fail to make it—let alone the defending Cup champion Kings becoming the first squad to fail to make next year’s postseason since the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes.

Six things I did get right in the regular season: both division winners in the West (St Louis and Anaheim); Detroit and Chicago finishing third in their respective divisions, Washington second in the Metropolitan and—not to be forgotten!—predicting that the aforementioned Hurricanes would finish last in the Metro.

And in the postseason I correctly foresaw the Tampa Bay Lightning eliminating the Montreal Canadians in six games (but in the semis not the quarters), that the Anaheim Ducks would make the conference final and that the Lightning would play six games in the Stanley Cup Final.

The two teams I had in the championship round last year, Tampa Bay and Anaheim, are still to my mind the best two teams in the league. Though that rarely translates neatly to postseason success this year I think it does. (Adjacent fun fact: Every year Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau has been in Anaheim his team has advanced one round further in the playoffs. I think that trend continues.)

The award(s) goes to . . .

Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP): Steven Stamkos, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning

Hart Trophy (Regular season MVP): Alexander Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman): Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender): Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward): Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Lady Byng Trophy (Most Gentlemanly Player): Pavel Datsyuk, C, Detroit Red Wings

Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Jack Eichel, C, Buffalo Sabres

Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year): Todd McLellan, Edmonton Oilers

Finally, what prognostication piece would be complete without my bold (and uncannily accurate) team-by-team predictions for the upcoming campaign? As for the best two months in sports, the Stanley Cup playoffs, here is how I see it playing out:

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic 1) over Boston Bruins (Wild Card 2), 4 games to 1
Washington Capitals (Metropolitan 1) over Pittsburgh Penguins (WC1), 4-2
Detroit Red Wings (A3) over Ottawa Senators (A2), 4-2
New York Rangers (M2) over New York Islanders (M3), 4-3

Western Conference Quarterfinals

Anaheim Ducks (Pacific 1) over Vancouver Canucks (Wild Card 2), 4-3
St. Louis Blues (Central 1) over Chicago Blackhawks (WC1), 4-3
Nashville Predators (C2) over Minnesota Wild (C3), 4-2
Los Angeles Kings (P2) over Edmonton Oilers (P3), 4-1

Eastern Conference Semifinals

Tampa Bay Lightning (A1) over Detroit Red Wings (A3), 4-3
Washington Capitals (M1) over New York Rangers (M2), 4-3

Western Conference Semifinals

Anaheim Ducks (P1) over Los Angeles Kings (P2), 4-3
Nashville Predators (C2) over St Louis Blues (C1), 4-2

Eastern Conference Finals

Tampa Bay Lightning (A1) over Washington Capitals (M1), 4-3

Western Conference Finals

Anaheim Ducks (P1) over Nashville Predators (C2), 4-2

Stanley Cup Final

Tampa Bay Lightning (A1) over Anaheim Ducks (P1), 4-2

 

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