The 2011 Stanley Cup parade could once again roll down Michigan Avenue next June.
The Chicago Blackhawks are TSN's leading choice to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup, as revealed on the NHL on TSN Season Preview Show on Wednesday.
The core of the team's championship squad from two seasons ago remains in place. Led by two of the NHL's most talented forwards in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, last season's disappointing early playoff exit could be a turning point for the Blackhawks.
In a survey conducted with the NHL on TSN panel, there was no consensus on which team would win the Cup with the Blackhawks edging out the Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins in voting. The Philadelphia Flyers also received some votes.
Chicago's biggest move this off-season was locking up Patrick Sharp to a five-year, $29.5 million deal. Sharp, along with Kane and Toews, will once again be counted on lead the Blackhawks up front. They finished last season with a 44-29-9 record for 97 points and grabbed the final playoff spot in the Western Conference before coming up short against the Vancouver Canucks in the first round.
For the Capitals, expectations are high once again. With goaltender Tomas Vokoun joining star forward Alexander Ovechkin and young talents like John Carlson and Marcus Johansson, they boast a talented offence, and a revamped defence that was already among the NHL's toughest last season. The Capitals have been the top regular season team in the East.
Breaking down the 2011-12 regular season, TSN's consensus choice has the Capitals finishing at the top of the Eastern Conference again.
In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks are TSN's pick to lead the way. After winning of the President's Trophy last season, having Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler winning the Art Ross Trophy and Selke Trophy respectively and making their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 17 years, the pressure's on for at least a repeat performance.
TSN also projects that the Montreal Canadiens will be making another playoff appearance this season. With a healthier lineup to start the season (even without Andrei Markov out of the gate), Jacques Martin's club appears good enough for the panel to say they'll secure the eighth and final spot in the East.
TSN's consensus picks also have the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers missing the playoffs, finishing ninth, 10th, 14th and 15th in their respective conferences.
The Jets, bringing NHL hockey back to Winnipeg for the first time since 1996, are projected for a 12th-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
NHL on TSN Consensus Picks
Projected Eastern Conference Standings
1. Washington (Southeast)
2. Pittsburgh (Atlantic)
3. Boston (Northeast)
5. Tampa Bay
7. NY Rangers
9. New Jersey
13. NY Islanders
Projected Western Conference Standings
1. Vancouver (Northwest)
2. San Jose (Pacific)
3. Chicago (Central)
5. Los Angeles
7. St. Louis