Caps Outsider reflects on how Dennis Maruk came to Washington.
Least In The East, Best In The West
Predictions for The Best And Worst Teams in Both Conferences
So far, the 2011-2012 season has brought some big surprises (Edmonton) and some things that could’ve been anticipated before the first puck dropped back in October (Luongo still sucks). Though it is far too soon to tell with certainty where each club will finish in the standings, November is usually the last chance a team gets to start winning if they have any post-season aspirations. Without further ado, here are my predictions for the best and worst teams in each conferences, including the President’s Trophy winner and the team with the first overall draft pick.
Number 1: Washington Capitals
I know this is an easy choice, but let’s be honest: The Capitals have been one hell of a (regular-season) team for a while, and this year’s roster is probably our best in recent memory. The third line of Brooks Laich, Joel Ward, and Jason Chimera has ensured that we have a balanced attack, while Marcus Johansson has proved that his brilliance in game 4 of the Rangers series wasn’t just a fluke.
Can the Capitals win the President’s Trophy for the second time in three years? You bet they can.
Number 15: New York Islanders
When you’re relying on Rick DiPietro‘s health as a key to long-term success, you are asking for trouble. The man is less durable than the average piñata, and you can’t win in the Atlantic Division without a goalie. The Islanders are destined for yet another year of mediocrity, while the Coliseum slowly crumbles down around them.
Number 1: Chicago Blackhawks
Look for the Blackhawks to have a bounce-back season after being forced to rely on the Wild to help them squeak into the post-season last year. Patrick Kane is looking good at center, while Corey Crawford still has a lot of yet-unrealized potential in net. If Jonathan Toews can return to his Conn Smythe-winning form, the Blackhawks will be a tough team to beat.
Number 15 (and also Number 30): Columbus Blue Jackets
When you have 5 points in 14 games, you’re official web site has polls like this, and you have what amounts to an all-male cheerleading squad for a damn NHL team, it’s time to start planning the Draft party. The Chili’s in downtown Columbus gets a lot of business around the time of high school graduations, so book now, Blue Jackets!