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Would’ve been #NHL power poll/predictions won’t be another #lockout casualty. #RossiRankings … discuss.

Why hello there, dear readers. There is quite a buzz around our fair city for the Penguins’ home opener on this Friday night, perhaps because many people want to see center Sidney Crosby, now 25, get started on what often is a historic year for the all-time great players. Also, not to be overlooked, there is that other center – you know, the new No. 3, Brandon Sutter, he who must replace Jordan Staal. Plus, is this the season that Kris Letang stays healthy and perhaps fulfills his promise as the NHL’s top defenseman? Has Marc-Andre Fleury shaken off all those pucks that the Philadelphia Flyers placed behind him in that Round 1 shocker from last spring? What about the defense corps in front of him? James Neal – surely a certain somebody (cough, cough) will predict more than 17 goals from Mr. Real Deal. Speaking of deals, what was up with that penalty kill in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Has Dan Bylsma figured out how to right what went so wrong? And, finally, Evgeni Malkin… because the best player in hockey deserves a mention at some point.

Would have really been a bear to be discussing any of the above on this Friday, huh?

No news here, folks. The NHL and union met Thursday, and NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Nobody is optimistic, not even the folks who I know were optimistic only a few weeks ago.

The guess here is hockey followers are all equally depressed on what should have been the first weekend of the NHL regular-season. The Penguins were to open tonight at home against the New York Islanders, and then follow Saturday with a game at Buffalo. Those games won’t happen – and the NHL is likely a week or so away from bagging a couple of more weeks.

So, let’s change topics. Submitted, for your no-doubt disapproval, the team rankings I submitted to USA Today for the bi-weekly NHL power poll.

Give them a look and discuss openly on Twitter. Use the hash tag #RossiRankings if you feel so inclined.

I’ve also included my predictions for various awards and the Cup Final/champion.

Cheers,

Rossi

 

 Notes: Rankings reflect where teams stood heading into what would have been training camp. The top four spots are reserved for the reigning champ, Finalist, and conference finalists. Teams are not ranked in order of predicted finish.

1 – Kings

2 – Devils

3 – Rangers

4 – Coyotes

5 – Canucks

6 – Blues

7 – Bruins

8 – Blackhawks

9 – Flyers

10 – Penguins

11 – Red Wings

12 – Senators

13 – Hurricanes

14 – Stars

15 – Capitals

16 – Panthers

17 – Ducks

18 – Sharks

19 – Predators

20 – Lightning

21 – Sabres

22 – Wild

23 – Avalanche

24 – Islanders

25 – Oilers

26 – Jets

27 – Maple Leafs

28 – Flames

29 – Canadiens

30 – Blue Jackets

 INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

MVP: Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes

Top goalie: Cory Schneider, Canucks

Top defenseman: Kris Letang, Penguins

Points leader: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

 DIVISION WINNERS

Atlantic: Flyers

Northeast: Senators

Southeast: Hurricanes

Central: Blackhawks

Northwest: Canucks

Pacific: Stars

STANLEY CUP FINAL

East: Penguins

West: Canucks

Stanley Cup: Penguins

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

Comments

  1. Lisa says:

    Would love an actual explanation of the Jeff Skinner for MVP reasoning. Hurricanes are a better team but Skinner seems like a stretch to me with all the other talent they have on the team and all the other talent in the NHL. He hasn’t shown me enough quite yet to even be considered in the conversation for a nomination. Maybe in a couple years. We shall see…hopefully.

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