Archive for the ‘Predictions’ Category

Last night’s opening episode of 24/7 kept hockey fans glued to the TV – the good news is, there’s little reason to turn away from it tonight.

When looking at the schedule and the standings you’ll notice – there are some beauty match-ups coming at us this evening.

Here’s a preview of the three that caught my eye.

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Welcome to the second edition of three up, three down.

I went six for six in the first edition (well, Montreal from 13th to 11th is a stretch “up” pick), which makes sense: the standing are always a little wonky in the early going, and it’s pretty easy to see that certain trends can’t continue all season. Yes, we’re looking at you Colorado.

It gets a little harder as we go on, so from a gambler’s perspective, here’s how things are going to move:

Three Up

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Last night Pekka Rinne backstopped the Nashville Predators to a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals, stopping 39 of 40 shots along the way (including multiple highlight-reel-worthy saves).

He’s also going to win the Vezina Trophy this year.

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Life as a hockey players is, as the cliche goes, like a roller coaster. Up and down, up and down.

One day you lose, and the next day practice is somber, coach is yelling at people, and you’re doing battle drills. The next day you win, and suddenly you find yourself with a day off. One day you score and move up a line, the next you’re in the press box.

With that in mind, welcome to Three Up, Three Down, where I point out players and teams that are going to start trending upward, and three more that will start to drop.

Three Up

Montreal Canadiens

The Habs currently sit at t-13 in the Eastern Conference, one point clear of Winnipeg for 15th, aka last.

I see them getting better not because of the massive decision to fire an assistant coach, but because this team is just way, way better than their performance to date. I hate to break it down so simply like that, but thems the facts.

Playing in Montreal would make losing a misery – there’s so much attention on you that it’d be hard to tolerate. That team, that city and that coaching staff all want to be better, stat. They’ll find their stride and start climbing the standings.

Boston Bruins

The reason the Habs have a “t” in front of their 13th place standing is because of the Boston Bruins.

Nearly unchanged Stanley Cup winning teams just don’t plummet to the bottom of the standings, I don’t care if they have a Stanley Cup Still-Drunkover.

They’ve been underachieving, and at any point they could rip off a four game win streak and claw back to respectibility. Stay tuned.

Matt Duchene Read the rest of this entry »

Looks like he may have an actual sniper rifle slung around his back

I think most people would agree that, prior to last season, nobody outside of Anaheim would’ve picked Corey Perry to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals scored, correct?

There were the default choices that we all assumed would continue to hold the crown: the upper echelon of guys pretty much stopped with Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, and Alex Ovechkin. In the next tier – the hopefuls but not likelys – we had guys like Vincent Lecavalier, Rick Nash, Ilya Kovalchuk and a few others. Perry might have made that list, but not likely.

Well, looking at things this year – Sidney Crosby hasn’t played a game, it’s already being questioned if Alex Ovechkin has seen and passed his prime, and Steven Stamkos is still behind teammate Bruno Gervais in goals, who has one – that second tier is looking more and more like it might produce our winner.

That leaves the door open for a Perry repeat, of course, but he’s got some serious competition. That second tier of guys hosts a new swath of threats. After hot starts, I wouldn’t bet against the following list of guys to end up with names alongside the likes of the legendary Jonathan Cheechoo Jarome Iginla:

1) Anze Kopitar

The almost-rated-properly-because-everyone-calls-him-underrated Anze Kopitar is a sneaky, lurker-ish sniper with a bomb, good size and great mitts. He’s come roaring out of the gatets this year with 3 goals in his first 2 games, and there’s no reason for him to turn back. With a loaded Kings powerplay and great linemates this year, I’m expecting big numbers from the guy.

2) Claude Giroux Read the rest of this entry »

OMG It’s Opening Night

ur doin it wrong

FINALLY.

As of tomorrow morning we’ll have real honest-to-goodness NHL hockey to talk about. Like, hits and saves, goals and scraps, upsets and extended suspensions awkwardly presented to us by Brendan Shannahan. Can’t wait.

If you see anything truly awful or awesome, you can pass it along to us here at backhandshelf@thescore.com so we can feature it.

Here’s what’s on tap for you on OPENING NIGHT IN THE NHL, with our own special categories.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins

What we’re excited about: I’m most excited to get my first look at the new and I’m-not-sure-yet Philadelphia Flyers. While there’s reason to be bummed Brayden Shenn isn’t playing (it’d be nice to see the complete team): patience young Bourne, patience. Tough draw for the Flyers though – things are going to be doubly exciting thanks to the Stanley Cup Champions banner that’ll be raised. They’ll be facing a fired-up defending champion.

Person on either roster you’d most like to face-punch: Has to be Brad Marchand right? I mean, now that Carcillo is gone and all. I guess there’s always Pronger if you’d like to hit someone on the Flyers.

Player on either team you’d most like as a linemate/d-partner: I’m gonna say Claude Giroux, because I feel like I’d rack up goals from him basically just bouncing pucks off my stick whether I knew he was passing or not.

Prediction: Tim Thomas shuts the door HARD, Bryz gives up 4+ and Philly’s season starts in a panic. WHERE’S MICHAEL LEIGHTON?

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens Read the rest of this entry »

 

More strength to get to the key areas will give Hall's stats a boost

In my NHL pre-season predictions post this morning, I added a note about Taylor Hall – basically, look out for this kid, because I could see him having a big year this year.

The friend I was talking with about Hall (ex-UNH captain Josh Ciocco) also shared this thought – the kid played for Windsor of the OHL during the two seasons prior to being an Oiler, where they won the whole thing both years.

What that means is, Hall had little to no time to develop physically during both off-seasons, simply because his seasons went so long. This is the first full summer he’s had to dedicate himself to putting on the mass he needs to thrive at the NHL level. And hey, he was in Edmonton – dude had a looong off-season.

I have first hand knowledge of the difficulties that come with playing against guys stronger than you – as pro, I was 6’2″ and about 185, which is hardly an imposing number for a hockey player.

High center of gravity and little to no muscle? Ooo, heaven forbid you have to play against that guy.

When I got called up to the American Hockey League, I found out what it’s like to play against MEN (there’s a sizable jump from the ECHL to the AHL, in both size and speed. The jump from the AHL to the NHL is considerably smaller). You’re not facing young prospects or on-the-decline veterans in the “A” - instead, there a number of seriously jacked, very large humans. Hell, I roomed with Kip Brennan (shown below with knuckles full of face). Good lord. Read the rest of this entry »