If you're reading this, I am going on record in saying that it was written late on Wednesday night in a somewhar drunken stupor. Ok, maybe I wasn't that bad since I have to work tomorrow, but I definitely had a number of wobbly-pops tonight as I was out celebrating. Celebrating what, I hear you ask. Well, readers, Tuesday was my birthday. While the number of candles on the cake shall remain a mystery, I can tell you that I had a very good time chatting with friends about hockey over some ice-cold brews. Here are a few things that I think will happen this season, and a few things I'd like to see this season, from teams and players in the NHL.
- All six Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Will it happen? Probably not. Vancouver is almost a lock for the playoffs, but it gets murky after that. Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa all have their problems in the East, while Calgary has retooled and tinkered as much as anyone can in the West. Edmonton is knee-deep in a youth movement, and I'm sure they'll have enough in the tank for 82 games. The last time that happened? 1986. The team that won the Stanley Cup that year? The Montreal Canadiens.
- More fights that follow "The Code". Honestly, can we not have the scrums that result in four roughing penalties? Can we not have the charity fights after someone throws a crushing, clean check? I want to see a return of the enforcers - the men who knew how to police the game properly. RIP, Mr. Bob Probert... your kind of scoring and toughness will most likely never be seen again.
- A relatively-forgotten player who puts up insane point totals. I want to see one of those players who makes every team who wrote him off come back to haunt those teams. There are a few players who have that opportunity: Brendan Morrison of the Flames, Mike Comrie of the Penguins, and Patrick O'Sullivan of the Coyotes could be your under-the-radar veterans this season. Then again, my fantasy team didn't finish well last season, so maybe don't listen to me.
- Taylor Hall will be good, but MPS will be better. Don't get me wrong - Hall will have a good season with the Oilers. But the bigger, stronger Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson will have a better rookie campaign in my view. If you put these two on a line together? There may be some magic in Edmonton.
- Thanks to Scott Arniel, the Blue Jackets surprise everyone. I've seen Scott Arniel coach very good teams to the AHL's Calder Cup Final. I've seen Scott Arniel coach very average teams to 40+ wins. I've seen Scott Arniel coach very offensiely-anemic teams to 40 wins and a playoff spot. If there is one guy besides Barry Trotz who will have his team outworking everyone, it will be Scott Arniel's Columbus Blue Jackets. And there might be a Jack Adams Trophy at the end of the tunnel if the Blue Jackets can make the playoffs.
Will any of this actually happen? I'll guarantee you this: all of these predictions are free, or you can collect a full refund at the end of the season. Would I like to see these happen? Sure, it would be nice. But there are 82 games for 30 NHL teams that have to be played first.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!