Watching the NHL always provides surprises. There’s always one, maybe two teams that make the playoffs or go on runs. But there are some things that are pretty easy to predict.
A healthy Anton Khudobin plays more games for the Carolina Hurricanes than Cam Ward. Just look at the numbers. Even with Jordan Staal healthy the talent pool in Carolina remains too shallow to carry a much loved goalie who hasn’t been in the top third of the league in a while. Sorry, but the Canes are going to have actually focus on the back half of the ice this year to have a hope of keeping the team out of the lottery.
Top flight players in ‘small’ markets will be overlooked for award recognition. Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Weber, Mikko Koivu, and others can look forward to another season of being ignore with superior play than guys who play in Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, or New York.
A team or teams that spend money and worry on their powerplay but not on their penalty kill will roll through the regular season and get punched out of the playoffs early by a team with the opposite imbalance.
Players who skate with their heads down and get laid out by good clean hits will be defended by people who think that collision sports are a danger free where no one bears any responsibility for their own safety.
A variety of media manufactured crises. Take a long hard look at good hard hits, the way hybrid icing and rules to cut back on fighting have been implemented that’ll be next as guys and gals who take a month and four days to recover from stubbing their toes tell grown men what’s unsafe for them.
A really early leak of the next Winter Classic game, complete with teams who have already played in an outdoor game.
The trade deadline will come and go with enormously more hype than movement. One, maybe two players who are in the top 50 or 60 in their position will be moved and people will go spastic making comparisons to “huge” trades in recent years.
Don Cherry and whoever his cohost is will continue to mutter inane things while hockey pundits who don’t understand the game feign shock and outrage over things that have been said approximately elventybillion times
The music acts chosen to perform at NHL events will be anything but the American mainstream the league bends over backwards to attract but who aren’t really interested anyway.
Reputation calls will still occur far to often on the ice.