Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Western Conference 2007-08 Overview

Okay, the new NHL season is set to launch tonight, so I'll analyze the Western Conference today.

Anaheim: When you are the Cup champs, you are sitting pretty like the Ducks. But not as pretty as they can be in their new jerseys. Adding Bertuzzi just solidifies the intimidation factor. The Ducks out hit their opponents hard. But the one key FA move has still not been made. Scotty and Teemu aren't in the starting lineups. That earns a Downgrade (go with the people who brought you to the dance)
Calgary: Owen Nolan Owns You! And he is also the owner of a Flames contract. The Flames are a complete mystery to me as they didn't make a total FA splash, only intent on building a franchise in their farm system (that keeps moving locations). They look the same to me. And they will finish the same. Even
Chicago: Lang, Smolinski, and company will usher in a new era in Chicago hockey. if the "Bulin Wall" stays healthy, I think this may be a dark horse team for the playoff contention. Upgrade!
Colorado: Ryan Smyth was so heartbroken to leave Edmonton. Why did he not resign? Look for "Von Ryan's Express" to be the story in the Rocky Mountain. Defensive corps. looks un-threatening to me.Upgrade
Columbus: Every year, I pick Columbus as a dark horse team to watch out for and break through. And again they disappoint. But now they get great leadership in Peca and a full season with Hitchcock at the helm. Hope Nash stays healthy to lead this team to the playoffs for the first time.Upgrade!
Dallas: No significant pickups here. But they are still in good standing. Another team that is building from within, the Stars are going to just buy time for their draft picks to develop. Downgrade
Detroit: "Hockeytown" may be trending into fresher faces once Rafalski was released from the Devils. His pick up is a good one. But they are still on average one of the oldest teams with Chelios, Hasek, et. al. not getting any younger. Downgrade
Edmonton: They got a new reliable goaltender, Souray, and Penner. Good job for a city that was allegedly "not livable". Upgrade!
Los Angeles: I was truly impressed when the Kings loaded up quickly on the first day of FA signings. But the quality of players in their camp are of the "B list" type quality. The bigger impact will come from Johnson and Bernier. Upgrade!
Minnesota: They are on the cusp of building a contending team, but went the way of Anaheim style and got bruising defenceman (and hometown hero) Sean Hill. Once he is cleared to play the Wild will have somebody on the blueline who can play the puck as well as the body.Upgrade!
Nashville: The Preds woes are not on the ice, but off it. They couldn't make any long term commitments, so they had to break down their team. Everybody walking out the door is too much for just one significant FA (Gelinas) to fill. Downgrade
Phoenix: Significant restructuring is needed in the desert. So Gretzky is relying on young inexperienced talent and collecting it like they were and expansion team.Downgrade
San Jose: To solve this team's post-season failures is going to be simple. Can we all just get along? The finger pointing at the end of last season was interesting with reports that the Coach and Marleau divided the locker room. Roenick should have something left in the tank to anchor a third line. If everybody can score like they did last year, they should repeat. Even!
St. Louis: The Blues are on the comeback trail and trying not to finish embarrassingly last. They grabbed Karyia at the right time to help along their new players. Goaltending is a lot better too with Hanu trying to redeem himself. Upgrade
Vancouver: Okay, I will buy that the Canucks are trying to solve their defensive woes. But it cost them their offense. I can't name you a Canuck forward beyond the first line. Wait until trading deadline for this team to do anything.downgrade
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