Let's get this, the worst part of the job, out of the way.
But before providing them, understand this: If I or anyone else were any good at this, do you really think I'd be typing out a blog as I get set to work some ungodly number of days over the next nine weeks? Because if I were really an expert prognosticator, I'd be sitting with my feet up in a mansion in Vegas, just waiting for my iron-clad wagers to pay off and then indulge in a glorious life of excess. The fun kind of excess, you know, rock star video excess, not spending every night for nine weeks with James Duthie excess.
When it comes to predictions, the truth of the matter is that stiffs like me who cover hockey for a hockey living have no more advantage or insight than stiffs like you. You either go with your head or your heart but in the end it doesn't matter because the team you picked end ups losing its best player to injury in the first game and, as they say, all bets are off.
If you have a good year, you'll go 12-3. Been there, done that. If you struggle, chances are you'll end up 8-7 or 7-8. If you really struggle, you get beat by a monkey and they write about it on the front page of the Toronto Star. Oh, that's right; that only happens to me, not you.
The whole concept of predictions is actually laughable.
Like they mean anything. Seriously, who pays attention to this %#@*.
It's not like there is any accountability. When you do well, you tell everybody about it. Hey, everybody, look how smart I am. When you suck at it, you keep your head down and hope no one notices, but the guy who happens to be 12-3 that year always does.
For those of you who play the home game version of predictions, consider yourself lucky you don't have to deal with irate GMs or coaches or players, who take it as a personal affront that you picked their team to lose. But those guys are so sure of themselves that they don't tell you how angry or disappointed they are until AFTER they win the series. Funny, but I have yet to hear from a GM or coach or player who's angry with a correct prediction you made AFTER they lose. Funny that.
The only value of predictions, as I see it, is to determine consensus, not that consensus equates to accuracy. Montreal was consensus to finish out of the playoffs this season; they won the Eastern Conference. Boston was consensus to finish at or near the bottom of the East; they snagged the last playoff spot.
But if nothing else, that consensus provides a general indicator of how teams are perceived by the viewing masses, pseudo-experts and otherwise. That has a modicum of value; barely. But individual guys in newspapers or on TV telling you who they think will win or lose? C'mon, get real.
The only thing more ludicrous than predicting who will win each series is the Conference winner prediction and Cup champion prediction.
In order to do that successfully, you pretty much have to be perfect on your individual predictions because if you don't get the right seeds meeting at the right time, you've got no shot.
And enough things will happen in the first week of the playoffs - mostly injuries - to render any prediction for the first week of June even more meaningless than when you made it in April, and that's saying something.
So here you go, my predictions for this year's playoffs.
Enjoy them, because I put so much time and effort into them (insert sarcastic smiley face here) and they are so meaningful.
In the East, Montreal over Boston, Pittsburgh over Ottawa, Washington over Philadelphia, and, New York Rangers over New Jersey.
In the West, Detroit over Nashville, San Jose over Calgary, Colorado over Minnesota, and, Anaheim over Dallas.
I would say about 90 per cent of all the media predictions I've seen are identical to these. The other ten per cent have some variation of Philly beating Washington or the Devils over the Rangers or Minny over Colorado.
Great, are we having some fun now?
There should be a universal law that if you're going to make predictions, you have to put your money where your mouth is. That is, you can't make a prediction unless you put down $500 of your own money on the team to win. No pay, no play this stupid game. You would see the prediction business dry up in hurry and there wouldn't be so many guys tooting their own horn the first week of June, saying they knew all along the Nashville-Ottawa Cup final was money in the bank.
Hey, I've just made an executive decision. This year is it for me - no more playoff predictions after this season.
Predictions are stupid; they're shallow; they serve no purpose. I'm not sure there's anything else I do in my life that is this utterly inane - don't go there -- so enough already. Stop the insanity.
As that great thespian Bill Murray said in Meatballs, "It just doesn't matter…it just doesn't matter..."
Unless, of course, I go 12-3 this year.
Otherwise, find yourself another monkey.