I may have tipped my hand earlier as to who I thought will win the Central Division (okay, I did), so I'll expand it a bit more and take on the wild, wild West.
(No ping-pong balls were damaged in the execution of this exercise, so we'll have plenty to use. Sorry, Todd Bertuzzi, get your own.)
Since it's a quickie season, I'll make these quickie predictions (and I encourage the rest of you OtFers to do the same in the comments below. I'll revisit these at the end of the regular season and tally up a point total based on correct placement of teams:
1st - 15 pts., 2nd - 12, 3rd - 9, 4th - 7, 5th - 5, 6th - 3, 7th - 2, 8th - 1.
In addition, you'll get one point for each correct team in the top 8 (a maximum of 8 additional points). It all adds up to a maximum possible total of 62 points (or what I think will be the number to win the Central Division this year).
I'll post the final tally prior to the opening of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With apologies to Stupid Underdog Picks and without further ado, my Western Conference order of finish looks like this...drumroll, please...
1. Vancouver. President's Trophy, Northwest Division winner, blah, blah, blah, something about a playoff collapse...
2. Los Angeles. Cup hangover? Not this time. Only reason I don't have them first is because the Canucks seem to have this No. 1 seed thing down pat.
3. Nashville. Yep, I said it. Hands go up, banner goes up, and the Preds will escape with the Central for the first time.
4. St. Louis. Very good team, just not sure the goaltending will be able to duplicate what it did last year in picking up the Jennings Trophy.
5. San Jose. Because somehow, the Sharks will find a way.
6. Phoenix. Because somehow, Dave Tippett will find a way.
7. Edmonton. The youngsters arrive, and in a big way. A fast start will get the Baby Oilers to the playoffs.
8. Chicago. They'll get there despite their goaltending situation.
Which means these poor saps will be on the first tee box come May 1:
9. Detroit. No Lidstrom, no playoffs. That's how much I think of The Perfect Human.
10. Minnesota. All that money spent on July 4, and all they'll get is a lousy finish because the rest of their team can't cut it.
11. Dallas. A team that, quite frankly, I don't know where to place. They could surge in and crash the party, or just surge in and crash.
12. Colorado. Just too much strength in the West for them to get any upward momentum.
13. Anaheim. Teemu's last go-round goes out with a whimper. And I'll hate to see the guy go.
14. Calgary. Perhaps Jerome Iginla should really consider getting out while the getting's good...(read: trade deadline move)
15. Columbus. Gotta put the BJ's here until someone knocks them off. They'll probably lose the draft lottery, too.
Okay, there it is. Put your West predictions in the comments below, and let's see where this goes.
Let's play hockey!