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Pacific Division Power Rankings
3 Bold Predictions Edition
10/8/15 - By Ryan Hall -

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 strength.

#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.

#2 - Arizona Coyotes

Prediction #1 - The Coyotes finish last in the league: This one is pretty simply - No offense + No Defense + No Talent = No Hope.

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 another team.

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.

Prediction #2 - 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 backend.

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 passion.

#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 long.

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 Sharks

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 Canucks

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 earth.

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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