As so-called experts — and feel free to say that derisively; everyone else does — we spend a lot of time making predictions in the days before each new NHL season begins. (See here and here for examples.)
We do this because hockey fans enjoy reading predictions, almost as much as they enjoy trade rumors and complaining about suspensions.
Predictions also set a baseline narrative for the upcoming year, whereby we can go back and reference our picks when they turn out to be right, wrong or, in hindsight, completely ridiculous.
To illustrate, not along ago (it was yesterday), one of us wasn’t “so sure” that Phil Kessel would re-sign with the Maple Leafs. “Does he really like playing in a market like Toronto?” that handsome person wrote. “I don’t get the sense he does.”
Today, we can write something like: “Not every handsome person was ‘so sure’ Kessel would re-sign in Toronto, but…”
Stanley Cup predictions are particularly hard to get right in today’s NHL. In making our 2013-14 picks, three of us took the Kings, two the Blues and one the Capitals.
But out of the 30 teams in the league, how many would you say have a legitimate chance to win the Cup in 2013-14? At least 10? Probably more.
Here’s my list of legit hopefuls: Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Washington, Vancouver, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Jose, and New York Rangers. That’s 11.
Teams I was hesitant to leave off that list: Minnesota, Phoenix, and Ottawa. Which still ignores Toronto, Montreal, Dallas, and the New York Islanders. Oh, and Columbus. Can’t forget the Blue Jackets. And if Winnipeg can get some goaltending…
Put it this way: I’m relatively confident Calgary won’t win the Stanley Cup.
And you can take that to the bank.