Thursday 08 Dec 2016

NHL Predictions
Clobber Samson


"Having more money doesn't make you happier. I have 50 million dollars but I'm just as happy as when I had 48 million."

Arnold Schwarzenegger


Well my hockey-deprived, depraved, friends, just as Arnie is back on the silver screen, our hockey heroes are back on the silver ice ponds of the nation, all happy as clams to be 'playing' again and away from all that boring, time-consuming political stuff. 

I suspect all will be involved in many a shoot-out to decide the fate of the nation. And many of us will flock to the movie theaters and the hockey rinks to witness these overpaid millionaires entertain us.

Enough has been written about all that lockout shite. To be brief then, I blame the owners in the first instance. They drew a line in the sand - take it or leave it, or you're locked-out. There was no need for that aggressive power play. Then things got stupid... for months on end. A plague on both their houses for arguing over the splitting of billions of dollars while completely thumbing their noses at those who pay their bills - us. 

I'm therefore not as forgiving as some fans who already have their war paint on and their banners back up over their beds. Tonight,  all will go to bed, like children on Christmas Eve, awaiting Santa Claus to bring them the silver goblet, the Stanley Cup, sometime before August.

I'm not that excited. I have no idea where lies my Canucks sweater among my hockey regalia. I do this pre-season prediction thing out of tradition. Plus it was a slow day waiting for an eye doctor appointment. 

There is nothing wrong with my eyesight; foresight may be a problem however!

It is, alas, true that hockey, if not in our genes, is too much ingrained in our Canadian cultural habits to ignore. The ties to the local hockey laundry run deep. Chat about hockey is what water coolers were invented for.

We're also the country of forgiveness, especially if there's something in it for us. No other national populace anywhere in the world employs the word "sorry" more often than Canadians. Someone pisses on our shoes, we're the ones who apologize for standing too close to their urinal. Moreover, we usually add "I was gonna do that to myself anyway, so no prob pal, have a nice day, eh, I forgive you."

Okay, so I'm a little excited... but just a little.  Really.

Oh darn, the undertow is pulling me under!! 

GO CANUCKS GO!

THE EAST

1. PITTSBURGH - STK returns to form.. we all hope. Malkin et al. Best team in hockey, on paper. Ticket to the Stanley Cup goes thru Pittsburgh. The puck stops here. Oscar Nomination: The Gatekeepers

2. CAROLINA - Resurrected top-lines. Alex Semin may be in right place at right time. Ruttu being injured is a concern re grit upfront but the Staal brothers will have a lot of fun. Cam Ward is still solid in nets. Oscar Nomination: Redemption

3. OTTAWA - Why not? Only challenger in their division are Bruins. Paul MacLean - Coach of the Year? Has Guillaume (Latandresse) found a home? Might be able to dangle one of their goalies for a D-man or added grit. Oscar Nomination: Brave

4. NEW YORK RANGERS - Nash and Gaborik hurting. Great defence; no problem.Torts however will explode many times due to pressure-cooker shortened season. Oscar Nomination: 5 Broken Cameras

5. BOSTON - Still a lot of balance between offence and defence. No Tim Bits in nets; a blessing or a curse? Can Rask handle it all? These guys go for the juggler and the front of the net. They get their man. Oscar Nomination: Zero Dark Thirty.

6. WASHINGTON - If Ovie and Green are really healthy they might finish higher. Solid goaltending tandem which will be extremely important in 48 Game Schedule.  New coach - Adam Oates. They need only to defeat their Southern brethren to succeed. Oscar Nomination: Lincoln

7. PHILADELPHIA - Must depend on that Russian goalie - "Breezy". Not a safe bet. Defence is mediocre at best. Some guys getting a little long in the tooth. They love to fight!  Injuries will make Philly dressing room look like a Mash unit. Oscar Nomination: Django Unchained.

8. TAMPA BAY - Shoot-outs get'em in. Oscar Nomination: Silver Linings Playbook.

9. FLORIDA - A slip back from last year's surprise 3rd place finish. But you can go to their home games for $7.00. That is not a misprint! Still..they're last year's division winners. Oscar Nomination: Beasts of the Southern Wild

10. NEW JERSEY - Rested but rusty, Brodeur may not be able to hold the fort. Who tells him he's too old? Will Kovalchuk show up? There will be a lot of team meetings behind closed doors. Oscar Nomination: The Invisible War

11. BUFFALO - Might be a dark horse. Need a lot of help to get in. Oscar Nomination: Chasing Ice

12. MONTREAL - Ditto, but they gotta sign P.K. Subban. Don't pick Gomez in your pool!   New GM; new coach and lottsa love. Oscar Nomination: Amour

13. NEW YORK ISLANDERS - Owner/GM - the clown princes of hockey. One of these years! Alas, not this one - again. Thee most unknown unknowables however in a shortened season. Trying to revive a dead dog of a franchise. Oscar Nomination: Frankenweenie

14. TORONTO - Just to put a smile on Burkie's face. Poor Dave. Same team; same result. More futility from the team that obviously likes to golf early and often.  Oscar Nomination: The Impossible

15. WINNIPEG - Sorry Jets fans; sophomore jinx. Starting goalie worn-out by 2nd week of February. Might sneak by Leafs into 14th but this Jet goes down. Oscar Nomination: Flight

THE WEST

1. MINNESOTA - Yep. Led the league early last year then injuries and too many close losses did them in. Add a little Parise and a dash of Suter. Look out! Oscar Nomination: The Hobbitt: An Unexpected Journey

2. ST. LOUIS - Hitch will get'em going early. Great goaltending tandem. Will win a majority of close games in 48 game dash. Oscar Nomination: Hitchcock, that one was way too easy!

3. LOS ANGELES - Some health issues with Quick and Kopitar. SC hang-over? Risky pick to finish so high? Don't be surprised if they join the early tee times in April.... er May now!! Then again, could be the first team to repeat as Cup champs in many a year. Oscar Nomination: Kings Point

4. VANCOUVER - Too many injuries on 2nd Line are a huge concern but have enough to keep ahead of other divisional rivals. Failure is like so last year. Like, what happened? The Kings!? Oscar Nomination: Marvel's The Avengers

5. CHICAGO - Lots of star-power still; can Crawford rebound in nets? Is this where Luongo ends up? Secret to success - keep Kane out of jail? Oscar Nomination: Curfew

6. SAN JOSE - No pressure!  May need Pixar to lend them some CGIs. Still looking for that storybook ending. Notoriously slow out of the gate. If that happens again look out for a mid-season blow-up. Someone wake-up Joe Thornton!! Oscar Nomination: Snow White and the Huntsman

7. EDMONTON - Yep again. In a shorter season them rabbit legs will be like Duracell batteries drumming their way to the dance. Oscar Nomination: Open Heart

8. PHOENIX - Those no-name guys under Dave Tippett  will be enough to squeeze by the competition. Oscar Nomination: The Master

9. NASHVILLE - Close but no cigar. They can't keep doing it with mirrors. Can they? Oscar Nomination: Mirror Mirror

10. DETROIT - Too many changes and loss of Vets. Even the GM cautions that they may not make the dance. Oscar Nomination: Skyfall

11. CALGARY -  New coach; same questions. Iggy still alone upfront. Kipper already looks tired! Oscar Nomination: Wreck-it Ralph

12. DALLAS - Might be, as always, a real dark horse. Who will lead? Jagr? Whitney? Oscar Nomination: Searching For Sugar Man

13. ANAHEIM - Oh how the mighty ducks have fallen. Still.. there's Teemu to watch and marvel at. Oscar Nomination: How To Survive A Plague

14. COLORADO - Now here we have a real dark horse! All the ingredients but they need a chef. First coach to face the fire? Or is this the team that finds fire and changes mankind! Oscar Nomination: Prometheus

15. COLUMBUS - No Nash; no cash. The worst owner; the worst GM. Someone put them out of their misery. Hamilton? Quebec? Oscar Nomination: Les Miserables

Watch for lots of trades, within two weeks.

Drop the Puck!

Clobber Samson is a highly opinionated sports commentator, especially when it comes to Vancouver "Canucks," of the National Hockey League. Expect no balance in his columns. This is good.

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