If you listen to the Backhand Shelf podcast with any kind of regularity, you know that when we have a pressing question there is one place we go….The Magic 8 ball. I’m not saying that he is always right, in fact there are many times when we downright disagree with him. There are periods in a hockey season where there are many questions that arise, right after the All- Star break is one on of those times. It’s the unofficial second half, the home stretch, do or die time (I could write an entire post with second half clichés) . So I went up to producer Ryan Eligh’s desk and snatched the all knowing 8-ball because as David Puddy once said “You got a question, you ask the 8-Ball”

Will anyone score 100 points this season?

8 Ball says: As I see it yes

Do I agree: No

There is only one player on pace to put up over 100 points and that is Evgeni Malkin (on pace for 103). However we have seen many times that the nets seem to get smaller near the end of the season. If you don’t include last year’s injury shortened season that saw him play just 43 games, Malkin has averaged 40 points over the final 33 games of the season (Number of games the Pens have left). Even if he gets that 40 points, he would still fall short.

Will Washington miss the playoffs?

8 Ball says: Signs point to yes

Do I agree: Once again, no

The Caps presently sit in 3rd in the East with 55 points. The only reason they have such a high seed is because they are atop their division (don’t get me started in that one), they are presently tied with Florida and they are clinging to the 8th and final playoff spot. Even though the Caps stumbled going into the break (lost 2 of 3) , I still think they are moving in the right direction. They have won 9 of 14 overall while the Panthers have dropped 7 of 9. Caps get in.

Will Sidney Crosby play another game this season?

8 Ball says: Very Doubtful

Do I agree: Yes

I’m no doctor, but this formula doesn’t look good: Concussion + fractures to the C1 and C2 vertebrae= Watching the rest of the season from the press box. Yes Crosby is skating, but not with the team or with any kind of contact. When you add the fact that every doctor on the planet seems to have a different diagnosis, I can’t Sid playing.

Will the Bruins repeat as Stanley Cup Champions

8 Ball says: Concentrate and ask again….(Shakes 8 Ball again)

8 Ball says: It is certain

Do I agree: yes

Right now, I just don’t see a team in the NHL that can compete with the Bruins in a 7 game series. Their depth is absolutely scary. As long as Tim Thomas’ White House snub doesn’t become a distraction, I think we see a repeat this year.

Will the Leafs make the playoffs?

8 Ball says: Outlook not good

Do I agree: yes and I love the Magic 8 ball

Have a question for the 8-ball? Comment or tweet me

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Let’s head to the links

Looks like Jonathan Toews will be back in the Blackhawks line-up tonight (CSN Chicago)

Not so breaking news: Ottawa fans REALLY don’t like the Leafs (Pro Hockey Talk)

Even more not-so breaking news. Brian Burke and the Leafs are upset with the media (Toronto Sun)

Scoring on your own net is embarrassing enough, this is just ugly. (Puck Daddy)

The Leafs recently opened up time capsule from 1931, if they were to bury a new one today what would be in it? Dirty Dangle has some ideas.

Jim Hughson…some love him, other can’t stand the guy. Either way here is 5 minutes of him getting very excited at some Luongo saves (Pass it to Bulis)

If you want a nice roundup of NHL tweets from All Star weekend, Legion of Blog has you covered

Anyone have 7.7 million bucks that they could lend the Panthers? (Miami Herald)