Fearless NHL Predictions

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As the puck finally drops on a new NHL season, Zoomer sports makes its fearless predictions on how the Canadian teams will fare.

With the painfully boring and patently ridiculous hockey lockout now happily a thing of the past, the NHL’s compressed regular season will finally get underway this Saturday.

Because teams have only a week’s worth of training camp under their belts, there are too many unanswered questions to make anything resembling an expert prognostication of how the season will unfold. But, hey, we’ll try it anyway. Here’s our look at how the 2013 NHL season could unfold for the seven Canadian teams.

Montreal Canadiens

After missing the playoffs last year, ownership cleared the decks, bringing in a new general manager, Mark Bergevin, and hiring Michel Therrien for his second go-round as coach. The team, however, is largely unchanged, stocked with smaller, mediocre players. The one exception is PK Subban, who seemed to devote the lockout to raising his celebrity status. The team is hoping that his impending contract talks won’t be a huge distraction.

Outlook: Unless goalie Carey Price has a bounce-back year, this team won’t score or defend well enough to make the playoffs. Things could get a bit testy for Habs’ fans, recently voted the most annoying in the NHL.

Ottawa Senators

The team surprised everyone last year by making the playoffs and taking the highly favoured New York Rangers to seven games. Despite that success, it’s still a flawed squad that relies too heavily on the 40-year-old legs of Daniel Alfredsson.

Outlook: The Sens will likely take a step backward and miss the playoffs. One bright spot: coach Paul MacLean’s famous walrus moustache now has its own facebook and twitter page.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs got their season off to a typically bizarre start by firing Brian Burke, their cantankerous general manager. If his replacement Dave Nonis doesn’t sign a quality goalie, their almost decade-long playoff drought will continue.

Outlook: With a number of young blue-liners on the team, it’s unlikely Randy Carlyle plans to emphasize defence will pan out. Toronto fans won’t be enjoying a parade like this one anytime soon.

Winnipeg Jets

A young team, the Jets are still a few quality players away from being a serious playoff contender. They’ll lean heavily on their lone star, forward Evander Kane, who’s trying to get over the storm caused by this. The great fans in Winnipeg, among the loudest in the league, make this team a much tougher opponent at home than on the road.

Outlook: For the Jets to make the playoffs, coach Claude Noël – who’s playing career has a direct link to the classic Slap Shot movie – needs his veterans to step up and his younger players mature quickly.

Calgary Flames

Yet another Canadian team that failed to make the postseason last year, Calgary coach Bob Hartley is praying that aging stars – forward Jarome Iginla, 35, and goalie Mikka Kiprusoff, 36 – have enough gas in the tank for a post-season run.

Outlook: Too many veterans and not enough young talent will keep the Flames out of the postseason. Will it be fan-favourite Jarome Iginla’s final hurrah with the team? Management is so sick of hearing that question that they’ve stopped answering it.

Edmonton Oilers

This young team is brimming with superb young talent – older Oiler fans must be getting giddy remembering the last time this happened. However, the 2013 squad lacks a sturdy defence corps and goaltending remains a huge question mark.

Outlook: After finishing in last place for the past two years, the Oilers’ young legs should carry them through a hectic schedule and into the post season, which might help improve owner Daryl Katz’s villainous image.

Vancouver Canucks

After a couple of long playoff runs, the Canucks flamed out badly last year against eventual Stanley Cup champions, L.A. Kings. General Manager Mike Gillis’ ridiculous trade demands for his expensive and expendable goalie Roberto Luongo have fans questioning his sanity.

Outlook: The Sedin twins will be back to lead the Canucks to the top of their division. But this highly unlikeable team doesn’t have the feel of a champion.