HOW THE WEST WAS WON (and other stories): Western Conference Preview

My colleague Forklift did an exemplary job previewing the Eastern Conference.  Unfortunately for all of our readers, work and laziness have conspired to make my Western Conference preview extremely half-assed.

I'm sure you're all on pins and needles to know how things are going to shake out.  Well, sorry to disappoint everyone, but a better blogger than me has already pointed out the folly of preseason predictions.  Instead, I'll just put the teams in various groups according to what I feel their level of contention is and make open-ended statements that people can look back at after the season ends and misconstrue as accurate predictions.

Why yes, that's exactly how it works with Nostradamus' "predictions".  Let's get on with it!

THE CONTENDERS

Detroit Red Wings:
  The Red Wings lost Marian Hossa (and Squiggy) to a division rival, Jiri Hudler to the KHL and Chris Chelios to dementia when he wandered out of Joe Louis Arena and was never heard from again.  They're also sitting at about 6 million over the cap, but all that said, they've still got Zetterberg, Franzen, Datsyuk and the deepest blue line in the NHL.  Yeah, they're aging, and they ran out of gas against Pittsburgh, but the road through the West still runs through Detroit.

Chicago Blackhawks:  And in this corner, the challenger.  The Hawks got better at the expense of their biggest rival and have one of the deepest forward corps in the West.  Count me among the few who think that Cristobal Huet is good enough, but that he does need a backup for the long season.  The Hawks are also a bit unsettled at the 6th defenseman position, and when that and backup goalie are your two biggest questions, you should be pretty damn good.

San Jose Sharks:  This looks like the last hurrah for Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton.  We all know what to expect from  these guys in the regular season, but what of the playoffs?  WHAT OF THE PLAYOFFS?!?  Will Butch and Sundance go out in a blaze of glory to the...

Anaheim Bolivian Army Ducks:  The Ducks wisely dumped Chris Pronger on the Flyers to open up more minutes for James Wisniewski.  That alone makes them a contender.  They also acquired Saku Koivu to complete their matched set of brittle, Finish players.

THE CANADIAN TEAMS

Technically, some of these teams could be contenders as well.  But let's look at the facts: a Canadian team hasn't won the Cup since Montreal in 1993, and a Canadian team from the West hasn't won it since Edmonton in 1990.  Let's face it, none of these franchises stand a chance so long as they play in the Great White North.  Personally, I think the constant exposure to socialism makes them soft.

Calgary Flames:  NEEDS MORE SUTTER BROTHERS.  That appears to be Calgary's answer to everything.  Bob Bassen is probably driving the Zamboni.  The Flames have a damn good defense with the acquisition of Jay Boumeester.  But other than Jokinen and Iginla, they don't have much up front.  Rene Bourque?  Really?

Vancouver Canucks:  Yeah, they've got the twins and they added Mikael Samuelson, but their defense is still suspect, and the Hawks showed last season that if Roberto Luongo is so much as human for a series, the Canucks don't stand a chance.

Edmonton Oilers:  Wow.  Looking at the Awlers roster, there isn't much there but a whole lot of suck.  Unless they're counting on Nik Khabibulin staying healthy and Dustin Penner rebounding, this team has only two things in common with the Flames and Canucks: they play their home games in Canada, and they won't win the Cup either.

Hamilton Coyotes 

THE PRETENDERS

Dallas Stars: 
I guess we can pretend that Sean Avery derailed this team last year, but in truth, their defensemen suck.  Absolutely suck.  They're bad, just bad.  Don't let Barry Rozner fool you, if Steven Robidas is playing 25 minutes a game, that's a bad thing.  And now, their forwards are a year older and creakier.  Maybe Marty Turco will bounce back?  Good luck with that.

St. Louis Blues:  This year, the Blues are the hot pick to be the young team that makes the leap into contention (much like last year's Blackhawks).  The problem is, that's easier said than done.  The Hawks needed a lot of things to come together to make that jump - Kane and Toews to improve from their rookie years, Brent Seabrook to flip the switch, Marty Havlat to stay healthy and some great goaltending.  I just think the odds are against it all coming together for another team again.  I'd say at least one of Perron, Bergland and Oshie are due for a sophomore slump (how's that for open-ended?).

TEAMS NEEDED TO FILL OUT THE CONFERENCE

Columbus Blue Jackets:  The Jackets have Rick Nash, who is an absolute beast, and Sami Pahlsson which is causing Forklift much consternation.  Nash and Steve Mason dragged the Blue Jackets into the playoffs kicking and screaming last year, and might do it again this year, but without more help (Nash's 79 points were 23 more than anyone else on Columbus) that's the best they can hope for.

Minnesota Wild:  I have no real idea what to expect from the Wild this year.  This is the first time the franchise will be freed from the awful, awful Jacques Lemaire and his magic neutral zone trap of DOOM.  So who knows what the hell they'll do now.  Maybe these guys are all offensive superstars waiting to break out.  Or maybe Niklas Backstrom will suck ass when he faces more than 15 shots a game.

Los Angeles Kings:  Another young and up and coming team, the Kings might be scary if they could find a goalie or better yet, play any defense at all.  Sean O'Donnell lead the team in +/- at +2.  Really.


TEAMS THAT JIM BALSILLIE WILL BUY AND MOVE TO CANADA

Phoenix Coyotes: 
An underachieving team from last season decided to build up their defense by adding Adrian Aucoin and Jim Vandermeer.  What the hell is with those guys anyway?  They're like the Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte of hockey.

Nashville Predators:  This is not even a real NHL team.

Colorado Avalanche:  Holy shit, they suck.  Just go back to Quebec already.

 

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Page: 1 of 1
  • 9/11/2009 11:26 PM Dave Morris wrote:
    OK, let's cut to the quick, or forget the quick, let's just cut.

    Hawks survive Western conference cage fight, meet Pens in Cup Final.

    Mazel tov.

    Pretty farkin funny article by the way. And all true.
    Reply to this
  • 9/12/2009 5:11 PM Fork wrote:
    Of course, the fact the Sharks just got Heatley without giving up Marleau just changed everything.

    Nice going, CT.
    Reply to this
    1. 9/12/2009 5:46 PM CT wrote:
      Right, I'm sure that Dany Heatley is the solutions to the Sharks playoff problems.
      Reply to this

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