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Predictions for the 2007-8 NHL Season, Part One

With today's North American launch to the 2007-8 NHL season, it's high time to chip in with the obligatory predictions.  So here we go...
Eastern Conference Standings
1. Ottawa Senators (NE champ)
2. Florida Panthers (SE champ)
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (ATL champ)
4. New York Rangers
5. Atlanta Thrashers
6. Buffalo Sabres
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
8. New York Islanders
9. New Jersey Devils
10. Washington Capitals
11. Montreal Canadiens
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Philadelphia Flyers
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
Western Conference Standings
1.  Detroit Red Wings (CEN champ & President's Trophy)
2.  Anaheim Ducks (PAC champ)
3.  Calgary Flames (NW champ)
4.  San Jose Sharks
5.  Minnesota Wild
6.  Dallas Stars
8.  Vancouver Canucks
9.  Colorado Avalanche
10.  Columbus Blue Jackets
11.  Los Angeles Kings
12.  St. Louis Blues
13.  Edmonton Oilers
14.  Chicago Blackhawks
15.  Phoenix Coyotes
The basic idea here was to take a rough cut and predicting Goals For and Against for each team, running that through PythagenPuck to get an approximation of points in the standings, and that plugging in additional points for Shootout Victories and overtime losses (sometimes you lose 4-3 in regulation and get no points, sometimes you lose 4-3 in OT and get one).  In the end, it's a combination of seat-of-the-pants guesswork and formulaic balancing, so it's got a whiff of scientific application along with standard barstool bluster.
I guess what surprised me a little bit was seeing Calgary and Florida come out so highly, but the common denominator there is solid goaltending and at least a decent offensive punch.  Some of the other teams with confidence in net are crippled with more anemic attacks (like Dallas, Vancouver, Minnesota and New Jersey). 
In the Western Conference, it was interesting to see the results of this analysis match up with hunches that I posted a few weeks ago in response to Mirtle's playoff prediction poll.  I thought at the time that Colorado would miss out, and that line of reasoning still holds true.  I think adding Ryan Smyth only augments an area of the team that was already strong, while the addition of Scott Hannan isn't that much of an upgrade to a defense that lost it's leading +/- player in Ken Klee.

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