Monday, October 06, 2008

Western Conference 2008-09 Overview

Okay, the new NHL season is set to launch tonight, so I'll analyze the Western Conference today. Having the most Stanley Cup champions defending year to year in the Western conference, is there any debate on which conference is stronger? Despite having Crosby, Malkin, et al. in the East, the Western stars are sure to work their own brand of hockey this year.

Anaheim: It seems like each year fans wait around every late summer to see if the team will stay in tact. Will Selane return? Will Niedermayer return? Future Cup wins of these young Ducks will be placed on the backs of Boby Ryan, Getzlaf, and Kunitz's backs.Upgrade
Calgary: The blue collar work ethic in Calgary has the Flames fans wanting desperately for Iginla to hoist the Cup? Is it this year? No. The Flames will flicker out because they look the same last year.Even
Chicago: Another youthful team looking for a resurgence of hope in a future. Though this team's expectations are low, look for them to surprise.Upgrade!
Colorado: The Avalanche are on a downward spiral since the first glory years. Credit to keeping the team together, but not having a #1 goalie is what will be the reason why they don't make the playoffs anymore. Look for Sakic to try to give it one last hurrah.Downgrade
Columbus: Here is a season for the BJs that must have a post-season follow up. They made some really great FA signings and Hitchcock having the whole year to work with will be great. Rick Nash should emerge from this team as a next-gen leader in the Western conference.Upgrade!
Dallas: I don't know what they are doing. Do you? I am not sure Brett Hull knows. A struggling franchise that brings in Avery will only get a distraction from how much mediocrity skates in a green and black uniform.Downgrade
Detroit: A team that was once old is even older. Is Chellios immortal? The sting of Marian Hossa's signing will be interesting to watch all year. Can a hockey star sell out? Look for the Detroit juggernaut to once again dominate everybody.Upgrade
Edmonton: A rebuilding year will feature and Oilers team feeling out what they have so that they can prioritize down the road. Even
Los Angeles: LA is quietly stockpiling a group of young talent. They also have a full time coach to develop them. Terry Murray will be a good fit in LA. Look for a healthier Jack Johnson to search for notice in what should be called his rookie year.Upgrade!
Minnesota: Still carrying on with coach Lemaire is like banging your head up against the wall. Gaborik may want to sit on the IR and wait things out. No significant incoming players have been acquired, but look to Brent Burns to throw his defenseman weight around.Downgrade
Nashville: One of the teams considered by the mainstream media to have one foot in the grave, the Predators will try to make the playoffs anyway. Look for them to hang in there until the trading deadline to either make a push or build for the future - wherever that may be.Even
Phoenix: The Coyotes are in trouble both on and off the ice. The patience to build up top draft picks will dwindle whatever fanbase they have left. "Jovocop" can't stay healthy anymore and Doan has no linemates to help him out. Recently liberated Oli Jokinen may find himself on a team in worse shape than the Florida team he left.Downgrade
San Jose: Is this San Jose's year? It's asked every year, but the team fizzles out. A new head coach may solve the problem and Dan Boyle will give the blueliners a championship caliber attitude.Even!
St. Louis: Will the high draft picks for St. Louis develop? This is the year they should be able to tell. I like that they are building this team back up as the Blues need competitiveness. I like TJ Oshie to step up and make the squad with the Boyes and Colaiacovo re-uniting an OHL alumni pairing.Upgrade
Vancouver: Getting Demitra in Vancouver is huge for my buddy Jes. He needs stick around for a few more seasons. The Sedin-bots are the core of the team wile Luongo is the spine.Upgrade
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