2013-2014 NHL Regular Season Standings Predictions

It’s hard to believe it but hockey returns tomorrow. With the Stanley Cup final ending late because of the lockout and the Olympics bumping this regular season up a few days, it was a shorter summer than normal for hockey fans. For the first time in two years there will be games in October, November and December. The 48-game season was nice because every game was important, and now it’s back to the 82-game grind where there will be more adversity and injuries. Add in a long Olympic break and anything can happen this season. Here are my predictions of how I see the regular season ending.

Atlantic Division: I think Detroit will make an immediate splash in a new division. After striking out on every relevant free agent in 2012, the Red Wings added Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, and their young defenders will get better. Ottawa lost their captain in Alfredsson, but added Bobby Ryan. They are a well-coached team that will overachieve. Having Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson healthy will be huge. The Bruins will regret the Tyler Seguin trade but still make the playoffs. Speaking of offseason errors, Toronto will be second guessing the David Clarkson signing and Tyler Bozak resigning at the end of the season. I think Jonathan Bernier will have a strong season but the Leafs won’t return to the playoffs

1. Detroit Red Wings

2. Ottawa Senators

3. Boston Bruins

4. Montreal Canadiens

5. Tampa Bay Lightning

6. Toronto Maple Leafs

7. Buffalo Sabres

8. Florida Panthers 

Metropolitan Division: After Pittsburgh, this division is fascinating. The Penguins will figure out their goaltending issues in the regular season and cruise to a division title. After that, who knows. Alain Vigneault sure knows how to coach teams in the regular season and he will lead the Rangers to second in the division. The Islanders’ young players will continue to grow and they will return to the playoffs. The Capitals will struggle early on, and then Alexander Ovechkin will start caring after Russia doesn’t medal at the Olympics. The Flyers have talented forwards but their goaltenders are Ray Emery and Steve Mason. Ray Emery and Steve Mason for a 82-game season in Philadelphia. WHAT CAN GO WRONG?  

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

2. New York Rangers

3. New York Islanders

4. Washington Capitals

5. Carolina Hurricanes

6. Philadelphia Flyers

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

Central Division: For this year the Blackhawks should have no problem winning this division but they might have a Stanley Cup hangover for a few weeks. St. Louis won’t be spectacular but will benefit from their forward depth in the longer season. I really like what Dallas did this offseason. They are missing a top line defenseman but the Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin combo will shine. Barry Trotz will be back and ready with a new look team that includes Seth Jones. I am very interested in seeing the Patrick Roy in Colorado experiment. This division has the potential to be the toughest in hockey in a few seasons with all the young talent spread around each team.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

2. St. Louis Blues

3. Dallas Stars

4. Nashville Predators

5. Minnesota Wild

6. Colorado Avalanche

7. Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division: Los Angeles has great depth and goaltender Jonathan Quick will be looking to win the starting job for team USA at the Olympics. The Ducks will have a similar year like they had last season. Vancouver will realize they traded the wrong goaltender but the John Tortorella honeymoon will last long enough before he snaps on the media during the playoffs. I don’t think the Oilers will make the playoffs but will be fun to watch. Their defense and goaltender isn’t strong enough. Calgary will be the worst team in the NHL.

1. Los Angeles Kings

2. Anaheim Ducks

3.San Jose Sharks

4. Vancouver Canucks

5. Phoenix Coyotes

6. Edmonton Oilers

7. Calgary Flames

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