Season Predictions Part 2: Western Conference
Western Conference: Alot of changes over in the west this summer, many teams have changed and from a non-playoff team into possible Stanley Cup Contenders. Every year the standings are close, last year just six points separated the ninth from the fourth place team. What are your predictions for the West?1.Colorado Avalanche: Could easily be Detroit right here, but I believe the Avs will be the ones on top. Forsberg back, they are a much better team with him. They got a good defense, excellent offense, Tanguay, Hejduk and Drury had off seasons, but with the playoff loss to Detroit expect the whole team to be given a boost this season and put up good numbers.
2.Detroit Red Wings: Hasek out and Jospeh in, Cujo in the same situation that the Dominator was in, coming to an elite team for better odds at a ring. Jospeh has done well through out his career on teams with not the greatest defense, he’ll do fine and play solid. Yzerman’s absence wont play a big role and every time he is gone, we all know Federov steps up point wise. Age doesn’t seem to be a problem as they shut us all up juring last years playoffs.
3.San Jose Sharks: A good team all around, defense is great with Jillson and Stuart, the offense with freshly resigned Selanne, only thing the keeps them away from Detroit or Colorado is lack of star power. If Selanne and Nolan play at thier best the Sharks could easily be in first., but I don’t expect them to put up anything out of the new, just their typical 55-66 point seasons.
4.Dallas Stars: After a horrible year, expect a good recovery a newly signed Guerin will help this team greatly. Turco is No. 1 and if he preforms like he did last year, when he stole the job from Crazy Eddie, the Stars should be fine. I see a great team on paper, that is a good Stanley cup contender.
5.Vancouver Canucks: First problem the Canucks have is goaltending, Cloutier did alright last year, but if the Canucks want to move up they need a change here. But overall, a great offense and good defense.
6.Edmonton Oilers: First year without Weight and they missed the playoff’s. Smyth can fill those shoes nicely, he was having a great season last year till his injury. and no doubt he his eager to get back on the ice and prove him self again. They got a great young offense with alot of talent. Good young defense, Smith, Brewer, Niinimaa, I like this team, just too young , and it is a question if these young guys step up or not.
7.St Louis Blues: Prongers out due to his knee injury, Weight back. They need a good number one starter and Johnson must step up in order for them to go far. Weight has to step up, Demitra and Tkachuck got to do their usual thing. But still I don’t see them doing well. Their defense is nothing to be impressed with and either than Demitra, Tkachuck, Weight and Stillman, no one else on that offense is too impressive.
8.Phoenix Coyotees: Added Amonte, but same team as last year. Thier young and improving and they should be fine and able to make the playoff’s. Burke is a solid goaltend, and not bad defense or offense. Just a question if they can do it all over again.
9.Los Angele Kings: This team had many slumps last season, and players who weren’t up to their usual standards. I expect a big season from Allison, jurying the second half last year he stepped up and was among the leagues best. Plaffy should do well, but still thier defense is in question and their offensive depth. If Potvin plays well Kings could sneak into the playoffs.
10.Chicago Blackhawks: Fluery is a story all on his own, a great player, but a unstable one he is. When he wants to play he is dangerous, and when he doesn’t he is destructive. They got three player other than Fleury on their offense who can put up 60 point and beyond. Just the defense is not impressive, and if Thibault were not to preform well they would be in trouble. But i still believe they could be just as good as they did last season.
11.Anaheim Mighty Ducks: It plain and simple here, Kariya finally has some one center his line. Most likely Oates next to him, Kariya should be back to putting up good numbers. They got Sykora, he will contribute more to their offesne then Friesen did. Their offense will carry them for much of the season, but eventually that defense and goaltending will catch up to them.
12.Calgary Flames: Even with Iginla at his best it couldn’t spark them to make the playoffs. Savard wants out, that doesn’t leave much to be impressed with on the offense. They are young, and still learning, this wont be the year they end the playoff drought.
13.Minnesota Wild: Before last seasons I thought the Wild was the best of those three expansion teams, I think now Atlanta has surpassed them, but still they are not too bad. Gaborik a great young player, Fernandez not bad in goal. They have interesting young team, just need to see who wil, step up and prove them selves NHL worthy.
14.Nasville Predators: Legwand, Walker and Hartnell will step up, they been doing decent already, Dunahm is not bad in goal. Timonen and Delmore should be alright on the defense. But these players are average at best.
15.Columbus Blue Jackets: Nothing really special on this team, they got some good players on the offense, Knutsen, Whitney, will maybe pull them up a few spots, but unlikely.