| Pacific Division Power
3 Bold Predictions Edition
Well, here we are! The puck drops for real on the
NHL season this week, and with it the hopes and dreams of several franchises
will be realized and dashed. Right now everyone is looking at things in the
best possible light, with hope abounding. Sadly, most of that optimism is
baseless, as the upcoming months will reveal.
However, let's leave the
pessimism for another day! Today, we're going to put on our thinking hats and
make some bold predictions about what the fates have in store for the teams of
the Pacific Division.
NOTE: Teams are ranked alphabetically, not in the order of
#1 - Anaheim Ducks
Prediction #1 - The
Ducks will win the Pacific Division: It's always best to start with the
obvious, and it should be clear to everyone that Anaheim is the class of the
Pacific. They'll win the pennant going away.
Prediction #2 - Ryan
Getzlaf will miss a large amount of time this season: For years Getzlaf and
Perry have driven the Ducks, but age is catching up with them. Getzlaf in
particular has lost a step, and is transitioning into more of a perimeter
player. With the game getting faster, even a half second slower reaction time
can leave you vulnerable. This season, it'll bite him.
Prediction #3 -
Anaheim will allow more goals than they score: Believe it or not, last season
the Ducks were only +10 in the regular season, and they still won the Western
Conference. They haven't done enough to up their attack, and if Getzlaf goes
down they'll struggle even more to score goals. As a result, they'll win lots
of tight games, but be on the receiving end of some beat-downs.
- Arizona Coyotes
Prediction #1 - The Coyotes finish last in the
league: This one is pretty simply - No offense + No Defense + No Talent = No
Prediction #2 - Dave Tippet resigns halfway through the season
to take on a different coaching job: After years of trying to get water from a
rock, Tippet resigns and the Coyotes allow him to take a coaching job with
Prediction #3 - Arizona wins the Draft Lottery, and
promptly relocates: Hemorrhaging money, with no revenue from managing the
arena, and owners that are out of cash, the league is forced to relocate the
Desert Dogs to Quebec City. Further salt is added to the wound when the reborn
Nordiques win the right to select Austin Matthews, breaking the hearts of
Arizona hockey fans even further.
#3 - Calgary Flames
Prediction #1 - The Flames allow the fewest goals in the league: Mark Giordano,
Dougie Hamilton, and the rest of Calgary blueline prove to be stingiest group
in the NHL, aided by another great season by Karri Ramo.
- Calgary makes the playoffs: Despite some sophomore slumps, the Flames still
get it done and slip into the post-season due to their work ethic and staunch
Prediction #3 - The Flames get a new arena: Buoyed by their
strong play, a resurgence in public interest, and provincial competition with
Edmonton, the City of Calgary announces a new stadium project which will give
the Flames financial stability for the next 20 years.
#4 - Edmonton Oilers
Prediction #1 -
Connor McDavid wins the Calder: I know the sexy pick is to take Jack Eichel,
but McDavid is the better player, has more top-end talent around him, and won't
be expected to carry all the offensive load. He might even get to see second
and third paring defensemen once in a while, and as a result he'll flourish.
Prediction #2 - Edmonton makes the playoffs: That's right, you heard
it here first. The Oilers will win the second wild-card spot after a frantic
final push in March. Youthful legs, the energy of a fan base brought back to
life, and simple puck-luck will come together in one Spring to remember for the
erstwhile City of Champions.
Prediction #3 - Todd McLellan wins the
Jack Adams award: It's been said you don't know what you have until it's gone,
and for Sharks fans that will prove painfully true, as they see what McLellan
can do when a team buys in to his system and plays with heart, desire, and
#5 - Los Angeles Kings
Prediction #1 - The
Kings leave a trail of blood behind them: With Milan Lucic and Dustin Brown the
Kings have perhaps the two most hated, and dirty, players in the league.
They'll need them though, as LA lacks scoring punch and will need to grind out
their wins. The end result will be blood, fights, and brutality all season
Prediction #2 - The LA misses the playoffs again: As mentioned,
the Kings lack scoring, their defense is still thin, and without Martin Jones
they lack a proven NHL back-up goaltender (don't get me started on Enroth).
This means every game will be a dogfight, and quite simply, Los Angeles will
get worn down.
Prediction #3 - This will be Darryl Sutter's last year
as a coach: After accomplishing all there is to do, Sutter will announce his
retirement at the end of the season, choosing instead to return to Alberta and
his family. The NHL will be worse for his departure.
#6 - San Jose
Prediction #1 - The Sharks make the playoffs. By hook or
crook, San Jose finishes second in the Pacific. Actually, Team Teal manages to
avoid the carnage left over from every Anaheim vs. LA contest, and skates
calmly into the post-season.
Prediction #2 - Joe Thornton leads the
team with 70 points: Hard as it may be to believe, Thornton has a renaissance
in what could very well be his last legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup. Coach
DeBoer's aggressive fore-checking system leads to turnovers which sweet Joe
puts on platters for his line mates.
Prediction #3 - Vlasic is a
Norris Finalist: The Olympic Games opened the eyes of the world to how good
Vlasic is, and he no longer flies under the radar. As a result, his strong play
this season (aided by Deboer's system and the arrival of Paul Martin) will
finally see him rewarded with a nomination.
#7 - Vancouver
Prediction #1 - The Canucks miss the playoffs: Despite
making the post-season last year, the Canucks will find themselves on the
outside looking in this time around. An aging Top 6, mentally fragile net
minder, and improved division will all conspire to bring them back down to
Prediction #2 - Ryan Miller will be traded: Once it becomes
clear that he isn't the long term solution for the Canucks, he'll be moved out
to a contending team with issues in the crease. Vancouver may have to eat some
salary, but it'll be worth it in the long run.
Prediction #3 - The
Sedins won't crack 100 point combined: Hard as it may be to fathom, this year
marks the beginning of a rapid decline for these two stalwarts. With age
slowing them, a team that flounders in the standings, and lack of secondary
scoring Daniel and Henrik will keyed on and neutralized all season long.
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