October 8-9th, the National Hockey League 2015-16 begins. Last season champions Chicago Blackhawks plays their first game against New York Rangers. Here we will focus on predictions, division by division.
2014/15 season finalists, Tampa Bay, is this year’s favourite in the Atlantic Division. As a talented, speedy team, they will evolve and take another step the 2015-16 season. However, this division consists of many excellent teams that did not come up to normal standard last year. Boston somewhat unexpected missed the playoffs while both Montreal and Detroit got eliminated in the Round of 16. Long-time injured forward Johan Franzén is back in the Red (blue?) Wings, but the question is exactly how good aging players like himself, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Dasyuk, Niklas Kronwall is this year? Can they manage to take the Wings to another cup? They might not be the best bet for the league, but definitely worth a shot at the Stanley Cup. In the lower end we have Florida Panthers with Jaromir Jagr, cup-dried Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. Ottawa will be interesting to follow. They were in the lower ends of the conference last year but managed to clinch a playoff spot after a remarkable comeback in the end of the season. Also, we are looking forward to see what former Detraoit coach Mike Babcock can do with the Maple Leafs.
Last year’s winner, Chicago Blackhawks is the favourites this year as well. However, question is how the accusations against Patrick Kane have affected them? Nonetheless, they are an experienced team and should be able to go far 2015-16. St Louis Blues made it to the play offs last year, but they have never a Stanley Cup since they first participated in the NHL in 1967. Looking at the teams in the Central division, there are no terrible threats against Chicago clinching the division title.
Lots of big cities and many great teams. Rangers versus Penguins have become a modern classic and it will be interesting to follow the two teams this season as well. While Pittsburg’s Sidney Crosby won gold with Team Canada in the 2015 IIHF World Championships, New York Rangers and Swedish goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist almost made it to the Stanley Cup final, but lost
game seven in the semifinal. Their local rivals Islanders are hoping to have a successful season in their new Arena, Barclays Center. Last year they got eliminated in the round of 16 by Washington Capitals who keep struggling in the play offs. Will Alexander Ovetjkin and Nicklas Bäckström ever win the Stanley Cup together?
Anaheim Ducks almost made it to the final last year, but lost game seven in the semi final against Chicago. Los Angeles Kings who won the cup in 2014, missed the play offs, which was a big surprise for many. Calgary Flames had a young, talented team on the ice last year, and will continue to improve this season. We put question marks on how Swedish twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin will perform in Vancouver this year. Canucks need more producing lines and can’t rely on the brothers to deliver forever.
What team will win the 2016 Stanley Cup?
Our guess is that Tampa Bay Lightning will win the cup this year. They made it to the final last year and have got the necessary play off experience. Tampa is a solid organisation in south-west Florida and have all the required ingredients for putting together a winning team. If you are looking for a moneymaker, perhaps Calgary Flames can clinch the division or perhaps even bring the cup to Canada this year?
Schedule, first round NHL 2015/16 (home team to the left):
Toronto Maple Leafs-Montreal Canadiens
Chicago Blackhawks-New York Rangers
Calgary Flames-Vancouver Canucks
Los Angeles Kings-San Jose Sharks
Boston Bruins-Winnipeg Jets
Buffalo Sabres-Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning-Philadelphia Flyers
St. Louis Blues-Edmonton Oilers
Nashville Predators-Carolina Hurricanes
Dallas Stars-Pittsburgh Penguins
Colorado Avalanche-Minnesota Wild