As we pause for breath between the 1st and 2nd round of NHL playoffs (pending Game 7 tonight between Dallas and Vancouver), I wanted to check back on my regular season predictions, and see how things panned out:
Division Winners: I went with the NY Rangers (Atlantic), Ottawa Senators (Northeast), Carolina Hurricanes (Southeast), Nashville Predators (Central), Calgary Flames (Northwest), and Anaheim Ducks (Pacific). Yikes, only 1 for 6 there, and the Hurricanes even failed to make the playoffs. Not off to a good start, I guess...
Regular Season Awards: While the voting-driven ones obviously aren't in yet, there are others that have been decided...
- President's Trophy - I went with Carolina (ugh, it went to Buffalo)
- Art Ross (overall scoring) - Jaromir Jagr (double-ugh, that went to Sid Crosby)
- Maurice Richard (goal scoring) - Jagr again (triple-ugh! Vincent Lecavalier won this)
- William Jennings (fewest goals against) - I went with Hasek/Osgood in Detroit, but Backstrom/Fernandez took it for Minnesota
- First coach to be fired - I picked Trent Yawney in Chicago, and he didn't make it far, but Ken Hitchcock was the first to walk the plank this season.
- Most Improved Team - I picked St. Louis, and they did well, racking up a second-best 24 points more this season than in 2005-6, but the Pittsburgh Penguins improved by 47 to make their first playoff appearance of the Crosby Era.
- Most Disappointing Team - I went with Tampa Bay, but I think all would agree that the Philadelphia Flyers laid the biggest stinker this year. They dropped by 45 points in the standings from 2005-6.
- Most Improved Player: I expected Alex Tanguay to really break out in Calgary, and while he had a good year, I'll leave it to others to make the call on this one. One candidate might be Andrew Brunette, who took a big step forward and became a point-a-game man for Colorado.
- Comeback Player: I thought Sergei Fedorov would prosper in Columbus, but that just didn't happen. Any guesses from the Peanut Gallery as to who sprang back into prominence this year?
- "Don't Come Back" Player: I wondered why Jeremy Roenick was still playing, and by now, Coyote fans probably agree. At least I nailed that one...