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A look back at how Litter Box Cats did in the 2014-15 prediction department

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The LBC community was not afraid to go on record preseason to throw down predictions, here then, is a look at how it all turned out.

You guys really predicted that?
You guys really predicted that?
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers season did not end until game 78 against Tampa Bay in 2014-15, which is an amazing feat when one thinks back to 2013-14 and the 29th place finish that never really saw the team even compete for a playoff position. Coming into this season we here at LBC ran several articles that posed the question of how the Panthers would fare, as well as how the league would finish. In the first piece we also ran a poll asking you, the LBC reader where you felt the team would finish this season. In the spirit of a good bar stool ribbing, we look back now at who had it right, who was close, and who shall have to wear the LBC "crown of shame," for most off-base predictions.

Our first target is you, the LBC reader. How did the LBC reader do when it came to predicting whether the Panthers would make the playoffs? Back on September 5, 2014, this article debuted, asking if playoffs were in the cards for the Cats. A poll at the end of the article provided 4 options ranging from "no chance" to "book the playoff tickets, we're in." How did the 239 anonymous voters fare? 60 "glass is more than half-full" voters took the option of booking the tickets. 20 voters chose "no chance." 39 voters took the easy way out with the "haven't the foggiest" option. Pat yourselves on the collective back LBC readers: by far the majority, with 120 votes, chose exactly what happened, with the Cats narrowly missing the playoffs, but showing great improvement.

But that is just so anonymous, it doesn't allow for the ribbing we are looking for, or the back slapping for those who were dead-on, after all, this is a community, and you are all just as big a part of it as we are.

For that, we go to the 102 comments to that article. Once we separate out all the back and forth about Tim Thomas, we get the following results:

Sashasaves16, thought if healthy we'd squeak into the playoffs. Pretty darn close prediction. Perhaps the game vs. Toronto with both goalies getting injured that we lost was a big one. (LAUSMAN AGREED WITH HIM--when it comes to Lausman you have to honor him with a lot of all caps, those who have been around for a while will understand).

Barkovthe18yearold, believed we'd be better but just miss the playoffs. Well done.

DavidKnight1304, predicted a six seed and 1st round defeat of Tampa Bay before falling in the 2nd round to Boston. Way off, but buy that man a cold one for his optimism, we need more of that!

Kellner21, predicted we'd be on the outside looking in.

Devin N, nailed it by predicting we'd just miss the post-season but by less than 8 points. I want that guy picking my lottery numbers.

DCfish predicted the Atlantic would be the weakest division but was cautiously optimistic the Cats would make the playoffs.

Bill Jempty predicted the Cats would not make the playoffs.

Panther_fan93 hedged his bets by stating the Panthers would make it OR be in the bottom 3 of the league. That counts as 2 wrongs (and that don't make a right).

amaza89 was hopeful.

Finally, of note was Brent Temple, who stated that because his predictions always fail, he'd predict that the Panthers would be awful, thus causing the opposite. That is some talisman Brent must keep in his classroom.

As for the LBC staff? Well, we waited until this October 8, 2014, Roundtable discussion with Shane to make our predictions. The critical difference was that Shane got us all to make league wide predictions, playoff predictions, and Cup winning predictions. We start our review with the Panthers:

We will start at one extreme, with Todd, who predicted the Cats would finish last and be in the McDavid-fest at the top 3 of the draft (give the man some credit though, he did point out that he has been burned too many times for being overly optimistic and decided to take the "Brent Temple" approach). Our fearless leader, Donny predicted the Cats would be vastly improved, but miss the playoffs and finish 6th in the Atlantic behind Toronto. Please play again kind sir. Our resident man of math, Shane predicted the Panthers would make the playoffs. Only one of the four writers earned the right to gloat (not that he would ever do so..): ME. My prediction?

"The Cats just miss the playoffs, Detroit continues a downward trend. The Leafs and Sens are a mess and Buffalo is just in trouble"

O.k. so I wasn't all that correct aside from the Cats, but who could have expected the Hamburgler to emerge in Ottawa? I will cut this gloating session short and move on to far more shameful areas of my predictions as we now move to our league wide predictions.

Sticking to the playoff predictions, you may have noticed that I predicted New Jersey and Philadelphia to win the Eastern Conference wild cards. Perhaps Shane put something in the water at our secret Everglades roundtable hut.... Yet, the truth is that the wild card was tough on all four of us, as Shane predicted the Devils and Panthers, Donny chose the Rangers and Philadelphia, and Todd got the closest with the Islanders and Red Wings.

When it came to the Western wild card picks, we did somewhat better, with all four of us picking Minnesota, but none of us predicting Winnipeg. Shane and I did pick Vancouver in the playoffs, while Donny and Todd said Colorado would nab a spot- a prediction that Shane's math studies showed was highly unlikely. Yes indeed, Shane really is the "professor!" I suspect we will all be taking better notes in class next pre-season and that Todd will no longer be sleeping in the back of the room (Donny has the baby, give the man some sleep!)

Staying in the west, with the Pacific Division, all of us had the Kings as the 1st or 2nd team in the standings and San Jose no lower than 4th. Donny was rightfully big on Vancouver, while Todd was not. We all thought Arizona would be well enough above tank levels. Every one of us missed badly on Calgary. Never underestimate the power of Johnny Hockey.

When it came to the Central we all had Winnipeg dead last. So we misidentified our tanks....don't sit with us in a foxhole? We all correctly identified St. Louis and Chicago in the top-3, and all predicted Dallas in the top-3. Obviously we left the old adage that defense wins championships at the door on that one, as well as that none of us picked Nashville higher than 5th in the Central.

But we are Eastern Conference people, so let us return to the friendly confines of our home coast. Uh oh. Me, Shane and Donny all had Pittsburgh at the tops of the Metro, and Todd had Washington in that spot. Shame of shames, I had the President's Trophy winning Rangers out of the playoffs, and wrote about the Blueshirts: "As for the Rangers, they did nothing to get better in the off-season. They lost very important pieces in Pouliot, Boyle, Richards and Stralman and the injury to Stepan, and lack of critical production from Nash just spell real trouble."

Yikes. At least we all predicted Carolina's awful season, and Donny and Todd correctly wrote that New Jersey would tumble down the standings. For the most part we all thought the Flyers would have a difficult year.

When it came to the Atlantic, we all predicted Boston in the top 3, but also all knew that Tampa and Montreal would be there as well. Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. We also --but for Todd and his hopeful "the opposite will happen- Florida pick, predicted Buffalo in last place. None of us predicted the Ottawa miracle, and Shane and I had the Leafs a step lower than Donny and Todd. Donny and Todd, however, were both bigger on Detroit as a playoff finisher, while Shane and I thought they were on the way out.

A 6-option poll followed the article, with the top vote-getter the "we're all nuts" selection with 15 votes, showing that you, the LBC reader seem to know the four of us better than we realized.

Of particular note are the 16 comments that followed the article, where our friend DCFish predicted:

5) Toronto – Their off-season was quietly very good: they’ve unloaded a lot of dead weight, and brought in a lot of high-level stats guys to help revamp their system.

Or how about this one from Joerockhead:

Rags drop, last yr was a fluke

Barkovthe18yearold nailed it, but than came apart at the seams a sentence later:

Don’t rate Dallas as highly as others. Good top 6, but that defense. Winnipeg have no chance

Our very own Kevin K. is on his way with a half of his wish:

I’m rooting for a Flames – Cats Stanley Cup Final

There is now only one way left to salvage our sullied reputations, and that is with our cup and conference winner picks. The good news is that all four of us still have our cup and conference winners in the playoffs, and in good playoff seeds. How do our picks look? Here they are:

How we voted

Championship

Shane

JC

Donny

Todd

East

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay

Montreal

Montreal

West

Chicago

St. Louis

Chicago

Anaheim

Cup

Chicago

Tampa Bay

Montreal

Anaheim


Four LBC writers, four different picks for a cup winner. Returning to the comments, RPC has thrown support behind Shane and Todd's picks, predicting:

With respect to all the teams in the East… the West is better. Way better.. I don’t see the East winning the Cup this year.

Our season may have come to a premature end, hopefully for the last time, but its been a fun ride, and I can't think of a fan-base, or community within that fan-base that had more fun along the way. Thank you LBC members, and my fellow writers for making this the most fun group of hockey fans in the Eastern Conference! (I hear they have a real good time in Nashville). As the writer on this one I get final say and I will use that space to say (regardless of my pick above), go Islanders!