Blurry crystal ball: Judging playoff predictions

Every pre-season, pundits throw out wild guesses that they like to call “predictions.” Since it’s always a fun exercise to mock your past self (“Gosh, idiot me from October. What were you thinking?” *gunshot*), I thought I’d share my predictions from last year. Thankfully, I’ll spare you the posts that featured photos of morbidly obese men and their huge bellies (the feature was called “gut reactions” you see. Yeah, I’m a child.)

James’s dumb Eastern Conference projections (exact guesses in bold, teams who missed the playoffs in italics)

1. Washington (Hooray)
2. Philadelphia
3. Boston
4. Pittsburgh
5. New Jersey
6. Montreal
7. Carolina (oops)
8. Buffalo

Playoff teams accuracy: 7 out of 8 (missed Ottawa for Carolina)

Division Winners: 1 out of 3

Thoughts: Well, I guess I could have done worse with picking teams to make the playoffs, but my projections were still flawed. I overrated the Flyers and Boston and underrated Buffalo, big time. Chris Pronger is like a gap-toothed, unattractive hockey siren: for some reason he lures me into believing his teams are better than they should be.

James’s dumb Western Conference projections (exact guesses in bold teams, who missed the playoffs in italics)

1. San Jose
2. Detroit
3. Calgary (big oops)
4. Chicago
5. Vancouver
6. Anaheim (oops)
7. Columbus (big oops)

8. Los Angeles Kings

Playoff teams accuracy: 5 out of 8 (missed Colorado, Phoenix and Nashville for Calgary, Anaheim and Columbus)

Division Winners: 1 out of 3

Thoughts: Clearly I didn’t fare as well in the West, but to be fair, that conference is brutal. The biggest mistake was Calgary, as I thought that the Canucks’ crazy road trip would keep them from winning the Northwest. Obviously, I completely discounted the Avalanche (about the only positive thing I said was “I like that they’re finally going in a young direction” or something like that.) I think the biggest blunder was choosing the Blue Jackets. Thanks a lot, Steve Mason.

So, what do you think, hockey fans? How bad were my predictions?

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    Senators’ prospect Colin White out 6-8 weeks with broken wrist

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    Bad news for the Ottawa Senators today.

    The club announced Tuesday that prospect center Colin White is out six to eight weeks with a broken left wrist.

    The Senators selected White 21st overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. After two years at Boston College, he signed his entry-level deal in April and appeared in two regular season games for Ottawa. He also appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game, though he only saw 2:39 of ice time.

    That’s certainly disappointing for White, who could’ve had a shot to make the big club out of training camp. One of the question marks for Ottawa had been the status of fellow center Derick Brassard, who had offseason shoulder surgery with a recovery timeline of four to five months.

    “I come here and worry about myself, do the right things on and off the ice, take care of my body. If I’m playing well and taking care of my game, I’ll fight for a spot,” White told the Ottawa Citizen prior to training camp.

    It was a little on the foggy side for Canucks practice in Shanghai

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    The Vancouver Canucks dealt with some adverse conditions as they hit the ice at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai in preparation for this week’s 2017 NHL China Games exhibition series versus the L.A. Kings.

    According to the pictures, it was a little on the foggy side for their practice.

    Is that . . . Henrik Sedin in the distance?

    The Canucks and Kings face off Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Arena, before traveling to Beijing for Saturday’s game at Wukesong Arena.

    The good news? It appears the fog was lifted in time for the Kings’ practice.

    NHL cracking down on slashing, faceoff violations to begin preseason

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    The NHL has made it a point to crack down on slashing for the upcoming regular season. With the preseason underway, the foundation for the new standard is being set.

    Dating back to late June, the NHL had vowed to call slashing more closely after a number of incidents last season, including Marc Methot‘s gruesome finger injury, which was the result of a slash to the hands from Sidney Crosby.

    Monday’s game between the Islanders and Rangers featured nine slashing minor penalties. The Devils and Capitals were only 41 seconds into their preseason game Monday when Jimmy Hayes was called for slashing. A total of six slashing minors were called in that game — not to mention three faceoff violations.

    From the Washington Post:

    There’s been talk of being harder on slashing following several wrist, hand and finger injuries last season from dangerous stick work. “Now, as soon as your stick is off the ice and you touch the other players’ stick or hands, it was zero tolerance today,” Eller said. More surprising was the three faceoff violation penalties called in the first period of the game. That also represented a new emphasis from the league. “Cheating” on faceoffs has been commonplace, and for centers who’ve made their name winning faceoffs with a certain style and routine, staying perfectly within the red lines in the circle was an adjustment.

    According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the Senators-Maple Leafs game Monday also featured three faceoff violations. It appears right now there will be quite an adjustment for players across the league to the apparent crackdown on slashing and faceoff violations, especially early on.

    However, will this be the standard for the entire season? For the playoffs?

    “I have a tough time believing that in the playoffs, in Game 7, that kind of call is going to be made,” Mark Letestu told Sportsnet. “Right now, there’s an overemphasis on it, and hopefully it doesn’t go all the way back to where it was.”

    Video: No. 1 pick Hischier scores ‘tenacious’ goal in Devils preseason debut

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    Nico Hischier, the first overall pick from this year’s NHL Draft, provided quite a glimpse into the type of player he can be for the New Jersey Devils during his first preseason game on Monday.

    The Devils recorded a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals, with Hischier’s goal late in the third period putting it away. For Devils fans at Prudential Center, this should provide a little more optimism for a club that has looked to upgrade its offensive attack this offseason.

    Hischier hounded Capitals forward Kevin Elgestal in the neutral zone, and eventually stole the puck while splitting two Washington players for the breakaway. In all alone, Hischier made no mistake, sliding the puck under the pad of goalie Vitek Vanecek.

    “His skating was a factor. He was competitive on the puck,” said Devils coach John Hynes, per NJ.com.

    “As the game went on, the second and third period, he started to make a few more plays, and I think he got adjusted to the time and space and battle level that was out there. You see the goal, he was really tenacious on the puck. He hunted it, had the second effort and a great stick to create the turnover. His work ethic put him in position for half a breakaway, and that’s when his skill takes over.”

    While Nolan Patrick had for months been talked about as a potential No. 1 overall pick, Hischier put together an impressive year in the QMJHL and when the time came for the Devils to make their selection, they went with the 18-year-old Swiss center over Patrick.

    It will be interesting to see exactly what role the Devils give Hischier this season, although the plan since the draft has been to give him every chance to make the NHL club right out of camp. Per NorthJersey.com, Hynes discussed the topic of Hischier in a potential top center role following Monday’s game.

    “Certainly he has the skills and the hockey sense to play in that role but is he really ready for that?” said Hynes. “We’ll put him in a situation that will benefit him the most and the team the most.”