The start of the NHL season starts Thursday night and with that it is time for me to give my predictions for the season. It's also the post to bookmark so at the end of the season, I can be seriously mocked for exactly how wrong I am.
1. Pittsburgh - 110
2. Washington - 106
3. Boston - 102
4. Philadelphia - 101
5. New York Rangers - 99
6. Buffalo - 98
7. Tampa Bay - 97
8. New Jersey - 96
I had mentioned in our Northeast preview that I had thought that Boston was going to finish the season with 102 points and probably win the Northeast Division. That team is solid in all three facets and is still the defending champion. The Penguins showed last season that they could win without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin so as the team starts to get them back they should be even more dangerous. The New Jersey Devils are going to be the rebound team this season after getting a lottery pick last season. Injuries hurt that team and with coach Pete DeBoer, the team should be much improved over last season.
1. Boston - 102
2. Buffalo - 98
3. Montreal - 94
4. Toronto - 92
5. Ottawa - 70
The Northeast Division is going to shake out pretty much how it did last season, but the Maple Leafs are going to be competing for a playoff spot right up to the start of the season. The Senators are still a young team that have a bunch of holes on both the offense and defense and another lottery pick for the team is going to help in the future.
Sabre Most Likely To Lead The Team In Scoring - Thomas Vanek
Thomas Vanek has been the team's leading scorer for the past five seasons and this year should be no different. The Sabres offense seems to be well balanced and the scoring could be spread out over six or nine different players, but Vanek has always had the potential to score 50 goals a season and he will lead the team again.
Sabre Most Likely To Become The New Scapegoat - Jochen Hecht
This has somewhat started already with Hecht's injury that will keep him out of the lineup for probably the first couple of weeks. With Tim Connolly headed to the Maple Leafs, fans will start riding Hecht and his lack of production throughout the season. While Hecht has proven his worth on the penalty kill over the past couple of seasons, he isn't an offensive powerhouse.
Sabre Most Likely To Surprise People At The Top Of The Scoresheet - Tyler Ennis
Fans are expecting Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, and Derek Roy to put in a bunch of goals this season, but don't be surprised to see Tyler Ennis with 30 goals at the end of the season. Ennis finished last season with 20 goals so expecting another 10 out of him isn't that far fetched.
If you have more Most Likelys for this season, please put them in the comments below.