Revisiting past decisions is for fools and dreamers. That being said, what the heck was I thinking in the pre-season?!?
Here's what out west:
Where I predicted: 12th in the West
Why: Suspect goaltending (should have kept Ray Emery) and a lack of depth sccoring.
Where they currently stand: 14th and glad for Columbus.
How they got there: It's not so much scoring depth that's let them down as what was once the most dangerous line in hockey all going cold the same time right when Lubomir Visnovsky's shot abandons him. (Note: not a coincidence.)
The inevitable excuse: Without Visnovsky, their top two guys are young, young, young. Cam Fowler has scoring - but teams also win when the opposition doesn't score.
How I could still be right: The Ducks are 15 points back of 12th with 45 games to go... If four or five players get back to form, they could do it!
Where I predicted: 7th in the West
Why: Backlund gets the chance to move up, enough top-position talent to make it.
Where they currently stand: 12th and - hey, is it cold in here?
How they got there: Backlund has the skill to take one of the two top centre spots, but he didn't. Too early, or can he just not get it done at this level?
The inevitable excuse: The middle six positions in the West are always a coin-flip any way.
How I could still be right: Iginla heating up again, Giordano coming back, telling Brendan Morrison he's playing Carolina every night.
Where I predicted: 3rd in the West
Why: Goon-squad additions, losing Brian Campbell, and no proven back-up cause a slight slide.
Where they currently stand: 1st in the West, and reminding me of Vancouver (Beat Detroit, lose to Edmonton...)
How they got there: Having three guys scoring at a point-a-game pace is always a good thing.
The inevitable excuse: What excuse? That division is as tight as *inappropriate comment deleted*
How I could still be right: Easily. Though if their special teams ever get going, they'll be hard for anyone to catch.
Where I predicted: 10th in the West
Why: Goaltending of questionable health and that Kyle Quincey is their play-making defenseman.
Where they currently stand: 8th and looking around nervously.
How they got there: Because Jean-Sebastien Giguere says they should. Ryan O'Reilly is having a career season, but he still shouldn't be this (or any) team's leading scorer.
The inevitable excuse: No excuse needed - these guys are right on pace, just not the way I expected.
How I could still be right: They played more games than anyone behind them. This spot won't last.
Where I predicted: 8th in the West.
Where they currently stand: Last. Dead last. Bottom of the barrel. Anaheim's one point up, but they have a game in hand.
The inevitable excuse: The shock of a pre-season 8 game suspension to a pivotal player and Carter's longer than hoped adjustment period are to blame. Or I was drinking heavily and thinking of my Rick Nash man-crush.
How I could still be right: Seven teams in the Western Conference suddenly quit the NHL, wanting to "spend more time with their families".
Where I predicted: 14th in the West
Why: They were planning on making Mike Riberio their top centre.
Where they currently stand: 10th and strangely optimistic.
The inevitable excuse: Mike Riberio! Their top centre! Where else was I supposed to put them?
How I could still be right: We'll see where Souray's injury takes them, but it won't be down to 14th.
Where I predicted: 6th in the West
Where they currently stand: 4th because of the division leader rankings.
How they got there: Good health of their stars, solid play by Jimmy Howard, and someone told Valtteri Filppula that this season was only 40 games long, so if he wanted to reach his usual 35-40 points, he'd better hurry.
The inevitable excuse: I blame others. Specifically Los Angeles and San Jose for dragging their heels when they should be much better.
How I could still be right: By waiting patiently. It's the Central division - ANY of the top four teams could end up topping the division.
Where I predicted: 13th in the West
Why: Young team, massive injury trouble to their scoring last season, "reclamation projects" as far as the eye can see (once you look past the 20-and-younger crowd).
Where they currently stand: 13th - Nailed it! Woo! Stop the season now, I'm done!
How they got there: Nikolai Khabibulin is doing what he can, but this is NOT a team built to help their goaltenders.
The inevitable excuse: No excuses needed!
How I could still be right: Things can still go horribly wrong for this prediction, especially if they shed some youth (Sam Gagner?) for blue line help.
Where I predicted: 5th in the West
Where they currently stand: 3rd, but hearing the theme from Jaws playing...
How they got there: The seven loser points have helped, but they've been on a tear since the new boss got beind the bench, and Jonathan Quick is putting on a clinic.
The inevitable excuse: I'm still okay with this prediction - they should have been better than they were to start the season, and now they are.
How I could still be right: The upswing in play might be too late to catch the top two or three in the Central... but maybe not.
Where I predicted: 11th in the West
The inevitable excuse: Miko Koivu was supposed to be out longer, dang it!
How I could still be right: Once their illegal goalie-manufacturing facility gets raided, these guys are going down!
Where I predicted: 9th in the West
Why: Relying on Sergi Kostitsyn to score is never a good idea, and Steve Sullivan went away.
Where they currently stand: 7th and looking calm in the storm.
How they got there: So, who needs forwards any way? Their top scoring forward is rookie Craig Smith: he's second between Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. A good power play and mediocre penalty kill (wait, what?) have them on the cusp, just like they're used to.
The inevitable excuse: Predicting that THIS will be the year the Predators fall out of the playoffs is a prognosticator's heroin: you shouldn't, but you can't resist.
How I could still be right: Oh, please! This is the West - Maggie the Monkey could predict the middle six teams as well as anyone else!
Where I predicted: 15th in the West
Why: Replacing Ilya Bryzgalov with a goalie who had never played 50 games in a season did not seem like a recipie for success.
Where they currently stand: 11th with sound-blocking headphones.
How they got there: Two players with ten or more goals pretty much says it all.
The inevitable excuse: Slipping of late, but full marks to coach Dave Tippett: with perpetual, amssive distractions, he's had them on track the past 2 1/2 seasons. I say he's a warlock, an should be burned at the stake.
How I could still be right: The coach experiences a sudden, tragic accident involving his barbecue and a surprisingly large shish kabob.
Where I predicted: 4th in the West
Where they currently stand: 5th and glad no one else signed Brian Elliott.
How they got there: Brian Elliott. Seriously - Brian Elliott. Jaroslav Halak has been fine, but Elliott... just...
The inevitable excuse: Seriously? Brian Elliott? Fuck this "predicting" bullshit. I'm getting a beer.
How I could still be right: So, where was I? The rest of the team has got time to pick up their game, and they'll need to to jump that one extra spot. They can do it, but we'll have to see if they do.
Where I predicted: 2nd in the West
Why: Adding Martin Havlat to (and shedding the toxic Dany Heatley from) a potent forward corps and Brent Burns to the blue line can be nothing but good ideas.
Where they currently stand: 9th, but one win away from 3rd!
How they got there: By having 3, 4, or 5 games in hand on everyone else in the conference.
The inevitable excuse: I expected more points to come from the bottom three teams in the division, but it ends up they have to play other teams too, dang it!
How I could still be right: Anyone got a spare Delorean?
Where I predicted: 1st in the West
Why: Marco Sturm is coming in to make the forwards even faster and more dangerous! Woo!
Where they currently stand: 2nd after a well-rested October.
How they got there: Being second to Boston again, with not quite as bad a Stanley Cup Hangover as the Briuns (5-5-1 in October compared to 3-7-0) followed by a not quite as good recovery (10-5 in December compared to 9-3).
The inevitable excuse: Manny Malhotra has not fully recovered from last year's eye injury, and it's showed with a weaker third - now fourth - line.
How I could still be right: Management is clearly unafraid to make changes, if that's what's needed. But really? They're right in the thinck of things again.
So that's them. Amazing to think that of all the predictions, putting Detroit behind St. Louis was what raised the most hackles! Well, three more months, one more update, then into the second season we go.
Let's drop the puck and get to it, then!