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" NHL Season Preview - Pacific Division"
Canada, AB • Canada • 28 Years Old • Male
Up next, I looked at the Northwest Division (one of the toughest to pick)

Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild had a good year last year, perhaps overachieving a little bit. Mainly they were able to take advantage of Edmonton when they were on their spiral down towards the basement of the Northwest Division. The Wild were 6 - 2 against Edmonton and 4 of the wins came after March 1st. They also did surprisingly well against Vancouver laster year. But this upcoming year will be a different story. They dealt Fernandez and kept Backstrom, its a bit of a risk since Backstrom has only played 41 NHL games (46 if you include the playoffs). One thing is for sure: the Wild will play defense first... like two other teams in the same division (Calgary and Vancouver) makes for some very boring hockey at times. The Minnesota Wild will not get 100 points this year and its hard to say if Backstrom can backstop the team to a playoff birth.

Vancouver Canucks

Last season the Vancouver Canucks suddenly became a strong defensive team. They had the best penalty kill in the league last year, however they may have a hard time this year if they try to play an all out defensive system for the entire year. (Also makes for boring TV). It can take a lot out of a team to play that style game in and game out. Basically this season will be all about Luongo and how far he can take them. The Sedin twins will put up their numbers as per usual and we'll have to wait and see about what Naslund (60 pts or 80 pts) comes to play next season. As long as the team is committed to playing team defense and let Luongo be the show, the Vancouver Canucks should be near the top of the Northwest Division.

Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames will try once again to implement their gritty "In Your Face" defense. The question is have they lost too many good and gritty defenceman. Also can Phaneuf play without Hamrlik, in the past he has proven that he can't. The Flames have added more talent over the last few years but have refused to change their style of play to reflect their new personal. I think the Fames could be much better if they focussed on a more offensive system, however with Sutter and now Keenan their, look for a renewed emphasis on team defense. If you are a Flames fan, you should be worried because the Flames showed last season that they could consistently beat bad teams, however they could not beat the good teams. (ie, Colorado, Nashville, San Jose) Meaning if they do make the playoffs, they wont go far. Look for the Calgary Flames to be playing catchup to both Colorado and Vancouver.

Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche missed the post season last year by 1 point. Colorado could have put up a better fight against the Red Wings then Calgary did in the first round of last years playoffs. Although watching Calgary self destruct in game 5 was priceless. But anyways, Colorado will not need 15 wins in the last 20 games of the season to make the playoffs this year as they did last year. Colorado, with the addition of Ryan Smyth, have a very potent offenses in the NHL. Look for the Avalanche to be scoring lots of goals this... and they made need to if Théodore and unproven Budaj are in the net.

Edmonton Oilers

I have never witnessed a team fall so far so fast. 2 - 18 in the last 20 games??? The Oilers were in first place in the Division around Christmas time last year and then the injuries came, followed by the Smyth trade and then more injuries. WOW is all I can say. But this year look to be different. They got rid of Perterson, got pikenin, Souray and Penner. The Oilers said all last year that they needed a puck moving defencemen and now they have them. So the Oilers have improved on the backend, and for the most part are in the same situation upfront that they were in at the beginning of last year... (lots of potential) If the Oiler forwards rebound from last year then the Oilers should be able to compete the the rest to the Division. If they can't, the Burke will look like a genius.

Northwest Projected Results

1. Colorado Avalanche
2. Vancouver Canucks
3.Calgary Flames
4. Edmonton Oilers
5. Minnesota Wild

This will be the hardest Division to predict, especially 2 through 5. The two teams that missed the playoffs (Colorado and Edmonton) have probably improved the most. Colorado didn't need to change much in order to make the playoffs this year, but they added Smyth and Hannon. The Avalanche will get more then 100 pts this season and be the clear number one in the Northwest. The Oilers made huge changes in hopes of getting back into the playoffs. I think they are one more forward away from the playoffs. Vancouver will be fine this year... its Calgary and Minnesota who's season could go south very quick.

Filed Under:   Season Preview   Oilers   Avalanche   Flames   Canucks   Wild  
August 31, 2007 5:48 PM ET | Delete
Pot isn't good for you!
August 31, 2007 5:57 PM ET | Delete
Edmonton improved? Don't think so.
August 31, 2007 6:13 PM ET | Delete
Why does everyone underestimate Minnesota? Gaborik was out for a lot of games last season but ended up with 57 points in 48 games! Sure, most of them were against Vancouver but him playing a full season alone means there's no way the Wild will be at the bottom, unless all 5 teams make the playoffs.
August 31, 2007 6:40 PM ET | Delete
"Edmonton improved? Don't think so."Yes Edmonton has improved they removed the pylon from defense and got rid of a bum in Lupul. They got the highest scoring defenseman in the league and a puck moving defenseman and they acquired a 29 goal scoring big guy rookie. They lost Smyth yes but Smyth is overrated we all saw how good he was when he went to the All star game. On any other team Smyth isn't worth half his salary.
August 31, 2007 7:09 PM ET | Delete
Edmonton added two offensively gifted pylons and for some reason the cry of the Oiler faithful has changed from "long live Ryan Smyth, the most underated player in the west!" to " I'm glad he's gone, he was overated and only cares about money." Edmonton has not improved from the start of last year, and while they do have huge potential as their prospects become NHL caliber players, this is not the year.
August 31, 2007 8:34 PM ET | Delete
Its unbelievable that you think Edmonton will finish ahead of Minnesota. Souray and Pitkanen will both put up sme points, but both are complete pilons when it comes to defense. Same goes with Tarnstrom. Defensively, I don't see much improvement. On offense, Lupul and Penner are a wash - sure, if you're an Oiler fan you might think Penner is much better, but Lupul put up the same numbers as Penner the year before in Anaheim. If you look at this objectively, Penner is no better than Lupul was when he came over last Summer. Oiler fans were thinking Lupul was gonna get 35-40 goals last season, just like they think Penner will. Time will tell. No Lupul, no Sykora, and the addition of Penner and Sanderson. Not much improvement there. I think Hemsky and Horcoff will play better, and I think Souray and Pitkanen will add more from the back end. But the bottom line is, there is only mild improvement here. he Wild will absolutely detroy the Oilers in the standings if Gaborik stays healthly. They will most likely do better even if he doesn't.
August 31, 2007 8:56 PM ET | Delete
he keeps referring to the canucks as "boring"...you know what else is boring: losing, as in going 2-18 down the stretch and finishing 12th place in the westlush i totally agree everyone underrates gaborik's value to the wild....
August 31, 2007 9:16 PM ET | Delete
well... it's hard to be objective when writting these, i know. But Souray was high scoring and also a -25 or there abouts and pitkenen was about the same, that to me says doom in front of roloson. Your top two are collective -50 plus...that's brutal. The flames downgraded from what hamrlik to Sarich?? I think that's getting better personally. Aucoin has done what pitkenen has done several times and has the experiance to make him worth it. The wild are a great team this year and will surprise a lot of people. The avs are crazy good, super scary again (are they ever going to suck???) Vancouver has Louongo and if he's healthy they make the playoffs and Luongo can carry them. The worst goalie in the NW is Roloson and the standings will reflect that. Having said that the oilers won't be a push over team they are healthy and young and talented.AVSVANCALMINEDM
September 1, 2007 2:00 AM ET | Delete
*sigh* -- Pitkanen was a 37 before last season (incidentally, his only minus year, and it was on the worst team in the NHL). Souray was one of four players, which includes Saku Koivu, to be -20 or worse on a team that sucked ass 5-on-5). He was a 1 career before that season. This is a Mactavish coached team. Very few teams have a forward corps as defensively responsible as Edmonton does -- and it's not going to be a problem.
September 1, 2007 7:41 AM ET | Delete
a message to all flames fans that love to point out the plus minus of our newly acquired dmen. aucoin was -22 in 59 games. -13 in 22 games the season before that. all that while scoring less than 30 points combined. i'm not sure how the oilers do this season but they have improved. the northwest will be a crap shoot like always. it's never about who has the best team on paper, it's about who does the most with what they have. it's going to be an interesting season to say the least.
September 1, 2007 8:41 AM ET | Delete
The Wild are a team that make me weary. We underrated them once, hope it doesn't ever happen again.
September 1, 2007 2:44 PM ET | Delete
A message to all Oiler fans who think Souray is moving to a better team and his /- will improve, He's not and it won't. Also scoring alot and still having a horrible /- is not a desirable thing.
September 2, 2007 1:02 AM ET | Delete
Give it a rest, Souled_out -- you don't know what you're talking about. Souray scores 90% of his points on the powerplay, which doesn't affect his plus-minus total, which is why he had a low plus-minus despite high point totals. He'll be a minus player, but he's never been a consistent -20 player.
September 2, 2007 1:26 AM ET | Delete
*Sigh* -- In reality, TMK86, I'm fully aware of where Souray scores all his points, and the fact that powerplay points don't affect his /-. I'm also aware that Souray has been a minus player most of his career, that last year was the first time he's ever had more than forty points and he's not great with the puck. The oilers will struggle in a tough west, it happens eventually to all teams. Be proud of the fact the oilers have a great future to look forward to, and don't hold your breath on a great season this year.
September 2, 2007 1:32 AM ET | Delete
Um, Colorado may score, but they can't keep it out of their own net. Theodore is a bum
September 2, 2007 3:20 AM ET | Delete
Message Posted
September 2, 2007 3:20 AM ET | Delete
Then your spiel about high-scoring, low plus-minus was... what, exactly? Negative spin based on knowingly faulty information? And I agree that Colorado's goaltending is going to get them in trouble. I don't think they have a shot against Vancouver and Calgary in the division because of it. I say; VAN/CAL/COL/EDM/MIN.
September 2, 2007 4:03 AM ET | Delete
Theodore is a bum, but Budaj will likely improve, and I'd bet he's the starter. Also, their D is much better with Hannan.
September 2, 2007 5:41 AM ET | Delete
Faulty? How was it faulty? He's a defensive liability 5 on 5. Granted if he, no matter how unlikely, has a repeat year offensively he will be your leading scorer. So I guess that's fun. So pray for lots of powerplays and no 5 on 5 play, friend. Minnesota will also have a better season that the oilers pal. Other than that, your standings look great. Check ya later TMK86 :)
September 2, 2007 12:23 PM ET | Delete
As a Flyers fan, I think I can be objective here, my picks are 1. Calgary, 2. Minnesota, 3. Vancouver, 4. Colorado, and 5. Edmonton. Calgary has it all, a very good corps of forwards, a great defense and one of the top three goalies in the league, add that to the fact that Mike Keenan's teams usually do very well his first season, and I'm guessing Iron Mike is more motivated than he's been since he was coaching the Rangers, and you can see why Calgary is my pick for the cup this year. Minnesota is a very good team that no one is going to want in the first round and Vancouver will be very dangerous with Luongo and a deep D, but their lack of firepower will probably knock them out in the first round. Colorado has done very well by adding Smyth and Hannan, but there are still issues regarding depth and toughness on D, and they don't scare anyone with their goaltending, look out for the Avs next season when they clear Jose the cap monster, they will have money to burn, and I think will be a strong cup contender in 08-09. Finallly Edmonton may have improved their powerplay with additions of Souray and Pitkanen, but their defense will be hard to watch at even strength. They're not a really bad team, but they just can't stay with the other four teams in their division and they have very little chance of challenging for a playoff spot.
September 2, 2007 9:40 PM ET | Delete
Way to be the impartial voice of reason ginogold.
September 3, 2007 3:04 AM ET | Delete
How was it knowingly faulty? Because you clearly implied that, even though he scored many points, he was a -20 player. If you truly knew that he was a powerplay producer (and everyone does), you know that how many points he scores is not relevant to his plus-minus. It's bullshit spin to make things look worse then they are. And "impartial voice", like there's only one way to look at the coming season. Like there's one lone truth to projecting, and that I'm some how scewing the facts in my favour if I disagree? Calgary made the playoffs by one point, and they got worse. Minnesota's new starting goaltender has played 41 NHL games. They've been a terrible team without Gaborik in the line-up, and he's injured more then Forsberg. Colorado has no goaltending, which is the biggest hole a team could possibly have. This "strong" division has massive holes, anything could happen, and I shouldn't have to justify putting a team I feel is much improved (with better prospects then any other team in the Northwest, some of which are or near NHL ready) in 4th place in the division (out of a playoff spot), especially not to a condescending Flames fan.
September 3, 2007 4:23 AM ET | Delete
Umm, Gaborik can't stay healthy, so all this talk about how Minnesota is dangerous with him is technically true, but that is for just 50 games a year. Let's talk when he plays at least 75 games. If he can do that for once, then yeah, Minnesota is strong and will obviously benefit. But I certainly won't be burned by him in my pools this year. No better than a 6th round pick
September 4, 2007 2:45 AM ET | Delete
Edmonton lost thier captian and 3 best scorers last year.They added powerplay dmen, but lost the forwards. Worst goalie in the division, not even close.Colorado added hannah, not the type of dmen they need, and smyth a powerplay scorer and front of the net type a guy.. Budaj is still iffy but can be a solid goalie... Still a very soft and offence oriented team who improved greatly in team play and thier young players are a year older.Minny.. every year they are underestimated and every year they find a way to win... Gaborik is on of the BEST players in the league and can score like no other.. but he only plays half the year, so hope you play them in his off time.Calgary Aucoin and Sarich for Hamerlik and Stuart... Aucion could be good, could be bad, but he is a former captain and a minute muncher so hope for the best. Sarich is solid on the d side which means sutter and keanen will love this guyNolan is way better then Amonte, and the young guys coming up can produce.. Lombardi will be a force and Flames are still one of the best scoring teams in the league.Vancouver.. one word Luongo... they need to find someone to score other then the Sedin sisters or wake up Naslund. they will make the playoffs and win or lose a lot of 1-0 games
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