• SHARE:
  • email
  • Bookmark and Share

The Hockey News 2008-09 regular season predictions

The Wings pose for a team photo after winning the 2008 Stanley Cup. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Zoom Image

The Wings pose for a team photo after winning the 2008 Stanley Cup. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Without further ado, the 2008-09 Stanley Cup winners (drum roll, please)…the Detroit Red Wings!

OK, here’s the thing, everyone knows it is damn hard to repeat as champs. No team has done it since the Wings in 1997 and ’98.

With 30 clubs and a salary cap, it’s difficult to keep a championship team together for an extended period of time. Teams have a better chance now than ever before to climb up from the basement to the penthouse. Just look at the Philadelphia Flyers. They went from last place overall to the NHL’s final four in one year.

But when you make it to the Cup final, it is a two-month grind that extends your season into early summer. And the obligatory celebration period leaves you with less preparation time for the upcoming season. It leads to what is commonly referred to as the Stanley Cup hangover.

So what makes the Red Wings different?

For starters, their best forwards – Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk – have just entered the prime of their careers. Both are highly skilled, two-way threats.

Then there is the Wings’ system. They play a fast-paced, puck-possession game that confuses and frustrates opponents. Mike Babcock’s coaching has as big an influence on the outcome of his team’s games as any coach in the league.

Then there’s the obvious: an already great team adds the most prized free agent of the summer in Marian Hossa, who declined long-term, multi-million dollar offers to sign for one year with the Red Wings because he thinks they give him the best chance of winning the Cup.

Beyond that, no team in the league boasts the proven secondary scoring of the Wings: Johan Franzen (27 regular season goals, 13 in 16 playoff games) Dan Cleary (20 goals in 63 regular season games), Tomas Holmstrom (20 in 59), Valtteri Filppula (19), Jiri Hudler (13) and Mikael Samuelsson (11). Go ahead Pavel and Hank, take the night off…they’ve got you covered.

It should be noted a number of the Wings’ key players – including future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and valuable checking forwards Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby – are getting long in the tooth. But Lidstrom has always been quietly effective without expending too much energy, while Draper and Maltby are role players who average between 12 and 15 minutes of ice time.

Veteran goalies Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin form a competent duo.

Finally, the kids. One of the reasons the Wings have been so strong for so long is the fact they draft well and have youngsters in the system who push the vets. Speedster Darren Helm, drafted 132nd in 2005, showed in last spring’s playoffs that he’s developing into a fine two-way forward.

Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson looks like he’s ready to join the top six; left winger Ville Leino, 25, finished second in scoring in the Finnish League; and, don’t be surprised if brash right winger Justin Abdelkader joins the varsity squad full-time at some point next season.

How do you bet against these guys?

Here, taking into account the 1-2-3 seeding of division winners, are our predictions for the upcoming season.

THE HOCKEY NEWS PREDICTIONS
EAST
TEAM
 
WEST
TEAM
 
1
Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens
1
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings
2
Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins
2
San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks
3
Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals
3
Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild
4
Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers
4
Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars
5
Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators
5
Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim Ducks
6
New York Rangers
New York Rangers
6
Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers
7
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils
7
Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks
8
Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes
8
Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames
9
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning
9
Nashville Predators
Nashville Predators
10
Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins
10
Phoenix Coyotes
Phoenix Coyotes
11
Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres
11
Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver Canucks
12
Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers
12
Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets
13
Atlanta Thrashers
Atlanta Thrashers
13
Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Kings
14
Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs
14
Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche
15
New York Islanders
New York Islanders
15
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Blues

For more detailed predictions and a preview of the upcoming NHL campaign, pick up the Sept. 30 edition of The Hockey News magazine.

Related Links

More Stories

THN's 2013-14 NHL predictions

While putting together our Yearbook, THN staffers gathered to debate (or shout out) where we...

NHL Pre-season Predictions: Metropolitan Division - No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins

THN’s PRE-SEASON PREDICTION: First in Metropolitan. *Cup finalist pick. 2013:...

NHL Pre-season Predictions: Atlantic Division - No. 1 Boston Bruins

THN’s PRE-SEASON PREDICTION: First in Atlantic. 2013: 28-14-6. Fourth in...

NHL Pre-season Predictions: Pacific Division - No. 1 Los Angeles Kings

THN’s PRE-SEASON PREDICTION: First in Pacific Division. KEY DEPARTURES:...
blog comments powered by Disqus

THN on Twitter

Do you think Capitals star Nicklas Backstrom can eventually pass Mats Sundin as the No. 1 Swedish scorer in NHL history?




Contests

Our Partners