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Screen Shots: Looking back at looking forward

Adam Proteau
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The Hockey News
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Screen Shots: Looking back at looking forward

Adam Proteau
By:

When reflecting on their past successes and mistakes, many people find it easy to brag about the former while minimizing and rationalizing the latter.

I am one of those people.

And when I peruse my pre-season predictions for the 2006-07 campaign, I've got a fair number of picks to take pride in – and a few I'll probably never acknowledge were mine again after I send this column to my editor.

On the bright side, my guess as to the final regular-season order of the Western Conference is looking mighty prescient. Take a gander:

1. Nashville
2. Anaheim
3. Calgary
4. San Jose
5. Dallas
6. Detroit
7. Phoenix
8. Minnesota
9. Columbus
10. Edmonton
11. Vancouver
12. Los Angeles
13. Colorado
14. Chicago
15. St. Louis

So long as the Flames don't soil the bedsheets between now and mid-April, that's seven out of eight post-season teams picked correctly. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself, and I most certainly do.

Now, was I a total sucker for the allure of major off-season changes in Phoenix? Absolutely. Did I foolishly believe the law of averages would make Blue Jackets GM Doug MacLean look competent one of these years? Guilty as charged, your Honor. Did I fail to give the Canucks enough credit for replacing the removed offense of Todd Bertuzzi from within? Without a doubt, I did.

Most important – have I asked enough questions that I answered on my own? I think you know the answer.

Unfortunately, when it comes to my predicted finish for the East, things aren't quite so boast-worthy.

My East picks:

1. Ottawa
2. Carolina
3. New Jersey
4. New York Rangers
5. Buffalo
6. Atlanta
7. Toronto
8. Philadelphia
9. Boston
10. Montreal
11. Tampa Bay
12. Florida
13. Pittsburgh
14. New York Islanders
15. Washington

In my defense, it's still possible, if not entirely likely, that I could have three currently borderline playoff teams (Carolina, Toronto and the Rangers) in the post-season mix when it's all said and done. If that best-case finish comes to pass, I'd have seven of eight playoff teams pegged correctly.

More likely, however, is a scenario where at least one of Montreal, Tampa Bay or the Islanders get in. That would leave me with five or six justified guesses out of eight. Again, I could've done worse.

Regardless of the results, I completely underestimated the Penguins, who are much further along – though, I humbly maintain, not far enough – in their quest for a Stanley Cup championship. I also didn't give Garth Snow's Isles remotely enough credit, and I didn't trust my instincts enough to put the Flyers right out of the playoff picture.

(Honest and for true – this is what I said about Philadelphia at the time:

“…they've got scoring coming out every available wazoo, but their unsettled situation in net and pylonesque blueline loom as potential disaster areas. The retirements of Keith Primeau and Eric Desjardins remove two leaders from the dressing room, and that could be enough to keep Philadelphia out of the post-season for the first time since 1994.”

See?)

If you want to get all nitpicky about it, you can point out that I had some playoff teams ranked too low (Buffalo, Detroit) and others too high (Calgary, Ottawa).

But last season proved the difference between the top tier and mid-tier teams – and, for that matter, the mid-tier and lottery-bound teams – is smaller than ever. That ought to be confirmed in a few weeks, when you see a couple division champions (I'm looking at you, Atlanta and Anaheim) turn into first-round upset victims.

Of course, I could be 100 per cent incorrect about the Thrashers and Ducks. You might not believe me, but I don't at all mind being proven wrong.

Still, it's nice to know that, despite the oft-made suggestions of many regular e-mailers, I have a semblance of a clue in these matters.

Adam Proteau's Screen Shots appears regularly - including every Thursday - only on thehockeynews.com. Want to take a shot at Adam Proteau? You can reach him at aproteau@thehockeynews.com or through our Ask Adam feature. And be sure to check out Proteau's Blog for daily insight on the world of hockey.

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Screen Shots: Looking back at looking forward