All sports fans love them. Love to make them, love to read them, love to argue them.
Some Stars fans may have noticed that many of the national media prophets and soothsayers are forecasting gloom and doom for your Dallas Stars. Most of the prognosticators have gone with the popular picks of the Flames in the West and either Philly or Tampa Bay in the East.
Yawn. How boring.
Go out on a limb, we say. Take a chance.
Sports Illustrated did so by ranking the Nashville Predators the fifth best team in the NHL with a sidebar story on how they have become an "instant Cup contender" with the addition of winger Paul Kariya.
Then Sports Illustrated really lost us when they ranked the Stars as the 21st best team, with Anaheim next at 22nd. They have Florida ranked at 10 (excuse us, but did we miss something here?). The Stars players have noticed some of the low rankings, as have some of the coaches. Do any of them really care?
"Not really," said Stars Head Coach Dave Tippett. "You still have to go prove it out on the ice. Media can rank us any way they want as this new season starts. We're confident in our team and what we have to do this season to make the playoffs and be successful."
When making these predictions, all these publications have to really go on is how things went two seasons ago. There have been a lot of changes around the league. Most teams have at least six or seven new players, with many having more than that.
But when you look at the Dallas Stars, the main core of the team has stayed intact.
Looking at the forward lines, the Stars have plenty of weapons to put the puck in the net. Bill Guerin, Jason Arnott, Brenden Morrow, Stu Barnes, Jere Lehtinen, Antti Miettinen, Jussi Jokinen, Niko Kapanen and some guy named Modano lead the way.
"Our main guys have played together for a few years now," said Modano. "We feel that is a positive for our team. We've got one of the best defensemen in the game in (Sergei) Zubov and some of our young guys have really impressed in training camp, especially Jokinen."
The re-signing of Zubov could be the biggest move this club has made in a number of years. The extra space in the newly-sized offensive zone make him even more dangerous -- a puck-handling magician on the point of a power play who can hurt you in so many ways. Now he has four extra feet of space to work with.
"Zubie is going to be key for us," said Tippett. "The new rules will only help his game and compliment his talents."
Veterans Philippe Boucher and Jon Klemm are also on the defensive corps, while 25 year-old Martin Skoula is a talented player with 68 games of playoff experience. Trevor Daley and John Erskine are both young talents who the Stars hope continue to improve since being draft picks by the club a few years ago. And Stephane Robidas, whose solid play two seasons ago with Dallas made GM Doug Armstrong re-acquire him this past summer, was perhaps Dallas' best defenseman in Training Camp. The new rules fit him just fine, as his game is about positioning and making smart decisions instead of relying on physical play.
"Steph has been really good during camp," said Tippett. "I put him among our top four defensemen right now." Oh, and maybe we should look at arguably the most important position -- goaltender.
The Stars are banking on Marty Turco to have a great season again. The Stars' prospects for the season might live and die on the performance of Turco. Not a bad bet since Turco only has the best career goals-against-average in NHL history at 1.91. Veteran Johan Hedberg was brought in to give Turco rest and make sure he is not burned out for the playoffs.
Ah yes, the playoffs. SI doesn't have the Stars there. Neither does The Hockey News. Thanks goodness this isn't college football, where your postseason fate lies in the hands of the voters.
No, the Dallas Stars feel that these predictions are not worth much more than the paper they were printed on. The only thoughts they are concerned about are their own.
"I'm excited about the season and optimistic about our chances," said Modano.
Now there's a forecast Stars fans like to hear. It all starts Wednesday night as the Stars host the LA Kings.