HodgePodge by Charlie Hodge
Yup, yup, yup it’s Silly Season (April) and likely raining as you read this. If there isn’t an NHL playoff hockey game on the tube then there’s a baseball one on. Turn off the baseball.
I know there are a gazillion ball fans out there, but I was never one of them. As a youth or teenager when ice hockey season ended it just turned into road hockey season. If I had my way, and the lungs to support it, I would still be living life like that.
Traditionally, the April silly season also means it’s time to present my ridiculous HodgePodge NHL predictions – which you get to make fun.
It’s a simple ‘fun with fridge magnets’ game. Simply cut out or print these predictions, clip them to your beer fridge, coffee maker or wherever your heart desires, and then chuckle as my predictions crumble. The following predictions are boldly unchanged from before each team played one game. I do not control when the Capital News prints. (I am already looking embarrassingly wrong but here goes).
The Boston Bruins established a record-setting regular season, winning 65 games and collecting 135 points. No one saw that sort of success coming. I do predict them as one of the top four to win the Stanley Cup but they will likely have a battle getting there. Just not much of one in the first round. Boston will defeat Florida in five games led by David Pastrnak (a potential Conn Smythe – Most Valuable Playoff performance winner) and goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Other Eastern Conference matchups will see my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs squeeze by Tampa Bay Lightning in a seventh game overtime win, led by spitfire Mitch Marner. Injuries and age will be the meltdown of the Lightning while Nylander, Mathews and Marner will lead the Leafs. Marner to likely win the Conn Smythe trophy.
Carolina Hurricane will maul the New York Islanders in five games. Sebastian Aho will lead the Hurricane.
New York Ranger fans will finally be happy with management who picked up some key players in trades this season. Rangers will battle, literally, past the New Jersey Devils in seven games. This will likely be the fastest paced series, with the skating and passing speed of these two clubs among the best in the entire league. Rangers however have some talented snipers on the roster as well. Vladimir Tarasenko, Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider will prove effective scorers, however it will be strong goaltending that wins the day.
In the Western Conference Edmonton Oilers will edge out Los Angeles Kings in seven intense, hard-hitting games, Winnipeg will squeeze by Vegas in seven, Minnesota led by veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will edge Dallas in six and Seattle will pull off the miracle upset defeating Colorado (Cup champs) in six games. I base the major upset on Colorado defenceman Cal Makar not being healthy and that Colorado just seems a step slow this year. Perhaps they have lost tine inspiration after winning all the goodies last season. Seattle youngster Matty Beniers will lead his club past the Avalanche.
Not sure how all the teams will match up after the first round so I will simply predict that the top two teams coming out of the Eastern Conference will be Toronto and Boston while in the Western Conference the champions will be Edmonton and Winnipeg.
The Stanley Cup final will see my beloved (and scarily unpredictable or inconsistent) Maple Leafs take on the (relying on two superstars) Edmonton Oilers. Only because my heart demands it – I am calling the Leafs to win the cup in seven games.
Conn Smythe candidates include (naturally) Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Mitch Marner, Ullmark, Pastrnak
There you are. Go stick this on the fridge.