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Predictions: West Conference

My pre-season predictions continue with the West Conference.  I have already written blurbs for each team in the reports for their constituent divisions of the Northwest Division, Pacific Division and Central Division.  Since I have already written blurbs on the teams, this will be my best guess as to the order of finish in the West Conference, but I will merely list the teams rather than write a new blurb.

1. San Jose Sharks
2. Vancouver Canucks
3. Chicago Blackhawks
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Los Angeles Kings
6. Nashville Predators
7. Calgary Flames
8. Phoenix Coyotes
————————————————
9. Anaheim Ducks
10. Colorado Avalanche
11. St Louis Blues
12. Dallas Stars
13. Minnesota Wild
14. Edmonton Oilers
15. Columbus Blue Jackets

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Comments

Reggie Dunlop's avatar

‘San Jose’s defence is quite strong.  San Jose is about as strong as any team can be in the salary capped NHL.’

Really? Maybe you should take a closer look at our defense.  Vlasic, Boyle and 4 bottom pair d men. I expect the nucks and wings to finish higher and the kings and hawks to have a damn good chance to. 

So where would you rank the Sharks if Boyle was out for the season?

Posted by Reggie Dunlop on 09/30/10 at 02:16 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

So where would you rank the Sharks if Boyle was out for the season?

Obviously, I rate San Jose lower if they have key injuries.  I would rate every team lower with key injuries.  I don’t see San Jose’s defence as being much different this year from the way it was last year.  Obviously Rob Blake retired, but he was no longer a difference maker and replacing him is not that big a deal.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 09/30/10 at 02:19 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

Risky predictions! It looks a lot like last years finishes without too much regard to movements around the league. Chicago is one injury away from missing the playoffs with their anemic depth.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 09/30/10 at 08:59 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Obviously Rob Blake retired, but he was no longer a difference maker and replacing him is not that big a deal.

You mean the guy who was 2nd among Sharks defensemen in scoring and plus/minus who played 21 minutes a night and killed almost 3 minutes of penalties per game on the league’s 5th-best penalty killing team?  You mean the guy who was locker room leader and a veteran presence who took a lesser offensive role to cover for his defensive partner?

Oh yeah, replacing him should be a breeze…

The Sharks defense is not better than any of the Canucks, Wings, or Blackhawks.  Add that to the fact that San Jose’s core offensive guys are as old as Detroit’s and I just don’t see where they stay atop the Western Conference.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/30/10 at 09:20 AM ET

Matt Fry's avatar

JJ pretty much summed up what I wanted to write

I would argue that we may not have the strongest defense in the league.

Vlasic and Boyle are good, Murray’s a strong defensive presence and Demers seems to be becoming an up and coming offensive defenseman.  I have absolutely no faith in Wallin, Leach and Huskins.  Wilson’s made a lot of good moves as GM but I’m still astounded we still have these guys.  There wasn’t anyone better.  I’m hoping they sign Lilja and get rid of one of these other guys, preferably Leach.

Posted by Matt Fry from Winnipeg on 09/30/10 at 11:46 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

It is really an interesting thing to see the reaction of Red Wings fans around here.  They show a lot of exuberance but not a lot of thought.  I am picking Detroit to improve in the standings by one position and for that I find myself getting attacked for underestimating them.

I find people challenging the fact that team aging matters at all with the Red Wings, when nealry 100 years of NHL history clearly shows that players and teams decline when they age.  I am not predicting a big decline.  I am picking they actually improve a position, but their age is a strong reason to not pick the red wings for first place - which is an unreasonable predicition and the only thing that would keep these Red Wings fans from complaining.

JJ attempts to make a reasoned argument.  He attacks the team I picked as number one, which is an easy thing to do.  There is no elite team in the NHL and essentially arguing that the top team has problemsand isn’t elite is a given.

If we compare Detroit and San Jose, the main difference on a team level is that Detroit showed their age last year and dropped in the standings last year.  There are a ton of excuses for it, but it happened.

San Jose has core players like Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic who are still quite young.  San Jose had two still young 50 point men (Clowe and Pavelski), they had two still young 20 goal men (Pavelski and Setoguchi) - Detroit had none.  Therefore age issues run a lot deeper on the Detroit roster.  But of course some people here will bury their heads in the sand and deny they exist.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 09/30/10 at 12:25 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

JJ attempts to make a reasoned argument.  He attacks the team I picked as number one, which is an easy thing to do.  There is no elite team in the NHL and essentially arguing that the top team has problemsand isn’t elite is a given.

If we compare Detroit and San Jose, the main difference on a team level is that Detroit showed their age last year and dropped in the standings last year.  There are a ton of excuses for it, but it happened.

San Jose has core players like Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic who are still quite young.  San Jose had two still young 50 point men (Clowe and Pavelski), they had two still young 20 goal men (Pavelski and Setoguchi) - Detroit had none.  Therefore age issues run a lot deeper on the Detroit roster.  But of course some people here will bury their heads in the sand and deny they exist.

Awww, now why you gotta go and be like that?

First off, I’d like to fix the assumption you made about my post that I ever said Detroit belongs in front of San Jose.  I didn’t say that.  I also never said that San Jose isn’t elite.  The ONLY statement you should be inferring from my comment is that San Jose’s defense is the fourth-best in their conference.

Please compare San Jose to Vancouver for me the same overly simplistic way you’ve compared San Jose to Detroit and explain again to me why San Jose is number one other than “it’s so hard to pick the top because it can change”.

I’d like to think I “attempted” to make a reasoned argument and that I succeeded.  I also contend that saying Detroit won’t have still-young 50 point men this upcoming season is burying your head in the sand.  Valtteri Filppula (26) and Jiri Hudler (26) are very likely 20-goal scorers (who should put up 50) and the still-young-at-29 Niklas Kronwall should get 50 goals from Detroit’s blue line.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/30/10 at 12:38 PM ET

Triple Deke Tyler's avatar

Obviously Rob Blake retired, but he was no longer a difference maker and replacing him is not that big a deal.

You mean the guy who was 2nd among Sharks defensemen in scoring and plus/minus who played 21 minutes a night and killed almost 3 minutes of penalties per game on the league’s 5th-best penalty killing team?  You mean the guy who was locker room leader and a veteran presence who took a lesser offensive role to cover for his defensive partner?

Daaaaaaaamn.

Posted by Triple Deke Tyler from Lansing on 09/30/10 at 12:40 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

50 goals from Detroit’s blue line.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a typo.  I meant 50 points.

Although 50 goals for a defenseman would be awesome.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/30/10 at 12:41 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Vancouver vs. San Jose

San Jose has more offensive weapons - this is their big advantage.  Vancouver has a deeper defence and San Jose has a frontline star on their defence that Vancouver doesnèt - so defence is roughly a wash.  Vancouver has the better goalie.  San Jose has a more reasonable travel situation. 

I think San Jose over Vancouver is quite reasonable.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 09/30/10 at 12:45 PM ET

Paul From Cali's avatar

I don’t see how Chicago makes the playoffs after all the salary dumping they did, especially as one guy put it if they suffer a significant injury.

And while I know San Jose is a potent team and they will battle for the division all year, I just think this is the year for my Kings.  If they play up to their potential they’ll win the Pacific.

Posted by Paul From Cali on 09/30/10 at 12:48 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

San Jose has a frontline star on their defence that Vancouver doesnèt - so defence is roughly a wash.

I can’t support that argument by a long shot.

Also, thanks to (and also saying sorry to) Paul From Cali for reminding me about LA.  I keep forgetting them, but I’d also say that Los Angeles has a better defensive group than San Jose, making the Sharks the fifth-best defensive team in the conference with a goaltender who is not proven to be able to handle the workload.

San Jose has more offensive weapons - this is their big advantage.

Vancouver scored 11 more goals than San Jose last season.

San Jose allowed 9 fewer goals than Vancouver.

Vancouver’s defensive corps has improved, San Jose’s has gotten worse.  Vancouver’s offensive production should be generally unchanged just like San Jose.

San Jose has a more reasonable travel situation.

All of those stats above include a year that had the Vancouver Canucks on the longest road trip in NHL history.  How’s that for a travel situation?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/30/10 at 12:54 PM ET

awould's avatar

Detroit’s old, ergo they have declined.

Every hockey writer should have that sentence on auto-text for their stories about the Red Wings. Didn’t stop Detroit from trouncing through the entire league the last 20 games of last season once they got healthy. And it won’t stop them this year. Just like it hasn’t stopped them this decade, which is about as long as I’ve been reading this same tired, old argument. Someday they will decline, and maybe it’ll be due to age, but just because that’s inevitable doesn’t make this stupid argument valid.

It’s interesting that an intact Red Wings team that has actually improved their roster from last year (Hudler, Modano) is somehow going to end up behind a Blackhawks team that is literally a shell of what they were. Vancouver, SJ and Wings are easily the top 3 in there. I think LA has a better chance at winning the West than Chicago. And everyone on this board is correct when they say Chicago is one or two injuries away from missing the playoffs completely.

Posted by awould on 09/30/10 at 01:13 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

and let’s remember it wasn’t the old guys banged up on the Detroit roster, either.

I still don’t know how Chicago places so high with the knowledge that they’re one knee away from losing a lot. They have NO depth.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 09/30/10 at 01:42 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/30/10 at 11:54 AM ET

How dare you dispute the cold, hard “facts” of TPSH-land and use logic, statistics and hockey knowledge to do so?!

How. Dare. You.

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 09/30/10 at 02:17 PM ET

awould's avatar

How dare you dispute the cold, hard “facts” of TPSH-land and use logic, statistics and hockey knowledge to do so?!
How. Dare. You.

Good point.

Posted by awould on 09/30/10 at 02:25 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Wait a minute, aren’t you a Canucks fan, TPSH?

Ahhhh, I fell right into your trap.  Well-played, sir.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/30/10 at 04:12 PM ET

Avatar

How did Detroit show their age last year?

When you get injured, you are injured no matter how old you are.
Not only that, all of the injuries were injuries that were not related to age but how one prepares themselves and pushes themselves in camp. Franzen’s injury was not age related directly.

The Red Wings were ‘tired’ last year because of all the extra work they had to do during the regular season to ONLY get over 100+ points.

Lidstrom is still better than most defensemen in the NHL, regardless of his age. He did great in the playoffs considering how hard he was rode in the regular season.

How you can place the Blackhawks above the Wings is beyond me, they are tossing in a bunch of unproven players into their roster while they wings have all players that have proven they can play at the NHL level.

Posted by retrospecd on 09/30/10 at 04:25 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com