We’re reaching the halfway mark of the 2017-2018 NHL season. A lot of teams have surprised us so far. Whether some are worse than we thought or better, all of us at Puck It Up have updated our initial predictions.

Vanessa Kuri:

Stanley Cup Finals:
Initial Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Updated Prediction: Nashville Predators vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Stanley Cup winner: 
Initial Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning are making a serious case to be favorites as Stanley Cup Champions. They currently sit at the top of the league with the most wins so far this season.  And when it comes to line-mates Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, they are unstoppable with a combined 108 points just at the mid point of the season. Yet the team isn’t all just high caliber forwards, goalie Andre Vasilevskiy leads the league in wins and shutouts. With a sound team all around, I think this could finally be the year for the Lightning who came so close to realizing their Stanley Cup dreams in 2015.

Unexpected team to make playoffs: 
Initial Prediction: Carolina Hurricanes
Updated Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights

Team that should make the playoffs, but won’t: 
Initial Prediction: St. Louis Blues
Updated Prediction: Edmonton Oilers

It has been tough to see these guys slowly burn out this season, especially as hopes were so high last season when they finally cracked a playoff spot. There really is no excuses for the Oilers being out-shot 20-3 in their last 7 games. We are talking about a team with skilled veterans, fast talent, and above average goaltending.  The little spark of life the Oilers showed back in December has pretty much faded away.

President’s trophy winner: 
Initial Prediction: Columbus Blue Jackets
Updated Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights

Currently second in the league standings, The Vegas Golden Knights have shocked fans and teams in their inaugural season.  The team came out strong in their first couple games, and at that point they had not fully convinced people of their potential. 40 games later and a record of 28-10-2, I think the Golden Knights have what it takes to win the President’s Trophy and make it into the playoffs.

Last overall: 
Initial Prediction: Colorado Avalanche
Updated Prediction: Arizona Coyotes

Coming into this season with revamped defense and goaltending, I truly thought that we would see somewhat of a resurgence with the Coyotes. Instead, they’re looking at being the worst team in the league in the season with a current record of 10-27-6.

Alyssa O’Brenski:

Stanley Cup Finals: 
Initial Prediction: Edmonton Oilers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Winnipeg Jets

While Vegas is making a surprisingly strong campaign for their first year, I believe if the Jets keep bringing the heat the way they have been recently, they will be able to inch out the playoff-inexperienced Golden Knights. 

Stanley Cup winner: 
Initial Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning

For as long as Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos continue to hammer down on the defensive efforts of their opposers, Tampa Bay has everything it takes and more to go all the way this year.

Unexpected team to make playoffs: 
Initial Prediction: Carolina Hurricanes
Updated Prediction: Carolina Hurricanes

At this point in time, the Hurricanes are a team facing ups and downs with inconsistencies in almost every aspect of their play. But when push comes to shove, I think the young and determined are going to propel their team into playoff position.

Team that should make the playoffs, but won’t: 
Initial Prediction: Arizona Coyotes
Updated Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks

This could be the first time in almost a decade that the Blackhawks don’t make a playoff appearance and that alone is an unexpected possible reality. This season, their inability to persevere through the absence of injured key players could be their ultimate demise.

President’s trophy winner: 
Initial Prediction: Edmonton Oilers
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning

Being on top of the leaderboard almost the entire season speaks for itself. This is Tampa’s year and there’s not much in arguing against that.

Last overall: 
Initial Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights
Updated Prediction: Arizona Coyotes

It’s unfortunate the young and fast Coyotes couldn’t find their balance this year, but perhaps a possible top three draft pick can give them that extra edge toward the bright, prosperous future they’re destined for.

Elham Mohamud:

Stanley Cup Finals: 
Initial Prediction: Washington Capitals vs. Nashville Predators
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators

Stanley Cup winner: 
Initial Prediction: Nashville Predators
Updated Prediction: Nashville Predators

Unexpected team to make playoffs: 
Initial Prediction: Arizona Coyotes
Updated Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights are doing better than anyone expected and I think it’ll carry them over well but I don’t think they’ll make it to the finals since it’s their first year.

Team that should make the playoffs, but won’t: 
Initial Prediction: San Jose Sharks
Updated Prediction: San Jose Sharks

President’s trophy winner: 
Initial Prediction: Washington Capitals
Updated Prediction: Washington Capitals

Last overall: 
Initial Prediction: Colorado Avalanche
Updated Prediction: Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes just can’t catch a break and the San Jose Sharks are just an older team with experience but I do think their aging will get in the way of their playoff hopes.

Kayla Lupoli-Nolan:

Stanley Cup Finals:
Initial Prediction: Montreal Canadiens vs. Calgary Flames
Updated Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Golden Knights and the Lightning have been killing it this year. Both teams have been doing everything right and that’s why they’re at the top of the league right now.

Stanley Cup winner:
Initial Prediction: Montreal Canadiens
Updated Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights

You can say I’m riding the bandwagon if you want, but I called them as the unexpected team the first time around. With their powerhouse presence on the ice and their goalies doing what goalies should do, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went all the way and snagged the cup.

Unexpected team to make playoffs:
Initial Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights
Updated Prediction: Carolina Hurricanes

While this might sound like a long shot, I think it’s totally possible that they make it in as a wild card. With Darling in net and both Williams and Kruger on the team to coach them through that playoff push, the Canes might just manage to make it.

Team that should make the playoffs, but won’t:
Initial Prediction: Arizona Coyotes
Updated Prediction: Montreal Canadiens

I wish I could’ve told myself the first time around that they would inevitably disappoint.

President’s trophy winner:
Initial Prediction: New York Rangers
Updated Prediction: San Jose Sharks

They’re currently sitting in 13th overall, with 48 points. But, they’ve only played 39 of their 82 games which means they can easily pick up those extra points between now and the end of the season.

Last overall:
Initial Prediction: Colorado Avalanche
Updated Prediction: Arizona Coyotes

As much as I want to give them the benefit of a doubt, the Coyotes can’t seem to get it together. They’re currently sitting at the bottom of the league with only 25 points and half of their games played. There’s always the draft.

Claire Brookbanks:

Stanley Cup Finals:
Initial Prediction: Edmonton Oilers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators

I’m going with a pretty basic prediction this time because my initial pick isn’t looking too hot right now.

Stanley Cup winner:
Initial Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning

I don’t know who’s going to stop them.

Unexpected team to make playoffs:
Initial Prediction: Arizona Coyotes
Updated Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights

I’m in Vegas right now and I’m really feeling the hype.

Team that should make the playoffs, but won’t:
Initial Prediction: Minnesota Wild
Updated Prediction: Somebody from the central division. That’s a mess. Colorado Avalanche.

President’s trophy winner:
Initial Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning

Again, I don’t know who’s going to stop them.

Last overall:
Initial Prediction: Vancouver Canucks
Updated Prediction: Arizona Coyotes

Please end my suffering.

Ruchi Patel:

Stanley Cup Finals:
Initial Prediction: Edmonton Oilers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Updated Prediction: Los Angeles Kings vs. Washington Capitals

Both of the teams I picked to make the Finals aren’t even in a playoff spot right now, so I was clearly very wrong about them. Right now, I can see a few different teams from the Eastern Conference make it far in the playoffs (Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Toronto) but I think this will finally be Washington’s year with Pittsburgh possibly missing the playoffs. I’m not too confident in my Western Conference pick, almost any team can make it to the finals and I wouldn’t be surprised. 

Stanley Cup winner:
Initial Prediction: Edmonton Oilers
Updated Prediction: Washington Capitals

It’s their year, I’m telling you.

Unexpected team to make playoffs:
Initial Prediction: Carolina Hurricanes
Updated Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas is a fast, fast team and with Fleury in net, I can see them going far.

Team that should make the playoffs, but won’t:
Initial Prediction: St. Louis Blues
Updated Prediction: Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton along with Montreal made promising/bold moves over the summer and have little to show for them right now.

President’s trophy winner:
Initial Prediction: Washington Capitals
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning

While I do think this is Washington’s year, it’s Tampa Bay’s year when it comes to the regular season.

Last overall:
Initial Prediction: Colorado Avalanche
Updated Prediction: Buffalo Sabres

They’ll have to fight Arizona for this, but on the bright side another tank-off would be fun to watch.

Jennifer Moglia:

Stanley Cup Finals:
Initial Prediction: Edmonton Oilers vs. Ottawa Senators
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Vegas Golden Knights

So, obviously, a lot has changed since the off-season. A lot has changed since the beginning of the season, even! The Edmonton Oilers have failed to live up to expectations, and the Ottawa Senators just haven’t been good enough to be noticed. That means that my dream Canada vs. Canada Stanley Cup Final matchup probably won’t happen. Instead, I chose the red-hot, first year Vegas Golden Knights, and the consistently excellent Tampa Bay Lightning.

Stanley Cup winner:
Initial Prediction: Edmonton Oilers
Updated Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning

I would give Tampa the edge over Vegas, solely because the Lightning have had a LOT more experience in the playoffs compared to the Golden Knights. Though they’re still only in their first year in the NHL, the Knights have taken the league by storm, and I definitely don’t think that they’ll finish last.

Unexpected team to make playoffs:
Initial Prediction: Arizona Coyotes
Updated Prediction: Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes have downed the reigning champ Pittsburgh Penguins twice so far this season, with two meetings left for them. This makes the Hurricanes a bigger threat than anyone thought they would be, along with exposing the Penguins’ newly-found weaknesses.

Team that should make the playoffs, but won’t:
Initial Prediction: Montreal Canadiens
Updated Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins

My feelings on the Montreal Canadiens hasn’t changed though…I still think they’ll miss the playoffs, just don’t think that they should make it.

President’s trophy winner:
Initial Prediction: Columbus Blue Jackets
Updated Prediction: Washington Capitals

The Columbus Blue Jackets simply haven’t been noticeable enough in a Metropolitan Division packed with talent, though the Washington Capitals have definitely done that. As long as they stay hot and don’t choke, as they are known to do, I think that the Capitals can win the President’s Trophy. However, I don’t have much hope for them in the playoffs…stop me if you’ve heard that before?

Last overall:
Initial Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights
Updated Prediction: Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes haven’t come out as strong as I thought they would; in fact, I think they’ll finish last rather than sneaking into the playoffs as I previously predicted. 

Tweet us @puckitupblog or our individual accounts to let us know what you think about our predictions!

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