October 12, 2016

Here we go again: An NHL 2016-17 preview

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

It might be a little later than usual, but the puck is dropping on a brand-new NHL season that will slowly grind its way through 82 games before getting into the two further months when the games actually matter.

Starting a week or so later than usual is nice, but the reason why turned out to be a very poor one.

In an effort to make a quick cash grab, the World Cup of Hockey was foist upon us. But when you consider that games not featuring Canada didn’t do very well in TV ratings and that even the American’s games did absolutely awfully south of the border, you can’t say that this pre-season mess was a success.

And then, when you consider that the Jays’ wild-card game was the highest-rated program on Sportsnet this year – just a week or so after the World Cup ended – you know that they have to be disappointed with this new tournament.

Even the Canadian players had a bit of a subdued reaction after winning the tournament. There was no raucous celebration that you’d usually see after a team wins the Stanley Cup or an Olympic gold medal – there was no jumping around or piling on each other. It was as if they knew that this was a second-rate tournament that didn’t live up to the hype.

At least there weren’t any serious injuries, which was one of the biggest fears heading in.

As for the NHL season, we’re starting to see some young guns coming in that have a chance to be some really special players. Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews were great for Team North America in the World Cup and should be stars in this league for years to come. All they have to do is overcome the crappy teammates they’ve been saddled with for now…

On to predictions!

ATLANTIC: Tampa Bay, Montreal, Florida.

METROPOLITAN: Washington, Pittsburgh, New York Islanders.

EAST WILD CARDS: New York Rangers, Philadelphia.

CENTRAL: Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas.

PACIFIC: Anaheim, Los Angeles, Vancouver.

WEST WILD CARDS: Nashville, Calgary.

EASTERN FINAL: Pittsburgh over Montreal.

WESTERN FINAL: Dallas over Los Angeles.

STANLEY CUP FINAL: Pittsburgh over Dallas in 6.


HART: Jonathan Toews, CHI

ART ROSS: Alex Ovechkin, WAS

NORRIS: Shea Weber, MTL

CALDER: Auston Matthews, TOR


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