Kara Yorio of the sporting news predicts that Carolina will win the Stanley Cup this year.
As these words hit the page, there still are regular-season games to be played, playoff spots and seeds to be decided and home-ice advantage to be won. But that won't stop us from picking a Stanley Cup champion here and now.
Possible tough first-round matchups aside, injury status uncertain, we're going to go boldly into the unknown: It will be the Hurricanes
The team with the least interest in their own city taking it all. There is no question they are a talented team, Eric Staal etc, but somehow I don't see them surviving the Eastern Conference finals, let alone winning it all, but it's possible.
I have a feeling about the New York Rangers, not sure why. In the new salary capped NHL I don't mind the Rangers, when they were my most hated in seasons past, with their goonish ways and NY Yankees style salary. I think they can beat both Carolina and a seemingly sluggish Ottawa team of late, hard to say though, I could see any of the 3 going to the finals, or a number of other teams. I love hockey, the most unpredictable sport in so many ways... and its rejuvenated and harder to bet 100 dollars on than ever.
If they do get to the finals, I'd expect them to play Detroit or Dallas, but I wouldn't bet on it. I had thought a battle of the mountains, Nashville vs. Carolina final was possible. That seems unlikely now that they have lost goailie Tomas Vokoun. Vancouver Canucks don't look to even make the playoffs. I think everyone considered them contenders for the finals this year. I'm not feeling sorry for them.
My beloved Blue Jackets will match their season high in points, set the very first season of their existence, and next year they will be predicted as a playoff team, finally. It's been nice seeing the dramatic improvements since January. Finally they young and skilled team is going to put it together. I've actually watched a few games and felt able to enjoy them sitting back in my seat. An unfamiliar feeling of stability with the team, it lets me get more drunk. Let the chronic Ohio underdogs rise to the top.
Cleveland Indians, so far so good. Looking solid as an iron girder.