Impossible to predict, who would've predicted Ottawa/Florida making the playoffs last year?
But for fun's sake (let's not argue, I'm just having fun):
Anaheim: Improves greatly but lack of depth has them on the outside looking in. Boston: Battles for division lead all year, #4 seed. Buffalo: Miller bounces back huge, Hodgson/Ennis breakout, wins division as #2 seed. Calgary: Has an awful year, key players are traded at deadline, bottoms out. Carolina: Improves greatly. Top six pulls them into playoffs as #8. Chicago: Maintains status quo, battles with St. Louis for division lead all year. #4 seed. Colorado: Slow start but eventually ends the season as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. #5 seed. Columbus: Improves but still hangs around the bottom of the NHL. Dallas: Inconsistent all year but scratches into the playoffs as #7. Detroit: Stars are starting to misalign for the Wings. Barely make it as #8. Edmonton: Improves greatly however questionable defense puts them on the outside looking in. Likely next year. Florida: Finishes with a similar record to previous year except a lot of those OT losses turn to regulation losses and they fall back outside. Los Angeles: No sign of a hangover as they storm through and win their division and the Presidents Trophy. #1 seed. Minnesota: Despite great improvements, they miss the playoffs by having less regulation wins then the #8 seeded Red Wings. Montreal: Stay on the outside and trade some key veterans at the deadline. Nashville: Loss of Suter hurts defensive depth but a breakout year from the kids in Wilson, Smith, Halischuk and Bourque brings them the #6 seed. New Jersey: Despite making it all the way to the finals, losing Parise hurts more than they thought as well as having weak wing depth. Misses the playoffs. New York (I): Improves greatly but misses the playoffs. New York (R): Huge depth and Rick Nash bring the Rangers as the #1 seed once again. Ottawa: Magical previous year doesn't translate with Latendresse underperforming and Alfredsson's age catching up to him. Finishes outside the playoffs. Philadelphia: Maintains status quo, enters playoffs as the #6 seed. Phoenix: Despite another great year from Mike Smith, the offense can't get in done and they miss the playoffs by a hair. Pittsburgh: Battles with Philly and the Rangers all year for playoff lead but finish as the #5 seed. San Jose: Depth and age is starting to catch up the Sharks as the miss the playoffs for the first time in many years. St. Louis: Stellar year, similar to the previous year, finishes as #3 seed, winning division: Tampa Bay: An injury plagued season to the defense has the team bottoming out as one of the highest scoring (but also highest scored upon) teams falls. Toronto: Reimer has huge bounce-back year, Kessel/Lupul maintain scoring pace, Kulemin bounces back. #7 seed. Vancouver: Maintains status quo, wins division as #2. Washington: Ovechkin bounces back and carries the Capitals to another division title as #3 seed. Winnipeg: A great start but slow finish has the team outside once again.
1) New York Rangers
2) Buffalo Sabres
3) Washington Capitals
4) Boston Bruins
5) Pittsburgh Penguins
6) Philadelphia Flyers
7) Toronto Maple Leafs
8) Carolina Hurricanes
9) New Jersey Devils
10) New York Islanders
11) Ottawa Senators
12) Florida Panthers
13) Winnipeg Jets
14) Montreal Canadiens
15) Tampa Bay Lightning
1) Los Angeles Kings
2) Vancouver Canucks
3) St. Louis Blues
4) Chicago Blackhawks
5) Colorado Avalanche
6) Nashville Predators
7) Dallas Stars
8) Detroit Red Wings
9) Minnesota Wild
10) Phoenix Coyotes
11) Edmonton Oilers
12) Anaheim Ducks
13) San Jose Sharks
14) Columbus Blue Jackets
15) Calgary Flames
(1) Rangers defeat the (8) Hurricanes in 6.
(2) Sabres defeat the (7) Leafs in 6.
(6) Flyers defeat the (3) Capitals in 7.
(5) Penguins defeat the (4) Bruins in 7.
(1) Kings defeat the (8) Red Wings in 4.
(7) Stars defeat the (2) Canucks in 7.
(3) Blues defeat the (6) Predators in 6.
(4) Blackhawks defeat the (5) Avalanche in 6.
(6) Flyers defeat the (1) Rangers in 5.
(5) Penguins defeat the (2) Sabres in 6.
(1) Kings defeat the (7) Stars in 7.
(4) Blackhawks defeat the (3) Blues in 7.
(6) Flyers defeat the (5) Penguins in 7.
(1) Kings defeat the (4) Blackhawks in 6.
Stanley Cup Finals:
Game 1: Flyers (0) - Kings (3)
Game 2: Flyers (3) - Kings (1)
Game 3: Kings (2) - Flyers (5)
Game 4: Kings (7) - Flyers (4)
Game 5: Flyers (3) - Kings (2)
Game 6: Kings (4) - Flyers (0)
Game 7: Flyers (2) - Kings (1)
tough to call, too much parity in the league and the more mature teams don't really have much of an edge over each other. That being said, I believe that the LA Kings are the hardest working, and toughest team, and they have a balance of high skill across all positions (with exceptional goal tending). Even when they were the 8th seed I knew they were going to give whoever they played a hell of a time. They're too strong and too young.
I pick them for the SCF for sure and more than just a coin toss to win the cup.