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Sportsnet West. Conference predictions

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Old
10-02-2003, 01:06 PM
  #1
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Sportsnet West. Conference predictions

1. Colorado (3)

The Avs can start scoring champion Peter Forsberg with league-leading goal scorer Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay, and follow with a unit comprised of Paul Kariya, Joe Sakic and Teemu Selanne. It's the best 1-2 punch in the NHL.

A defence anchored by Rob Blake, Adam Foote and Derek Morris is top-flight, too.

Sure, Patrick Roy has retired and David Aebischer and Philippe Sauve are unheralded replacements, but GM Pierre Lacroix has plenty of time before the March trade deadline to fill any goaltending void that might develop.

2. Detroit (2)

The Red Wings are re-emphasizing defence, which makes sense given the return of all-world goalie Dominik Hasek and the acquisition of basher Derian Hatcher to join Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Mathieu Schneider, Jiri Fischer and Mathieu Dandenault on one of the best blue-line brigades in the league.

Sergei Fedorov is gone but Detroit is loaded with fast young centres to take his place, and Ray Whitney is a good addition for the power play.

This might well be Steve Yzerman's last season, which will be a rallying point for the whole team to help the captain get another ring.

3.Anaheim (7)

The Mighty Ducks are for real, and they can prove it by finishing first in the Pacific Division.

GM Bryan Murray's signings of free agents Fedorov and Vaclav Prospal pump up the offence.

Mike Babcock, one of the NHL's very best young coaches, has proved his checking system works, and defencemen Keith Carney, Sandis Ozolinsh, Ruslan Salei, Niclas Havelid, Kurt Sauer and Vitaly Vishnevski form one of the most underestimated blue-line corps in the league.

Oh, and playoff MVP Jean-Sebastian Giguere will be back in the crease.

4. Dallas (1)

The Stars aren't going to fade away but they could drop behind Anaheim in the Pacific.

Defencemen Hatcher and Darryl Sydor are gone, which removes considerable blue-line muscle.

Still, there are three solid lines that can score, and Dave Tippett is an outstanding coach. With a lot of injuries, his club still finished second overall last spring. There might be a dip coming, but not a freefall.

5. St. Louis (5)

Chris Pronger's availability for a full season, removal of uncertainty in the crease with the naming of Chris Osgood as No. 1 and the arrival of college star Peter Sejna are all positive developments.

GM Larry Pleau added Murray Baron to a defence that already included Pronger, Al MacInnis, rookie-of-the-year Barret Jackman, Alexander Khavanov and the bruising Bryce Salvador. The group "should be our strength this season," says coach Joel Quenneville.

A throng of fine forwards and an injection of youth make the Blues a credible contender. They'll push Detroit hard in the Northeast.

6. Vancouver (4)

Second only to Detroit in the league in goals scored last season, the Canucks are back to wreak more havoc. Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi should again challenge for the scoring title.

Blowing the Pacific title in the closing days of the schedule and surrendering a 3-1 series lead to Minnesota in a playoff upset combine to give this bunch plenty of incentive to go all out.

Then there's the goaltending. Despite GM Brian Burke's protestations, critics are forever going to question whether Dan Cloutier can get it done.

7. Edmonton (8)
This is one of the fastest and youngest teams in the league. There's great promise here, and if coach Craig MacTavish can put together an effective power play there'll be more points to show for it.

But the Oilers are in a highly competitive division and won't move much higher. It'll be a battle, again, to land a playoff berth.

Eric Brewer, Steve Staios, Jason Smith and Alex Semenov are an impressive top-four defence, and Ryan Smyth always provides an inspirational kick up front.

8. Los Angeles (10)

After losing Jason Allison, Adam Deadmarsh and Aaron Miller to serious injuries, the Kings didn't have a chance last season. Deadmarsh and Miller are healthy again, but Allison's status is unclear. Lightheadedness during camp indicates he's not completely over the whiplash injuries that ruined 2002-2003.

GM Dave Taylor strengthened his goaltending by acquiring Roman Cechmanek and the addition of Jozef Stumpel gives the Kings two top scoring lines. Luc Robitaille might be reinvigorated with a return home, too. But all eyes will be on Allison.

9. Minnesota (6)

The Wild surprised last season by doggedly executing coach Jacques Lemaire's boring but effective defensive style of play. Every opponent knows exactly what to expect now so there won't be as many victims.

Marian Gaborik and Pascal Dupuis, the team's two leading point-getters, were absent during training camp as a result of contract impasses, which leaves Andrew Brunette, an 18-goal shooter, as the most dangerous returnee. Agent Allan Walsh's comment that Gaborik is prepared to sit out the entire season is enough to downplay Minnesota's chances.

Goalies Dwayne Roloson and Manny Fernandez would be wise to seek danger pay.

10. San Jose (14)

Ron Wilson arrived in mid-season to coach a club that had already fizzled. Now he starts afresh, and with a mental hammer to remind his players checking is part of hockey.

There is too much prime talent in this lineup to warrant another fiasco. Dead roster wood has been thrown overboard, a handful of eager young rookies instil enthusiasm and goalie Evgeni Nabokov has put his sub-par season behind him.

Still, they'd have to improve by 20 points to make the playoffs and that's expecting too much.

11. Calgary (12)

GM-coach Darryl Sutter is bulking up his lineup and the Flames promise to be a tough team to play. But they've got too many teams to climb over in the Northwest to get to a playoff berth.

Calgary's offence was 29th in a 30-team league last season, and there's no evidence to suggest it won't continue to be substandard. Jarome Iginla could score 100 goals and it wouldn't be enough.

We like the defence, but not the inconsistent Roman Turek.

12. Columbus (15)

GM-coach Doug McLean has brought in Todd Marchant, Darryl Sydor and Trevor Letowski to lift the Blue Jackets out of the conference basement. It should be enough.

McLean wanted more passion from his players, and the new arrivals have plenty of it.

A better road record is a prerequisite for a move up.

Bringing in Fred Brathwaite to ease Marc Denis' workload - he appeared in 77 games last season - was a wise move.

13. Chicago (9)

It's full speed ahead for GM Mike Smith's youth movement.

Even without the distraction that was Theo Fleury, it'll be an exasperating season for coach Brian Sutter.

"We just need to hope that some of the rookies that step into the lineup really contribute," says Smith. "The expectations from other people certainly are lower for our team than they were a year ago but we think that, with the core back and some of the young players stepping in and contributing, we should have a better team this year."

14. Phoenix (11)

New uniforms are great.

New arena will be impressive.

If a winning lineup could ever be put together in Wayne's World, there might be something else to rave about.

Wholesale changes added up front and subtracted at the back end, leaving a mismash of a lineup of castoffs and retreads.

"It's a young team but certainly we're not conceding that we're rebuilding," says GM Mike Barnett. "The word is not in our vocabulary.

"We firmly believe that this is a playoff team. We believe that with the increase in size, speed and ruggedness, we're going to be just fine."

15. Nashville (13)
The lowest-scoring team in the NHL, the Predators aren't living up to their name. More often that not, they are the prey.

Ownership has been extremely patient with GM David Poile and coach Barry Trotz. The last chord could be played for both in the Music City this winter unless an upturn is realized.

ETA: I wonder when this was written? It can't be new if they didn't mention Hedburg was signed by Vancouver and Comrie's contract dispute.

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Old
10-02-2003, 01:10 PM
  #2
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Blowing the Pacific title
Uhh, the Canucks are in the Northwest Division.

Other than that the list looks pretty good imo.

Still think that Calgary will make the playoffs this season though.

 
Old
10-02-2003, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jewelly
Uhh, the Canucks are in the Northwest Division.

Other than that the list looks pretty good imo.

Still think that Calgary will make the playoffs this season though.
Well, they can be excused, after all the Pacific ocean laps up on the shores of Vancouver (same as it does in Dallas and Phoenix ). It's an insane naming system, they never should have chosen Pacific for that group. Southwest is much more appropriate.

I just don't see who in that top 8 is Calgary going to knock off? Yeah, Cinderella teams sometimes have an implosion after a long playoff run so Anaheim or Minnesota might, but a team like LA is much more likely to take the spot before Calgary.

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10-02-2003, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by hemskyfan

5. St. Louis (5)

Chris Pronger's availability for a full season, removal of uncertainty in the crease with the naming of Chris Osgood as No. 1 and the arrival of college star Peter Sejna are all positive developments.

GM Larry Pleau added Murray Baron to a defence that already included Pronger, Al MacInnis, rookie-of-the-year Barret Jackman, Alexander Khavanov and the bruising Bryce Salvador. The group "should be our strength this season," says coach Joel Quenneville.

A throng of fine forwards and an injection of youth make the Blues a credible contender. They'll push Detroit hard in the Northeast.
[/I]
Since when was both St. Louis & Detroit in the Northeast Division?? Although good analysis of the conference.

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Old
10-02-2003, 01:54 PM
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"Calgary's offence was 29th in a 30-team league last season, and there's no evidence to suggest it won't continue to be substandard. Jarome Iginla could score 100 goals and it wouldn't be enough."

hey I resent that! Calgary was 27th in the league last year, not 29th! (oh wait, note to self: 27th still sucks)

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Old
10-02-2003, 03:49 PM
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There are a few very embarassing (and telling) errors in those predictions.

How can you claim to be predicting where teams will finish when you don't even know what division they are in?

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10-02-2003, 04:43 PM
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Hillarious.

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Old
10-02-2003, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by westcoast
There are a few very embarassing (and telling) errors in those predictions.

How can you claim to be predicting where teams will finish when you don't even know what division they are in?
Yeah, I wuz thinking the same thing myself.

Things that make you go... hmmm.

 
Old
10-02-2003, 05:18 PM
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So Nashville is the prey although they were 10th in goals against???? There problem isn't defense its offense

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10-02-2003, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by hemskyfan
ETA: I wonder when this was written? It can't be new if they didn't mention Hedburg was signed by Vancouver and Comrie's contract dispute.
So, you're saying that you didn't write this??

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10-02-2003, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoch
So Nashville is the prey although they were 10th in goals against???? There problem isn't defense its offense

Actually, the problem is getting people knowledgable of Predators hockey to come forward and speak. The hockey minds of the media see the Preds play once or twice a year and that's usually against the likes of St. Louis, Ottawa, Detroit or Colorado. Not enough of a sample selection to draw accurate conclusions. And off into obscurity we go...

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Old
10-03-2003, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Man
So, you're saying that you didn't write this??
The title does say Sportsnet....

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Old
10-03-2003, 03:12 PM
  #13
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Anaheim finishing 3rd

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Old
10-03-2003, 10:42 PM
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what a year its gonna be, i think there is gonna be alot of pandemonium for those last few spots.

To me all these teams have a chance at making the cut not includint the big 3 (DAL, DET, COL)
STL- should have great d, but the goaltending is an issue again.
LA- injuries may be fatal
SJ- they lost Selanne and Nolan, but they are not rebuilding, I don't see them having another bad year.
EDM- the future lies with the youth, Comrie fiasco may be fatal.
CGY- Can Iggy's line carry them?
MIN- Solid team system, no Gabby though.
CHI- No more Fleury, kids like Ruutu and Radulov among others, might be a good team.
ANA- Lost alot, but got alot back. I think it depends on how Jiggy plays.

I see the West looking like this.

1. COL
2. DET
3. DAL
4. ANA
5. STL
6. VAN
7. EDM
8. CHI

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