well, it’s prediction time, because, well, if I guess right, I can be loud and “cherry-esque” about how good I am, and if I’m wrong, we can hope everyone quietly forgets I said anything…
The western conference is going to be a real mosh pit this season, lots of interesting hockey, and there are going to be some good teams missing the playoffs. A three or four game losing streak could mean the difference for some teams, or a key injury. Almost scary, if you’re a contender. There’s no margin of error here.
So here are my thoughts on the west:
Pacific: Sharks(1) — the change in coach will (had better) put this team over the top. If not, what do we do, blow it up and start over? Maybe.
Central: Detroit(2) — and I AM including a “cup hangover here”, or they’d be my #1 seed.
Northwest: Calgary(3) — I’m not sure why, but I don’t particularly like the Northwest, and Calgary seems the best of a fairly weak lot.
Dallas(4) — last year, I expected them to fade. this year, I expect them to make the conference team’s lives miserable.
Anaheim(5) — window has closed, fading fast. Still dangerous, but not a division-champ caliber team, and probably a 2nd round in the playoffs at best.
On the Bubble:
8 teams playing for three playoff places. Not good — for five of them.
Minnesota (6) — probably over-rating them, and my candidate for “most likely to slip down the ratings”, but Jaques LeMaire knows how to minimize the damage and keep a team in the hunt. even if it bores you to sleep watching.
Edmonton (7) — maybe over-rating them, but something about them encourages me. The 2nd most likely team to slip out of the playoffs.
Nashville (8) — should be higher than 8th, but this is a tough division and tough conference
Chicago (9) — probably deserves to make the playoffs. Probably won’t, unless a team or two falters
Columbus (10) — probably deserves to make the playoffs. Probably won’t, unless a team or two falters.
Colorado (11) — will do what I expected Dallas to do last year. Time to blow up and rebuild. But could over-perform, and if other teams slip, could sneak up the standings.
Vancouver (12) — after luongo, well, what? Could go as high as 9th.
Phoenix (13) — better. good? maybe. Playoff good? not in the west.
St. Louis (14) — ouch. another year or two.
Los Angeles (15) — seriously ouch. it’ll be a year or two before this team is a year or two out. maybe.
my choice out of the west: it’s a coin flip between san jose and detroit. I’ll take heads. (san jose)