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Editorial: Gazing into the Crystal Ball

January 18th, 2013 at 10:57 PM
By Frank Vajcner

The NHL season is two days away.

There were a couple of times a month or so ago where I never thought I would be saying those words at this point and time.

Now we have gone from begging for an NHL season to everybody chomping at the bit for the puck to drop on the new season. And with the new season come prognostications and predictions and so on. Today I give you my predictions for the Detroit Red Wings, along with my postseason and awards picks.

Without further ado:

  1. Pavel Datsyuk will lead the Red Wings in goals scored, and win both the Selke Trophy and Lady Byng Award. Datsyuk is finally healthy after dealing with a nagging wrist injury last season. He's due to lead the team in goals scored. The aforementioned awards were commonly won by Datsyuk since the previous lockout. He won the Lady Byng four straight years from 2006-2009 as the player with the fewest penalty minutes. He has not won it since 2009, and has not been a finalist since 2010. He also won three straight Selke Trophies as the league's best defensive forward from 2008-2010.  With no wrist injury, Datsyuk will be able to win his fourth Selke, tying him with Bob Gainey for most overall. He will also win his fifth Lady Byng (unless he has to fight Corey Perry again), which will tie him with Wayne Gretzky.
  2. The line of Henrik Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Damien Brunner will be considered one of the most dangerous top lines in the league. We caught a glimpse of Brunner and Zetterberg playing together in Tuesday's Red-White game. If Brunner can quickly adjust to the smaller ice surface, the Red wings will have a top line that could be rivaled by very few, if any. Speaking of lines…
  3. The second line of Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, and Mikael Samuelsson will be very good as well. Filppula recorded a career high 66 points playing on the wing last season. He moves back to his natural position of center, and with two shot happy wingers flanking him, the second line–much like the first–will score a lot of goals.
  4. Jimmy Howard will be a finalist for Vezina Trophy. Now is the time for Howard to make the jump to elite goaltender status. He has proven that he can win games (his 35 wins last season tied him with eventual Stanley Cup winning netminder Jonathan Quick), but now he has to build off of a year where he finished sixth in the league in GAA (2.12), tied for tenth in save percentage (.920), and fifth with six shutouts.
  5. At least one Red Wings player will record a Gordie Howe hat trick. For those who don't know what that is, it's when a player records a goal, an assist, and a fight in one game. The last Red Wing to do so was Datsyuk against Anaheim in 2010. The candidates to record a Gordie Howe are Todd Bertuzzi, Jordin Tootoo, and Justin Abdelkader.
  6. Niklas Kronwall will draw the attention of Brendan Shanahan with a questionable hit. Kronwall has built up a reputation for being one of the hardest hitters in the league (ask Ryan Kesler, Dany Heatley, or Martin Havlat) without getting in hot water. That will change this season. Shanahan will impose a fine on Kronwall because one of his hits caused an injury on a player.
  7. Ken Holland will trade for a defenseman before the trade deadline. With the blue line an area of concern, Holland will make a deal for either Jay Bouwmeester, Zach Bogosian, or Keith Yandle.

Now as an added bonus, the rest of my 2013 picks.

ATLANTIC DIVISION: New York Rangers

NORTHEAST DIVISION: Boston Bruins

SOUTHEAST DIVISION: Tampa Bay Lightning 

CENTRAL DIVISION: St. Louis Blues

NORTHWEST DIVISION: Minnesota Wild

PACIFIC DIVISION: Los Angeles Kings

EAST CHAMP: New York Rangers

WEST CHAMP: Los Angeles Kings

STANLEY CUP WINNER: New York Rangers

AWARD WINNERS

HART TROPHY (MVP): Steven Stamkos, Lightning.

ART ROSS TROPHY (SCORING): Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

ROCKET RICHARD TROPHY (MOST GOALS): Claude Giroux, Flyers

NORRIS TROPHY (BEST DEFENSEMAN): Alex Pietrangelo, Blues

SELKE TROPHY (BEST DEFENSIVE FORWARD): Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings

CALDER TROPHY (ROOKIE OF THE YEAR): Mikael Granlund, Wild

VEZINA TROPHY (BEST GOALTENDER): Jonathan Quick, Kings

JACK ADAMS TROPHY (COACH OF THE YEAR): Guy Boucher, Lightning

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, NHL

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