Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Oddly specific 2021-22 predictions for all 32 NHL teams

Are you all predictioned out yet?

By now you’ve read our staff picks. You’ve waded through Dom’s detailed projections. You’ve seen my attempt to figure out who’ll end up where. Hopefully you’ve even made your own picks in the annual contest. And by now, you may have hit your limit. Just drop the puck already.

If so, too bad, because there’s one last list of predictions to go, and long-time readers know what it is. Yes, it’s my annual attempt to nail a way-too-specific prediction for each team. This is the column where I don’t just tell you who’ll be good and bad, but exactly how it will happen. Like, in way too much detail, to the point where my odds of actually being right about anything are close to zero.

Why? Well, my predictions are always wrong anyway, so I might as well score some style points. It’s also fun when the occasional pick does come true, which has happened a few times over the years. And mostly, this is an excuse for me to dig up some weird stats on a few teams, troll a few others, and just have some fun with this whole prediction business.

Sound good? Let’s do this. We’ve got 32 teams, 32 predictions, and (maybe) even a correct call or two buried somewhere in here.

New York Rangers
We set it up a few weeks ago, so let’s make it official: This is the year that Artemi Panarin breaks my cherished record for most assists in a season by a left winger. And since that’s not oddly specific enough, let’s also give him a date to do it. How about April 23, when the Rangers visit record-holder Joey Juneau’s old team in Boston.

Washington Capitals
Speaking of New York, the Caps are featured in one of opening week’s most anticipated games as they face the Rangers tomorrow night in what many of us assume will be some sort of Tom Wilson Revenge Game. If the last few years have taught us anything it’s that the villains always win, so let’s go ahead and pencil Wilson in for his inevitable winning goal in that contest.

Anaheim Ducks
One of the most amazing stats of the 2020-21 season is that the Ducks only scored seven goals all season at 5-on-4. That seems like it should be impossible – it was less than half of the next worst team’s total – and it shows what you can do when you combine ranking 31st in powerplay efficiency and 30th in penalty minutes drawn. Will they be better this year? I think they pretty much have to be, so let’s predict that the manage to match those seven 5-on-4 goals by the time their season is one month old.

New York Islanders
The Islanders didn’t allow a single shorthanded goal against last year, the only team in the league that was true for. Meanwhile, the Red Wings were the only team in the league that never scored a shorthanded goal. They play each other three times this year, so of course Detroit will get a shorty in one of those games.

Buffalo Sabres
Remember when the Sabres and Coyotes were very bad back in 2014-15, and they met in Buffalo and Sabres fan cheered when the Coyotes won? That was fun. Both teams seem to be back to blatantly tanking aggressively rebuilding this year, and they face each other in Buffalo on Saturday. This time, the Sabres get some revenge by doing something they were the only team in the league to never do last year: Winning in overtime.

Ottawa Senators
The Senators first game against the Flames comes on November 14, and the winning goal will be scored by a Tkachuk brother. But which one? Well, the only one of them that’s playing in the game, obviously.

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