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Pacific Division Power Rankings #3
Okay! So I was wrong Edition
11/19/14 - By Ryan Hall -

While only in its second season, the Pacific Division has often been called the toughest in hockey; a fact that I have trumpeted many times in this very column. However, is that really true? Is it possible that the lovable Western teams really aren't the juggernauts that they appear? As the calendar begins to draw towards the latter half of November, it's time for us all to face the harsh reality: maybe parity isn't the same thing are skill level?!

There, just saying that makes me feel better already. In fact, my mind is so much lighter after that confession that I think it's time to do that same with the rest of this column. So buckle up, as I bare my hockey sole and admit 'Okay! So I was wrong…'

#1 - Calgary Flames

Yup, you are reading that right - the Flames headline the Power Rankings; and you know what? Good for them. For over a year I have admired their pluckiness, and but undervalued the ability of this team to sustain anything. In fact, last month I referred to them as 'not knowing they are already dead'. Well, I was wrong. Completely wrong. In case you need proof that the Flames are playing good hockey, check out their gutsy come from behind 3rd period rally against Anaheim on Tuesday night - their 4th such feat this season already. Add in the goaltending of Jonas Hiller, having two of the top 4 scoring defensemen in the league, and hot young talent in Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau (Johnny 'Hockey' to his fans), and it's clear I was wrong: The Flames are serious Pacific Division contenders.

Last Ranking: 6

#2 - Vancouver Canucks

What has this world come to? A washed up Ryan Miller! A resurgent Sedin twins! Depth scoring! Things couldn't be happier in Vancouver, as the fresh start provided by rookie coach Willie Desjardins has brought new life to a moribund group. While I may have panned these moves as desperate, and felt they would set back a franchise that needed to clean house, I clearly was wrong - guess I shouldn't quit the day job to become an NHL executive. There's not much else to say, as the Canucks are playing great. So, kudo's Vancouver. Kudos.

Last Ranking: 3

#3 - Los Angeles Kings

Putting the Kings ahead of the Ducks? What am I thinking?! Well, simply put, the Kings are a better team. Sure they have a post-Stanley Cup hangover, and the offense is still too reliant of the youth, but does anyone really think the Kings won't be there at the end of the season? As a result, I'm confessing my doubts and putting them behind me. Why? After watching the Ducks storm back and beat LA last Wednesday, a very surly Darryl Sutter offered nothing but vitriol to Anaheim in the media - insulting their past couple seasons and lack of championships. Then, his team went out and beat the Ducks in the rematch. It seems obvious that when LA wants to win, they win. I was a fool to doubt them.

Last Ranking: 2

#4 - Anaheim Ducks

Okay, so the Ducks couldn't rise to the challenge when they were challenged publically by the Kings. That worries me. Also, their goaltending hasn't exactly been strong either since Jason Labarbera has made two relief appearances in the past week alone to spell a struggling Frederick Anderson. That is also troubling. At least the Ryan's (Getzlaf and Kessler) are living up to billing, but will that be enough. Perhaps declaring Anaheim as a Western Conference juggernaut was premature; looks like I was wrong again.

Last Ranking: 1

#5 - San Jose Sharks

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. What looked like a veteran squad now appears woefully old and lacking as the Sharks limp home from a road trip that saw them lose to Florida, Buffalo, Chicago, and Columbus; while struggling to beat Tampa Bay and Carolina. Where did it all go wrong? Was it the 16 road games out of the first 21? Perhaps it is over-reliance on veterans Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski instead of handing the franchise over to Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl? Whatever the cause, the Sharks just look worn out - and closer to a coaching change then they do to a playoff spot. Consider my teal-based faith officially rescinded.

Last Ranking: 4

#6 - Arizona Coyotes

Well, what do you know? The Coyotes CAN score some goals. Admittedly, not many (they are -10 for the season), but it has been enough to climb out of Pacific Division cellar ad within 1 game of .500. I should also point out that Mike Smith seems to have rounded into form, and the rumours of his demise could have been greatly exaggerated. I'm still not fully convinced that Arizona is a legitimate team, but they do appear to be headed in an upward trajectory. So, consider this an apology: I was wrong, you aren't putridly bad, just sorta bad.

Last Ranking: 7

#7 - Edmonton Oilers

Come on in, sit down in your favourite chair, and make yourself at home. No team owns the lowest rung of the Power Rankings like the Oilers, and I was a fool to believe that you were going to improve this season. Sure, you are showing better work ethic, but you know what? You still have no goaltender or reliable top 4 Defensemen. But you know what? I can't even get mad at you because I KNEW better. The signs were there, but I wanted to believe you had changed into the team I wanted you to be. Young, fast, hungry, and talented - a Tampa Bay or Montreal. Instead, your are still the same deficient Oilers, and I'm stuck here apologizing.

Last Ranking: 5



Contact Ryan at at ryanhall@letsgosharks.com





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