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2008 NHL Predictions
by Max, Doc's NHL Hockey Expert

It seems like only yesterday the NHL Hockey season was concluding with the Anaheim Ducks hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in their existence. That team seemed to have the perfect mix of young and old, skill and powerful, and two solid net minders. With the new restrictions and salary cap limits, the off-season has somewhat resembled the NFL with numerous big name players switching teams and thus the power in both conferences has been altered. Following the list of some of the big names that moved elsewhere during the summer months will be Doc's 2008 NHL Predictions.

* Chris Drury - New York Rangers (from Buffalo) * Scott Gomez - New York Rangers (from New Jersey) * Dainius Zubrus - New Jersey Devils (from Buffalo) * Ryan Smyth - Colorado Avalanche (from New York) * Daniel Briere - Philadelphia Flyers (from Buffalo) * Dustin Penner - Edmonton Oilers (from Anaheim) * Mattieu Schneider - Anaheim Ducks (from Detroit) * Brian Rafalski - Detroit Red Wings (from New Jersey)

Veteran stars Peter Forsberg and Scott Niedermayer still have not reported to training camp and their future in the league is up in the air. Niedermayer led the Anaheim Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007 and is still deciding if he has the itch to go after a fifth cup. His brother still plays for the Ducks and if he comes back it will be after the team opens the regular season in London, playing two regular season games against the Los Angeles Kings.

This has got to be one of the most ridiculous ideas the NHL has come up with in the effort to get back onto the national radar. Anaheim finished the 2006-2007 season with a great following of LA celebrities and they should be allowed to open the season in front of their home fans while picking up their rings. But instead both them and the Los Angeles Kings end up losing essentially two home games by having to open the season in Europe. Go figure! But then, remember, this is the same NHL that decided to feature their only outdoor game of the season on New Year's Day, since there our no big events going on that day like College Football.

Anyhow, what is done is done and like most of my clients found out last year, making money in the NHL feels just as good as making money in either football or basketball. That is precisely what happened last year when we caught fire during the middle of February and carried that through the end of the Stanley Cup Finals in June. Will the cream of the crop still lie in the West this year? Will the defending champions struggle to make the playoffs for a third straight year? We will try and answer some of these questions below, previewing a few of the top teams in the league.

2008 NHL Predictions

Locks to make the Playoffs

1) Anaheim Ducks (13-2 Odds to win the Stanley Cup) - the defending Stanley Cup Champions should again be the team to beat, as GM Brain Burke continues to make this team better. However, if Niedermayer does not return, expect their defense to suffer. A lot of teams have one good defender, but what made the Ducks special last season was the combination of Pronger and Niedermayer.

2) New York Rangers (13-1 Odds) - the Rangers had an outstanding off-season and grabbed a few key players from their main opponents in Buffalo (Drury) and New Jersey (Gomez). They still have the best offensive player in the league in Jagr and a solid netminder in Lundqvist. The talent is there for this team to make a run for the title like they did in 1994.

3) Ottawa Senators (10-1 Odds) - the Sens still have a powerful offense led by Alfredsson and Heatley, and Emery proved he could hold up between the pipes. This team proved they can score goals at will and become a physical team that opponents fear playing in the playoffs. They will also have a new coach in John Paddock, as Bryan Murray will leave the bench to take on GM duties.

Safe Bets for the Playoffs

1) New Jersey Devils (28-1 Odds) - yes they lost a lot via free agency, but they still have the best goalie in the league in Martin Brodeur and he alone gives you a chance to win each and every night. They are also playing in much-needed new arena nicknamed, "The Rock."

2) Atlanta Thrashers (25-1 Odds) - the Thrashers finally played to their potential in 2007 and reached the playoffs for the first time in their existence. They still have a powerful offense in Hossa, Kovalchuk, and Kozlov and had decent play from their goalies as well. The Southeast Division should be much more competitive this season, with Tampa Bay and Carolina trying to get back to the glory days.

3) San Jose Sharks (10-1 Odds) - this team looked dominating at times last season and challenged the Anaheim Ducks for the top spot in the West, but for the second straight year were bounced in six games in the second round of the playoffs. The goalie job now solely belongs to Nabokov and that appears to be the right move to benefit Thornton and Marleau. One player that needs to step up is Jonathan Cheechoo, who led the league in goals in 2006 but had quite a drop-off in 2007.

4) Detroit Red Wings (10-1 Odds) - this number is way too low for them to win it all, but they still play in a bad division and should be a top three seed in the West when the playoffs start. They are a year older and lost a couple of key components to competitors, but they always seem to play well during the regular season.

Surprise Team

1) Pittsburgh Penguins (15-1 Odds) - Sid the Kid led this team to the playoffs last year and expect a similar result this season. I still do not believe they are tough enough to win it all, but you always have a chance when you have a difference-maker on your side. Fleury surprised a lot of teams with his play between the pipes in 2007 and it will be interesting to see if he can hold up again.

The season is ready to kick off and Doc's Sports wants you aboard. Full season packages are now available and the recent success speaks for itself. Hockey is the perfect sport for the smart gamblers that like to play just one strong game each night. We are ready to attack the season from start to finish and want you aboard, so sign-up now and let 36 years of experience work for you.


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