Blackhawks News

10 NHL Predictions For 2015-16 Season

By Matt Barbato
11 of 11

Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (left) presents Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

1. Stanley Cup Prediction 

Don’t let the picture mislead you. I just couldn’t find a generic picture of the Cup by itself. Plus, who doesn’t love to see Gary Bettman show off his phony smile, right? Nobody? OK! Back to my predictions.

Before I delve into who I pick, let me explain how I got there. They always said show your work in math class.

The way my scenario plays out, I have Anaheim and St. Louis facing off in the Western Conference final. Anaheim has the most well-rounded team in the conference and Frederik Andersen should be reliable enough to get the Ducks past Dallas in the first round and Los Angeles in the semifinals.

I know, the Blues haven’t won a playoff series during this era. But this is a do or die year for Ken Hitchcock and much of the roster. The Blues have the talent on both ends of the ice to get past Winnipeg in the first round and setup a rematch with an old nemesis in the semis.

Why do I have the Blues knocking off the Blackhawks this time around? Because Chicago is a vastly different team from a year ago. The Blackhawks could be a mess defensively outside of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Those were also the players Joel Quenneville leaned on the most during the postseason. Fatigue slows down even the best skaters. I don’t see the Hawks being 2010-11 bad (Chicago backed into the playoffs as the 8th seed that year), but there aren’t enough proven blue-liners outside of the first three on the roster.

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St. Louis will get past Chicago in seven games, but will fall to Anaheim in the Conference final.

Out East, I think Tampa Bay and Washington are on a collision course for the Eastern Conference Final. The upstart Blue Jackets give the Bolts a tough time in the conference semifinals, but the Lightning will finish them off easily. Washington has a loaded roster and the best goal scorer in the league in Alex Ovechkin. He will have another tremendous year and the Caps will get to the Conference final.

Tampa’s depth and goaltending is too much for the Capitals. Ben Bishop outplays Braden Holtby in the series and that makes the difference.

Stanley Cup Final prediction – Tampa Bay Lightning over Anaheim Ducks in 6 

The Lightning came dangerously close to knocking off the Blackhawks last year. Tampa Bay could represent the next dynasty in the sport. The franchise is loaded with forward talent, has a top defenseman in Victor Hedman and a good goaltender in Ben Bishop. The Lightning will bring home the franchise’s second championship.

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