Hockey World Blog Season Previews 2010: HWB Picks the Winners

Throughout the month of September, the members of Hockey World Blog deconstructed the offenses, defenses, goaltending and off-season acquisitions of all 30 NHL teams as they finalize their rosters and prepare for the 2010-11 season. Now we offer our predictions for who will lead the league by seasons end. Who will come out on top in each division? And ultimately, which team will be left standing long enough to hoist the Stanley Cup in June? Here’s what we think:


Division Winners, East

  • Atlantic:Pittsburgh and Philadelphia should certainly challenge for tops in the division, but New Jersey has the offense and goaltending to thwart them and claim the top spot again this season.
  • Northeast:The offseason addition of puck-moving defenseman Sergei Gonchar could be just what the Ottawa Senators need to put them on top of the division. A healthy season from Jason Spezza couldn’t hurt either.
  • Southeast: Tampa Bay should make some progress this season, but the division still belongs to the Capitals without a doubt.

Who could win the Cup:Look for the New Jersey Devils to impress this season. Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the best goal scorers in the game today. Put his talent on a team that already sports Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner and you have one heck of an offense. Add in the fact that Martin Brodeur is still one of the best goaltenders in the game today and you have a team that could very easily find themselves playing for the Stanley Cup in June.

Divisions Winners, West

  • Central: Chicago won’t be as bad as half the fans think nor as good as the other half think. They will push for the top spot, but in the end the depth of the Detroit Red Wings will win out.
  • Northwest:Vancouver appears to have gotten better in the offseason – especially on their blue line. Is that even possible? Vancouver wins hands down.
  • Pacific: This is a stacked division with San Jose, Phoenix and Los Angeles all in heavy contention. Anaheim may not be far off either, but the team to beat in the Pacific Division is still the Sharks.

Who could win the Cup: The Detroit Red Wings look good. Real good. Datsyuk and Zetterberg play their best when they skate together on the top line and the additions of Mike Modano and Jiri Hudler make Detroit one of the deepest teams in the NHL in terms of offense. If Franzen can stay healthy and chip in 30 or more goals like he is capable of doing, the Wings will be tough to stop. Add in the fact that they still have one of the premier defenseman in Nick Lidstrom patrolling the blue line along with Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart and you have a very scary team.

Chris’s Stanley Cup Champion Prediction: Vancouver Canucks

It would be very simple to throw the New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks or Detroit Red Wings on that line, but the Canucks managed to improve their blue line in the offseason, add some grit and offensive depth and still employ one of the best forward tandems in the league with brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Oh, they also have Roberto Luongo in net. This is a highly skilled team that is very hungry for a chance to hoist the Cup. This could easily be their year to take it home.


Division Winners, East

  • Atlantic: This is still Pittsburgh’s division. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Makin well rested after a short post season, the Penguins will be ready to make another long playoff run in their new arena. Look for New Jersey to contend for the division title all the way up until the final week of the regular season.
  • Northeast: As much as I love Boston in the division, I’m going to go off the beaten path and say Buffalo will win the division. They lost a couple key defensemen in free agency, but I believe Ryan Miller will carry this team to a division title.
  • Southeast: I’d be silly to pick against Washington. The Capitals are the only serious contender in the division. They better enjoy it while it lasts because Steve Yzerman is going to make Tampa Bay into a contender in the future.

Who could win the Cup: This is Washington’s year to win it. Washington got a lesson in not taking anything for granted when they were upset by Montreal. If Alex Ovechkin wants to shed the title of “Best player to never win a title”, he needs to make it happen this year because teams like New Jersey, Boston, and Pittsburgh are just as close to a title.

Divisions Winners, West

  • Central: Chicago had their fun last year when they ended Detroit’s streak of owning the division. This time around, Detroit got better and Chicago lost a lot of key players. Look for the Red Wings to regain the top spot in the division.
  • Northwest: Last year I picked Calgary and they let me down. This year the clear favorite is Vancouver. They now have what it takes to make a serious playoff run, and they benefit from the rest of the division being weaker than past seasons.
  • Pacific: Can the young Kings overtake the powerhouse Sharks? Probably not this season. San Jose has too much firepower and they didn’t take too much of a hit when Evgeni Nabakov left and added Antero Nittymaki. Hopefully San Jose won’t miss retired defenseman Rob Blake if they start to struggle on the blue line.

Who could win the Cup: So many options, but I can only pick one team. Detroit’s well rested after a short playoff run. It looks like they may have one more season left in the veterans before Ken Holland has to start rebuilding. San Jose was close last season, and they are looking to get into the finals. Vancouver is perhaps the best shot for Canada to win the Stanley Cup. As much as I want to take the Canucks, I think the Red Wings will overtake them in the conference finals.

Eddie’s Stanley Cup Champion Prediction: Washington Capitals

In a Detroit-Washington final, I think the Capitals will hoist the Cup. In a rematch of 1998, Washington has more consistent scoring. What we saw with Detroit last season, when the key stars went into a slump goals were hard to come by with the secondary sources of offense. What could help Detroit is if Jimmy Howard can avoid the sophomore slump and play as solid in goal as he did last season.


Division Winners, East

  • Atlantic: The Devils, Flyers and Penguins will all make a run for it, but Pittsburgh has the talent to outlast and win the division.
  • Northeast: Adding Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton make the Bruins my top pick to win their division
  • Southeast: Washington runs away with another division title

Who could win the Cup: Philadelphia and Montreal proved last season that you don’t need to be a top seed to succeed in the playoffs. This season, I expect the New Jersey Devils to make a strong run behind the play of Martin Brodeur.

Divisions Winners, West

  • Central: Chicago lost a tremendous amount of key players due to salary cap constraints, so look for Detroit to take over in the Central Division once again.
  • Northwest: The Sedin twins will help Vancouver run away in the Northwest Division once again.
  • Pacific: Losing Evgeni Nabakov won’t shake things up too much for the Sharks. Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton help San Jose outlast Phoenix and L.A. to win the Pacific.

Who could win the Cup: After a number of frustrating playoff losses, the Canucks are ready to battle hard and make a deep run into the playoffs. Don’t expect San Jose or Detroit to ruin their fun either.

Matt’s Stanley Cup Champion Prediction: Vancouver Canucks

Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo lead their respective teams to the finals after displaying excellence in first three rounds of the playoffs. Despite having great scoring up front with Parise, Kovalchuk, and Zajac, the Sedin twins will remain unstoppable and capture their first Stanley Cup.


Division Winners, East

  • Atlantic: Sure the New Jersey Devils or the Pittsburgh Penguins are the favorite, but a healthy Marian Gaborik leading a deep roster team and Henrik Lundqvist manning the pipes, they very well could be the team to beat. The Achilles heel though, head coach John Tortorella.
  • Northeast: Let’s Go Buffalo! Not just a catchy chant but one that should be said loud and clear. My man Ryan Miller of Michigan State is the backbone of the team and capable of stealing any game. A non flashy offense and a stick to the basics defense make up the Sabres, a team no one notices until it is too late.
  • Southeast: I could list some reasons why the Washington Capitals are the team to beat in the Southeast, however if you need me to tell you why, you just go get yourself some more of Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom on the tube and you will know for yourself.

Who could win the Cup: The New Jersey Devils. Net minder Martin Brodeur does not have many more years left and he definitely wants another ring. The fiasco is finally over and Ilya Kovalchuk is a Devil for life and now has the task of proving his worth. Throw into the mix the remainder of the team and you my friend have a very competitive and talented group of guys, just waiting to hoist the Cup.

Divisions Winners, West

  • Central: The old veteran Detroit Red Wings have some fresh spark with hometown boy Mike Modano, the return of happy Jiri Hudler, and most importantly, a rested team. Injuries are always a risk factor for the Wings, but with head coach Mike Babcock paying close attention by mixing some lines of young and old, the only real worry the Wings have is the second year curse from goaltender Jimmy Howard.
  • Northwest: Although I am not a particular fan of the Vancouver Canucks, the team has the tools to take it all. The Sedin twins Henrik and Daniel seem to be in their prime, Roberto Luongo is a solid a goalie as any other, and the rest of the team is just pure stacked.
  • Pacific: Need it be said? The Phoenix Coyotes all the way. The Phoenix Coyotes last season had nothing to lose, this season they have something to prove. They made a few subtle changes in the off season to improve their depth and experience, but not to negatively impact the team’s chemistry.

Who could win the Cup: The Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are the West’s version of the Washington Capitals but only with a better goalie and the ability to not choke come playoffs. With 8 players who it the 40+ point mark last season, it is only expected of them to do better this year.

Eric’s Stanley Cup Champion Prediction: Phoenix Coyotes

I am a firm believer that the West is better than the East. As to which team really does go to the Stanley Cup finals really does come down to match-ups. The Coyotes however have the ability to play against many different looking teams, and not only play against them, but win against them. In any 7 game series, I would put my money on Phoenix.

One comment

  1. Good work on the pics. I have to strongly disagree with Phoenix Coyotes. I know you love them but they are too thin. They have no star power and in those clutch situations you need a finisher.
    I think everyone is a little high on New Jersey. I know they now have their sniper now but he didn’t do much last season for them (short time I know). I think they will be better but they lost a lot on the back end and remember defense wins championships.
    The Northeast is a disaster. I got to go with Chris’s Ottawa pick. They finally have some puck moving defense to get the forwards the puck. That top line is easily the scariest in the division.
    I’m not a big fan of Buffalo. I know goal tending is huge but they don’t really have anything else. Miller stood on his head all season long last year and that didn’t turn out to well for them. They also didn’t have off season additions to significantly improve their fortunes.
    Boston also is missing a huge part of their team with out Savard. He was the straw that mixed the drink. They have a few bright spots on the team but depth is going to be an issue unless Seguin is contributing on an all star level or Horton is completely reborn this team is going to struggle to find offense.

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