road lead directly to Boston.
But does it really take any skill to predict the Alexander Ovechkin will score a lot of goals, or that Ryan Miller will record his share of shutouts? Is it really all that impressive to pick one of the half-dozen consensus contenders and label them the eventual champion? Doesn't anyone want to go out on a limb?
Let's get specific. After reviewing this season's schedule, here's a selection of detailed predictions that will let you know exactly what to expect and when.
October 9, 2010 - The Chicago Blackhawks raise their Stanley Cup banner prior to their game against the Detroit Red Wings. The moment is marred somewhat when Detroit third-liner Kris Draper surveys the rafters and comments "Wow, Chicago, you've won four Stanley Cups? Me too!"
October 10, 2010 - The Phoenix Coyotes host the Boston Bruins in Prague, Czech Republic, enjoying a rare opportunity to play a home game in front of fans who have heard of the Phoenix Coyotes.
November 6, 2010 - At the annual Hall of Fame game, thousands of fans show up in Toronto to express their appreciation for some of the very best players from hockey's history, and are deeply disappointed when Dino Ciccarelli shows up instead.
December 2, 2010 - The Ottawa Senators host the San Jose Sharks. A returning Dany Heatley is badly shaken by the sound of 19,000 Senator fans booing and screaming death threats, until a teammate points out that they're actually just reacting to the appearance of a guy in the upper deck wearing a Leafs jersey.
December 16, 2010 - The Maple Leafs make their first trip to Calgary since last season's blockbuster trade between the two teams. In an embarrassing mixup that he chalks up to force of habit, Dion Phaneuf accidentally takes a wrong turn on his way into the building, enters the Flames dressing room, divides it, and destroys their season.
January 1, 2011 - The Penguins and Capitals meet in the Winter Classic at Heinz Field. A crowd of 65,000 fans who are used to watching Pittsburgh Steelers games sit in confused silence whenever Alexander Ovechkin takes the ice, as they're not used to watching a funny looking foreigner who isn't kicking something.
January 23, 2011 - The Flyers and Hawks meet for the first time since the Stanley Cup finals, which featured several insulting comments by Chicago players directed towards Chris Pronger. Pronger takes the high road and has a bouquet of flowers delivered to the Chicago dressing room, leading several Blackhawk players to admit that they may have been wrong about him, confess their admiration of his sportsmanship, and briefly wonder why the flowers seem to be ticking.
February 20, 2011 - A new tradition is launched with the first annual Hockey Day in America. The event features a day-long tribute to all the places in the United States that truly love and respect the sport, from Minnesota all the way to Eastern Minnesota.
February 20, 2011 - Meanwhile, the Flames and Canadiens meet north of the border in the outdoor Heritage Classic. The event brings back all sorts of great memories of the 1989 Stanley Cup series between the two teams, right up until PK Subban casually mentions that he was only born a few days before all that happened and you suddenly feel very old and decide to go lie down for a while.
March 2, 2011 - The trade deadline passes. Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke keeps his promise to not ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause, in the sense that throwing a burlap sack over someone's head and shoving them into a cargo plane bound for Vancouver is not technically "asking".
April 10, 2011 - The NHL regular season concludes. You look back at how much optimism your favourite team had in early October, laugh softly to yourself, throw an empty bottle of scotch through your TV screen, and start working on your 2011-12 season preview.