2013 NHL Season Predictions and Projections

 

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Finally, after months and months of everyone involved being morons, causing 113 days, 625 games, and the biggest outdoor hockey game in history to be cancelled, hockey fans can finally say “Game On!”  The NHL has a new 10-year labor agreement, and is set to start the shortened, 48 game 2013 season on Saturday, January 19.  Find out what you need to know about every team in the NHL for the upcoming season, this time predicting how the season will play out, and who will be in the playoffs.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish in the race for the Stanley Cup, including who will take home Lord Stanley’s Cup.

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2013 NHL Eastern Conference Preview and Projections

 

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Finally, after months and months of everyone involved being morons, causing 113 days, 625 games, and the biggest outdoor hockey game in history to be cancelled, hockey fans can finally say “Game On!”  The NHL has a new 10-year labor agreement, and is set to start the shortened, 48 game 2013 season on Saturday, January 19.  Find out what you need to know about every team in the NHL for the upcoming season, this time featuring the Eastern Conference.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish in the race for a playoff spot out east.

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2013 NHL PREVIEW: ATLANTIC DIVISION

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Finally, after months and months of everyone involved being morons, causing 113 days, 625 games, and the biggest outdoor hockey game in history to be cancelled, hockey fans can finally say “Game On!”  The NHL has a new 10-year labor agreement, and is set to start the shortened, 48 game 2013 season on Saturday, January 19.  Find out what you need to know about every team in the NHL for the upcoming season, this time featuring the Atlantic Division.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish.

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2012 NHL Awards Spectacular

 

It’s that time of year again.  The actual playing of the great game of hockey is done for another season, with hockey going Hollywood this season with the Los Angeles Kings winning the cup.  And what big time star hasn’t made the trek through the Mojave Desert to Sin City?  The NHL will be on Wednesday, June 20, in the Encore Theater at the Wynn Casino.  While it allows us to look back at the stars of this past year, unfortunately it brings the sadness of having to see Nickelback perform.  Who was nominated? Who will win the awards?  Who should actually win the awards?  Find out all this after the jump.  This article is a Nickelback free zone.

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Stanley Cup Finals Preview

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By Ailyn Diaz, of Hockey Chics and Big Hair Hockey Show

It’s rematch time for the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, face to face, yet again in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Detroit Red Wings are looking to extend their dynasty with back-to-back Stanley Cup wins.  They accomplished a similar feat 11 years ago while the Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to win their first Stanley Cup since the classic 1992 Finals with Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

The Canadian Press has obviously likened it to the New York Islanders vs. Edmonton Oilers of 1984.   In fact, it’s the first time the same two teams have squared off in a final in consecutive seasons since Wayne Gretzky led the Oilers.   At that time, the New York Islanders finished the 1983–84 regular season tied atop the Eastern Conference while successfully defending their Patrick Division title.   The Canadian Press relates the youthful Pittsburgh Penguins to the Edmonton Oilers in talent and playmaking while the veteran Detroit Red Wings are compared to the experienced New York Islanders.

And Detroit Red Wings’ head coach Mike Babcock is looking forward to the series. “To have the opportunity against Pittsburgh should be a lot of fun,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said during a press conference.  “There will be a lot of hype.”

The hype just started and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brook Orpik believes his team has a huge advantage over the Detroit Red Wings knowing that Detroit is injury-riddled.  Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, center Pavel Datsyuk, center Kris Draper and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson all missed Game 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks during the Western Conference Finals.

But somehow, they managed to win the Blackhawks series, speaking to the Wings forward depth.   Daniel Cleary scored his eighth goal in Wednesday’s 2-1 win against Chicago while Johan Franzen leads the team with 10 goals in the postseason.  The Detroit Red Wings must be aware of Pittsburgh’s firepower, led by forwards Evegyni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. They are both tied for the NHL lead with 28 playoff points and Crosby holds the edge in goals, 14-12. Crosby and Malkin have combined for 26 goals and 30 assists in 17 playoff games. They have scored 40% of their team’s goals in the whole playoffs.  In addition, right wing Bill Guerin brings veteran experience scoring 7 goals and logging 7 assists in the postseason.

Defensively, the Detroit Red Wings count on the prowess of Niklas Lidstrom, the six time Norris Trophy Winner and 2009 finalist who hasn’t played since Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.  He is the shutdown defenseman who minimized Patrick Kane’s scoring opportunities early throughout the series.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have shown improvement in their defensive game during the past series against the Carolina Hurricanes.  The team counted on Rob Scuderi to shutdown the offense of the fast skating ‘Canes.  He is usually partnered with Hal Gill who is not afraid to make plays despite a frame fit for a basketball player (6’ 7” tall.) The Penguins traded for him on the same day that they received Marián Hossa from the Atlanta Thrashers, helping them win the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008.

Ironically, right wing Marian Hossa now plays for the Detroit Red Wings.   The Penguins also count on Brooks Orpik to intimidate the Red Wings and on Kris Letang who has taken defensemen Sergei Gonchar’s playmaking role in previous games.

Ever since the unorthodox goaltender Dominik Hasek was removed from goal after two lackluster games against the Nashville Predators during the 2008 postseason, Chris Osgood was declared the number one goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings.  Hasek eventually retired from the NHL but continued playing in his native Czechoslovakia.  Chris Osgood’s goals against average is 2.08 while his save percentage held at an amazing .925 during the postseason.  He is a seasoned veteran facing a first round pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, Marc Andre Fleury.henrikzetterberg

Fleury made his NHL debut in 2003–04 as the youngest goaltender in the league at age eighteen.  Since then he has learned the ins and outs with the guidance of coach Gilles Meloche.  Fleury has shown maturity as the postseason evolved making crucial saves against Carolina’s Eric Staal and Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin. He stands with a 2.62 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.

The series’ decisive factor will be special teams.  Despite the Detroit Red Wings close to perfect power play, the team allowed 15 goals in 16 games with a penalty kill efficiency of 73.7 percent (even worse than their penalty-killing record during the regular season) against a Pittsburgh power play that is working with more confidence than ever at 19.3 percent. Pittsburgh held Carolina to just one goal on 12 power-play opportunities in the Eastern Conference Finals with a total of 83.6 percent penalty kill efficiency.

It appears Dan Blysma will continue implementing forecheck, continuously creating turnovers and scoring chances with speed.   The Penguins must get over the fear factor of the last Stanley Cup Finals.  They confessed to be in awe of their opponents’ abilities and puck possession, a system implemented by the quick line changes of head coach Mike Babcock, a great tactician.

Predictions

The Pittsburgh Penguins will win if they are able to penetrate the core of the Detroit Red Wings’ defense and create power play chances.  As Brooks Orpik added, the Red Wings are depleted of their “biggest players.”

“I think we were so new to it we didn’t really know what to expect, and we were kind of just riding that wave of excitement,” Orpik said to the Associated Press.  “Going back to the finals [last year], we were down 2-0 before we knew it,” he added. “I think this year we’re a lot better prepared.”