33 Predictions For 2013 & Programming Notes

by J.R.

I made these standings predictions over at Second City Hockey, but we’ll repeat them here for posterity ahead of the beginning of Conference III:

1) Chicago — duh
2) St. Louis —  They are the clear No. 2 here.
3) Minnesota — Some questions still, but probably the best of the rest
4) Nashville — SETH JONES
5) Dallas — I’m calling a dog fight in Conference III, especially in the three through five spots. Dallas comes up short in Lindy’s and Jim Nill’s first year.
6) Winnipeg — Not feeling it.
7) Colorado — Building a nice young core there on the mountain, but still a few years off.

Here are 33 more predictions

1. Jones will win the Calder in a tight, Conference III-heavy race with Nathan MacKinnon, setting up a lifelong rivalry that will end in the year 2028 with the two embracing and crying at the first NHL Winter Classic On The Moon, which the Predators will win over the Colorado Mud Puddles (there will be no snow in 2028 and therefore no avalanches, also there will be flying cars).

2. Rich Clune will make a guest appearance on Dallas as a Canadian tar-sands mogul who destroys the American oil industry, cementing his place as the Big D’s least favorite person.

3. Our Conference III-heavy fantasy hockey team will finish a respectable 3rd in the So You’re An Expert? league. The league is action-packed with guys who write actual articles about fantasy hockey and don’t have to get a slide-rule out to balance their checkbooks. Our inclusion is a bit like asking James Thurber to chip in on the Manhattan Project.

4. Claude Noel will get fired before President’s Day, or, as it they call it in Canada, “A President Is Like The Main Moose, Right?” Day.

5. A shootout will come down to Michal Handzus and Matt Hendricks. And we’ll all laugh and laugh that this somehow makes sense.

6. My daughter will kick the guy who sits in front of me at games that I called “Dwight Schrute.” I will not care.

7. The Predators will go shopping for a comically old back-up goalie.

8. David Backes will reprise the Inglorious Backes shtick, fighting every foreigner he can find.

9. Barret Jackman will reprise the “Can I Eat This?” shtick and miss 4-6 weeks with a ruptured colon after deep-frying Vladimir Tarasenko’s skates and trying to fit them into a taco shell.

10. Conference III legend Peter Horachek will be the interim-then-the-actual-coach of Florida before year’s end. No one will notice, including Dale Tallon, who hasn’t actually been to Sunrise since 2009.

11. You will fall in love with Blake Wheeler.

12. Patrick Roy will get in a very public, in-game yelling match with one of his assistants.

13. At least one prominent national hockey writer will get an explanation of hybrid icing completely wrong and then use his wrongness as the genesis of a column about how the league should return to touch icing.

14. Mike Yeo will claim he has turned fatigue off in the game settings and will attempt to play Pominville-Koivu-Parise-Suter-Brodin for 60 minutes per night.

15. Jason Pominville will miss significant time when his leg falls off and is eaten by a wolf mid-game.

16. Ryan Suter and Shea Weber will be the top two candidates for the Norris Trophy (Alex Pietrangelo will be in this conversation, too). It will be clear by the Olympic break and the stories about it will be in no way annoying and exhausting.

17. Musical interlude:

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18. Someone will publish analysis about Conference III that includes Columbus.

19. One of the rivalries in the middle third of our list will emerge as one of the best in the conference.

20. I will make you call Simon Moser “Slawdog.” You will insist I stop.

21. Is Matt Hunwick still on the Avs? If Matt Hunwick is still on the Avs, Matt Hunwick will make numerous mistakes on defense in a game against Nashville and people will start criticizing Joe Sakic for passing on Jones.

22. Greg Sherman will be an “anonymous source close to the Colorado front office” in a story by Adrian Dater insisting that the decision to pass on Jones wasn’t unanimous.

23. Nathan MacKinnon will be damn good (see 1).

24. Jonathan Toews will win the Selke, but will have to get serious facial reconstruction surgery in the offseason when his cheeks split open in a bloody and ugly scene after he smiles for the first time since Christmas 1991.

25. The Chicago Winter Classic will be the best one ever held in a place that looks like a UFO humping a Roman temple. Subsequently, some other Conference III team will be awarded an outdoor game finally.

26. Nashville will be awarded an All-Star Game. Bob McKenzie will dance happily at the announcement.

27. At least one fight in Conference III (it will probably be in the Chambers Pot) will be a comedy of errors as the combatants will find it impossible to remove the helmet of their opposite number.

28. Ke$ha will be involved in something. I do not know how or why or when. But Ke$ha will be part of the hockey conversation this year.

29. The stories about Dustin Byfuglien being trimmer will disappear after American Thanksgiving. Also disappearing after American Thanksgiving: all the turkeys in the Prairie Provinces and Buff’s ability to tie his own skates.

30. By the end of the season, Dave Strader and Brian Engblom will be the default voices of Conference III on NBCSN, if not the official ones.

31. TMurda will declare “This game has a weird feel to it” during the first ten minutes of at least 70 percent of the games we watch together.

32. The Preds will grab the final wild card spot, joining Chicago, St. Louis and Minnesota in the playoffs.

33. Blackhawks over Kings in the West. Blackhawks over Penguins for their second Stanley Cup.

Some programming notes:

A. Last year, for game previews, we did Worldwide International Game Previews of the World, using a country as a frame for the day’s action. We’re running out of countries and it doesn’t seem like they are making any more. This year, Game Previews will be themed as “Great Game Previews In History,” with great and not-so-great moments in history as our frame. They’ll go up daily (including today) at 3 PM Central (unless there’s an early game).

B. Our game wraps — IIIiteracy — used SportsYapper. SportsYapper has gone app-only, so I can’t link to the fine work of the folks there. Fortunately, there’s lots of great minds plying their trade on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll broaden our reach to the rest of social media.