Many days passed by in the fall and ice rinks around the nation were silent. The NHL players were playing overseas and no end to the lock out was in sight. Yet here we are almost to spring and what once seemed lost has crossed the quarter mark of its season. A shortened season is not new to hockey and most recently took place in the NBA last season. I for one enjoyed the NBA season last year due to the quick pace but to many players the season was exhausting and took its toll on their bodies. Hopefully the NHL players will avoid the injury bug. At the beginning of every season there are predictions that are put in place by just about every major sports affiliated website, paper, magazine and even bloggers. This is my check up on what some writers at ESPN predicted to start the season and just how well they know their hockey.
Atlantic Division: This Division was split between my Penguins and the Rangers. Currently the Pens lead with the Rangers in 3rd. So for this Division ESPN writers have done well. The dark-horse for me would be the New Jersey Devils who are tied with my Pens for 1st place. In the end I believe it comes down to the overall health of the Penguins, if Crosby and Malkin stay healthy then the Pens will win the Atlantic.
NORTHEAST DIVISION: With this Division so far ESPN experts have all picked the 2nd place team the Boston Bruins. The team that actually leads is the Montreal Canadians. To this point ESPN is wrong but there is a lot of time for that to change.
SOUTHEAST: This is why I love to look at predictions by the guys who get paid the big bucks to do so! With this Division, 6 out of 10 teams have picked current leader Carolina, but the others picked everyone but Winnipeg. Including 2 “experts” who picked last place Washington. The Caps have the lowest points in the East and to make the prediction come true for 2 ESPN employees they will have a huge hole to dig out of.
CENTRAL: Many ESPN pundits picked the Blues in this one and many of them were off so far. I myself thought that Chicago was the cream of the crop in the Central and that has proven true so far. They actually have been the best in the NHL so far with 27 points and that is 4 better than Anaheim and 5 better than Pittsburgh and New Jersey in the East.
NORTHWEST: More than half of the ESPN experts tabbed Vancouver to win this Division and so far they are correct. The hold a 3 point lead over Minnesota currently and a 4 point lead over Edmonton. As the season progresses this should be a good race.
PACIFIC: This is the one Division that not one of ESPN’s 12 experts picked the current leader to finish atop the standings. At the quarter mark the Ducks of Anaheim lead the Pacific by 6 points and have the 2nd most points in the entire NHL. So far this has been an exciting season for the Ducks who hold an 11-2-1 record.
In the end many experts whiffed and occasionally they got one right but there is a lot of time left for their predictions to come true. As far as Lord Stanley was concerned 6 of the 12 picked the Rangers to win, 3 picked the Blues and 1 each picked the Pens, Wild and Bruins. I for one feel that the Blackhawks will meet the Penguins in an epic 7 game series won on a goal by Sidney Crosby!