Friday, August 16, 2013

The Official Caps Circle 2013-14 Prediction

The worst month in the hockey calendar, August, is upon us. So, here is the first annual prediction for next year, including best games, record, etc.

In case you haven't heard (in which case I would be very disappointed), the Caps are in the all new Patrick Division Division D Metropolitan Division which also includes Carolina, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, both New York teams, and New Jersey. So, let's begin.

Games To Watch:

  • Capitals @ Blackhawks (October 1): The Caps travel to Chicago to take on the defending Stanley Cup champions on opening night.
  • Capitals vs. Rangers (October 16): The Blueshirts make their first trip to DC since that disastrous Game 7 last year.
  • Capitals vs. Penguins (November 20): These two arch-rivals have their first meeting as Metropolitan Division rivals.
  • Capitals @ Rangers (January 19): I hesitated putting two Rangers games on here, but considering that this game is nationally televised, it's hard to dispute.
  • Capitals vs. Red Wings (February 2): The annual Capitals Super Bowl Sunday matinee is against the Red Wings, the first Detroit visit to Washington as Eastern Conference members.
  • Capitals vs. Flyers (March 2): These two rivals take on each other in DC on national television.
Predicted Record: 45-30-7, 97 points. The Caps won't have it easy in this division, and their record will look a lot like it was in 2007-08, when the Caps returned to the playoffs (43-31-8). Still, this will be enough to get into the playoffs.

Predicted Metropolitan Division Standings:
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins: They are playing in pretty much the same division, and have one heck of a team.
  2. New York Rangers: It is hard to say how much the new coach will help them, but this team is still very good.
  3. Washington Capitals: The Caps have a good team, and although they are playing in a hard division, Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green are back, and this team could have Evgeny Kuznetsov coming in 2014. If that happens, watch out Metropolitan Division.
  4. New York Islanders: The Isles have a young team which will threaten the Caps and the rest of the division. They will make the playoffs again. 
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets: Once again, the Jackets will work hard, and may make the playoffs this year, although will get at best 8th seed. Everything depends on Sergey Bobrovsky, obviously.
  6. Philadelphia Flyers: They don't have Ilya Bryzgalov anymore, but they don't have Danny Briere either. Vinny Lecavalier will help a bit, but I don't see them making the playoffs this year.
  7. Carolina Hurricanes: They were overrated last year, and they haven't done much to improve over the offseason.
  8. New Jersey Devils: These guys are dead. No Ilya Kovalchuk, no David Clarkson, an old Patrik Elias. Maybe Cory Schneider will save them, but I don't see them any higher than 7th, and certainly not making the playoffs.
Predicted Eastern Conference Playoff Seeding:
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. Boston Bruins
  3. New York Rangers
  4. Ottawa Senators
  5. Washington Capitals
  6. Montreal Canadiens
  7. Detroit Red Wings
  8. New York Islanders
Both divisions are stacked, but the Atlantic is a bit tougher to predict. I had a tough time leaving Toronto out of the playoffs, but I don't see them beating Boston, Ottawa, Montreal, and Detroit. They may, and I'll be the first to apologize if they do, but right now, I'd say this makes the most sense.

Predicted Western Conference Playoff Seeding:
  1. Chicago Blackhawks
  2. Los Angeles Kings
  3. St. Louis Blues
  4. San Jose Sharks
  5. Nashville Predators
  6. Anaheim Ducks
  7. Vancouver Canucks
  8. Minnesota Wild
That final playoff spot will come down to a 3-team race between Minnesota, Edmonton, and Winnipeg (maybe Dallas too), and for the second straight year, Minnesota will take that prize... just to take on Chicago in the first round. Needless to say, the West is much easier than the East, but whatever.

Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions:
Nah, it's too early. Right now I'd say Boston vs. Anaheim (don't ask), but I don't want to say anything right now.

So there you go. What do you think will happen? Tell me in the comments, and stay tuned during this horrible month.

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