Thursday, September 28, 2006
A week away from opening night.
I put my western picks together for Mudcrutch two weeks ago and while I already have misgivings in a few cases, I'll stick with what I said then. Here goes nothing:
1/ Detroit - a year away from a slide, the Wings still have two great lines (not three anymore), an excellent defence and a joke division - enough to get them first in the conference and an early playoff exit one more time.
2/ San Jose - my preseason Stanley Cup rep from the west - a team that was a Roloson OT save on Cheechoo away from the conference final suddenly has doubters - Preissing is gone but add Bell, Grier and Curtis Brown to this team that has depth everywhere and the salary cap room to get help on D and these guys are the favourites in my opinion
3/ Calgary - addition of Tanguay, steps forward for Kobasew and Lombardi and bump from a new coach add up to another division title
4/ Anaheim - not enough scoring to go all the way but a solid contender
5/ Vancouver - why I don't know - part of me can see them dropping right out of the picture but injury free and this team makes the playoffs last year - Luongo will make the difference here
6/ Edmonton - Great forwards, good goaltending. newfound confidence and an infusion of youth add up to a playoff spot even with this D - look for two of Bergeron, Greene or Smid to exceed expectations and, if all else fails, Lowe will move assets to get help on the blueline - definite playoff team with possibility of higher finish
7/ Nashville - sexy preseason pick takes a step back this year - remember they had a pretty bad fade at the end of last season
8/ Dallas - If Lindros were to be healthy this team might finish higher but when is the last time that happened?
9/ Wild on Jack Lemaire - Another sexy pick this year but they lost five regular D from last season's corps - this big leap forward everyone thinks will happen doesn't make sense to me
10/ Phoenix - I could see them being truly miserable but this is how bad the rest of the conference is.
11/ Colorado - Forsberg, Foote and Roy replaced by Turgeon, Brisebois and Theodore - this year the wheels finally fall off the Avs with Blake and Tanguay out the door as well
12/ Columbus - Doug MacLean's Folly
13/ Los Angeles - starting to go young but a shocking lack of talent, especially up front
14/ St. Louis - nice top four D but this offence - maybe in '96, not in '06
15/ Chicago - How to Kill a Professional Hockey Franchise by Bill Wirtz with a foreword by Bob Pulford
Posted by Black Dog at 1:09 PM