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There are no more excuses for The Great Eight. Is this the year for Ovechkin and the Capitals?...

There are no more excuses for The Great Eight. Is this the year for Ovechkin and the Capitals? (REUTERS/Jim Young)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:52 PM ET

TERRY JONES

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREDICTION: CANUCKS OVER BRUINS

Once more without the riot. There’s no reason the Vancouver Canucks can’t win the Presidents’ Trophy again with the number of games they play against won’t-make-the-playoffs-again Northwest Division opposition. It’s the old “find the door, knock on the door, knock the door down” deal. It’s time for the Canucks to knock the door down.

And why not Boston in the final again?

The Bruins won’t have as easy trip of it during the regular season but they proved everything there was to prove in the playoffs this past season to believe they could get back again.

HART TROPHY PREDICTION: HENRIK SEDIN, CANUCKS

Henrik has produced 206 points during the past two seasons and should return to making magic with his brother, given the greater space and freedom that the regular season provides. And, like his team, he should benefit from playing all those games in the Northwest Division. Of course, I could be wrong about this. It could be Daniel Sedin instead.

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RANDY SPORTAK

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREDICTION: CAPITALS OVER SHARKS

Let’s face it, this season is a wide-open race. Out of the East, Philadelphia and Boston look strong. In the West, Vancouver is still a good team, Chicago still has plenty of talent and Los Angeles is a true up-and-coming squad. Still, can’t help but think the Capitals have addressed their need for forward depth, are one year better on the blue line and shored up between the pipes. As for the Sharks, they have to take another step some year, don’t they?

HART TROPHY PREDICTION: ALEX OVECHKIN,  CAPITALS

The criticisms from departed players will make Alex Semin a better winger, Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer give the Capitals better wingers, the addition of Tomas Vokoun finally gives them a strong goalie and the beneficiary will be Ovechkin. Sidney Crosby’s concussion woes may be over, but watch for a big bounce-back season from the Gr8 One, too.

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PAUL FRIESEN

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREDICTION: PENGUINS OVER BLACKHAWKS

Disclaimer: If Sid the Kid’s problem with concussions rears its ugly head again, the following should be disregarded. But if No. 87 has a clear noggin this season, there’s no reason the Penguins can’t pick up where they left off before being ravaged by injuries to Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal in 2010-11.

I don’t know if Crosby will start the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes it with the Cup in his hands. As for the Blackhawks, a regained hunger should propel them back to contender status.

HART TROPHY PREDICTION: SIDNEY CROSBY,  PENGUINS

The Pens have done the right thing, erring on the side of caution where the league’s marquee asset is concerned. Hopefully, for the good of the game, it pays off and Crosby plays a full season, or close to it.

If he does, he’s an automatic Hart Trophy contender. If not, we all lose.

There simply isn’t a better all-round player, or one as self-motivated.

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CHRIS STEVENSON

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREDICTION: PENGUINS OVER BLACKHAWKS

This has to be the Pittsburgh Penguins’* year to bounce back, right? You know what the “*” is all about, of course.

Sidney “*” Crosby.

But given the encouraging start to training camp for the Penguins captain, I’m going to get by the * and make a pretty big assumption that he will return sooner rather than later from a concussion and lead the 2009 Stanley Cup champs to another Cup.

The Penguins had Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal together in the lineup for only two games last season and still had 106 points. Having power forward James Neal for a full season will help, and defenceman Kris Letang is looking like he will be part of the Norris Trophy conversation.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury knows how to win a Cup.

Every other contending team has some big issue. The Penguins will cope with their best and beat Chicago in the final.

HART TROPHY PREDICTION: STEVEN STAMKOS, LIGHTNING

The Lightning will continue to improve under coach Guy Boucher and Stamkos, who had 45 goals last season, should benefit. Linemate Martin St-Louis hasn’t been showing any signs of slowing down, so this could be a huge year for Stamkos. The guy’s outstanding release makes him a threat to score 50 goals every year and that’s a pretty good place to start looking at Hart Trophy candidates. The rest of Stamkos’ game should continue to improve, too, as he makes another move to make the Lightning his team.

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MIKE ZEISBERGER

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREDICTION: PENGUINS OVER BLACKHAWKS

A year ago the pick here was the Pens over the Canucks. The Vancouver part was accurate but, without Malkin and Crosby, the Pens were toast. Now Malkin is back and, if Sid The Kid returns, this team will be hungrier than ever.

My money’s on Sid coming back to help fight off the Caps. In the West, the Hawks, having fallen just one OT goal shy of eliminating the Canucks in the first round, will need to fend off the upstart Kings, the revamped Sharks and the revenge-seeking ‘Nucks.

HART TROPHY PREDICTION: ALEX OVECHKIN, CAPITALS

There are no more excuses for The Great Eight. Coming off a sub-par season (at least by his standards), Ovechkin still is surrounded by an elite supporting cast, one augmented by battle-proven goalie Tomas Vokoun.

Ovechkin is reaching his prime, at least in hockey years. Time to answer the bell, Alex.

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BRUCE GARRIOCH

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREDICTION: CAPITALS OVER SHARKS

Sure, choosing San Jose to get to the Stanley Cup final is always risky. The Sharks just never seem to get the job done when it counts. They’ll learn from their past, but won’t achieve the ultimate goal. The Capitals have had to learn the hard way. However, they may finally have a goalie who can get the job done. I don’t know why I like Tomas Vokoun signing there on a one-year deal so much, but I really do. He’ll give Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the stars in the Caps dressing room something they can actually believe in between the pipes. Caps will come through.

HART TROPHY PREDICTION: STEVEN STAMKOS, LIGHTNING

Stamkos was fantastic last season. He’ll be even better this year. If Sidney Crosby were completely healthy, he might be my choice in this category, but Stamkos is going to have another great season. He competes every night and coach Guy Boucher has been able to surround him with a supporting cast that will continue to help Stamkos achieve big numbers. Consistency is huge.

 

 


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