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How did we do? Looking back at our Western Conference predictions

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How did we do? Looking back at our Western Conference predictions

The only media tradition people love more than predictions is seeing how wrong those predictions turn out to be. In the fall, Chuck Gormley and I predicted who would reach the playoffs and who would win the Cup. It's time to go back and see how we did and give some new predictions for the playoffs. Let's start with the Western Conference.

Predicted playoff teams:

Central Division

  1. Chicago Blackhawks
  2. Nashville Predators
  3. Dallas Stars

Pacific Division

  1. Anaheim Ducks
  2. Calgary Flames
  3. Vancouver Canucks

Wild card

  1. Minnesota Wild
  2. St. Louis Blues

What we said:

"Dallas has a lot of questions on defense, but if Antti Niemi can live up to expectations, the offense certainly has enough weapons to take the Stars back into the postseason."

"Anaheim is far and away the best team in the conference and has the best regular season coach in the NHL in Bruce Boudreau. Calgary was a year ahead of schedule last season and in the face of several disintegrating teams, the Flames will be the second best team in the division. Third place is a tossup between Vancouver, San Jose and Los Angeles, three teams who are clearly on the decline. I'll give it to Vancouver who always plays well in the regular season even if they disappear in the playoffs."

"Minnesota is going to take a step back because it would be unreasonable to expect Devan Dubnyk to replicate what he did last season."

(You can read the full preseason predictions of the Western Conference here)

How they actually finished:

Central Division

  1. Dallas Stars
  2. St. Louis Blues
  3. Chicago Blackhawks

Pacific Division

  1. Anaheim Ducks
  2. Los Angeles Kings
  3. San Jose Sharks

Wild Card

  1. Nashville Predators
  2. Minnesota Wild

The order may be wrong, but I did in fact, successfully predict all five Central Division playoff teams. Dallas' season played out pretty much as predicted, though their offense carried them much higher in the standings than I thought they could given the team's weaknesses on defense.

Can we just forget I made any predictions at all about the Pacific Division? It's amazing to think back to beginning of the season and remember just how good we thought Anaheim was going to be. They have been one of the most compelling stories of the season considering how badly they started the season and how they were still able to rebound. Picking Calgary and Vancouver to make the playoffs though...ouch.

Preseason pick for Western Conference winner: Nashville

What we said:

"Whoever comes out of the Central is going to be my pick to win the conference. That division is a grind and will be better prepared for postseason play."

For several months this looked like an accurate assessment. Lets not forget just how dreadful the Pacific Division looked for at the beginning of the season. Remember how Arizona was in a playoff position for a really long time? It was truly awful. Now Anaheim and Los Angeles have emerged as true contenders and whoever survives the first two rounds from the Central is going to be pretty banged up. I'm still not sold on San Jose (how can you trust a playoff team that had a losing record at home?), but the point remains: You cannot discount the Pacific.

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY